by Pip Bulbeck
Colin Gibson, production designer
LAST FIVE INTERNATIONAL CREDITS: 24 Hours To Live; The Great Wall; Mad Max: Fury Road; Nim’s Island; Noriega.
DESCRIBE YOUR JOB: It’s better than a real job. I try to make the space for grace. Provide an environment that’s part evolution, part chemistry; the primordial ooze from which something new emerges.
TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THE MORE MEMORABLE PROJECTS YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN: On Mad Max: Fury Road it was a fantastic thing to imagine a world going to hell in a hand basket and re- contextualise the original. The marathon of it all gave us a chance to keep examining and adding detail. To have that much time to create what we did was a glorious thing. Serenades in the desert in Oz was a great experience and was where I got to do second unit.
MOST CHALLENGING REQUEST ON AN INTERNATIONAL FILM SHOOT: On a shoot that was filmed on an island ringed by a coral lagoon, I had a lead actress who refused to walk on coral or stones, so I had 11 barges of sand floated across from the main island. After one take she was exhausted and said the double could do the rest. But the double couldn’t swim so I turned swimming instructor as well.
CRAZIEST MOMENT ON SET: Crazy is fun. Seeing an entire crew dressed in drag for the last two days of shooting on The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was fun. There were some not very pretty men amongst them.
FAVOURITE ACTIVITY IN AUSTRALIA: Expanding my mind and my melanomas with naked reading.
FAVOURITE PART OF AUSTRALIA: I’m philosophically partial to the desert…it’s my idea of heaven, but I do make it a point to have a swim wherever I go.
WHEN I’M NOT WORKING I… realise it was a mistake not getting an agent. Our jobs are about imagining and you never want to stop doing that.
IF I WASN’T WORKING IN FILM AND TELEVISION I WOULD BE… a stand-up comedian or an actor. And my children would be very hungry.
I’D LOVE TO WORK WITH… directors like Danny Boyle, Ang Lee or Park Chan-Wook. Anyone who’s got a good story and an oblique point of view.
I KNEW I WANTED TO WORK IN FILM AND TELEVISION WHEN… someone offered me a job on The Love Boat as standby props. I left university and I was too sarcastic to be a teacher.
WHAT IS YOUR WORK MOTTO OR PHILOSOPHY? Every job deserves a new motto or philosophy. But ultimately – “They’ll never take me alive.”
Article originally published as part of Ausfilm’s Wizards of Oz campaign. Read it here.