On June 22nd 2007, Transformers At The Moon had the opportunity to attend the
International Transformers Junket which took place at the Sanderson Hotel in
London. We joined international press from Brasil, Holland, Ireland, Scotland,
Spain, Italy, France and Germany (amoungst others) and had the opportunity to
sit down for a one-on-one interivew with Transformers movie producer Lorenzo
di Bonaventura. Below you will find a transcript of the 10 minute interivew
which also includes some information on the current state of the live action
Moonbug: My brother and I basically run a Transformers website
Moonbug: I'll give you one of my cards
Lorenzo: How old are you?
Moonbug: I'm 28
Lorenzo: Got it, the perfect age for Transfomers aren't you yeah.
Lorenzo: Transformers At The Moon, yeah yeah yeah
Moonbug: We were at the screening yesterday, so.
Lorenzo: Did you have fun?
Moonbug: Yeah its a fantastic film.
Lorenzo: Great. glad to hear it.
Moonbug: Yeah we're going again tonight to the other screening.
Lorenzo: You're going to go again?
Moonbug: Yeah we're going to BotCon next week as well in the States
Moonbug: The Transformers convention they've got one there.
Lorenzo: Oh good
Moonbug: Then I'll pay to see it when it come out (laughing)
Lorenzo: Good, (laughing) we need it (laughing), so we can make another one
Moonbug: Yeah going by the reactions yesterday and March when we saw some press screenings, people just seem to love it when they come out.
Lorenzo: I'm so delighted to hear that.
Moonbug: Its really good
Lorenzo: That's our experience as well.
Moonbug: I was going to say, one of the question I had was that I know you've done some Junkets in Korean and Australia already, has the general reaction been positive for the film or?
Lorenzo: So far yeah, we were in Madrid the other night we had a Screening, last night in we were in Taormina (Sicily), err everything seems to be going very well and, you know what's great is that the Transformer fans come out and its like "Thank god you guys didn't screw it up" and "it was so great" and da dada da ,and then the people who really aren't Transformers fans say "I really like that film, I'm really kinda surprised", you know what I mean, they come in with a real hesitancy, like "what is it about these robot things" you know, and its fun to see the sort of polar opposites reactions for the same conclusion.
Moonbug: Yeah from general sort of discussions, lots of fans were critical weren't they at first when the idea of the movie first came out and they they saw some of the designs,
Moonbug: The never seemed to like change, which is a bit weird considering Transformers is all about change anyway.
Lorenzo: Well that's what I think, you know what I mean, the Internet is a really good asset for a film makers but its also a dangerous asset because, you know, we were ... we found very hard was we were being judge on the initial sketches of characters and its like ... I wouldn't be exaggerating much if I said it went through a hundred iterations, in some cases probably more. So like, you know, we're not even close to being at that place when we even like it, you know what I mean, we're like "oh that's kinda interesting, lets change that, lets do that", so .. umm. you know and the danger of that, for fans who feel so passionately, is that you can take a director and make being to second guess themselves.
Moonbug: Yeah I was going to say,
Lorenzo: and then you end up with nothing, you end up with mash-potatoes, you know what I mean, its just like "What is that".
Moonbug: Yeah, that's why one of the things, my brother and I and a lot of the people on our site just love the idea of having a live action Transformers film anyway, and one of the fears was that they didn't want the negativity that came out from some areas of like the Transformers fan community to affect the film making. Did it have any effect at all with when the production was going on?
Lorenzo: Umm sure, yeah we definitely umm ... you know its funny I was saying this to Michael the other day, Michael need to own his sense of what they were before he could start hearing from other people. So early on in the process that's what it was about, him figuring out what was cool to him and what he could relate to, what he felt he could execute well .. umm and umm but in the later stages, or the middle stages, somewhere in there, you know, then once he's sort of owned what he's doing, then he could listen to the feedback and decide whether that was valid to what he was doing and there's defiantly things that we took away from it and went "okay we hear that, that makes sense", you know, and then there's other ones where you go "We believe that we're evolving it forward and if we give the exact same experience that you got in 1980s then we're not really doing a service to the fans".
Moonbug: Yeah it needs to be something new,
Lorenzo: I think so,
Moonbug: Its very good that people can look back and go "we want it to be just as it was then" but it wouldn't really fit now, its needs to be a progression rather .."
Lorenzo: Well we did a interesting exercise, which was actually, in many ways, the most liberating thing we did, which was we took the characters and we literally took the animated characters and we put them in the real world and it looked terrible, 'cause they're animated characters. So, you know, that's almost like the best lesson of all, cause you're like "ok they're great in the animated world, they don't work at all in the real world. Okay how do you make them look real?". You know, and so that was how we started. We started ... that's what I'm saying its like early in the process, ya know, we're trying basic things. How does that look, how does Optimus Prime look walking through today's city. Doesn't look right, you know, in an animated world it looks great.
Moonbug: It instantly looks dated and may look a bit weird
Moonbug: On the actual designs of the Transformers themselves, who actually came up with the actual designs for the robots and how they transform, was that purely through the studio or did Hasbro have the say?
Lorenzo: No, uh, Michael, our art our production designer Jeff Mann and ILM are the .. I would say are the ones that had the most, but you know many of us has comments two or three, ya know, and Hasbro had some as well. Hasbro had 'em because they have some fans which err they are hardcore fans, they live with this since the beginning of time so it was a great resource for us to have, but it was never like, umm, okay this would make it easier to be a toy, you know, because if you look at these things, we made things that are really hard to be made as a toys you know.
Moonbug: Yeah cause there's lots of movement, I know,
Lorenzo: Tonnes of movement
Moonbug: there were things like 10,000 odd parts in Optimus Prime
Lorenzo: Yeah I think Optimus is 10,108 parts or something like that.
Moonbug: It's phenomenal when you see like the first transformation sequence of Optimus Prime transforming its so detailed, there's every little
Lorenzo: It's amazing isn't it
Moonbug: When we saw it yesterday there were a couple of kids there as well, some people from American had taken their kids along
Moonbug: and their reaction was, their jaws just sort of hit the floor
Moonbug: and you think, that's the type of reaction you want.
Lorenzo: That's exactly what you want, yeah. But Michael and, umm, those are the groups of people and ILM really out did themselves on the film.
Moonbug: I expect it to be a bit like Jurassic Park when it came out and it took CGI to a new level and again with Transformers,
Moonbug: and the detail and intricacy is second to none at the moment
Lorenzo: Yeah I'm glad you feel that way, we feel that way so (laughing)
Moonbug: so hopefully if you can produce a second and third film because the technology will, of course, increase by the time a third film potential would come out it will be that much more powerful, so it will be interesting to see
Lorenzo: I'm glad you're talking about the third film, cause you know for me its a little like bad luck to talk about it before it goes,
Moonbug: I understand that
Lorenzo: So no I'm happy to say but, for us all, the filmmakers, in the last month or so you can't help but notice how excited people are, so you begin to think past this one, and now we're done we can actually start thinking a little, you know, but we're really not going to dig in until after that opening day, and then we sort of feel like "alright, here we go".
Moonbug: At what point do you judge a film as being a success, is it all figures?
Lorenzo: Well you know, its a different measure for every film. Umm, and there are a lot of measurements, umm I .... I think anybody who says "I just want to be happy with the film is not telling the full truth", obviously its very important that you like believe in what you've just did and that you love it and but you want it to be successful, so I think there are two measures really, I mean there's ten measures but there's two really important ones, one is do you really like it yourself and the other is did you accomplish it in a successful way
Moonbug: During the series there is a lot of nods towards previous series, several lines put in there from Generation One series, little parts from Beast Wars, who's idea was it to put those in?
Lorenzo: Umm you know one of the things we did, all of us look, one of the things we did was we had not just Hasbro guys but we had several fans that were part of our process that we've kept really quiet and they know who they are and have been very helpful to us, so we would say what important to you, and they would say "Autobots roll out" y'know and to get, you know, you get certain phraseologies that were very important but Alex and Bob, our writers, are of the right age to be the guys who understand the DNA, what they love what are some of the things they could recall from the series, then they'd watch them and go "oh yeah look at how many times", you know. More Than Meets The Eye is obviously a gigantic thing.
Moonbug: Yeah its said several times during the film
Lorenzo: and what's interesting that some of the ideas ... err what's the one .. No sacrifice no victory, you know, it evolved out of the Has.. out of the actual Transformers sort of ideology, you know, and it became a larger idea out side of it and so.
Moonbug: In the UK the release date is the 27th July which is quiet a lot later than the States and other countries, on the same date the Simpson's Movie is release over here
Moonbug: and is expected to be a big movie and, of course, Harry Potter, comes out before hand, do you think Transformers will stand up to (them)
Lorenzo: I hope so, look, you know, I know our International company Paramount International makes a lot of those decisions, and so they obviously believe that, and there are really good at what they do so as a film maker you've got to trust them, that they're doing the right thing. You know and ... I think there is a sufficiently different amongst those three films that....
Moonbug: Its targeted very much as well with the summer holidays in the UK for schools starts then so obviously one of the prime targets
Lorenzo: Perfect timing yeah
Moonbug: so its going to do really well.
Moonbug: Have you been invited at all to any of the Transformer conventions in the states, and would you consider going if you were asked?
Lorenzo: I haven't been asked actually, but I probably would you know, umm we have .... you know, a lot of people want the voice of Optimus so Peter's been doing a lot of great work for us .. I would certainly consider it.
Moonbug: The last question I can ask, um I hear you're working on a G.I-Joe movie at the moment,
Moonbug: being a big G.I-Joe fan,
Lorenzo: oh yeah as well
Moonbug: I've seen various different ideas on the web as where its going with that, is there anything you can tell me on that
Lorenzo: Yeah sure, as a process its very similar to Transformers, I try to apply the same process to these projects which is you have to experiment at first and sort of find the rhythm on them. You get feedback somewhere along the way, that, you know, you keep, as I said before, you try to not to listen to it first too much because then you don't own the creative process at all it becomes ... um .. a really sort of mask of a process, a hollow process, so yeah we experimented with a couple of different directions and we're experimenting with a few more right now, and its in that .. I'd say its gone past that germination period and its in that somewhat early evolution stage, yeah. Umm you know it has many of the same that faced Transformers, a lot of characters that people love. Umm we made a decision to bring the number of characters, it was a very specific decision, we made in Transformers, 'cause originally we have one or two more thoughts about who could be in the movie but .... you know we started realising we weren't service all of our characters
Moonbug: You don't want it to get too large
Lorenzo: Its gets really hard
Moonbug: You loose character depth
Lorenzo: You do yeah, that's what you do. You end up having a sort of a barely drawn character, so you know, we're going to have to do the same with G.I-Joe and, you know, people are going to angry at us because there favourite character is not in it . or why did you do that and its really exciting that people get that passionate it, it really it, and for me, you know who the top ten characters are, but you know if everyone has a top ten, there's about eight that are the same right, then there's the other two who are the ones where you get in trouble. You know, people are like "how come you didn't put the Baroness in, what's going on, or I love Scarlet, or I love Duke, or I hate Duke I want Zartan" and you know.
Moonbug: Yeah people always tell you the ones they don't agree with, but not necessarily the ones they do agree with
Lorenzo: Yeah I know I understand that, and that's where ... that's where its exciting when they eventually come and see the movie and you hope that they go "yeah, you know, they made good choices"
Moonbug: Thanks, thanks very much
I'd like to thank Lorenzo di Bonaventura for his time and allowing us the opportunity to speak to him, he's a fantastic guy, really helpful and I could have continued talking to him for hours. I'd also like to thank Stuart for setting up the interview, as well as all of the Paramount Pictures team for the support they have given us over the last year.
Stay tuned to your TV sets as there were a lot of news and film companies recording at the time, including the BBC, so you should see some videos from the event in the coming weeks.
Below you will find various soundbytes from the interview, containing Lorenzo Di Bonaventura's answers as well as my questions.
Lorenzo asks Transformers At The Moon's opinion on the Transformers Movie
What have the reactions been like?
Lorenzo explains the pros and cons on listening to fans on the Internet
Lorenzo explains the decision behind the Transformers designs
Lorenzo then confirms who designed the Transformers
Some insite into how to judge a film is a success
Who came up with the nods to the older Transformers series?
Lorenzo confirms who decided on the UK Transformers release date
Would Lorenzo Di Bonaventura attend a Transformers Convention?
Lorenzo discusses the GI-Joe Live Action Movie
Transformers At The Moon Fantastic!