Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Oral History of Michael Bay

GQ.com has posted a long but very interesting article that is a combines interviews with many people that Michael Bay has worked with over the years to give you a profile on the very successful career of the world famous director on the eve of the release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Through quotes from friends, family and Hollywood stars and peers, it goes from childhood, to his big break with Bad Boys, and his other films to Transformers 3. The title is the article is right on the nose - "Blow-Up: An Oral History of Michael Bay, the Most Explosive Director of All Time." The people that pipe in include his mother, teachers, fellow directors like James Cameron, Ben Affleck, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Of course Michael Bay also is involved as are many of the Hollywood actors he worked with over the years including Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, and Shia LaBeouf. This is also the article that revealed why Megan Fox got fired. Below are a few quotes but really worth reading the whole article by clicking here.
Roberto Orci (screenwriter, Transformers): We're aware of how some people think, in terms of film history, he's the Devil. But it's amazing to have a movie where you can look at five minutes and go, "That's a Michael Bay movie." To have a style that distinct—like it or hate it, it deserves study.

Tony Scott (director, Top Gun, Days of Thunder): Michael and I come from commercials, we come from videos. And what that means is, we're practiced in shooting on tops of mountains, underwater, with actors and non-actors, with models—we've created our craft, because we get to try things all the time.

Will Smith (actor, Bad Boys): My first impression of Michael was that he was like...you know how at the go-kart races, there's always one kid who's got real wheels on his go-kart and everybody else got the plastic baby wheels? That one kid who always had it elevated? That was Michael. I think he had just done the Meat Loaf video—this guy had a plane crash in a music video. I was like, Damn.

Bay: [Sean Connery] kept calling me "boy." And one time he called me a "cock." [In Connery accent] "You cocksucker!" It was his last day of the shoot, and he didn't like holding his breath underwater. I had United States SEALs holding him down because there was a fireball going over the water, and if he came up, he would burn his face off. So whatever, he called me names.

John Frazier (special-effects supervisor, various Bay films): I went up to Shia one day and I said, "You just made history. You were involved in the biggest explosion for a motion picture with an actor. You were in it. Usually, you have stunt people in there." Five thousand gallons of gasoline. Probably one hundred sticks of dynamite. You only see that stuff in Michael Bay movies. Nobody else does that stuff.

White: He is extremely passionate about getting it right and making it cooler. And sometimes—to his own detriment—making it bigger, bigger, bigger!

Tyrese Gibson (actor, Transformers series): Sometimes, we'll be hanging out, and Michael just leaves mentally. You can tell, like, he's looking at you, but he's looking through you. His mind is somewhere else. He's thinking about a camera angle, some kind of visual effect.

Michael Clarke Duncan (actor, Armageddon): He's like one of those Chihuahuas that's always barking.

LaBeouf: He's got to be a motherfucker. Because there's 90 people marching to the beat of his drum, and there can't be any indecision. And so it's a character that Mike puts on; he's very smart, and you need that guy to make these movies.

LaBeouf: He's not at all this alpha male, this machismo legend shit—he's not any of these things. You know what he is? New York. If you can make it on a Bay set, you can make it on any set.
I really liked this article because Bay strikes me as my kind of people. I would love to just spend the day with Bay as I love blunt honestly (and really mean that versus most that say they do until on the receiving end). I just consider the way people dance around a point out of politeness to be inefficient and a waste of time. I believe him 100% when he says he doesn't care that Megan Fox compared him to Hitler. He got what he needed out of her for the movie. Liking him while making the movie just isn't a priority.

Reading a bit of background on each of his movies was interesting. I forget just how many actors whose careers he helped jump start to the next level with his movies. I still cringe at Pearl Harbor. It could have been an Oscar contender for Best Picture. While Shia blames the cast, all these years later I still think the problems came down to Bay/ If he had pulled back on the romance story and during the actual attack not forced the story to focus on main characters but simply made the attack the "main character" with everyone else shifting into "supporting" roles so that the chaos and drama of the event does the heavy lifting. He also didn't trust the music to help provide additional emotional heft. Those are still weaknesses that come up in his movies. We shall soon see if Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the next evolution of the Bay style.

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