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These two publicity photographs of the  director, Michael Bay, on the sets of the superproductions, Transformers (2007 – top) and Transformers 4: Age of Extinction (currently in production – bottom) speak volumes about the fantasies and pleasures of masculinity that underpin the film-making process. This is evidenced in the US director Sam Fuller’s dry observation (in a cameo role as a party guest in Pierrot le Fou (Godard, 1965) that ‘Film is like a battleground’ or Francis Ford Coppola’s claim (at a press conference in the documentary, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse [Bahr, Hickenlooper, Coppola, 1991]) that ‘Apocalypse Now  is not about Vietnam, it is Vietnam’. The machismo and self-importance of these claims, in which the film director imagines himself general or commander-in-chief of an army, is nicely punctured by Orson Welles’ comment, upon being shown the RKO film studios in Hollywood for the first time in the 1940s, ‘This is the biggest electric train set a boy ever had!’ The pictures of Michael Bay at work suggest that, for all the pressures and anxieties of managing a production with a budget of over $150m and hundreds of collaborators and employees, on one level film-making remains a matter of boys playing with bigger, better and louder toys.

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