How Michael Bay Conquered LA Streets For Ambulance
Ambulance opened in theaters this weekend, sending audiences on a dizzying and explosive journey through Los Angeles and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jake Gyllenhaal's characters essentially carried out a two-hour police chase. The production sends police cars, trucks, ambulances, explosives, drones, and more flying through the streets and venues of Los Angeles. According to Ambulance director Michael Bay, it was his "gift of gab," which helped get the Universal Studios film opportunities like locking down freeways or filming in well-known locations.
"One of my gifts as a director is I am the greatest kiss ass, sweet talker known to mankind, to get my way into... I got the space shuttle, the only director in the world to get space shuttle twice, and to be on the launchpad, alright? Armageddon and Transformers. That just doesn't happen," Bay told ComicBook.com. "People work at NASA for 25 years, they don't even get to approach the launchpad. They have to stay three miles away."
While Bay knows of his impressive accomplishments from the past through some smooth talking, there is a bit of fandom involved from those he needs the support of. "Cops around the world seem to have love my movies," Bay said. "And literally, I was just in Paris, walking around by the president's home and there was six police officers with machine guns and they see me in the street, walking to get some sun, and they go to me, 'Oh, Michael Bay. Oh, my God. We want to pose with you.'"
He had a similar experience while working on Netflix's 6 Underground film. "When I was doing a 6 Underground, the Italian cops gave me so much extra stuff. It's amazing," Bay said. "When they like your movies, and they like you, and I'm always nice to them, and I treat them respectfully in movies, they give me so much."
Los Angeles, on the other hand, might have been prepped with some emptier-than-usual streets due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pair that with a limited crew to get the job done as swiftly as possible and the filmmaker was getting his way. "It was during the lockdown, we did this movie in LA, at the height of LA's pandemic crisis," Bay recalled. "And I had 52 real police officers in this movie, real SWAT, real snipers, real police tactics, real undercover, just to give you an example. Because it wasn't a high budget movie. It was shot very, very fast."
Some plans came together unexpectedly, though. By the sound of it, Bay may have actually improvised a police chase. "For the very first day, I've got a crew of 10. I'm shooting out of a silly-ass van and they took those seats out, and they jacked the back door up. They strapped the camera in. We're going to shoot some insert shots of the ambulance. All of a sudden five highway patrol cops roll in," Bay said. "I didn't know that they have to be there for safety. They roll in. I walk up to them. I said, 'I would love to put you guys in the movie. Would you do a police chase?' Because we were going on a freeway, but we had to go at speed."
"We'd love to be in the movie," the officers told Bay. Jump ahead to release weekend, their work is now playing in theaters. "They started doing rolling blocks for me," Bay said. "I mean, that normally would take a movie two months of planning. They'd have to shut down a freeway, Cal Trans would have to get involved, and it would cost about $350,000. So we got it for nothing."
Have you seen Ambulance yet? Share your thoughts in the comment section or send them my way on Instagram! Ambulance is now playing in theaters.