Michael Bay negotiates for company backing
Nicolas Cage
Credit: Nicolas Cage: Jeff Slocomb/Retna

Ignore the bleak business news all you want, but here’s a harbinger of recession you can’t miss: Director Michael Bay (”Pearl Harbor”), a man with such a taste for the colossal that even his two dogs weigh a combined 460 pounds, is starting a low-budget division of his production company, Bay Films. Bay is negotiating with Ted Field’s company, Radar Pictures, to back the project, which the director estimates would cost a bit less than $1 million a year. ”The object is low overhead,” says Bay, who isn’t ponying up the money himself because, ”Hey, Spielberg never uses his own money.” In addition to producing smaller fare, Bay says — with the enthusiasm of one who’s never had the privilege — that he’d also like to direct ”a movie you could shoot in 20 days. That sounds like so much fun.” In the meantime, Bay is also developing the Regency Enterprises thriller ”Stay” (Nicolas Cage has expressed interest), and batting around ideas with Will Smith, including ”Bad Boys 2.” ”Bad Boys was such a horrific experience,” says Bay. ”The studio was so mean to me. If we shot more than 12 hours, they shut the generator down. There was no script. There was a scene [a producer] refused to shoot, so I actually used $25,000, a quarter of my fee, to shoot the scene. The studio did [eventually] give it back to me.” No wonder other people’s money sounds like the way to go.

Additional reporting by William Keck