Michael Benjamin Bay (born February 17, 1965) is an American film director and producer. He is best known for directing high-budget action-adventure films characterized for their fast edits and substantial use of practical effects. His films have grossed over 3 billion dollars world-wide. He is currently working on pre-production on Transformers 3, which begins shooting in May 2010.
Bay is a founding member of the commercial production house known as the The Institute, aka The Institute for the Development of Enhanced Perceptual Awareness. He is co-chair and part-owner of the legacied special effects house, Digital Domain. He co-owns Platinum Dunes, a production house known for its profitable remakes of classic horror movies including Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the forthcoming A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Intense slow motion shots of characters
Films often feature a US President giving a major speech before a major action is to be committed.
Has the camera moving during most scenes. Very rarely uses static shots.
(2001) His last 3 films all share: a) two male leads at odds with another; b) a cataclysmic event as the narrative’s fulcrumic point; c) the film’s lead female character has i) been a long-haired brunette, and ii) watched the film’s climax from a control room
Actors/characters in his films are almost uniformly shot in tight, emphatic close ups, framed under the hairline and above the chin.
Often uses lightflashes (i.e. lightbulbs and cameraflashes) to enhance scenes.
Often has over-the-top visuals (i.e. key events taking place at sunset or dramatic events taking place behind actors doing routine activities).
Utilizes monotonic but intense musical cues during action-filled car chase scenes (Bad Boys II (2003), The Island (2005)).
Uses shots of aircraft against a setting sun, especially helicopters (Armageddon (1998/I), Pearl Harbor (2001), Transformers (2007)).
Often features a slow-motion shot of an object crashing into, or tumbling towards the camera.
Uses a shot where the camera spins in a circle around characters. (Bad Boys II, Transformers)
Frequently incorporates scenes that involve characters running or moving towards the camera (almost always shot in slow-motion)
He occasionally makes cameo appearances in his films: in Bad Boys II (2003) he plays a guy driving a small beat-up old car which Martin Lawrence attempts to borrow, a NASA scientist in Armageddon (1998/I), and in Transformers (2007) he is the “disgusting” human that gets flicked away by Megatron.
Has worked with producer Jerry Bruckheimer on all of his films, until The Island (2005).
Is known for his high grossing action-packed movies. All of his movies have grossed more than $100 million, except _Bad Boys (1996)_ and _Island, The (2005)_.
Frenetic editing of action sequences.
Often includes one black character as comic relief (Eddie Griffin in Armageddon (1998/I), Leonard McMahan in The Rock (1996), Mark Christopher Lawrence in The Island (2005), the minstrely robots Skids and Mudflap in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)).
Most of his films have a shot of pilots running toward their aircraft for takeoff.
All his films have at least one shot of a man screaming in slow motion. Usually as a battle cry.
Dated Playboy centerfold Jaime Bergman (45th Anniversary Playmate).
Educated at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design in California and Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. Was rejected by USC’s film school.
Owns mastiff hounds named Mason after The Rock (1996)), Grace after Armageddon (1998/I), and Bonecrusher after Transformers (2007).
“Movieline” revealed in 2001 that Bay’s father is John Frankenheimer. Frankenheimer, who always denied paternity, took a DNA test in the 1980s which was negative. Bay still maintains Frankenheimer was his father, and has countered that DNA work was less sophisticated at the time.
Shot over 1 million feet of film for Pearl Harbor (2001). Used only about 20,000 feet for the final, 9-reel cut.
In Bad Boys (1995), Bay paid $25,000 (one quarter of his fee) for the climax explosion scene. The initial shot was made impossible by a rainstorm, and the production company refused to pay for another try.
Member of Propaganda Films.
Actors have often noted that he places more importance on the visuals than on his characters and actors. He is also known to do very few takes of intimate character- driven scenes, as he prefers to spend more time on action sequences and visually- interesting moments.
All his films up to and including Armageddon (1998/I) made him the youngest director to reach the billion dollar mark world wide.
Since the age of 26, Bay has won every major commercial directing award, including the Gold and Silver Lions at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. He also won the Grand Prix Clio for Commercial of the Year for his “Got Milk/Aaron Burr” commercial, which also won him the Museum of Modern Art Award for Best Campaign of the Year.
Filmed the movie Armageddon (1998/I) with an eye towards Middle America. Has a love for Americana.
Studied under film historian Jeanine Basinger at Wesleyan University; Basinger later provided audio commentary, along with Bay, for the Pearl Harbor (2001) DVD.
He is a very close friend of writer/director George Lucas from whom he often seeks advice. As a teenager, he worked at ILM in the storyboard department for films like Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
He is a very good friend to Don Michael Paul and even lent him some aerial shots from The Rock (1996) to Paul’s movie Half Past Dead (2002).
Ranked #47 on Premiere’s 2005 Power 50 List. Had ranked #54 in 2004.
He filmed the dynamic shots of the thrown dice in the gambling scenes for Adrian Lyne’s Indecent Proposal (1993). He later “repossessed” the shots for a montage in Armageddon (1998/I).
President of The Institute for the Development of Enhanced Perceptual Awareness, a commercial and music video production company.
The Rock (1996) is his favorite of the films he has directed and Sean Connery is his favorite actor that he’s ever worked with.
Two of his films, Armageddon (1998/I) and The Rock (1996), are in the Criterion Collection.
Uses a Mark V director’s viewfinder while shooting a film. The viewfinder is often prominently featured in photographs of him, hung around his neck. It is engraved with his name and the names of every film he has directed.
Was offered the chance to direct Red Dragon (2002) but turned it down. Job went to Brett Ratner.
Raised by parents Jim Bay and Harriet Bay (Michael adopted when he was two weeks old), and sister Lisa Bay.
Turned down the offer to direct Van Helsing (2004) , opting to do The Island (2005) instead.
Was offered the chance to direct Man on Fire (2004).
Was offer the opportunity to direct Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) but pulled out of the project due to scheduling conflicts.
Good friends with Ben Affleck.
Was considered to direct Superman Returns (2006).
Cousin of Leonard Nimoy.
Was challenged by German filmmaker Uwe Boll to a charity boxing match in 2008.
Despite the amount of special effects in his films, he considers himself an old school director, preferring analog over digital, both in shooting on film stock and keeping CGI shots to a minimum, staging practical action and stunts whenever possible.