Transformers director attacked by 'zombie' triad wielding aircon unit

Michael Bay calls police after brothers demand HK$100,000 to shoot scene in Quarry Bay

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 October, 2013, 8:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 October, 2013, 5:17pm

American director and producer Michael Bay has described how he was attacked by suspected triads as he shot his latest Transformers movie in Quarry Bay.

The director fought off the attackers, one of whom was wielding an air conditioning unit. It followed an attempt to extort HK$100,000 from his Paramount Pictures crew.

Two brothers, aged 27 and 28, approached Bay on the set at 8.30am as the crew prepared to shoot a scene from Transformers: Age of Extinction in a ground-floor open space behind the Fook Cheong Building in King's Road.

The older brother, a technician, uses a ground-floor shop in the area as his office.

"The younger brother was accused of moving goods in and out of the shop and walking around in the area to cause disruption," a police source said.

The brothers, who also put some bricks on the ground to cause obstruction, claimed the shooting was affecting their business and demanded HK$100,000 compensation.

Bay recounted details of the incident on his website, while warning that “the story... being passed around is not all true!”

Bay said in the statement on his website: “Some drugged-up guys were being belligerent asses to my crew for hours... One guy rolled metal carts into some of my actors trying to shake us down for thousands of dollars to not play his loud music or hit us with bricks.

It took seven big guys to subdue him. It was like a Zombie in Brad Pitt’s movie ‘World War Z’ he lifted seven guys up and tried to bite them
Director Michael Bay

“Every vendor where we shot got paid a fair price for our inconvenience, but he wanted four times that amount. I personally told this man and his friends to forget it we were not going to let him extort us.

“He didn’t like that answer. So an hour later he came by my crew as we were shooting, carrying a long air conditioner unit. He walked right up to me and tried to smack my face.

“But I ducked, threw the air unit on the floor and pushed him away. That’s when the security jumped on him. But it took seven big guys to subdue him. It was like a Zombie in Brad Pitt’s movie ‘World War Z’ he lifted seven guys up and tried to bite them.”

The police were called, and while they were making their inquiries the older brother walked up and bumped into Bay, 48. The two brothers then scuffled with police, injuring three officers, before being overpowered.

The younger brother was arrested on suspicion of blackmail and assault, while the older brother was arrested on suspicion of assault.

Hong Kong police said Bay received minor injuries. 

The film’s studio Paramount said in a statement: “Contrary to several erroneous news reports... Bay did not get hurt in a fight on set.”

Calling the attack a “bizarre encounter with a man... wielding an air conditioning unit as a weapon” it added that Bay’s quick action prevented “what could have been a serious accident”.

At the scene, officers also arrested another suspected triad member - a friend of the two brothers - in connection with a wounding last week.

Wellington Fung, secretary general of the Film Development Council, said the Film Services Office had guidelines for location filming and normally film companies would negotiate with landlords of private properties and would not begin shooting without agreeing rental charges for their premises.

A notice at the Fook Cheong Building says preparation and filming there would take 19 days and that the film company would pay the owners' corporation HK$20,000 a day. Lee Ching-har, of the corporation, said shop owners negotiated compensation individually.

The owner of a beauty parlour in the space used for filming said she was not told much she would be paid. "They only said they would give me a lai see," she said.

It is understood the Transformers crew will be filming around Hong Kong for the next two weeks at locations including the Legislative Council building in Central and Sham Shui Po. The film is set for release in June.

Additional reporting by Jeffie Lam