Wednesday, May 28, 2008
“The Road” began filming in late February, mostly in and around Pittsburgh, with a later stop in New Orleans and a postproduction visit planned to Mount St. Helens. The producers chose Pennsylvania, one of them, Nick Wechsler, explained, because it’s one of the many states that give tax breaks and rebates to film companies and, not incidentally, because it offered such a pleasing array of post-apocalyptic scenery: deserted coalfields, run-down parts of Pittsburgh, windswept dunes. Chris Kennedy, the production designer, even discovered a burned-down amusement park in Lake Conneaut and an eight-mile stretch of abandoned freeway, complete with tunnel, ideal for filming the scene where the father and son who are the story’s main characters are stalked by a cannibalistic gang traveling by truck.
The director of “The Road” is an Australian, John Hillcoat, best known for “The Proposition,” and many crew members were Aussies as well. In conversation the “Mad Max” movies, the Australian post-apocalyptic thrillers starring Mel Gibson, came up a lot, and not favorably. The team saw those movies, set in a world of futuristic bikers, as a sort of antimodel: a fanciful, imaginary version of the end of the world, not the grim, all-too-convincing one that Mr. McCarthy had depicted.
“What’s moving and shocking about McCarthy’s book is that it’s so believable,” Mr. Hillcoat said. “So what we wanted is a kind of heightened realism, as opposed to the ‘Mad Max’ thing, which is all about high concept and spectacle. We’re trying to avoid the clichés of apocalypse and make this more like a natural disaster.” He imagined the characters less as “Mad Max”-ian freaks outfitted in outlandish biker wear, he added, than as homeless people. They wear scavenged, ill-fitting clothing and layers of plastic bags for insulation.
New York Times article on movie