Transforming into a Hollywood Star

Transformers set

Our planet was once a powerful empire, peaceful and just, until we were betrayed by Megatron, leader of the Decepticons. So said Optimus Prime….. and Michael Bay the director of yours truly in amongst his other leading stars (Sir Anthony Hopkins, Ben Affleck, Megan Fox..) this summer. Yep, 2017’s blockbuster Transformers has a kiwi star in it! JACS!  Though truthfully my star in this film is just one in a million others. As my first ever blockbuster film I was pretty excited to be involved. (combined with my movie taste which equates to that of most teenage boys).

We first got approached by email from Bay Productions about doing some horse work as extras, but in all honesty it seemed too crazy to be real and we thought it was a hoax. Can you imagine someone ringing you up out of the blue saying… hey we would like to feature you alongside Bumblebee, Optimus prime and Mark Whalberg? Haha. Pretty crazy right?!

Transformers set

However six months later myself and my friends found ourselves at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire UK. Charging down million dollar camera equipment on horseback swinging polo mallets. The thing that surprised me the most about this set was how hard they worked. How diligent they were and how committed the team was to realising their vision.

We were on set each day by 8am, and we were one of the last to turn up. The wardrobe team had to put us and all the extras through makeup, costume and feed us before we then sat on (humane society managed) horse-back for the next ten or so hours. And that’s no exaggeration. For what equated to perhaps three minutes of film, we repeated moves and scenes and sounds literally for hours with only minimum breaks. There was no Hollywood special treatment either. The stars were shooting scenes late into the night after we left, with their day extending well into 16 hrs.

Transformers set

The cool stuff:

Meeting Michael Bay was pretty cool. He is very good at what he does, and as the critics said “The Last Knight” has “more visual and sonic imagination than most superhero films”. He is very certain of what he wants to achieve and like most CEO’s ensures that his team is focussed and delivers. So with so much fame I was pretty intimidated to meet him… but he was cool to us. Also, he rescued a dog during the film which in my book makes him a good man with a good heart. Haha

Special Effects: This surprised me… they try to shoot as much “real footage” as possible. For a film that was described as “a towering special effects extravaganza”, they spent a lot of time and money using real sets (such as hiring the entirety of Blenheim palace) vs using green screens. They also used real people for the roles, for example we really do play student polo for Oxford and Cambridge. They chose to use us over the many world-class players that live locally.

Being in hair and makeup gave me chance to pretend I was an international superstar and I loved every second of the attention. I got some pretty direct feedback on my strengths and weaknesses for the camera. Which I found hilarious as I like to think I’m quite self aware.

Getting kitted out: we got to wear some sweet sweet threads by La Martina (@Lamartinapolo) who are the world’s leading polo brand. Looking good definitely helped us feel more credible next to the Hollywood stars.

Transformers set

I can go on and on… if you have any specific questions let me know in the comments! Otherwise check me out about 30mins into the film – Transformers: the last knight is coming out on DVD in September!

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