So You Want To Direct Your Own Michael Bay Movie…
You’re a wannabe filmmaker, interested in making as much money as humanly possible. You have very little use for plot or characters, but you have a fetish for explosions and computer animation. You want to be thought of as an artist, but also like showing women’s rear ends on a regular basis. Who are you going to emulate? Paul Thomas Anderson? The Coen Brothers? Let’s get serious here. You’re going to go kneel at the altar of Michael Bay, the ridiculously rich pyromaniac behind Armageddon, Bad Boys and the Transformers series. Of course, if you want to BE Michael Bay, you have to know how to make a movie like Michael Bay. Luckily, I’ve put together this primer to help you include all of the Michael Bay cliches you need to make an extremely lucrative popcorn movie that will leave your audience dizzy.
The first thing you’re going to need is a script. More precisely, you’re going to need a concept, because Michael Bay doesn’t need a script, he just needs a concept. It helps to have a concept that’s huge but simple to understand. Try something like, “giant robots attack Earth,” or, “giant asteroids attack Earth,” or, “Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.” You’ll notice a pattern here. Have something big destroy something even bigger in your script. We’ll get to the reasons why later. Once you have a concept, you’re done with your script. No, you don’t really need dialogue. You’re not going to hear it beneath all of the explosions anyway (we’ll get to that later). And if the actors improvise all of the dialogue, it’ll leave you more time to worry about all of the explosions (again, we’ll get to that later).
Now that you have your script, it’s time to cast your movie. Putting together a Michael Bay cast is like putting together a baseball team: you need some all-stars, some veterans who bring experience, some rookies with potential, and some guys who have no right being on a Major League roster. Just look at the cast of Bay’s new film, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. You have Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson, who have all survived the first two movies. You’ve got Frances McDormand and John Malkovich, two actors making their debuts in the series but who bring some serious credentials with them. Then there’s Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, the model turned “actress” who could either be the talent in the rough or someone just taking up roster space, but neither of those matter, because she makes up another casting category: the babe. You’ve got to have a babe in your movie, someone the 13 year olds can slobber over between explosions (again, we’ll get to that later). Huntington-Whiteley fits right into the Liv Tyler/Scarlett Johannson/Megan Fox mold of girls who look good but don’t detract from the mayhem onscreen.
Once your cast is assembled, get a crew. Make sure your camera guys are fit, because they’re going to need to move around a lot. There’s a lot of moving camera in Michael Bay’s films. Speaking of moving, make sure you get fit grips as well, because they’re going to have to put down a ton a dolly track. Michael Bay loves dolly shots, and so should you. Get a good camera assistant, someone who knows how to turn the slow-mo on and off. Find the best helicopter pilots you can, preferably those who love flying as the sun is going down, because you’ll find a shot like that in almost every Michael Bay film. Get some drivers, and along with them, lots of cars, because you’re going to need a car chase, and your going to need car crashes. Finally, and most importantly, you’re going to need a good explosives guy. Why? Because it’s time to make your movie, and you know what that means….
EXPLOSIONS! You need explosions, and lots of them. In fact, your movie should start out with an explosion, end with an explosion, and have explosions throughout the film. Here’s a good barometer: If you’ve gone five minutes without an explosion, you’re doing something wrong. Hey, even Michael Bay knows this. Look at Pearl Harbor and The Island. They didn’t make as much money as his other films. Why? Too much story and NOT ENOUGH EXPLOSION! So, the more explosions, the better. If you feel like it, you can sprinkle in a little plot, some juvenile dialogue, and some booty shorts, as long as you don’t lose sight of the most important thing: EXPLOSIONS! If you’re really feeling creative, try this shot out: a slow motion, 360 degree dolly shot of a hot girl working on a car, which explodes as the sun sets. It may not be Oscar worthy, but who cares? It’ll make you a ton of money.
After that, your movie’s done. You just need to get some product tie-ins and merchandising, and you’ve got a guaranteed blockbuster. So, there you have it. You’ve got all the tools you need. Get out there, find someone willing to give you the $250 million you’ll need to make this epic, and make your Michael Bay movie already! And don’t forget the explosions!