August 26th, 2007
Guide to Organizing Your Mad Max Event
Choose the dates and times
Pick a date that will give you plenty of time to organize. You will spend countless hours location scouting, getting the word out around town, getting the main events organized, and finding a rig big enough to haul that fat tank of gas. Also, give your potential participants plenty of time to schedule time off from work and make their travel plans. I would recommend giving yourself at least 3 months to organize your event. And once you pick a date, stick to it! You will need it to advertise the event, and the fans who plan to travel to your event will depend on it!
Picking a good date will also get you more people. Try to pick a date that won't interfere with any plans for religious holidays. Halloween is a great time for an event, since the public will not see anything unusual about fans in costumes. The weather is also cooler, making it a better time to dress in leathers, helmets, and masks. Remember, however, that many of your participants have kids and that they may want to go trick-or-treating with them on Halloween night. Another good time to have an event is during another related event, such as a science-fiction convention or major car show. That gives people an extra reason to come out to your event.
Decide what you will offer
You have a multitude of options when deciding what to offer your participants. The more you have to offer, the more likely people will come. Here is a list of ideas:
- Mad Max replica vehicles
- Film cast/crew appearance
- Film screenings
- Parties at local bars or nightclubs
- Breakfast/lunch/dinner meetings
- A cruise down a major strip in town
- A car show
- A costume contest
- A meeting at a local racetrack
- A "roadwar" run down a highway with a semi-truck
Mad Max Replica Vehicles. This is what Mad Max is all about. Do whatever you can to guarantee at least one Mad Max replica vehicle at your event. Get as many to show up as possible. If it ends up that only one replica is planning on showing, make sure you're willing to help the owner with gas expenses, etc. to ensure the replica shows up.
Parties. You may be able to get a bar to host your party and even provide a band or DJ for free. If the bar knows that you can bring in customers (and even a few cool cars), many times they will even advertise the party for you. That requires that you keep the party open to the public, as opposed to reserving the venue and having a private party.
Cast & Crew Appearances. Many members of the cast & crew from the Mad Max movies currently live in the USA. You can fulfill many fans' wildest dreams by having an actor or crew member make an appearance at your event. Vernon Wells (Wez) made an appearance at Roadwar 151 and Roadwar Northwest, and fans loved him. He charges a $1000 appearance fee. You should also plan to pay for the actor's travel, food and lodging. Make sure you have some decent vehicle to transport your star (and his/her luggage) around town, such as a nice new Suburban. Contact Karol at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in contact with Vernon. Virginia Hey (Warrior Woman) is also available for appearances, but is more expensive. We are working on getting Bruce Spence's information, as well.
Film Screenings. Get a local theatre to hold screenings of the trilogy. The theatre may be able to cut costs by showing the DVD's, or by having a private screening in order to save on permit fees. You can also try a drive-in movie theatre, or rent/borrow a video projector and hold your own screenings. Fans may also wish to view documentaries such as "Back 2 The Max" and "Welcome to Wherever You Are." If you are considering a Drive-In theatre, make sure you contact them well in advance, since Drive-Ins require the actual film reels (DVD's will not work) and they may take time to order.
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner. Arrange meetings at various restaurants. Have breakfast with the cast/crew member at IHOP, have burgers at a 50's diner, have dinner at the Outback Steakhouse, etc. Make reservations when necessary. You might be able to combine the dinner and the party at the same place.
A Cruise down a Major Strip: This might be a good idea if you want to give participants an alternative to a highway run, and especially if you have a lot of vehicles and costumes to show off to the public.
A Car Show. This would be a good idea at any of your parties, and at the beginning or end of your cruise or run. Fans can also display their costumes and memorabilia, and it will give your star an opportunity to sign autographs.
A Costume Contest. This would encourage participants to come in costume and allow them to show off their costumes. Prizes can be given out for the best costumes.
A Meeting at a Racetrack. See if you can rent a track for a day, find a private road or lot, or can plan your event to coincide with a racetrack event.
The Roadwar Run or Convoy
Choose a highway at a time of day when there is a low chance of congestion. Plan on at the very minimum a 30 minute run (time flies when you're having fun). Plan your run so you start or arrive at a theatre, restaurant or other stop on the schedule of events.
Finding the semi-truck
Find a semi-truck either through your network of friends & co-workers, or through a local trucking company. Tell them you are organizing a cruise or parade and that you would like the truck to simply lead the convoy. Tell them you would prefer an R-series Mack truck with something resembling a fuel tanker. Get estimates and see what you can get. Make sure that your starting and ending points and all roads in between can accommodate a semi-truck.
The key to having a satisfying run is communication, especially between you and the truck driver. Make sure there is a walkie-talkie system set up, or an understanding that everyone should be picking up their cell phones. The manager of the run has to make sure that participants are not getting stuck at traffic lights while the truck is bolting down the freeway. The best run is one in which all of the vehicles are together and close.
If you would like to have the Roadwar soundtrack or other music simultaneously transmitted to all of the vehicles during the run, please contact Karol at email@example.com for more details.
Adding a Gyro-copter to your convoy
Gyrocopters, also known as gyroplanes, are owned by hobbyists all across the USA. Go to http://www.pra.org - or scour the internet to find any locals who might be willing to fly their gyroplanes above the convoy. Gyrocopter pilots are rumored to be closet fans of The Road Warrior.
The arrests at Roadwar 151 were an over-reaction by the San Antonio police to what was quite a tame run. Most of the trouble began when 911 calls poured in reporting a militia with machine guns on the road. The police public relations officer that organizer Chris Fenner had e-mailed failed to inform the police about the run. Consequently, a few irate cops decided that we should be arrested. We were charged with "obstruction of a highway", probably because they couldn't find anything else to charge us with. Half a year later, the judge threw the case out for lack of evidence.
Roadwar 101 and Roadwar Northwest ran without a hitch, with absolutely no problems with police.
Either way, here are things you can do that should decrease any chance of arrests at your event.
Dealing with the Police. The most important thing to do is to inform police about your plans. Contact the police chief(s) of the appropriate jurisdiction(s) (highway patrol, county, city) over e-mail or preferably in-person. Discuss the event, the run and your concerns with how a few paranoid citizens may over-react. Let them know that you will be meeting some friends & possibly strangers somewhere and that you just want to drive down to your destination together. Make sure they understand that the run is by open invitation, and that safe, considerate and legal driving will be encouraged, but that you have no control over who may show up and use the public roadways. Most importantly, see if you can get something in writing from them, or some form of proof that they were contacted. Write down names.
And for even further protection, you may want to ask about a police escort. You may even get on the police's good side if you invite officers to come out and check out the Mad Max police interceptors and pursuit specials.
Managing the Convoy. Unless your run is going to occur in a desolate uninhabited area, I would recommend that you actively discourage anyone from wearing military uniforms or anything resembling middle-eastern dress. As we learned in San Antonio, a few people's choices can get a lot of people in jail. Encourage participants to dress in leather, football pads, mohawks, or anything else that would identify them as Mad Max fans. The more distinctively Mad Max the vehicles & costumes in your convoy are, the better the chances you will not be mistaken for a militia or terrorists. Also, encourage everyone to be respectful of other drivers and to not act in a way that might seem threatening to regular drivers. Attaching American flags to the vehicles would not be a bad idea either.
Getting the Word Out
Your goal is to get as many people to show up as possible. I don't care how many hits Peter Barton's MadMaxMovies.com website gets every day, there just aren't enough hardcore Mad Max fans out there to fill up your event. Don't expect on having more than 10-15 real Mad Max fans plan to show up. And expect half of them to cancel during the last day or two. I'd say that getting a good turnout is the most challenging part of the whole thing.
Fortunately, Mad Max appeals to many different groups, including car buffs, bikers, sci-fi fans, and the goth and punk scenes. So use this to your advantage to fill up the event. Use every available way to get the word out!
The first thing you should do is put some ads and posters together. Use your skills, connections, or e-mail Karol at firstname.lastname@example.org, and get some nice ads together that you can use in newspapers, fliers and online. Make sure Karol has put a webpage together for your event on the RoadwarUSA website. Karol can also get word out to Mad Max fans through his mailing lists. You or Karol can also send an ad and short description of your event to Peter Barton, so he can put an ad up on his site, linking to your event's RoadwarUSA webpage. And then there's also the forum on Peter Barton's site.
Advertise on local online classifieds like Craigslist.com. Advertise on social networking websites like MySpace or Tribe.net. Find local muscle car and motorcycle clubs in your area and start e-mailing, or go to one of their monthly meetings and introduce yourself! Find out where the local sci-fi fans, goths (particularly "Industrial Goth" or "Rivethead") and punks hang out online and start chatting or posting ads.
During your trips across town, you will see several great cars or even people that you think would fit into the Mad Max theme of the event. Print out some simple business cards with the website address and contact info and carry a few of them with you in your wallet. Simply hand them out or put them on the vehicle's windshield. The advantage of business cards is you can get them made for cheaper than fliers, and if you're still in the early stages of planning, they can simply refer to the website so anyone interested can stay updated with the latest developments.
Check to see what car shows are scheduled in your area in the months preceding your event. Do a search on the internet for car shows in your state. Goodguys Rod & Custom Show is always a safe bet: www.good-guys.com. Bring your business cards or fliers. Better yet, enter your Mad Max vehicle. Better yet, wear a wicked Mad Max costume. Better yet, dress a couple of your attractive female friends up in costume and bring them too!
If you live in a smaller city or town, there might be an annual street parade that you can enter your Mad Max vehicle into. You can write your webpage address on the vehicle, and you and some friends can dress up in costume. It'll get the word out!
Local Papers, Radio Stations and TV Channels
Call or e-mail your local newspapers, including your small classifieds papers and especially the local trendy newspapers, radio stations and TV channels. Explain what you're doing (offering a free day of fun to your fellow man) and see what you can get in there for free - you'd be surprised.
Print up a bunch of fliers and drive around to all of the bike, hot rod, custom, 4 wheel drive, VW, etc shops in your area. Talk to the managers and leave fliers where customers will see them.
Paying for Your Event
Unless you have lots of great connections, or are a really good salesman, you will probably end up paying most of the costs out of your own pocket.
Here's a little rundown of the estimated costs to put one of these events together:
Probably the easiest way to lower your costs is to take advantage of your network of family, friends, co-workers and fellow fans. People who know you are more likely to help you out for free or at a discount. The first 2 Roadwar event organizers were able to acquire their semi-trucks free-of-charge through work contacts. To help with cast/crew appearances, ask fellow fans to help with the costs. They may be more than eager to help pay for a Mad Max star's hotel room or airfare.
Another way to pay for the event is to charge admission. However, there are disadvantages: a high charge may discourage people from coming, and it complicates the situation - you will need a barrier around the event or a guard at the door; you will need a cashier with change; you will need tickets or wristbands for those who want to come and go.
Getting some of your costs paid for by sponsors takes some professionalism and communication skills. It can definitely be worth it if your event, the participants and the sponsor can all get something out of it. Here are a few basic tips on getting sponsors:
First, write up a short-and-sweet description of your event. Then, write down a list of the types of people or groups who will be at your event (Mad Max fans, Sci-Fi fans, car buffs, etc). This will give your sponsor an idea of who their audience is. Next, write up a list of things you can offer your sponsor, such as:
Brainstorm potential sponsors. What kind of businesses want to attract your participants? What kind of businesses are your participants attracted to? Some ideas are: custom/hot rod car or bike shops, local restaurants or clubs, surplus stores, second-hand sports or clothing stores, eBay, Mad Max-themed video game makers, and any companies that employ a large amount of the local population.
Put together an estimate of the amount of media coverage your event will have and how many people will be reached by it. Use the "Getting the Word Out" section for help listing all of the types of media you will use.
Call your potential sponsors. When calling, make sure you ask if you have caught them at a good time, and if not, when to call back. Describe the event in a few sentences and say, "we would like to be your partner." Ask for a meeting.
Put together a package for your interested sponsors that includes your contact information, event posters, fliers, website addresses and ads. Write a proposal letter as follows:
• Paragraph 1 - In one sentence describe the event and say that you would like them to be your partner
• Paragraph 2 - Describe your audience and the planned publicity/advertisement
• Paragraph 3 - Say what you want and what you can give in return; describe benefits by using bullet statements
After the event is over, contact the sponsor and relay how everything went, including attendance, and audience reaction. Make sure you thank them. If you are considering additional events, ask if it would be alright to contact them again in the future to help sponsor other events.
Good Luck with Your Event!