An apocalyptic Chicago figures intensely in the secret script of Transformers 3. The destruction of Wabash and Wacker is integral to the final scene where Bay's middle America takes a beating but survives, in line with his grandfather's advice on success.
"He said, 'If you can sell to Middle America, that is where the heartland is, and my movies really gear toward that,'" said Bay. "They are big around the world, but really they are every patriotic, and they've just got a lot of that Americana."
Blow by blow, this most American of sets was 'transformed' throughout a weekend that cost the producers nearly $400,000. Producer Lorenzo di Boneventura, whose "Salt" with actress Angelina Jolie is now in theatres, says he loves filming in Chicago.
"As you can see, a lot of people are cheering us after this thing, and you know what, it gives us energy to feed off the crowd," the producer said.
When asked if he could write that into the script at all, Lorenzo di Boneventura said, "No, no... Chicago is taking a pounding right about now. So, nobody would be standing around looking. They would be fleeing for their lives."
As the crowds screamed for the movie stars, including Grey's Anatomy's Patrick Dempsey, the man behind the viewfinder would work until sundown milking everything he can from the set.
"The skyline, it is just a magnificent looking city, in terms of how it is open. And you compare it to New York City, where you have to get away on a helicopter to really see what it looks like because you are in a corridor, whereas this it is open; it is beautiful," said Bay.
Transformers 3 is employing 3,500 people throughout the production, including copious Chicago specialists in the crew, on the animation team and providing services.
"Let me tell you, I have shot around the world. I've shot in a lot of famous cities, and I have had the most fun shooting in this city because the town is so into it," Bay said.
Filming will carry on in Chicago for another month before heading off to Detroit.
The producers say Transformers 3 will end up costing north of $200 million -- with $20 million or so flowing into Chicago.