There’s something very familiar about TRANSFORMERS: THE PREMAKE, the new documentary that’s making the rounds like wildfire today, fast-becoming a viral hit. Crafted by Chicago filmmaker Kevin B. Lee, TRANSFORMERS: THE PREMAKE offers a unique look at filmmaking in 2014 – a place where keeping things “under wraps” is a distant memory, and behind-the-scenes secrets are revealed almost instantly due to the smartphone generation and the immediacy of sites like YouTube, Instagram and Vine. The story started as Lee began independently documenting the Chicago-area filming of TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION, which hits theatres next Friday via Paramount Pictures. During his own filming, Lee realized that everyone else was filming, too.
Watch: TRANSFORMERS: THE PREMAKE
Lee’s documentary hits home with me in a variety of ways in that it’s local to Chicago and that I was once a “Chicago Filmmaker” myself, working on numerous film and television sets – both independent and major studio – in front of, and behind the camera. I’ve experienced filmmaking from that angle, and also from Lee’s perspective – “documenting” the making of BATMAN BEGINS back in 2004, revealing some of the first video of “The Tumbler” from Christopher Nolan’s DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY (a story I recently recalled here). Now, as Lee notes, “everyone is a filmmaker,” and what that means for the motion picture industry is fascinating to ponder in this age of crowdsourced-everything.
It’s just a coincidence that Michael Bay’s fourth installment of the TRANSFORMERS franchise happened to be the catalyst for the door to be opened, and the story to be told…
TRANSFORMERS: THE PREMAKE
A desktop documentary by Kevin B. Lee
2014, 25 minutes, video
Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth installment of the Transformers movie franchise directed by Michael Bay, will be released June 27 2014. But on YouTube one can already access an immense trove of production footage recorded by amateurs in locations where the film was shot, such as Utah, Texas, Detroit, Chicago, Hong Kong and mainland China. Transformers: the Premake turns 355 YouTube videos into a critical investigation of the global big budget film industry, amateur video making, and the political economy of images.