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The Mad Max Connection.

MAD MAX 1 - The dangerous pursuit of excellence.

This is a background page of how the Bushcraft Library evolved.
( web designer morphs to video producer morphs to film editor )

Like many of my young colleages I stopped making money in 1978 to work on a shoe-string movie project titled Mad Max. At the end of the main shoot I offered a charity deal to Byron Kennedy to screen eight hours of rushes in my small film editing facility. I was so amazed by the footage and the performances I saw through the projection port that I offered to cut it for almost nothing. And guess what? Byron accepted! Just like the Toecutter said - 'This is a threshold moment, Johnny'.

Reflected Mad Max glory.
Tim Smart and Andrew Jones watch the Interceptor parking.

Repression is the greatest form of encouragement / nothing is more politically dangerous than a taste of international recognition and success.

Why Mad Max 1 happened and why it was so successful is a direct result of the weakened environment of self doubt that was institutionally maintained by the fading conservative government in Australia at that time. We grew up under a modified English education system that taught us more about what we couldn't do rather than what we could do.

Aussies love being told what they can't do because it then gives them a target to strive for.

A brief, self-indulgent history of film education without teachers.

Or why we didn't realise that it was impossible and we couldn't do it.

In the sixties Aussie TV exploded. There was never enough product. When I started at Crawford Productions as a music editor, the highest rating program at that time was the re-runs of the Crawford produced 'Homicide'. There was so much demand that whatever we tried was guaranteed to be broadcast. Crawfords were making three hour long police dramas each week.

These shows were half film and half videotape. The film was all location exteriors and mostly action. Crews were very small and had to be multi-skilled. Most of the film crews working in the 70's and 80's were Crawford trained.

Crawford Productions 1972

But Crawfords wasn't just about fast track training on the job, immediate responsibilty and rapid promotion, it was about demanding experimentation. There were very few proceedures to follow so most people made up their own. Experimentation as survival! As an example there were six film editors working on the three hour-long weekly police dramas. None of us had any common training, we all evolved our own techniques for storing, cutting and then the dreaded recutting of the film sequences. As long as no-one had to come in and take over another's show it worked fine.

The killing broadcast schedual meant you got very fast feedback. The ideas were still fresh in your mind when you watched the show go to air sometimes only three weeks after the edit! The pressure to plan your actions and get it right the first time was something of a hallmark of the old Crawford school.

After a year of music editing, when I put my hand up to be a film editor was made an assistant for two weeks and then given a show to cut. At the end of the two week edit the show was recognisable so my name went up on the edit room door - Film Editor - Division Four. The still above is action from the end of a dangerous footchase around the South Melbourne backstreets. Senior Detective Frank Banner is pipped at the post by a villian who thoughtfully closed the gate behind him. We dreamed of having car chases to cut!

Back to the legend.

Medium Force Police

The making and popular effect of Mad Max was like watching Cinderella meet the Terminator. We started with a bit of string, dust and a few drug-crazed mice and built a hovering battle tank that rolled up the High Street and parked in the Governor General's private spot. Not so much a gate crash as a gate crush.

And once the mystery of making an international success was revealed, the boys didn't want to go back home to the farm.

Mad Max 1 is one the few Australian films that grow from and redefine our local values. Its mix of arrogance and anarchy is unique in world movies. The Americans can do action films but they can't do anarchy - it's against their religeon of participation. The English can't do action or anarchy - they don't believe in action any more and they are trained to deny the possibility of anarchy. Casts too many shadows on the Empire, doncha know.

Australia can be a landscape completely without order - not so much a river of forgetfullness but a vast dry plain that records no trace of human endeavour. This is what Max drives through. And this is what is behind the Australian idea of mateship - not a fear but a knowledge of timeless desolation - the choice to regard others as the primary investment.

Mad Max 1 was a world beater because of it's quality. And with the knowledge of quality and the experience of success as a resource there is a strong engine driving your efforts.

The Bushcraft Library series of videos were made to be the best or stand equally beside the best teaching programs. The sportfishing shows have the best teachers.The Hot Rod programs attempt to look beneath the reflecting steel skin and see the remade cars in a wider context. There's no wet T-shirts but plenty of oil-smeared and sweat-stained ones.

We've given all of these programs the treatment we would give to feature films - we only work at one quality level - the best.

Cameras make you immortal


All material on this site is the copyright of Australian Bushcraft Library. 2002.

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