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Steven Caple Jr. Reflects On Directing 'Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,' Most Challenging Moment

The latest iteration in the Transformers universe hits theaters this Friday.

Steven Caple Jr. in a car
Photo Credit: Paramount

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts continues the story of how the Autobots, with the help of a few humans, save the earth from the evil that looks to destroy the planet. But something about this story is different. The latest Transformers film takes place in Brooklyn NY, in the 90s, and includes a new type of ally, the Maximals, which are robot animal transformers.


Directed by Steven Caple Jr., the sequel to Bumblebee (2018) stars Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Tobe Nwigwe, and a slew of transformers voiced by Hollywood's favorites Colman Domingo, Michelle Yeoh, and Pete Davidson.


Caple Jr. was already in the big leagues when he directed Creed II, but Transformers: Rise of the Beasts' 200 million dollar budget was the biggest he has ever had to work with.

During a recent interview with The Quintessential Gentleman's Editor-in-Chief Eric K. Thomas, the Cleveland, Ohio, native said he was elated to direct the movie.


“I’m feeling good right now. Being here in Atlanta right now and actually showing the film to audiences feels amazing,” Caple Jr. said to The Quintessential Gentleman. “I mean, we’ve been with the project for a very long time. For me, like two and half years, so for me to finally get it out there, it was good.”


Caple Jr. grew up in the 90s and watched the animated series so he was very well-versed in Transformers. But the accomplishment of directing one of his favorite childhood cartoons hasn't hit him yet.


“I did a franchise before this. … It didn’t kick in until like maybe like a year later, you know, when I just finally got a chance to step back and go, ‘Wait a minute, I was directing Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan, and Tessa Thompson. So, for me, now with Transformers, it might take a minute because I’m so close to it, you know, and this was again, like a three-year process,” Caple Jr. said. “Being in the trenches for that long and making sure that we deliver versus taking a step back and taking it all in, I had one moment where it was magical.”

autobots

The specific moment that Caple Jr. was referring to was when they were filming Transformers: Rise of the Beasts in Peru on top of one of the wonders of the world, mount Machu Picchu. He said it was that exact moment when he reflected on where he came from and where he is today when it comes to his success story.


Caple Jr. said the most challenging part of the movie was filming on Machu Picchu. For one, it was one of the first times a movie was shot on this mountain, and it was already hard enough to bring equipment to the mountain, but to shoot 20 to 30-foot robots that high up in the mountain was arduous.


Caple Jr. said he actually needed to be on an IV because it was challenging just breathing. Some of the actors experienced some sickness with how high the altitude is. And it would rain sparingly.


“It was wild. It was uncontrollable,” Caple Jr. said. “And that was for everything in a jungle, and we shot everything in Peru.”


It was easy for Caple Jr. to participate in such chaos because he was passionate about the franchise, while also having that workmanlike approach. He grew up watching it, so as he navigated his way through his directing career and the opportunity to choose this movie was there, it wasn’t an option to not choose the Transformers franchise, especially if he can leave his mark on the movie.


“I was like, ‘Okay, I can be a part of a legacy but it’s not a legacy I don’t care about, you know?’ It’s something that if I can accomplish this and get the right tone, and develop a new style thing, then yeah, we can succeed," Caple Jr. said. "But it was that motivation throughout knowing that there’s a fan base waiting for a movie. Hopefully, this is the one they want in terms of tone and characters we’re playing with. I just want to make sure we deliver on that. It was a big motivation.”


Still, the prolific director said it is harder to direct a franchise as opposed to directing an original movie because he is trying to appease all the different levels of fanbases. These levels add on more pressure, theoretically, but Caple Jr. said he changes the word pressure to responsibility and remembers that he needs to add his own tone to the movie in an effort to deliver on all levels.


Even with the movie having already been delivered, Caple Jr. said he suffers from a form of PTSD.


“You get a little bit of PTSD. You know, in terms of waking up in the middle of the morning [saying],’ Did I get that shot? Again, did I do good enough?” Caple Jr. asked. “You're trying to strive for something that’s great.”


Caple Jr. has been striving from day one. Born in Cleveland, he went on to strive for greatness at Baldwin Wallace University in Barea, Ohio before going to USC to study film.


He caught his big break when his student film, A Different Tree, came up victorious in HBO’s Short Film Competition in 2013.


His feature film debut was none other than The Land, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, where it was acquired by IFC Films


Caple Jr. went on to write HBO’s high-profile Emmett Till Project, which was produced by Will Smith, Casey Affleck and Jay-Z.


Next up was the 2018 boxing action-drama film, Creed II with Jordan and Stallone.


Now, Caple Jr. has another major project under his belt. Make sure to check out Transformers: Rise of the Beasts this Friday only in theaters.


Check out the full interview below.


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