Posted on Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
We’ve heard about this core trio in the movie, but can you talk about where you came up with the idea for this sub-plot with Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammer’s characters, and how it fits in to the whole thing?
Bay: I’ve always been fascinated by the CIA. [laughs] Stanley’s character literally came from like, we had the raid with the helicopter, and we tried to get the tail, and whatever … that’s exactly what would happen in Chicago. What would he do if there was a spaceship over there and a kid took a robot hand? Imagine the war’s over. There’s shit everywhere. They’re gonna take that shit, and people are going to figure out how the hell is this stuff made, how is it engineered, and try to reverse engineer it.
Can you talk about what you’re filming today?
Bay: This is a little section of a bad day in Hong Kong. [laughs]
In the third film, it seemed like the shot length that you had was forced to be longer because of the 3D. With the technology that you have now …
Bay: You should have been with us two days ago. We did thirty-second shots, with bombs, with actors, one single shot, we did like four of them, really complex. They take hours to set up and you don’t want to screw them up, you know what I’m saying?
Is that going to be in IMAX 3D?
Bay: No, because the IMAX 3D, you can’t focus … it doesn’t converge. It’s like two eyes. You can go look at it, it’s on the Porsche. The lenses can’t get close enough. It’s basically like the human eye, which means it can only photograph about twelve feet away, otherwise it’s unusable. That’s just the way that camera is set up.
Has the technology allowed you …
Bay: We did it in regular 3D. Lugging a camera around that’s hand-held.
But it allowed you to go back to the shorter shots you used in past films?
Bay: No. 3D is always better when your brain has three or four seconds. You get the most 3D effect when it starts about three to four seconds, that’s when it starts feeling 3D. And then what you do, quick shots are always flat. But the weirdest thing is, your brain tricks itself into thinking its 3D, when it’s not. I could give you a test. It just does this weird thing. But fast shots are always flat.
Can you talk about the personalities of the new bots you’re trying to bring in on the heroic and villainous sides?
Bay: They’re different, they’re fun. Some are crotchety, they hate being the underdog all the fucking time. You know what I’m saying? “Fuck this shit, you know?” [laughs] They’re tired!
Have you already filmed your craziest thing? Or is that still coming up?
Bay: No, no, no. We’re going to do a lot of crazy stuff, but not yet.
What’s that going to be?
Bay: A big scene in Chicago. A big scene.
Is that your favorite stuff to film?
Bay: I like everything. I like to change it up. Like just working with the giant grenades in there, that was fun to film. Did you see those grenades?
Yeah. At this point, how much of this process is purely an intuitive one, and how much planning does it require?
Bay: Lots. I’ve got a great crew, but I’ve got to tell ya, when I was finishing Pain & Gain, I was like, “Oh my God, I’ve got so much work!” You know? You could easily have a nervous breakdown and freak out, but you just go one shot at a time. I have a great crew. It takes months, months.
It seems like you’ve always given your comic actors room to improvise. On Pain & Gain, that experience, from what we saw on the sizzle reel, it seems like they’re being given more room. Can you talk about that?
Bay: What do you mean, “more room?”
How do you decide to go about approaching shooting? Do you just do the script first and then free it up for the next, second, third, fourth take?
Bay: It’s however you feel, you know? Whatever feels right for the scene. You rehearse it, you talk about it, and then … when I do action stuff, I have an idea and my crew knows, they roll with me, you know what I’m sayin? If you were here yesterday afternoon and it was bedlam. We had beautiful light, gorgeous light, a train exploded, cars flipped over, boom!
We’ll wait for you to re-do that. [laughs]
Bay: It was really a magical moment, just the light was beautiful. Once you get in the zone, you’re in the zone, you know what I’m sayin? [laughs]
When you’re in the zone on production here, what do you do to zen out? Do you have any time to chill out?
Bay: I took a nap. [laughs] Take a nap. I learned that from Ridley Scott; take a nap. Steven Spielberg; take a nap. Just go to the trailer and take a nap.
It’s been a few years since the last Transformers. Were there any sequences you wanted to do for this one that you felt that you couldn’t before? But now that the technology is there…
Bay: Yeah, I think there are.
Are there any that you’re looking forward to?
Bay: Yeah. Yeah. [laughs]
What is the location of Hong Kong allow you that doing stuff in the U.S. didn’t?
Bay: You know, I just think it’s a cool looking city. It’s such a mixture of amazing buildings next to an apartment tenement, you know? I saw this apartment, I walked in and it was just like a courtyard and I saw more air conditioners and stuff, and I came up with this whole action sequence right there. Like, “Oh, let’s parkour down,” in this great crazy chase where you can literally jump and grab on stuff and hang on stuff and make your way down. So, they don’t really have that here, but I just think it’s a different look.
Mark talked about his contributions to the story and to the script. How much guidance do you like to give your actors, and do you prefer to just find the right people like him and let him loose in certain circumstances?
Bay: I just think, you know, you’re a father who’s struggling and trying to protect his daughter, and there’s a lot of obvious stuff there. We just talk about it as we’re writing it, we talk about it, tweak things, you know. We wrote the idea down, and then once we knew who was in it, we kinda tailored it.
What is it about him, and how quickly did you discover that you wanted to bring him into this after Pain & Gain?
Bay: Well, I mean, I would have taken Dwayne, too. So it’s not like … [laughs] Honestly, when I went to see their availabilities, and I asked what was Dwayne’s availability, Dwayne wasn’t available. So what is it about Mark?
Bay: He’s a fuckin’ asshole. [laughs] He’s gonna read that and think, “Is that what he thinks about me?” [laughs] He’s a great guy. He’s so prepared. He’s so easy-going. He just gets my vibe. He’s so open to direction with zero attitude. He knows his script so well, he knows where he is, his character. He reads the script cover to cover, that’s part of his process, which I find fascinating. He knows everyone’s lines, and he knows exactly where he is, I never have to explain where he is as a character. He a very prepared guy.
I’m interested in your process. What’s a day in the life of Michael bay? Can you walk us through it?
Bay: I dunno, we’ve got a lot of stuff going on. We’ve got three TV shows, Ninja Turtles, another small movie Almanac. And we released The Purge this summer. It’s divided up in my company by different people handling different things, you know? So, I could go to Black Sails, but I was watching dailies and art direction pictures and things like that, so there’s a guy there I communicate with.
Are you going to do another small movie after this?
Bay: Maybe. I had a fun time doing that.
Do you know what it might be?
Bay: The only non-fun thing was that I tried to save money and bring in some people that were inexperienced … that’s a bad idea. [laughs] Never doing that again. You know what I’m saying? Try to give people breaks and …
Any idea of what you might want to do?
Bay: I don’t know. I don’t know. There’s an African elephant thing that keeps … I always wanted to do one of those stories.