"This one," he said, "is barely going to make it to theaters. You have no idea how complicated my life is."Personally I always liked a realistic tone to Transformers. It has always fit the franchise like a glove; just see last two seasons of Beast Wars and pretty much all of Machine Wars. It just takes creators with the right approach and open mindedness to get the full potential. Shoot the comic films and the like that work best (Spider-Man, Batman, X-Men, etc) work best when writers and directors approach it as very real rather than tongue in cheek. If they are unable to take the material seriously then they are no appropriate for the job, thankfully something Steven Spielberg recognizes. As for the McG/Bay thing, it was essentially two guys comparing sizes ("my movies is bigger", "no mine is", etc) and contained no Transformers 2 information so I just chose to ignore it.
With this new film, he describes the "huge canvas" of its visual effects in terms of computer memory -- at Industrial Light & Magic, the San Francisco effects house, the first "Transformers" movie took up an astounding 15 terabytes; the new one required 140 terabytes. "That breaks every record," said Bay, who is far more Barnum than Bergman.
"The way I do it, we work hard, we work fast," Bay said. "We shoot 12-hour days. . . . One thing I can't stand about Hollywood is waste. I've gotten to be a very, very efficient shooter. On average, these type of sequels run in the $230-million to $240-million range and we're shooting this for a flat $200 million. A lot of these directors have second unit the entire time, that's millions of dollars just wasted. We do it all ourselves."
Bay likes to conserve his budget so he can film in exotic places that other directors find too difficult to access and, along with emphasis on pyro work and stunts, gives his productions the vibe of daredevil tourism. On this new film, he "weaseled" his way into the Giza pyramid complex in Egypt ("We were the first movie in 30 years to shoot physically on the pyramids") where he shot with a 150-member crew for three days and, a few days later, he took his team to the top of the rock-carved architecture of Petra in Jordan, where military helicopters ferried 36 loads of gear to the perilous perch.
The choppers, by the way, were thanks to a Jordanian prince who loved Bay's first robot movie, while in Egypt it was Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, who turned out to be "a big fan of 'Transformers,' " Bay said, sounding surprised himself.
"We're still not quite sure how he does it when he's directing," says screenwriter Alex Kurtzman, who worked on both "Transformers" films. "People who work closest with him call his method 'Bay-os' because it feels like wartime chaos. There are explosions going off in every direction and half as many cameras flying all over the place, and you stand there thinking none of it's going to make any sense, then you watch the scenes cut together and realize something shocking: He's choreographed a ballet. He knows exactly which pieces he's going to use from each camera and he'd already cut the scene together in his head."
"To make a movie like 'Transformers,' " he said, "you have to shut out everything that's out there . . . we work on it every single day for two years."
He sounded skeptical about directing a third "Transformers" and still surprised that he made the first two. Steven Spielberg came to him with the pitch 3 1/2 years ago, but Bay, no fan of superhero cinema, thought a franchise about alien robots sounded like "a very bad idea." He changed his mind when he considered a dark, realistic tone instead of a shiny, cosmic tale.
In recent weeks, Bay has been in a public spat with McG, whose "Terminator Salvation" has giant robots that Bay feels look too much like "Transformers." Bay has had a number of feuds (because, he explained, "I say what I think") but it turns out that sometimes the explosions are fake. With a wink, he admitted that he phoned McG to turn up the volume. "I told him, 'We're like boxers going at it this summer,' " Bay said. "We have to have some fun with it."
Friday, May 22, 2009
LA Times Profile On Bay
As part of a sneak peek of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the LA Times also wrote a profile on director Michael Bay where he discusses his career and working on TF2. Below are a few highlights and the full article can be found here.