michael bay

Without question, one of my favorite parts of my job is the Michael Bay stories. If somebody has worked with him, they usually have a good story to tell. Few filmmakers, if any, direct and act like Michael Bay. He’s one in a million, which is maybe why his movies tend to make hundreds of millions of dollars.

Someone else who has some great stories to tell about Michael Bay? Michael Bay. The filmmaker (and huge dog lover) usually discusses his work and collaborators with candor. His commentaries, for example, are highly entertaining. After listening to all of them and devouring his movie’s extensive bonus features – and having my mind consumed by Bayhem – I decided it was time to compile a list of the best Michael Bay stories…as told by Michael Bay.

Below, get to know the director of Transformers: The Last Knight a little more intimately.

Bay age of extinction

Michael Bay Knows His Audience 

When the director is making a movie for an audience, he wants to know which specific audience, which surprised one writer on The Rock:

I had a fight about the [inserted second act] car chase with one of the writers. I felt it was a way for me to help, after all this complicated setup, to help suck the younger audience back into it. I know that sounds weird, trying to make movies for demographics and whatnot, but that’s basically what it was. I had a fight with one of the writers. He said, “I’ve never heard a director talking about demographics.” I’m like, well, this is a writer who’s never actually had a script made into a movie. I said, “Let me tell you something. If you’re given $60 million, you better fucking know who you’re selling this movie to, because it could be the last time they ever give you $60 million. We’re in a business.

Transformers The Last Knight Nazi Controversy

Michael Bay and the Deadheads

The Pain & Gain director graduated from Wesleyan University after majoring in Film and English. Ever wonder what Bay was up to in college? He was rooming with a deadhead:

I remember the day when I went into Wesley University and met my roommate. My roommate was a deadhead. I didn’t know what a deadhead was, because I’m from Los Angeles, so I didn’t know what a deadhead was. Very nice guy. It was not fun when the Grateful Dead actually had concerts in Connecticut and no less than 20 deadheads sleeping in his room on the floor. I had an inside room, in a double room. I remember the stench of…I don’t know what they were smoking, but I remember it was wafting into my room. I had to get into my room and his head was in my doorway. I had to get rid of that stench, so I had to slowly push the door against his head and push him back into the other room and shut the door.

Epic conclusion, right?

Michael Bay directing Transformers 5

How Michael Bay Rolls With Actors

On the set of Pain & Gain, sometimes Bay would point out to Anthony Mackie how much bigger his co-stars were. He’ll sometimes resort to public humiliation, as Ben Affleck learned on Armageddon:

Ben’s a big trooper. He’s a great guy to work with. He’s always there, willing to do anything and take risks….I just wasn’t getting what I wanted [in one scene]. I do this nasty trick, and I said in front of everybody, “Ben, I know you haven’t done a lot of action movies, but this is how we would do it next time.” You say it so everybody hears. It’s partial public humiliation. I know what I’m doing by…I don’t mean it in a bad way. Everybody hears and Ben gets fucking furious. He goes, “I’ll show you how it’s done!” You amp him up until a point he gets mad and does it right.

For Bay, every actor has a button that needs to be pushed sometimes.

Bay Crew

Michael Bay Sticks With His Crew

Bay has been working with a lot of the same crew over the course of his career. On Transformers, he wouldn’t shoot without them, which came at a cost:

I do like to have a good enviroment on the set. I especially work with people I like being around, who look at it as a career, not a job. Let me tell you, I know everyone’s job on the set. I’ve been doing this since I was 24. I will be the first to point out to you when you’re not doing a good job. A director is only as good as his or her crew. The studio wanted to ship me off to Australia and then to Canada. I was trying to make it work [in Canada], but it’d be a waste of money. There’s no way the crew could do the serious kind of stuntwork we do on our sets, because they just don’t have a lot of great stuntwork up there. You have to ship up too many people. It’d be a lost cause. The studio gave me some grief, so I gave up 30% of my fee so I could shoot with my crew in America. That’s because I’m loyal to my crew. I just think they’re the best.

Transformers The Last Knight IMAX Featurette - Michael Bay

Michael Bay Feels the Love From Spielberg

Bay worked on Raiders of the Lost Ark and thought it was going to “suck,” but it ended up having a huge impact on him. He cites it, along with Star Wars, as two of the most important movies to him. It was Spielberg who hired Bay to direct Transformers and When he showed his producer a clip from the movie for the first time, his reaction clearly meant something to Bay:

The first time I showed this scene to Steven [with Transformers walking around Sam’s house]… I said, “Steven, I’m almost done with my rough cut. I want you to see some scenes. He goes, “No, no, no. I want to see it when it’s all done.” I go, “Come on, Steven, I want you to see this scene. He was watching this scene with the robots around the house. It was hysterical. He kept hitting me on the leg and laughing, like a kid. He goes, “I have never seen robots do this.” It was a funny moment, considering I filed this guy’s Raiders of the Lost Ark storyboards, and now this guy’s slapping me on the leg, saying he’s never seen robots. I’m like, “But you’re the dude who invented dinosaurs. You’ve seen everything.” He said he’s never seen this. That was kind of a fun moment. Another funny moment was when he saw the first cut at my house in the screening room, he kept giving me high-fives during the movie [Laughs]. Spielberg giving me high-fives during the movie. When a good scene came up, you’d see his arm come up.

The scenes with Sam’s parents, by the way, reminded Spielberg of a Robert Altman film.

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