Forbes: Michael Bay on Doritos, The Super Bowl, and Transformers 4
FORBES: Why did you agree to take part in the Doritos contest?
MICHAEL BAY: I got a call from my agent asking if I wanted to do this Doritos thing. It sounded like bullshit to me. I’d seen their commercials at the Super Bowl and I thought they were done by pros. When I found out they were amateurs, I thought it was a great way to help a young filmmaker break into the business.
What will the winner actually get to do on the Transformers 4 set?
Replace me as director. No, we’ll see who the person is and depending on what he is interested in being, a producer or a director, we’ll try to tailor the job. It’s all hard work when you’re working on a movie.
How were you initially able to break out of commercials?
You make it sound like jail. What they tell you in commercials is you can only shoot women or action or funny. They try to pigeon hole you. I said I’m going to use commercials as a stepping stone. I’m going to combine funny with action and cool photography and do drama and emotion.
I put together a reel of 12 commercials. A lot of them were really recognizable. It made the rounds to all the studio heads and pretty soon I was meeting with all of the presidents of the studios. I got a call that Steven wanted to meet me and it was Steven Spielberg. Jerry Bruckheimer saw it and gave me a chance with Bad Boys.
Do you think that could happen to someone today or has the business changed too much?
The business has changed but there is such a great need for directors right now. You’ve got to have something different. There are so many great avenues now, especially with TV. TV is exploding.
Is there any one of the five Doritos commercial finalists you’re rooting for?
I can’t say. That wouldn’t be fair.
I think it’s very cool of Doritos to be doing something like this. When I called the five finalists to congratulate them, it was hysterical.
Let’s talk about Pain & Gain which opens in April. What was it like working with such a small budget?
It was tough. We had to suffer a little. A normal movie has 150 scenes. This had 280, which makes it difficult. I had a great time with the cast. We did it fast and inexpensively but it looks great for the money. The actors were a blast to work with. There was no drama with them. They brought their A game.
Will we be surprised by anything we see from Mark Wahlberg or The Rock in the movie?
I think you’ll be surprised by The Rock’s performance. He’s really good in this movie. He takes on a whole new persona. What’s interesting about Mark is that he commits 100%. He become the character. It’s a fun movie. It feels different. Audiences who have seen it can’t compare it to another movie which is good. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but it’s a true crime.
Do you think this will change what people expect from a Michael Bay movie?
I don’t care about that at all. I did it to have fun. I don’t care what other people think of me. This is something I wanted to do.
The shoot was a little harder on me because I had younger assistant directors and it was a little more guerrilla. I wanted to do that but it just made it a little tougher but taught me something. I keep analyzing the film business and there’s so much waste. We’d do a scene with eight or nine people around and I wouldn’t want more people to be there. It wouldn’t be any better.
Will that change the way you do anything on Transformers 4?
We’re going to start off smaller. There’s a brand new cast. To freshen the franchise we’ve redesigned everything from top to bottom. The history of the first three movies is still there, we start four years later and there’s a reason why we’re meeting a new cast.
Mark is really excited about it and it’s a great redesign. I said that 3 [which grossed $1.1 billion] was going to be my last one. Paramount was letting me do Pain & Gain and the Transformers ride was opening at Universal and it was bittersweet to think of passing it off. I wanted to set it up on a really sure footing and to bring someone else in on that, it would have been overwhelming.
So is 4 a reboot?
No, that’s wrong. We keep the Transformers the way they were, it’s just four years later. There’s a reason the Transformers are redesigned. We’re trying to broaden the franchise and give it more places to go.