Steven Caple Jr. had his breakout moment on the contemporary film scene after the Sundance premiere of his feature directorial debut, the 2016 skateboarding drama earth. The film introduced audiences to an exciting new voice in American cinema, and its positive reception opened the door for studio projects with bigger stars and even bigger budgets. Caple was then captured by Black Panther director and CREED producer Ryan Coogler to take the reins Creed IIthe first sequel of Rocky spin-off franchise. His second release confirmed that Caple was both game and adept at landing marquee projects from major studios, which led to the news that his third film would be the final installment in the much-loved Paramount franchise. transformer exclusivity. Scheduled for a summer theatrical release, Steven Caple Jr Transformers: Rise of the Beasts promises to deliver more of the action-packed adventure that has made its franchise one of the highest-grossing film series at the global box office. Boxoffice Pro spoke with the director to find out what drew him to the project — and to tease what’s in store for fans of the robot car franchise.
e transformer The series is one of the largest film franchises in the world. It’s filmmaking on a scale that few can practice. How did you get involved with this project and why did it seem like the right choice at the right time?
As we grow as filmmakers, we always try to challenge ourselves and explore new avenues and different kinds of adventures. My first feature was earth. It was a dramatic film that premiered at Sundance, but it had a lot of heart and a sports element. I took him to Creed II, which had a different kind of action-packed sports element. When it came time to choose my next project, I tried to grow as a director and as a person and say, what haven’t I done before? transformer it’s a franchise that I love, movies that I go back to and watch in terms of looking at their visual effects, the spectacle, and how they’re able to incorporate a specific style into such a large field. I’ve always wanted an opportunity to direct a film like this, adding my voice to a project of this magnitude. After that, many doors opened for me as a director Creed II– but I kept coming back transformer. It always spoke to me, a chance to work on something I loved as a kid. I was drawn to the chance to bring these creatures to life in an action film. It’s honestly a dream come true, especially as someone who loved movies and watched cartoons as a kid.
Each new entry in the transformer The series will be a global theatrical event, a full Friday evening for audiences around the world. There was a period during the pandemic, however, when it was not clear that films of this scale would continue to be global theatrical experiences. How much does it mean to you that this movie has a big theatrical release?
We were still in the middle of the pandemic when I got the script Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. The whole world shut down. Production stopped everywhere; no one was shooting. There came a point where we weren’t even sure how many cinema screens were going to be around by the time we finished it. But we never wavered from our commitment to make this a cinematic experience. Everything in this film is made with the movie-going audience in mind, to give people that theatrical experience they can only have in the cinema. Paramount supporting us in making this film on this scale, especially when we didn’t know what the world would look like by the time we finished shooting, meant a lot to me. Paramount really supported me and my vision as we put this thing together. We were working on this film before Godzilla vs. Kong it had come out before Tenet it was even shown in the cinema. Hats off to Christopher Nolan and all those directors who actually took the plunge and fought for a theatrical release for their films back then. For myself, making a film during that time gave the production an extra level of passion behind it. I don’t want people to just watch this film, I want them to experience it – and the only way to do that is through a theatrical release. This is the only true way to experience a Transformers movie. As filmmakers, we put so much of ourselves into a film that we want to make sure that audiences experience our films in the best way possible. For this film, we traveled to many places around the world – New York, Iceland, Machu Pichu in Peru – we decided to highlight all these different cultures and locations so that they could be seen on the big screen.
Forward Creed II only three other directors had done one Rocky OR CREED film. It’s a similar situation Transformers: Rise of the Beasts; only two other directors before you have directed this series. How do you balance that legacy of what others have built into a franchise while still making it your own?
This is a great point. I made Creed II when there had only been three other directors that came before me in that entire franchise. It’s a similar place I found myself transformer. You have Michael Bay, who started it, and you also have Travis Knight, who did it Bumblebee. These guys delivered great movies and I went into this movie appreciating everything they brought to the franchise. It’s easier to take that responsibility when you’re a fan of their work; it takes the pressure off of living up to what they did, because you’re making the film from a fan’s point of view. This allows you to make the kind of movie you would want to see yourself if you were in the audience.
One of my biggest contributions to this film was the characters. This is always a focus in how I approach my films. Our cast has actors like Eddy Ramos and Dominique Fishback—people who are more like me and the people in my family. I also had the opportunity to create new robots that we’ve never seen before on the big screen, from the Maximals to the new Autobots. I was able to apply my voice to these characters. I went into this film knowing that there were things that worked very well from those who came before me. I considered myself a bridge that could take this series in a new direction.
In directing a film of this magnitude, you can have a major studio like Paramount footing the bill for the latest film production technology.
Of course, and a lot of it came from the production side. What I love about this franchise, what separates it from the rest—and I’m not going to talk about anyone else’s movies—but we shot very limited green screen work for this movie. We shot in places that had never been filmed before. It was great to sit down and find out what kind of equipment we would be getting at these places. I was able to play around a lot with wired cameras, creating shots I’d never had a chance to try before. We created a separate Steadicam to shoot the sequences whenever we had one of our robots in a shot, giving it a little boost of realism in order to avoid the whole sequence feeling like it was designed on a computer.
Honestly, the most exciting technology we used in this film had nothing to do with the making of the film – it was all about the vehicles! We worked with car manufacturers like Porsche and brought in some cars that don’t even exist anymore. We built our own cars and trucks for this movie – and they’re all real – we didn’t want to have CGI cars driving around in this movie. When it comes to the robots, yes, we definitely went with CGI for those animations. The world around them, the vehicles, the environment – everything is real and shot on set. That’s something I’m really proud of with this movie, having the opportunity to go out and really blow things up instead of having a computer do the work for us.
Are there any moments in the film that you can share, without spoilers, that you’re excited to see with an opening weekend audience?
Without spoiling the movie? I can’t, but I will say there’s a moment at the end of the movie that I’m really excited for people to see. We take the term “Autobot” and bring it to a whole new level. I can’t go into more detail, but it’s a very emotionally powerful moment in the third act of the film that you’ll recognize when you see it in a theater. I pay a lot of attention to all my Twitter followers – even the crazy fans out there – so I’ll be looking to see their reaction on social media once the movie comes out. I think the audience will be blown away by it when they see it on the big screen. Our climactic battle sequence at the end of the film will pay off in a big way. I can’t wait to see the reactions.
Many exhibitors will be looking forward to seeing new footage of this film for the first time at CinemaCon. What does the film experience mean to you as a director?
Cinema has always been an escape for me. It’s not just a hobby, it means everything to me. As a kid, that’s where I went to escape whenever I wasn’t working or playing basketball—I played basketball in high school and college—so for me, it was always a chance to get away from the world. I go to the cinema almost every weekend since they reopened. Whether it’s with my wife or my family, we’ll watch anything from horror movies to indie movies. It’s the only place where I can completely disconnect from the outside world and fully immerse myself in a story, especially now that we have so many distractions at our fingertips. I wish people felt the same way I do when I walk into a movie theater. Being surrounded by an audience, where we’re all experiencing something at the same time, is such a cathartic experience. You can watch movies anywhere today, but nothing will ever replace the experience of going to the movies.