In a recent interview with the New York Times Michael Bay reveals some tidbits about the forthcoming Transformers 4. Check out the interview below and share your thoughts on this after the JUMP!
LOS ANGELES — “What do we do? What do we do? What do we do?”
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Michael Lewis for The New York Times
The director Michael Bay.
Michael Bay was whispering these words to himself, mantra style, and biting his fingers as he perched at his computer like a bird of prey. On the second floor of his office in Santa Monica, he was holding a videoconference with artists at Industrial Light and Magic, the special-effects company, and something was bothering him.
As Mr. Bay watched ILM’s preliminary animation for his latest “Transformers” movie, blocky images of giant robots trading blows in the middle of a city, his visceral reactions, often with variations on the word “cool” — “That’s pretty cool”; “We can do something cooler”; “Maybe you could get a nice slice through his face” — seemed to signal approval.
But he was dismayed by footage from “The Last Ship,” a television pilot he is producing, deeming a scene of two men leaping simultaneously from a moving helicopter to be “lifeless” and “a complete fake.”
Striving to be diplomatic, at least with a reporter in earshot, Mr. Bay told the artists: “I would rip every one of these shots apart, right, guys? But these are my friends.”
These are the kinds of images — aggressive, explosive and relentless — that Mr. Bay, the 48-year-old director and producer, sees all the time on movie screens, monitors and sometimes in his sleep. Even when he isn’t fully articulating his expectations, he knows when what he sees deviates from the film he imagines.
“I don’t always know what I’m doing,” said Mr. Bay, a tall, lean man who speaks in a smooth growl, “but you’ve got to jump off the cliff with me and just hope.”
In his latest film, “Pain & Gain” — for which, Mr. Bay said assuredly, “I had a pretty good idea in my head” — it is tempting to see a quick and inexpensive response to the excess that his films are known for. It is a project all the more surprising for the fact that its director doesn’t quite see it in these same terms.
“I wanted to do a quirky movie,” he said. “I wanted to do something small, just actors acting. It was almost like film school again for me.”
For nearly a decade, Mr. Bay contemplated a dark comic caper based on the real-life exploits of Miami bodybuilders who fumbled their way through extortions, kidnappings and murders. On a rare break between “Transformers” movies, he finally made that film, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson and which Paramount will release on April 26.
Mr. Bay could boast that “Pain & Gain” was shot in 42 days, that it cost about $26 million (compared with $195 million for the last “Transformers”) or that it features only one scene of a car blowing up. But he prefers to emphasize its message. “It says a lot about life in a weird way,” he explained. “People just don’t appreciate what they have.”
In his career, Mr. Bay has had plenty to work with. Through action films like “Bad Boys” and “The Rock,” his man-versus-asteroid thriller “Armageddon” and three installments of “Transformers,” based on the Hasbro toys, he has become synonymous with the bigness of Hollywood movies: big budgets, big box-office returns, and big, big differences of opinion about whether they’re any good. To the extent that Mr. Bay acknowledges his own reviews, he says he is not striving for any artistic credibility he has somehow been denied. But he recognizes that sheer bigness becomes confining — an obstacle to making movies as rapidly as he wishes.
“When they get too big, it becomes un-fun,” he said. “You just see the money leaking away.”
But when you are Michael Bay, what does it mean to work small?
There is not much modesty to the Bay Films office, housed in a brick building that was once an auto-body shop that Mr. Bay, a Southern California native, frequented as a young man. Today it teems with artifacts from his “Transformers” films, which have sold nearly $2.7 billion in tickets worldwide, and replicas of villains like Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger from the “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” horror remakes produced by his Platinum Dunes company.
Mr. Bay himself was trickier to locate as he bounced between meetings about a new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie he is producing, and a fourth “Transformers” movie whose start date was weeks away.
“That’s when you want to blow your brains out,” he said, “because you’re thinking, ‘Oh my God, so much pressure.’ ”
But on some level Mr. Bay enjoys being frenetically busy and working under adverse conditions. In his favorite anecdotes, he is the underdog who pushes back against those who thought they knew better — whether it’s Will Smith, who he says didn’t want to bare his chest in “Bad Boys,” or Jeffrey Katzenberg, who he says didn’t find the movie humorous at first — and who then prevails.
On the first “Transformers,” Mr. Bay said, he was chided by Steven Spielberg for allowing actors to improvise too much.