Michael Bay on the set of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Photo Credit: Paramount)
It's not just surly Decepticons you have to watch out for when you're making a "Transformers" movie.
After four-and-a-half months of shooting in stateside without incident, Michael Bay and the crew of "Transformers: Age of Extinction" (a.k.a. Part IV) had quite a memorable first day of filming in Hong Kong when harassment by some locals escalated into something of a scuffle.
Not surprisingly, though, there's more than meets the eye with this encounter, as conflicting reports of what exactly happened (and how many people were involved) have already turned the incident into a Hollywood production in and of itself.
According to the original Reuters report, two brothers surnamed Mak, aged 27 and 28, approached Bay on the set of the new "Transformers" film and — for reasons unknown at the time of the reporting — demanded a payment of HK$100,000 ($12,900). The elder Mak then allegedly attacked Bay and then three police officers who tried to intervene. Both brothers were taken into custody, along with a third man surnamed Chan, and the three cops were treated at a local hospital for minor injuries.
Bay himself apparently suffered some minor injuries to the right side of his face but declined to seek treatment. Filming of the giant alien robots continued shortly after the incident.
Not too big a deal, right? As to be expected, Michael Bay put his own spin on the incident on his official website, turning the encounter into something that sounds like a scene from one of his own outrageous action films.
Bay revealed the culprits to be local vendors who were trying to "shake us down for thousands of dollars to not play his loud music or hit us with bricks." After Bay refused payment, one of them walked onto the set "carrying a long air conditioner unit" and proceeded to try to "smack my face." Bay then "ducked and threw the air unit on the floor" and "pushed him away."
Then the production's security team showed up ... and things got really interesting.
"It took seven big guys to subdue him," writes Bay. "It was like a Zombie in Brad Pitt's movie 'World War Z' — he lifted seven guys up and tried to bite them. He actually bit into one of the guard's Nike shoe, insane. Thank god it was an Air Max, the bubble popped, but the toe was saved. Then it took 15 Hong Kong cops in riot gear to deal with these punks."
Yes, the original report said there were only three police officers, though Bay, ever Hollywood's spiritual Falstaff, claims there were at least 15. Bay doesn't exaggerate the earlier reported amount of offenders too much, though, claiming "four guys were arrested for assaulting the officers" rather than three.
Somewhat unfortunately, Paramount has stepped in with what it deems the official statement — and which makes the incident sound barely worth mentioning. (That is, aside from admitting that anything that involves an air conditioner being used as a weapon qualifies as a "bizarre encounter.")
Director Michael Bay and the cast and crew of "Transformers: Age of Extinction" completed their first day of production in Hong Kong today October 17, 2013, after four and a half months of filming in Arizona, Utah, Texas, Michigan, Illinois and Washington state since late May.
Contrary to several erroneous news reports made today, Bay did not get hurt in a fight on set. The production company did have a bizarre encounter with a man (allegedly under the influence of a narcotic substance) who was wielding an air conditioning unit as a weapon. The man, who had earlier accosted several other crew members, rushed onto the set in Quarry Bay and swung the air conditioning unit directly at Bay's head. The director ducked and wrested the air conditioner from his attacker, preventing what could have been a serious accident. The company's security team quickly stepped in and subdued the assault. The police, who also scuffled with the assailant and two of his companions, ultimately arrested the three men. No one on the cast or crew was injured and the production immediately resumed filming without further incident.
Bay himself agrees with that last statement, writing "After that, we had a great day shooting here in Hong Kong."
Now, if only that air conditioner had transformed into a robot ...
"Transformers: Age of Extinction," barring any further incidents, will hit theaters on June 27, 2014.
- Michael Bay