Mikethefanboy.com reader, the lovely Erica, has just sent in this kick ass behind the scenes report of the Transformers 3 filming in the windy city of Chicago. Shia LaBeouf, Patrick Dempsey, Josh Duhamel, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson and more were on set for the few days she checked it out. There’s some great detailed info, but beware there are some spoilers. Check it out kids!
Michael Bay is in town with Transformers 3 so you know what that means: cars, explosions, gunshots and a supermodel.
There’s been a ton of footage from bystanders since they are in highly trafficked areas, the shooting is highly publicized and the explosions and gunfire are not very subtle. Since it’s a pretty major scene they filmed here, there are some SPOILERS AHEAD so read on at your own risk…
They are filming the big end battle in Chicago and one of the scenes is filming today at Wacker and Michigan. With the Corner Bakery open, I can grab lunch and get a great view of the action right outside their window. The crew is off to lunch so not much is happening.
After a while, Bumblebee drives by and we see Shia running and jumping. Michael Bay comes by with his crew and there are a bunch of soldiers. There are other soldiers to the far left and I think one of them is Josh Duhamel, but I can’t tell for sure.
After filming one scene with gunfire, they set up for a really big scene to end the day. The blow torches are lit and there is a lot of smoke. There are crew members in the restaurant with us asking us not to use flashes which will ruin the shot. They also tell us there will be an explosion so we should cover our ears. Things seem set to go when suddenly one of the crew members starts yelling “Everyone away from the windows! Get behind the railings!” and suddenly we’re all up and running away.
We hear them call action and see the actors start to run, gunshots go off and there is a sizeable explosion off to our left. So sizeable, it actually broke windows in the building above us. How’s that for real life?
A couple of weeks later, the movie has progressed two intersections along the river to Wabash and Wacker. You can see that the big fight will make its way along the river. There’s a large pile of rubble and it looks like Shia’s stand in is up there. Later, Shia will go up the rubble as well. It’s only when I get home that I realize that “Shia’s stand in” was Patrick Dempsey. It’s kind of hard to see from a block away. They open up foot traffic periodically and, as I walk by, I see Patrick leave for his car right in front of me.
As I walk up, some of the girls call for Shia and he comes over to sign and take pictures for a good 10 minutes until the next shot is ready. I’m shocked that he took a moment to do this as he has a rather cold reputation. And, of course, I didn’t bring anything!
I stay around for the rest of the day to see lots of explosions and soldiers firing at absent enemies along on the bridge. As they set up for a big boom, I see one soldier head out to the river by himself. I zoom in and discover it’s Josh. I let the girls around me know and pretty soon half the plaza is looking and waving. He looks at us across the river and smiles and waves. Everyone starts yelling so, of course, Tyrese comes over to yell and a friend is recording him with all of this love from the crowd.
At the end of the day, Tyrese will attempt to go to the crowd, but is stopped by security. Instead, he gets into his car and stands up with his torso sticking out of the sunroof waving at everyone. Just loves that crowd!
I go back the next day, armed now that I know Shia might sign if the conditions are right. Some of the Transformers are parked in a parking lot so we head over to see Optimus and the Nascar vehicles. As we head back to the street, I see a SUV with a Slurpee on the dashboard. Since we just saw Tyrese a moment ago with a Slurpee in his hand, I head over and see it is indeed Tyrese sitting in the car. A mom with 2 kids has spotted him and is waving at him. He waves over the two boys who are so small, he can’t see them from inside the car. Tyrese gets out and poses and signs a few autographs and then drives off. That’s the only one we’ll get today although we see Shia, Josh and Rosie (who doesn’t get an SUV). We also Patrick Dempsey being electrocuted and notice some bluescreen material on his arm which hints that something might be, uh, grafted and/or morphed there. With that scene Patrick wraps in Chicago so that should also indicate something about what’s happening with his character…
There are also a ton of technical issues today so they try several times and get can’t get the shot off in the morning. Fortunately there is a big explosion later in the day so its worth seeing.
I go back another week later and run into Tammy who is obsessed with Shia and two girls, Jessy and Laurie, who get excited about visiting sets and met Johnny Depp several times during Public Enemies.
We team up for the day and manage to get a picture with Bumblebee.
They are filming dialogue today and it looks like this is the big end scene after all the fighting. Rosie will probably have her own little adventure during the big fight so they are filming her reunion with Sam. (Yes, a spoiler alert, the good guys win!). There’s a lot of walking back and forth and a lot of Shia hugging and lifting Rosie today.
We see Josh go to his car and he waves to the crowd before he gets in. (Why is he always waving to me across several lengths of traffic/river?!?), Rosie gets in her modelmobile and then we see Shia.
Tammy and the girls go nuts calling out to him, but he seems low energy right now so he does not cross the 5 lanes of traffic to get to us. He waves a couple of times, but doesn’t really even look up. Sigh! Knew it was not a good set up today and that proved true.
I go on a Friday which turns out to be the last day of first unit in Chicago. They’re back on the Lasalle Street bridge where the ending is filmed. There’s some wreckage and smoke decorating the ends of the bridge, but not a ton. Since it’s a weekday, they actually allow pedestrians to cross in between takes.
I stroll across and see Bumblebee and a bunch of soldiers, including Tyrese. It’s ninety degrees and humid today so I feel for all of those in uniform. Some guys are lounging in the shade and I think Michael Bay’s limo is in the wreckage area to provide some air-conditioning relief for a select few.
They get ready to shoot a scene and I can see Shia and Josh. We can also hear Michael Bay directing over the megaphone, complete with expletives as they are trying to coordinate a CG shot with Optimus and all the characters. Bay’s four-letter expletives are clearly heard for a 2 block radius. Hope there aren’t any children nearby!
A while later they open up the bridge to foot traffic again and I pass by on the bridge. I can see Shia and Rosie getting lit. Shia seems surprised to see all the people nearby and they shoo us away. Tyrese standing around and Josh is sitting in a chair with his feet up on the edge of the bridge and is basically watching the river with his back to the production. Nice way to relax and get away from it all…
They shoot a scene and I cross over when they open up. I can see Rosie is watching herself on playback. I’m trying to find Shia and I see that he’s bored, sitting on the ground 2 feet away from me! An annoying little blond girl (who resembles Emilie de Ravin but is much louder) starts to jump in front of anyone taking a pictures and waves her arms around and sort of stalks them. She starts to blab at me which is a bit useless since Shia is getting up to walk somewhere anyway. Yep, that was the closest I got to him.
I stick around to watch a bit more — especially since see there are two limos and the modelmobile moved over so the actors will leave from this side. But since it’s been cloudy all day, and they are assembling the lights so it looks like today’s shoot is going to go quite late. Yeah, they are now closing off the pedestrian walkway and the set seems to be really tense so it looks like they are behind schedule and must finish the scene. I decide it’s not worth staying since they will be exhausted and I pack it up.
Transformers extended their days in Chicago so we’re trying for Shia (again) on these last days before they head out. I meet Tammy, the huge Shia fan and discover they are filming aerials today
There are signs warning you that you may be photographed and there are PAs at each of the bridges from State to Lasalle. It doesn’t look good today, but we hang around and then finally see the helicopter with a camera up front. It’s doing a lot of shots around the ornate building rooftop that will later by smashed and fall down to Wacker street level. They must be doing a lot of the exterior sweeping shots. We’re told to hide under the building across the street since we’re visible. This is the last of the shooting we’ll see as they have moved onto Detroit for some scenes, and so endth Transformers 3 in Chicago!
Oh wait, maybe not. They have set up sites in Detroit and DC so they are leaving soon, but I hear they are shooting in the Loop this week. I head out after work and find them in an alley not far from Marshall Field’s (I still refuse to call it by the new name that this building goes by – there’s such a thing as tradition for landmarks people!). You can’t see much, but the SUVs are there.
There is a neon sign lit up in the alley and a Chevy Cobolt which is probably Sam’s (written into the license plate).
Jessy and Lori join me and we see Shia in a suit. We cross over and wait at the Dunkin Donuts which is great because we are right there when Shia wraps. I sprint out and catch up with him and ask for a quick picture. He doesn’t even look at me and says in a very flat voice “No. I’m working” and walks off to his SUV to leave the set. Uh huh. Not friendly. That’s the Shia I’ve heard about.
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As we watch him drive off, I see Julie White and Kevin Dunn, the actors playing his parents, leave the set. We go up and they sign my poster and take a quick picture. Julie is very friendly and was wiping her eyes since she was laughing so hard on the set. Kevin is actually quite and polite, but not very friendly.
And that’s how Transformers ends…with us finally cornering Shia who blows us off…more in line with his reputation. Ah well!