The Lost City Directors Made A Transformers Short Film To Pitch Themselves For Bumblebee [SXSW]

Our wildest dreams can be achieved with the smallest of stepping stones. In an interview with "The Lost City" directors Aaron and Adam Nee at SXSW conducted by /Film's Jacob Hall, the filmmaking duo revealed they made a "Transformers" short film to pitch themselves for 2018's "Bumblebee." While the directors did not end up working on the project, which was ultimately directed by Travis Knight, the sweet, simple-yet-powerful nature of the short allowed them to carve a path towards success, culminating in the making of "The Lost City," which premiered on SXSW on March 12, 2022.

Check out Aaron and Adam Nee's short film below.

'Greetings and salutations, I'm Bumblebee'

While the Nee brothers shot "Bumblebee" as a fan film, the short got circulated around enough for them to be a part of bigger, higher-stakes projects. Adam Nee went on to explain the influence of Amblin and Robert Zemeckis movies, and how the short helped guide them to where they are right now:

"You know, I think it was a very wild journey, and sort of started with taking some meetings on some bigger things. Aaron and I, we grew on Amblin movies and [Robert] Zemeckis movies, and we've always wanted to make those types of movies. And we had an opportunity to pitch on the Bumblebee movie, and it felt like a rare opportunity for us to go here. We can do bigger stuff. And so Aaron, who's an animator and can do visual effects, created the CG Bumblebee. And we shot a short film with his daughter and Bumblebee. And that short film, I feel like we did not end up getting the movie, of course, but it got passed around so much that it got us into the conversation for a lot of bigger movies because it felt like, "Oh, okay, these guys can do more than just like a small film." And so really, that just kind of put us on the circuitous route that led to this movie, really. I mean, it's one of those things that you don't see in Hollywood, where there's so many movies that you develop on, and they don't end up going, or you do this, or you write that and they're all leading, they're all building. And that's kind of how we got to this place."

The premise of the "Bumblebee" short is pretty straightforward, considering that a narrative is developed over a span of 3 minutes. A child (Clover Nee) is seen spending time alone at home, melting ice cream over Rice Krispies and watching John Carpenter's "The Thing." This setting itself works pretty well for the narrative, relaying smaller details via visual storytelling alone, which reaches a crescendo when Bumblebee emerges from the earth and establishes a friendship with the child.

The 2018 "Bumblebee" movie, directed by Travis Knight, went on to receive positive reviews and opened with the Autobot resistance led by Optimus Prime. The film stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, and Dylan O'Brien as the voice of the titular Bumblebee.

"The Lost City" will be released in theaters on March 25, 2022.