The director explains to us how he shot Ambulance with the complicity of the police in Los Angeles.
The author of bad boys and transformers comes back to wake up the halls with Ambulancea actuate full throttle, guerrilla shot on the streets of LA In the latest issue of First, he talks about the ambition of this supercharged cinema bet and his unorthodox filming methods. Extract :
Premiere: By its subject, its style, its references, Ambulance has a very marked 90s side, we have the feeling that it’s a film that you could have made when you started…
Michael Bay: It’s true. It’s filmed a bit aggressively, with a lot of handheld camera, very few digital effects, guerrilla filming. I wanted to do some sort of exercise in style under pressure. A guy makes a bad decision, and the trap closes in on him. The spectator is in the driver’s seat and the tension rises, rises, rises… You have no idea how terrified I was to see the first cut.
It’s a film about two antiheroes. Audiences aren’t supposed to like these guys, but they still have to get a little attached to them. And that, you can only know if it works if you see the film with an audience. We did a test screening, in front of 360 people. I don’t care about statistics, quantified studies, what interests me is to observe the body language of the spectators. Already, I specify that a director, in these moments, has only one desire, it is to vomit! (Laughs) You’re stashed in a corner, incognito, and you’re freaking out. You look to see if people are holding their breath, if they are laughing in unison, if they are getting up to go pee… There are only five of them who have gone to the toilet. Five out of 360 is nothing! They were focused. A word came back in the comments at the end: “immersive”. I liked it. It’s not Avatar, not 3D, but in Dolby Atmos, with the sound banging, the blades of the helicopters above your head, it’s fun. It’s supposed to be a real cinema experience. Something to convince people to come back to theaters.
Ambulance: Michael Bay signs a supersonic and overexciting B series
It’s the first of your films which takes place in Los Angeles. Your base camp is usually Miami…
Miami is my home, but don’t forget I grew up in LA! I started shooting there when I was 23. In my ads, my clips, I filmed it from every angle. At the time of going to the long, I had made the turn, I wanted to go and see elsewhere. To shoot in a NASA shuttle, for example. Or at the foot of the Giza pyramids. On the Great Wall of China! But it was nice to come back. Even if it’s a nightmare to shoot here today. Really, it sucks. The permits are so complicated to obtain, the paperwork so mind-numbing… They did everything to disgust the directors. As I am a smooth talker, and a bit crazy, I went to knock directly on the door of the police. ” Hey, how would you like to be in my movie? “-” Yeah, definitely. It turns out that police all over the world love my films! I don’t really know why… So, rather than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to close a freeway ramp, I got into a van, camera in hand, and the highway patrol officers escorted us. All the cops you see in Ambulance, members of SWAT, are real cops, not actors. The movie really has that ” THE feeling “, I believe. Like those classics, Los Angeles Federal Police, Heatwhere the city is a character in its own right.
The full interview can be found in issue 527 of Firstcurrently on newsstands, or on our online store.