Production Assistant from Transformers 3 Gives Inside Look at Life on Set [INTERVIEW]

Transformers 3: Dark Side of the Moon was a phenomenal addition to the Transformers trilogy. It’s definitely fun to watch, but what does it take to make a production like that, besides a $800+ million budget? We couldn’t think of anyone better to help us answer this than Benjamin Bloom, a Production Assistant on the Dark of the Moon set. Check out his stories about giving out smokes to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and whether or not Shia is a douche-bag below!

COED: Ben Bloom, you have done well for yourself as an intern and had a couple of jobs in the entertainment business, what sets have you worked on?

BB: In the past year I’ve worked on the set of Transformers 3, a TV pilot called “Camp Little Creek”, and most recently a reality show called “Torc”. I’m expected to be working on the new Superman movie that will be shooting in Naperville and parts of Chicago August through September. Beyond big budget films and TV shows, I’ve worked on nearly 30-40 independent short films, music videos, promos and documentaries. Whether it be directing, writing, acting, editing, director of photography or even sound. This is all within one year of me starting my film career, I can’t imagine what 5 or even 10 years can do for me.

COED: Most notably on that list is Transformers 3, how did you end up even getting started with that gig?

BB: I am a film student here at Columbia College Chicago, and one of my film teachers saw more dedication in me for the film life more so than anyone he’s seen in a long time, so he said. He gathered up some information and contact information, and surprised me with a phone call. I rushed to my phone and laptop and got a hold of the assistant director, Andy Spellman (The assistant director for Superman as well), and got the job!

COED: That must have been some first phone call. How did that go?

BB: Well, it originally started off with an email. I was a nervous mess typing who knows what, I was so high from excitement. Instead of being more professional I was spilling my heart and soul out in the email, expressing my love and dedication to film, my love for the Transformers movies and how this could potentially change my life. I was expressing my creativity rather than my professionalism traits. Which I found out works better. I’ve been told nearly 1,000 people applied for this job, and I happen to be one of the lucky ones chosen. I didn’t get a response for weeks, so I told myself “Oh well, at least I tried”. I then took a trip out to Pennsylvania, I had no reception for 5 days straight. When I finally got into town, I got a voice mail from Andy saying that he was interesting in having me be part of his crew. I literally screamed like a little girl at a Justin Bieber concert. I called them back immediately, and blacked out. The only thing I remember him saying was “Welcome aboard Ben”. I’ve never felt so great in my life.

COED: Blacking out is always fun. When did filming actually start.

BB: Sometime in mid July.

COED: What exactly did you do on set?

BB: Well as many may think, I was a big part of the film, helping them come up with their creative edge. I do not in anyways compare myself to the genius of Michael Bay. I was actually a production assistant. So my job consisted of working with the actors and camera crew. I was their assistant and ran favors for them. Most people would say, “Oh, so you were their bitch coffee boy”, and I say “fuck you asshole Shia doesn’t drink coffee”. But yes, I did make runs to get them food and drinks, and made sure that they were as comfortable as possible while not in a middle of a scene. I helped set up and take down equipment and props in between shots, constantly being on my feet. Sitting down was not an option. Now most people may think a Production Assistant is a weak job and useless, but for any filmmakers reading this, they can vouch for me. Production Assistants are very important and greatly needed on every film set, though we’re not the directors, we make a huge difference and take care of the things that the directors, actors or anyone else in the crew doesn’t have time to do..

COED: So random errands, sets and actors. Any really cool stories?

BB: So, you know when you wake up early in the morning to go to work, and you’re tired, cranky and need your coffee? Well we started at 2am every day and fortunately for me, I did not need coffee. I show up on set, and the first thing I hear is “FIRE IN THE HOLE!” BOOM! A car or 3 explode nearly right in front of my face. That was my coffee. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like waking up to all of Chicago getting demolished. These things you see in the movie are REAL! (Besides the actual Transformers themselves) Beyond that, I got to meet a lot of famous people, basically the whole cast of Transformers. I even got to eat lunch and chat with my all-time favorite actor Shia Labeouf nearly every day! I felt famous though I was far from it.

COED: You sound famous already. Did you get to do anything with stunts?

BB: Assisting the stunt men to the top of the Trump and Sears tower then watching them jump off from the top floor, being as close as anyone could be to the firefights, realizing that these famous actors are not snobs and actually really nice down to earth people. Shia is a great hilarious person, and Rosie was a sweetheart, Tyrese was an attention whore, but still great to work with. I would also work there over the night from 7pm to 7am, and having all of the drunks of Chicago trying to sneak in on set and steal things was always a hassle. You ask if there are any cool stories, but the cool story is just working on an $800,000,000 action film directed by the greatest demolition action director known to man. Every minute was an adrenaline rush for me and I loved it.

COED: So tell me more about Rosie, what was the first thing you said to her?

BB: The first thing I said to her was, “Of course!” because she asked me for a cigarette when she spotted me smoking one. (She smokes Marlboro lights, as does Shia) Even though every time I saw her she was covered in dirt from her scenes, she is gorgeous in real life. Rosie’s a huge sweetheart, very laid back and professional. Shia and Rosie were always side to side discussing their next scene, trying to perfect it.

COED: They were always practicing roles huh? Sounds like Shia was getting his game on. LOL He certainly has come a long way since Even Stevens.

BB: Shia is awesome. He is very intellectual and impressive. Not that guy who jumps into a crowd of people craving for attention, he was more of the type of guy to try to walk by unnoticed. He just wants to live a normal life and not be seen as some sort of rockstar. Shia is always very up and hyper, very conversational, always knows what he’s talking about. He has a great sense of humor, he is always busting jokes here and there to everyone on set. When he’s got a big scene, he preps himself up by listening to classical music on his iPod and doing push-ups before scenes. He also had his girlfriend Carry Mulligan on set in Chicago with him as well to keep him encouraged. All in all, he’s a very great talented man with a good head on his shoulders.

COED: During the screening of the movie, were there any specific scenes that stuck out to you that you specifically worked on..

BB: Dozens of scenes. For example, watching a close up view of the sky divers jump from the top of the Sears Tower and Trump building. Then, watching the way they inquired that into the actual film. I would have to say my favorite was on Wabash right near the bridges. I didn’t know exactly what the scene was going to turn out like in the movie because there were no actual Transformers, just the cars, but I remember it was like Armageddon in Chicago for this one specific scene. Cars exploding everywhere, jumping 20 feet in the air, bombs and squibs rigged all over the streets and buildings. Having the roads explode and the windows of the Hotel 97 shatter, followed by 10 army men jumping out the building shooting blanks up into thin air. All of this happening in one single shot (20 different cameras of course). When I watched that scene in the movie, I knew right there that was the scene I recalled being my favorite to see live. When Optimus Prime saves the day and glides down Wabash destroying nearly 6 Decepticons. Pure beauty to see it live and then edited out.

COED: Throughout everything you have said, you really enjoyed this experience, do you have another big movie lined up already?

BB: I have a dozen short films and documentaries lined up for me to direct, but those won’t be making it to the theaters any time soon. For this summer, I am expected to work on the new Superman movie yet again as a Production Assistant, but it’s really helping me get my name out there and work up the ladder. I will also possibly be working on a big independent film shooting in Chicago titled “Nightlights”, which will be shooting sometime soon and then taken to Sundance Film Festival. The film business is not an easy career to get into. Either you got it, or you don’t. Hopefully next time I get interviewed, it will be on the red carpet. One can only fantasize. My words of wisdom: When you have a gift, share it to the world.

Well there you have it readers! If you have any additional questions for Ben, you can email him at Benjamin.bloom@loop.colum.edu!

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