Thursday, June 05, 2008
Rain tested patience of fans at set of 'Transformers 2' before filming in Bethlehem concluded. Crews began packing up equipment this morning. He was one man, alone on the Fahy Bridge in Bethlehem at half past midnight Wednesday, huddled under a giant black umbrella in the driving rain. Aaron Gabriel just wanted to see fiery explosions in ''Transformers 2'' on the big screen next summer and say he was there to witness the big bang in person. He would have to wait almost three more hours until the rain took a time-out, long enough for a pyrotechnics display on the former Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces to light up the sky, sending plumes white smoke into the air. To see something like that, Gabriel was prepared to wait until the sun came up. "It's 'Transformers.' It's a huge blockbuster," he said. "How often does something like this happen in Bethlehem? I'm surprised more people aren't out here in ponchos." After three days of mayhem at the Steel site, filming in Bethlehem was expected to wrap up early this morning for the DreamWorks movie about shapeshifting robots from another planet. "Transformers 2," the first big budget movie to be shot locally in years, has drawn crowds willing to wait for hours outside the set to see if director Michael Bay would live up to his reputation for blowing things up. But only a handful -- those willing to stick it out, rain or not, until almost sunrise Tuesday and Wednesday -- witnessed the explosions. Gabriel waited on the bridge the first night along with hundreds of others. As the night wore on, patience grew thin and so did the crowd. By 5 a.m. Tuesday, Gabriel was one of about four people on the bridge who saw the first series of pyrotechnics displays, small bursts of firecracker-like explosions that, he said, crept halfway up the blast furnaces, followed by simulated automatic weapons fire. The clear weather on Monday night and early Tuesday had allowed Bay to capture most of the wide-angle shots of the Steel that he needed for the scene, said Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, who has been in close contact with the movie crew. The sequence filmed at the Steel takes place in a fictional Chinese city and includes "Transformers 2" stars Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson, according to movie officials. In the scene, which will open the movie, Duhamel and Gibson's characters will join with Chinese police and military to fight off at least one of the computer-generated "Transformers" robots. The scene also includes Black Hawk and Apache helicopters ... On Wednesday morning, the filmmakers had counted on blowing up several buildings they had assembled on the Steel site. "That was the money shot for the scene they were shooting," said Callahan. "That was the scene that had to happen." But the steady rain threatened the pyrotechnics, the blisteringly hot lights and the helicopters flying close to the Steel's blast furnaces. "They were concerned about not getting that [scene] done," Callahan said. "But they did." Despite the weather delays, the crew does not plan to film in Bethlehem for a fourth night, Callahan said, noting that Bay might film additional close-ups for the scene elsewhere. By 3 a.m. Wednesday the rain had stopped, and the distant rumble of a train on the tracks below the Fahy Bridge sounded enough like a helicopter to send the onlookers rushing for their binoculars. It was one of several false alarms. Minutes later a real helicopter began circling the set, making several passes with a spotlight. Suddenly a blast on the set, more than 1,000 feet away, shook the bridge as white smoke filled the air, prompting a chorus of cheers from the four movie fans. Sparks shot up the blast furnaces, and the bursts were followed by the sound of rapid gunfire. "That was big," said Gabriel, laughing. "All right, what's next?" ... The blast was loud enough to send about a dozen neighbors rushing to join Gabriel's group on the bridge, hoping to catch a glimpse of the explosion that lasted only seconds. About half stayed long enough to see a second blast at around 4 a.m., a repeat of the first. Then the rain came. The group became smaller and smaller. Gabriel stayed. Just before the sun rose, he saw what he had been waiting for: Another explosion sent a giant fireball shooting 20 to 30 feet in the air, he said. "It was awesome," he said. "It was completely worth it, getting soaked in the rain. ... Call me a fool for loving the big bang from an action film."
It turns out that not only were Josh Duhamel and Tyrese on set this week in Bethlehem but so was Megan Fox. She sneaked into and out of town without anyone knowing she was there ... until she had left, that is. Much love goes out to Pink reader Nina for sending me all the updates from Bethlehem, PA this week ... I can't wait to find out where the next scenes for Transformers will be filmed. [Source, Source]