As the cast and crew of “Transformers 3” called it a wrap, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura had nothing but great things to say about his host, the City of Chicago.
Mayor Daley held a news conference at the Cultural Center with the producer of the popular three-flick trilogy, that stars Shia La Beouf, Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Patrick Dempsey, Tyrese Gibson, John Malkovich, and Frances McDormand.
The movie was shot in mid-summer, during high tourist season and vacation time, yet the production went off without any major glitches. Accommodating were the residents of Chitown, putting up with street closings, re-routing of traffic, loud noise and explosions, and public transportation route changes.
What can I say? Chicago really knows how to roll out the red carpet.
Di Bonaventura had a great time. He praised Chicagoans for their hospitality and good nature in the midst of inconvenience during prime time hours. The “Transformer 3” producer ranks Chicago No. 1 among 118 cities he has filmed in. That’s a real nice compliment.
Wearing a “Transformers 3” baseball cap to the news conference, Mayor Daley talked about the benefits of filming movies in Chicago. It’s a great way for many to see our magnificent city. Residents will be filled with pride when they see Chitown on the big screen, and others will want to come to find out what a great place this is.
I was among many residents and tourists that watched as they blew up cars, overturned a CTA bus, lit fires, had big explosions, and littered the streets with burned-out police cars and piles of rubble that looked seriously realistic.
The filming came close to home for me when parachutists jumped out of helicopters into the park next to my building at 7am early one Sunday morning. As I wrote stories during the day for Associated Content, the cacophony of helicopter blades and motors filled the air all around my neighborhood while they shot scenes of the city and lakefront. But nobody complained.
The stars of the flick were seen all around town, spotted at popular restaurants, clubs, bars, and hotels. One of the biggest attractions wasn’t even in the film. It was Fergie, hip hop singer from the Black Eyed Peas, and wife of Josh Duhamel.
My favorite day of filming was the Armageddon scene, which was shot right at my building, from the roof, along with a few other buildings in the area. I stayed with the production crew, who explained the scene to me and everything that was going to happen, step by step. When we got the signal to take cover, the explosions were so close, so huge, and so dramatic, it was amazing. One of the neighbors who witnessed the scene remarked that if someone didn’t know a movie was being shot here, they would think we were under attack. Phenomenally real!
Mayor Daley is elated over the benefits this venture brings to Chicago: 1,200 jobs were created and $20 million was injected into our economy. Hotels, restaurants, parking garages and other local businesses saw an increase in business.
J’mee Love, a local guy, got the opportunity of a lifetime–he interned on the “Transformers 3” movie set. Love worked with the cameramen getting lenses, batteries, and learning his craft. He has already seen himself in the extended trailer to promote the movie. He said he almost cried. He’s really gonna cry when he sees his name on the big screen in the credits! This is what dreams are made of!
As the “Transformers 3” crew packs up and heads out, all I can say is–it’s been a blast! (Pun intended!) The city will keep moving and grooving to that Chicago beat. Its’ a friendly town, full of life, great hospitality, culture, diversity, a place you have to experience.
We’re the Midwestern metropolis that sits on the lake. Welcome to the Windy City.
“Transformers 3” is scheduled for release July 11, 2011.
“Transformers 3” Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures
Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg
Producer: Lorenzo Di Bonaventura
Director: Michael Bay
Screenplay: Ehren Kruger