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No one does action quite like Michael Bay. Love his movies or hate them, there’s no denying the director has an incredible eye for action and his latest movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction, is the biggest one yet. The effects, the locations, the stunts, all of it suggests a budget and freedom few filmmakers would ever enjoy. Which, actually, isn’t true. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told us despite the continued success of the Transformers franchise, they aren’t given a blank check. In particular, Bay’s action scenes have to be very carefully constricted to make sure everything stays on budget.

Below, read di Bonaventura talk about how the Michael Bay action scenes in Transformers: Age of Extinction are accounted for in the budget, which is a little more backwards than you’d imagine.

Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Transformers: Age of Extinction producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

/Film: When you sit down to produce a movie of this size, is there even like a limit to how much you guys can spend after the success of the franchise?

Lorenzo di Bonaventura:  Oh yeah. Yeah. No studio will give you unlimited. There’s no question each one has gotten more expensive. But, you know, both Michael and I are businessmen as well as filmmakers. So we understand the equation. We’re don’t just think “Okay, we get as much money as we can, we could do whatever we want.” We put our own constraints on ourselves in a way.

So where do those come from?  How do you decide “This is where we don’t want to skimp and this is where we can skimp?”

For instance, having done a bunch, we know how many shots will accomplish how many visual, action sequences.  So we say to ourselves, “All right, we’re gonna force ourselves to stay within a certain number of visual effects shots.” And by doing that, you keep yourself in a sense as your own monitor. Because you then design the scenes so that you’re using the proper amount of shots. And there’s always a little flexibility in that, but, you know, we’ll keep a five percent flexibility or something.

It’s pretty insane that even Michael Bay, with a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, has those kinds of restrictions. It’s even more surprising that a scene stars not with a specific idea, it starts with a number of shots they can afford to use.

We’ll have more from di Bonventura later this week.

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