Airport remembers when ‘Transformers’ came to town

Sometimes, work has its perks.

Published: Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 19:23 PM.
Like when Michael Stenson, deputy director at Northwest Florida Regional Airport, got to watch top movie director Michael Bay and his Hollywood film crew shoot scenes for “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” Bay’s third Transformers movie.
In 2010, the movie was shot on location in Okaloosa County for about five days, primarily on Hurlburt Field and the airport, which is on Eglin Air Force Base property.
“I remember someone from the airport’s maintenance crew had noticed a guy looking around the airport, who was actually scouting locations for the movie,” Stenson recalled.
Since the “Transformers” story involves a military plotline, Air Force personnel and the CV-22 Osprey were filmed for the scenes in the movie in which the military fights against the Decepticons. Scenes of the Osprey flying were shot at Hurlburt Field.
However, the crew needed to sprinkle a little Hollywood magic to make it complete.
“Along the east side of the airport, they simulated the back of the aircraft constructing it out of wood,” Stenson said. “It was for the scene when soldiers jump out of the Osprey into the city of Chicago. But actually, they were jumping out of a simulated wooden aircraft onto an airbag.”
Bay was flown into the airport in his personal jet, which was parked across from the film set.
“He seems to be quite demanding,” Stenson said of the director. “Everything had to be ready to go when he got here. His plane landed, they got him on a golf cart and he went right to the set.”
Actor Josh Duhamel, who played Major Lennox in the film, was also on set. There was a strict rule against filming or photographing the movie set, although the airport staff and Eglin AFB personnel did get to pose with Duhamel and Bay for one photo.
Filmmakers paid for the use of the airport, which was donated to the United Service Organization (USO). At the end of filming, Stenson said the crew was very good about cleaning up the set.
When “Dark of the Moon” was released June 29, 2011, Stenson was eager to see the film, although he was surprised how little of the footage was actually used.
“I got a little chuckle out of it,” he said. “All the preparation involved, about five days of filming for about 10 seconds.”

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