Meeting Colin Gibson, the mastermind production designer and art director behind Babe, Happy Feet, The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and of course the epic Mad Max: Fury Road last night, got me thinking about the enormous scale of film productions. After earning himself an Academy Award and a BAFTA for his achievement in Production Design on Fury Road, Colin Gibson has propelled himself into the limelight – but little do people know about the countless hours he spent perfecting his breathtaking designs.
When we fall into comfy cinema seats, surrounded by the warm aroma of cinema popcorn, the obnoxious slurp of overpriced drinks or the heartbeat of moviegoers overflowing with anticipation for what is about to unfold, we pay little attention to the people that delivered us to this very spot. Whether the finished product we see on screen is mesmerising, powerful, shameful, hilarious, pointless or entirely wonderful, there was a crew of hundreds working day and night on its arrival.
I’d like to draw your attention to the epic Avatar (2009), which employed over twenty companies to work on Special Effects alone, and within those companies hundreds of driven, worn-out and relentless artists. Or perhaps Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) which cost the studio $378 million dollars. Did you know that it took 100 craftsmen to build the the cave seen alone? Or that it took 900 pieces of manufactured costume pieces to create the film’s wardrobe? Whether its animation, action, fantasy or drama, ever single piece of film is more than just shots on a screen, but it is pure art. Woven together by almost countless numbers of individuals who’s common goal was to create a mesmerising production (or to pay their taxes, but we’ll assume the first.)
Colin Gibson began his career working on many film projects for free, just for the sake of it. He composed sets and props and design pieces to fill the bill of the visionary director, the one whom often gains most of the praise for the film anyway. So today I would like to challenge you, whether you are strapping yourself in to watch the Oscars on Sunday (or Monday aussie time) or you’re heading out to catch the latest blockbuster spectacular, pause to consider the people who made their dream a reality. Who like George Miller and Colin Gibson, worked many years and many hours on drawing a dream into a storyboard, into reality, into the hearts and minds of millions of people. Think about the people who made it all happen, take time to appreciate the credits that signify the pitter patter of feet leaving the cinema, and honour the musicians, production artists, drawers, producers, actors, actresses, artists, writers, composers, sound technicians, costume designers, make-up artists, editors and directors. Each and every one of them poured their life into your cinematic experience and the least they deserve is a little recognition, perhaps more than a pay check in the mail. After all, this isn’t just cinema, this is art that will last many lifetimes we may never know.