What Michael Bay and 'Transformers' learned from TV
Big-budget movies go into production without a completed script with some frequency, so it was notable when the team behind the “Transformers” film franchise assembled a "think tank" to hash out a plan for the future of the series.
“Daredevil” season one showrunner Steven DeKnight was in this think tank, joined by “Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman, Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari (“Ant-Man”), Art Marcum & Matt Holloway (“Iron Man”), and Zak Penn (“X-Men: The Last Stand”) among others. Akiva Goldsman led the charge in charting the course for the future of the “Transformers” franchise.
DeKnight was on hand at today’s TCA (Television Critics Association) press tour to talk about the first season of Netflix’s "Daredevil." When asked about the “Transformers” experience, DeKnight said that it was “wonderful” that movies are now taking a page from television.
“It was a wonderful experience,” DeKnight enthused. “Akiva Goldsman was fantastic and Jeff Pinkner was phenomenal. It was just a room full of brilliant, funny, amazing people. And we spent two and a half weeks in physically the best writers room I've ever seen in my life. Paramount pulled out all the stops.”
“It was phenomenal,” the writer/director continued. “We laughed and joked and told stories and plotted out...”
At this point, DeKnight stopped himself before he revealed more than he ought.
“I can't say what we plotted out, but it was all very exciting and in the next few months we'll see what moves forward and what doesn't move forward.”
How this grand experiment will impact the franchise in the long-term “remains to be seen,” DeKnight said.
“I think the biggest thing something like that does when you're dealing with a franchise that is so global and makes so much money is actually taking a moment to really think things out,” DeKnight reflected. “Because a lot of the times, you go into production, you don't have a finished script or your script is still being worked on. And it's very difficult to work that way. I can't imagine. Especially with the second movie, when the writers strike happened and Michael Bay had to start prepping anyway. I can't imagine trying to prep a movie of that size and complexity and not having a locked script. And it happens all the time in movies. You just have to start because of people's availabilities.
"So my hats off to Paramount for trying something new in this way and really giving this writers room thing a spin. But for me, it was a fantastic experience. I loved it.”
His favorite moment came in the form of a visit from the “Transformers” franchise’s most iconic producer.
“One of the best experiences of that was when Steven Spielberg popped by one afternoon to just sit and talk and hear what we were working on,” DeKnight recalled. “Everybody was about to throw up, they were so excited.”
We shall see the fruits of the Transformers labor in the coming years.