One effect of the tiny budget was that George Miller couldn’t afford to hire an editor. So, he edited “Mad Max” himself. This meant that every day, for what turned into a year-long process, he was reminded of all the mistakes he felt he’d made as a director. Miller told The Guardian: “I was faced with the evidence of what I hadn’t done, what I’d failed to do. Why did I put the camera there? Why didn’t I ask the actors to go faster? Every day facing this film, this wreck.”
After the film was ready, Miller felt it was “a complete disaster … in terms of what I wanted to do. I really thought I wasn’t cut out to make films.” And yet, “Mad Max” became an undeniable success. For a time, it held a Guinness World Record for the highest box office return to budget ratio. That unexpected success must have been invigorating for Miller. Despite the bad memories of making “Mad Max,” he pushed on with a sequel, Miller told The New York Times, because there was pressure to make one and he felt he could “do a better job with a second movie.”
Miller would indeed improve on “Mad Max” with “The Road Warrior,” which is considered one of the greatest action films of all time. (Three decades later, he would deliver an equally well-received companion piece in “Mad Max: Fury Road.”) It helped that he had a bigger budget and could recognize his mistakes. Cinema and the audience are better off that Miller didn’t give up after his first attempt.