George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris
Gee, George Miller, is that you again?
That's right. Fury Road's director and producer is also the main man in charge of its story—though he of course had some help. With an assist from his writing partners Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris, George Miller envisioned ("wrote" doesn't quite do this one justice) Mad Max: Fury Road as something unlike any other action movie we've seen before.
A Story in Images
Instead of starting off with a stock and standard screenplay, Miller and co. went a different route: the storyboard. They mapped out Fury Road visually, shot for shot, and told the story that way instead. According to Miller in the DVD extras, " It was 3500 panels around a room, and I would say a good 80% of those panels are reflected in the images you see on the screen today."
Think of it like a comic book. Rather than writing line after line of dialogue—which, in a movie with very little dialogue, wouldn't be much help—they opted to tell the story in visual panels, each one of which mirrors a shot in the movie.
In a bonus material interview, Producer Doug Mitchell gives a good explanation of how this works:
What these storyboards did is it told us which car was going around which crash, who was on it and so gradually you could break it down as one has to be very accurate as to how long it would take to shoot and how you'd want to shoot it.
So not only were these storyboards a storytelling tool, they were a logistical production tool, too. By mapping out the story visually, Miller and his production team were able to coordinate the stunts, set decoration, art direction, and cinematography all from one source.
Who Did What?
There's a reason all three screenwriters are given writing credit on Fury Road: they each had a job to do. While it's clear Miller is responsible for the overall story, having been responsible for all three Mad Max stories that preceded it, Brendan McCarthy is the artist of the group. He's a pretty famous British artist and designer, and he's done a lot of work in movies. His main claim to fame though, is his work in comic books—which makes sense. In many ways, the so-called "script" of Fury Road was in fact a comic book. He's the man responsible for this movie's visual...um...vision.
And of course George Miller conceptualized the story, right? Having created the first three Mad Max flicks, it's a world he knows well, and one he's fully qualified to revisit and re-envision. As he describes it, Fury Road is a kind of campfire tale:
Basically, [Mad Max stories are] allegorical stories in the same way I guess that the classic Western was that. And Max is a character who gets swept up into this story. He's sort of wandering the wasteland looking for some sense of meaning in a very stark world, and he gets caught up in this story.
This story being, of course, Furiosa's fight to give the breeders their freedom. Think of Mad Max: Fury Road as a self-contained story that the History Men will tell future inhabitants of the wasteland, and you've pretty much got the right idea.