Saturday, June 27, 2009

WSJ's "Master of Machines"

Found via, here is an interview with Transformers 2 director Michael Bay with the Wall Street Journal as he talks about some of the decisions he made while filming the movie and "corrects" Megan Fox on her perception that he don't do a Bay film for acting reasons.

This film features even more talking robots—based on the Hasbro toy line—than the first “Transformers.” Why add in more robots rather than humans?
Mr. Bay: That’s what fans wanted. The first film was really about us setting up the situation, and this movie is about us discovering what we could do better with that situation, how to make this most out of these special effects and these characters.

Did Hasbro force you to conform the aesthetics of the robots to match the style of its toy line? Did you have to make any compromises on characters for the sake of promoting Hasbro’s stable of pre-existing Transformers characters?
Not at all. I told [Hasbro] that I was going to do my own thing, and they really let me go off on the designs. They gave me carte blanche—it was pretty phenomenal. But I still listened to people who were in that world when they asked things like, ‘Can we make Optimus’s ears a little longer so he appears more in character?’ That’s easy to do. And a lot of the artists and people that we hired were fans of Transformers growing up, so having so many fans working on my crew really kept me on point. There are things that I invented—the creaky geriatric robot that is always grumpy, for example, or the little wheelie guy, he’s not in the Hasbro lore. But kids love that stuff—this little guy as a pet on a chain. They gravitate towards it.

Did you add testicles to the robots, too?
No, those are construction balls.

Uh-huh. So, now that you’ve finished the sequel of “Transformers,” are you ready to direct the third installment of the franchise?
I just want to take some time off. It’s been almost three years that I’ve devoted myself entirely to this world of robots. At some point, enough is enough—and I literally carried this movie on my back. I only finished it in the last week. It was a tough movie for me to finish—especially with the writers’ strike, the possible SAG strike. At one point, we were the only union movie in America shooting—Hollywood was so messed up from those two events.

So you don’t want to do another sequel?
I don’t know who [would] want to take on my shoes with this franchise. We might just take a year down.

What’s next for you, then?
I’ve been talking to some big actors right now about something that is totally different. A small dark comedy, a true story, with actors just acting, no effects. I’m done with effects movies for now. When you do a movie like “Transformers,” it can feel like you’re doing three movies at once—which is tiring.

It’s interesting that you want to focus on acting. Megan Fox, one of the leads in “Transformers” has criticized your films for being special-effects-driven and not offering so many acting opportunities. Do you agree?
Well, that’s Megan Fox for you. She says some very ridiculous things because she’s 23 years old and she still has a lot of growing to do. You roll your eyes when you see statements like that and think, “Okay Megan, you can do whatever you want. I got it.” But I 100% disagree with her. Nick Cage wasn’t a big actor when I cast him, nor was Ben Affleck before I put him in “Armageddon.” Shia LaBeouf wasn’t a big movie star before he did “Transformers”—and then he exploded. Not to mention Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, from “Bad Boys.” Nobody in the world knew about Megan Fox until I found her and put her in “Transformers.” I like to think that I’ve had some luck in building actors’ careers with my films.
(Bay didn't actually counter Fox's comments. He has an eye for talent and definitly builds careers but his movies are not studies in acting. - TFLive)

With all the recent emphasis on 3D and technology in movies, do you think we’ll see some directors emerge out of the special effects houses?
Mr. Bay: People have come before from the special effects houses and have not done well. People can come from anywhere—but its really about telling stories. Either you’re born to do this or you’re not.

Speaking of effects, What about 3-D? Are you a fan? Will we watch the third “Transformers” movie in three dimensions?
I prefer the flat screen. I’m not jumping to do 3-D at all—it’s a pain in the neck to shoot it and I actually like the flat image. I’ve heard that some people can’t even see 3-D and, moreover, that a major side effect of watching it is feeling exhausted. Can you imagine how you’d feel watching one of my movies in 3-D?

You really shot all those scenes [in ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”] at the real pyramids?
One of the things that I pride myself on is that in situations where people say, “You can’t do that,” somehow I am always able to pull it off. I did it with “Pearl Harbor” and I did it with “Armageddon,” with the space shuttle, and luckily [Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities] Dr. Zahi Hawass, who runs the pyramids, was a fan of the first “Transformers”—so he let us film there, even though we’re the first film to do so in 30 years.

Those pyramids get pretty beat up in the film. Did they crumble during the filming?
The destruction is all effects. We were very, very careful. We didn’t break anything!


  1. I just took my 5, 7 and 11 year old boys to see the Transformer movie. We are avid Transformer fans. The special effects in the movie are AWESOME as my 7 yr old put it. I , as a parent, was very disappointed in the unnecessary inappropriate language in this movie.My 7 yr old would look at me with shock when he heard some of the cursing. We would have been able to enjoy this movie so much more if those parts were left out. Unfortunately we were very uncomfortable because of it. It would be nice if you are going to gear a movie to a younger age group, that you could give parents the option of watching the movie without the foul language. You might make more money with that option. I know a lot of parents that would not take their children to see Transformers because of the foul language. We definitely won't be buying this movie! SAD

  2. Thunda Chunky6/28/2009 2:04 PM

    I kinda have to agree with you, Anon. I saw it twice and I thought all the testicle jokes were over drawn (and as a 19 year old, I make plenty of nut jokes). But unlike you, I'll definitely be buying the DVD =]

  3. Maybe next time, you'll consider the fact that its PG-13! Not for 5, 7, and 11 year olds. When he means that its for the "kids" he means ages 13 - 18 or 19. He's an action director! I don't think he'll be focusing on films for Toon Disney. I personally think it just add more character to the robots..otherwise it wouldn't really relate to society, but i dont know, thats my opinion. I'll DEFINATELY be buying the DVD. =]


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