If a film has excessive explosions, and generally chaotic energy in every character and event, chances are it is a Michael Bay film. The Transformers director has made a career out of creating blockbusters that are built around action set-pieces, with each film outdoing the last in terms of ridiculous and over-the-top action.
He has made landmark films such as Bad Boys, The Rock, Transformers, Armageddon, and more. While talking about his recent film with Jake Gyllenhaal, Ambulance, Bay spoke about the various obstacles he faced while making his debut film, the Will Smith starrer Bad Boys.
Michael Bay’s Unorthodox Shooting Style on Bad Boys
Before he became known as the master of mayhem, Michael Bay was directing commercials and music videos for David Fincher’s production company Propaganda Films. He had made commercials for Nike, Coca-Cola, and the Red Cross before he was selected to make his feature film debut by producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
Bay made his feature film debut with the action buddy cop film Bad Boys. The film starred Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and was considered to be the former’s breakthrough role in films as he was still starring on the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Bay reportedly hated the script of Bad Boys and allegedly improvised with the actors to create new scenes and lines of dialogue.
Talking about the iconic revolving shot that became a must-have in Bay’s filmography, he said, in an interview with Collider,
“I’ll tell you one moment. We’re driving to another location…and I’m like, ‘Stop the van. Stop the van. Stop the van.’ And I saw this sign, and I just saw a light. And I came up with this shot. I said, ‘Get the circle track. Get the circle track.’ My line producer comes out. ‘What are you doing, Michael? We’re going to be late…’ I said, ‘This is going to be a trailer shot.’ I come up with shots very fast. I put the circle track, and I said, ‘Guys, I just want you to bend down and rise up, and I’m going to come around you.’ Boom. There we go, huh? You know the shot.”
Bad Boys was a commercial success, earning over $141 million against a budget of $19 million, and spawned two sequels. Bad Boys II was also directed by Michael Bay. The original cemented Will Smith as an action star along with his appearance on Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day.
Sony Pictures Allegedly Caused Multiple Obstacles While Filming Bad Boys
Though Bad Boys ended up being a huge success, Michael Bay revealed that the production studio Columbia Pictures, or Sony, did not believe in the film. They were reported to be skeptical about the casting as, according to Bay, there were no films with Black protagonists that had succeeded in the overseas market.
Bay mentioned that Sony Pictures did not have faith in him as he was young at the time and it was his debut film. He mentioned to Collider, that they had a very rude line producer who used to stop working the moment his twelve hours were up. He said,
“It’s like, Sony had no faith in the movie, because two black stars never worked, until that movie, overseas. That’s the first movie that broke the whole mold…There were times when there was a line producer who was very mean to us. I mean, Will Smith was acting, and literally, the lights would just shut off in the middle of a take because it was 12 hours. The crew…they were not allowing me to hire any of my crew. And they were like, ‘That’s not going to cut. That’s not going to work. That’s not going to work.’”
Bay mentioned that he had to constantly convince the team to follow his instructions as they were reportedly discouraging towards his creative decisions, such as the pace of the editing and the humor of the film. However, Michael Bay, along with his producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, got the film made and it was released to a resounding success, thus cementing their position in the industry.