John Seale Q&A: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ cinematographer
Cinematographer John Seale first worked with director George Miller back in 1992 on "Lorenzo's Oil," an intimate drama that bears few similarities to the high octane action of their second collaboration, “Mad Max: Fury Road.” As he tells us during a recent webcam chat, he came on board this epic reboot of the franchise at a very late stage, just months before shooting was set to start. “When George rang, it was a bit of a shock that he did, because it was so late in pre-production. But it was quite easy, in a way, to make a decision to go with him and help him make the film.”
Now 73, Seale reveals he had not shot a film since “The Tourist” in 2010. “I’ve retired after every movie for the last 15 years,” admits the veteran lenser who won an Oscar for his work on the 1996 Best Picture champ “The English Patient."
With "Mad Max: Fury Road," most of the design had been locked in before he came onboard, particularly its intricate stunt choreography. “It had to be because for sheer safety of everyone involved, that could not be changed, not in a hurry.”
As for the film's distinctive visual aesthetic, Seale says, “George’s knowledge of computer post-work from his animated films was more than enough for him to know that he could change and mold that image to whatever we wanted in post. So the actual, initial shooting of the film wasn’t too directional in any way that would lock us in. It gave George the ability with the D.I. colorists to be able to move in any direction.”
Besides that Oscar win, Seale contended for “Witness” (1985), “Rain Man” (1988), and “Cold Mountain” (2003). He’s currently ranked in 2nd place place to finally take home a bookend with odds of 7/2, right behind back-to-back winner Emmanuel Lubezki for “The Revenant.”