In 2014, Michael Bay spent a reported $210 million to make his fourth Transformers film, Age of Extinction. While a critical failure, the film turned over around $245 million, so all’s well that ends well in Hollywood. In 2016, however, a group of cosplay enthusiast in Arizona, with a shared passion for the Transformers franchise, got together and shot a live action fan film using Autobot suits made out of cardboard and foam. Their succesful result, Generation 1 Hero, which you can watch below, will make you question any blockbuster's price tag.
The short film was, “produced solely for the personal, uncompensated enjoyment of ourselves and other GENERATION-1 fans,” according to the film’s YouTube description. The film’s director, Lior Molcho, in fact, had stumbled upon the Arizona Autobots, a group of cosplayers making their own transformer costumes—kind of like the Halo Kid who made a Master Chief suit and ALL of the game’s weapons out of his garage. When a group of these DIY Transformers showed up to the Phoenix Comic-Con, Molcho approached some of the Autobots and asked if they wanted to make a movie.
In a brief behind-the-scenes video, Molcho explains, “These aren't store-bought. They’re not made in some Hollywood studio. They’re just made out of their exacto knives and the EVA foam they got at Harbor Freight. You put them out in the sunlight and they gleam just like metal.”
The 13-minute work of fan fiction is jam-packed with chase scenes, firefights, and robotic boxing matches, shot through clever camera tricks and effects that remember the films and cartoons of the 80s. “The short really is all about celebrating practical effects... But most importantly we were hoping to channel some of the writing, humor and banter between the characters from the original show,” Molcho tells The Creators Project.
The opening chase sequence, where Starscream is in pursuit of BumbleBee, was shot in a desert in California using a remote control car and plane. Starscream’s lasers were all actually hand-painted by the filmmakers. There isn't much to talk about in terms of set design, as most of the scenes are shot in an arid desert, but the film’s production team did did construct a miniature ‘Ark,’ the Autobot spaceship that originally brought them to earth. Eat your heart out, Michael Bay, and watch Generation 1 Hero below: