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Will Transformers Extra Accident Change The Industry?

The initial descriptions of Wednesday’s accident on the set of Transformers 3 sounded bad enough, but the more details leak out, the more it seems that something has gone very wrong on Michael Bay’s latest production. But why?

As we reported on Thursday, extra Gabriela Cedillo was airlifted to a nearby hospital with a severe head injury after a stunt went very badly wrong. But since those initial reports, it’s come out that Cedillo was driving her own car during the stunt, which she’d been paid $25 for the use of (Edit: Since this post was initially written, Paramount has issued a statement strongly denying this). Luckily, I already know that I’m not the only person to feel slightly disturbed by an extra performing stunts in her own car – An unnamed industry source emailed Deadline Hollywood’s Nikki Finke with the following:

An extra doing stunts in her own car with a tow rig? Holy shit is somebody’s head gonna roll over this one. SO many things against industry standards, don’t know where to start! Bay should be starting to sweat right about now. 30yrs of motion pictures and never seen stunts fuck up this bad.

In an era where the audience has become so jaded by visual effects that moviemakers are forced to come up with ever more elaborate spectacles, whether CGI or “real,” it may just have been a matter of time before a stunt led to an accident like this. But why was an extra performing her own stunts (and in her own car)? And does the breaking of the tow cable speak to lack of preparation or merely unfortunate accident? I’m weirdly ambivalent about that last question; as much as I want to believe it’s the latter, I can’t help but feel that Cedillo using her own car for a stunt speaks to some kind of mindset (Cost-cutting? Time saving?) that maybe doesn’t promote carelessness, but definitely doesn’t do enough to warn against it, either.

There’s no doubt that there’ll be serious repercussions from this incident, and doubtless investigations into Transformers 3 in particular, but I can’t help but feel that this is going to end up being something that will push the industry towards more CGI effects, if only from a fear of controversy stemming from the possibility of more accidents like Cedillo’s… and that might not be a bad thing, no matter what your feelings on CGI/authentic aesthetics may be.


  • DocSpin

    “In an era where the audience has become so jaded by visual effects that moviemakers are forced to come up with ever more elaborate spectacles”

    Nonsense. Moviemakers are not forced to do anything of the kind. The audiences are not clamoring for these stunts — the directors keep raising the bar in a testosterone-driven competition. Quality movies are not driven by stunts.

  • Legion

    It'll be an unpopular opinion, but here it is anyway – she choose to use her own car and do the stunt. She just as easily could have walked away. While, granted, she should never have been asked, there has to be a level of personal accountability here as well.

  • Jason Seas

    I keep seeing these articles about “stunt” gone wrong, and that she was putting herself at risk for $25 in her own car. But I have not seen anyone actually explain what was going on in the scene. Just that her car was being towed with her in it when the cable broke and came back through her car. A very sad and horrible accident. But towing a background car in a scene sounds like the thing you would do when you are trying to control the background so you can do a scene over and over as needed. She wasnt being asked to drive at high speeds, she wasnt asked to drive in and out of traffic, she was being asked to sit in a car while it was being towed, right? So I think calling this an injury while she was “performing a movie stunt” and that its going to change the industry is pretty demeaning to the professional actors and stunt people that train for years and years to make their profession safe and exciting in movies. Not to mention if that what has been described as going as a “stunt”, then there are a hell of a lot of people on the roads that should just stay home.

  • Ethan

    It seems odd to suggest that an accident that seems to have involved a violation of industry standards might change industry standards. It would seem at first glance that the industry practice that needs re-examining is hiring Michael Bay.

    As for the second comment, I'm pretty sure whatever “personal accountability” she had has already been taken out of her head.

    “I think the poor ought to have their homes carpet-bombed and then be machine-gunned as they flee into the streets. I know these are not popular views, but I have never courted popularity.”-John Cleese, Monty Python's Flying Circus (For what 95% of comments that start with “this'll be unpopular, but…” sound like)

  • Nunya

    This incident will change little to nothing. The extra was not performing a stunt. And the person that left the comment on DHD has had his/her head in the sand if she/he hasn't seen anything fuck up this bad. What about the boat that drove into the crowd during that stupid fishing movie? What about Twilight Zone: The Movie? What about the FX guy that almost lost his leg when a cable broke on T4?

  • Wyatt Samuel K

    Yes, the audiences are clamoring for those kinds of stunts. In movies like this, the audience remembers the stunts and effects more than the plot.

    Maybe quality movies are not driven by stunts, but blockbuster movies and gross receipts are. Since T3 is a blockbuster and not a quality movie, your statement does not have much validity in this context.

  • Tory

    I have tried to get extra work, they always ask if you have cars and are willing to use them in the film, I think it helps you get a gig sometimes.

  • Zombiedestroyer

    I understand what you're saying, but you have to look at the situation from the woman's point of view. She's an extra that got to work on Transformers, she's around all the crew, and the cast, and the exciting set pieces and props, she sees celebrities walking around, and she's handpicked to play out this stunt. In a time when young people trying to make it in Hollywood are called crazy for turning down any kind of opportunity in the film biz, you can imagine the amount of pressure and influence she was under to do this stunt. It was her choice, yes, but there were a lot of external influences playing their part. Also, she's an extra! What does she know about the safety of stunts? As opposed to the AD, the producers, the director and stunt crew…they have way more accountability than she ever will…she's just a poor soul trying to make it in Hollywood…you can't blame a child for driving a car and crashing it into a fence, you can only blame the negligent parent for not watching the child.

  • Zombiedestroyer

    I don't think this incident will cause the industry to move more towards CGI. I think the more realistic effect is that studios will do the usual safety song-and-dance by handing out new safety rules or literature about how to be safe on movie sets, and they'll do some press releases about how there will now be a 'safety officer' on sets at all times, blah blah blah. But there's no way studios are going to opt for more CGI simply because of safety…if they were to opt for CGI, they'd do it out of COST, not safety. They're still going to do both special and visual effects and stunts, and the factors that determine which are used is going to continue to be the same – cost and viability (ultimately), and to a slightly lesser extent, creative taste and the end result.

  • Ksupan

    Maybe the bigger problem is the lack of decent story plot and just stupid stunts and “piss & ball” humor Bay uses that is running the Transformer name into the ground.

  • Spence09

    With a bit of luck this will destroy Bays 'career' and we will be spared any more of his retarded bulls**t!

    If not… there is no God!

  • comic relief

    As much as I thought Matthew Vaughn’s “X-men: First class” sounded odd; Michael Bay’s “Transformers 3” takes the cake and sounds even worse.

    • A third installment after an inanely poor sequel?

    • Firing Megan Fox after a not so subtle tabloid media campaign against her. Yes, I read her crazy nearly daily comments. Yet firing an essential, yet non-principle actor makes the production sound really directionless. No offense Shia; but some of us were only there for Meghan. Launching a search for Meghan’s replacement after the turmoil was like one of the worst petty actress management scandals of the seventies.

    • And now this.

    I wasn’t planning to see the movie but now, I don’t feel guilty about it.

  • comic relief


    I can't agree with all of your whole statement, but I don't think the first part would bother me.

  • Chris Jones

    The fact that people are actually defending the movie studio in this instance is nothing short of disgusting. I shouldn't have to explain why.

  • hawker

    you have your facts completely wrong. She was 600 to 700 feet from the stunt. She was not being towed I was on the set for the stunt she was no where near it. A piece of metal flew a long way in a terrible accident.

  • kingdom2000

    You do know you are writing an article that repeats the “information” provided by unknown sources and none of which has been verified? Therefore you grave opinion about the situation is based on essentially a series of guesses.

    Here is all we really know.

    - A 24 year old woman named Gabriella Cedillo was injured on the Hammond, Indiana set of Transformers.

    - She was in her own car when something (we do not know what as several different stories identified several different object) went through her windshield, hitting her.

    - She was airlifted to Loyola Hospital, had to have brain surgery and currently in stable condition.

    Those are the ONLY facts of this incident. Everything else is the usual press (especially those in Chicago) of trying to create sensational spin on the story from unconfirmed eyewitnesses (talk to law enforcement, they will tell how useless eye witness statements usually are).

    We expect TV news to essentially create stories out of whole cloth and add their nonsense for ratings but bloggers, real reporters (researchers and producers do most of the work in TV), etc can easily parse the fact from the guesswork. They should make it clear what is verified fact and wasn't isn't and this article fails on all counts. Even worse it draws a definitive conclusion on the state of entire industry based on how little actual facts exist on this case. Excellcent job on your “reporting.” I think the blogosphere has enough Nikkis without everyone trying to copy her.

  • Wyatt Samuel K

    Certainly not going to argue, but you do have to be an intelligent consumer. You go to a Michael Bay movie and stupid stunts and immature humor is what you are going to get. And that goes to the makers too, if they do not want that kind of movie, do not hire Bay.

  • Wyatt Samuel K

    Correction-A third installment after an inanely poor sequel that made almost a BILLION DOLLARS

  • Ecovore

    Wasn't she driving a car in with a bunch of other cars as a stunt driver was driving a tow truck (with towed car or truck) through the traffic? How else would they get so many cars to simulate a realistic roadway. (Not that there weren't potential safety errors, just that it seems not to out of the ordinary).

  • Phil Edwards

    No one has actually said what the stunt was. Her car was just being towed. We need to know the full stunt details before we can judge this.

  • Jmralls2001

    “30yrs of motion pictures and never seen stunts fuck up this bad.”

    What about that incident on the set of Twilight Zone the Movie, where Vic Morrow and two kids got killed by the helicopter. Vic Morrow and at least one of the kids got decapitated. Then there was an incident during the filming of The Dark Knight.

  • Emil_blonsky377

    30 years of motion pictures and you don't remember a wonderful actor named “Brandon Lee”?

    Hyperbole of the internet.

    Nothing is going to change. This is the definition of the term “accident”.

  • james

    or The crow where bullet was stuck in the chamber of the gun that killed Brandon Lee.

  • Grant

    I think a stunt guy died on Dark Knight too.

  • demoncat_4

    no doubt the accident will proably change the way special effects are now made like more cgi just out of fear of using real life human stunt people if nothing else proably more regulations of how stunts and special effects are done on movies. also no doubt a few people are going to have a lot of explaining to do over this accident.

  • Mark

    Based on negligence alone a lawsuit would be in favor of the injured.

  • Spike

    It won't. We won't.

    There never was one.

  • Madcattv2

    I don't quite get the controversy of it personally…she wasn't the first stuntperson ever hurt during the filming of a movie and won't be the last. The whole meaning of her job of being a “stuntperson” is to take risks, granted it's supposed to be minimal or planed out risks. The fact that she did it in her own personal car just sounds like a bad decision by multiple people.

  • T-dot

    I don't know about the States, but I have done extra work in Canada – years ago, on that dreadful John Woo/Ben Afleck film Paycheck – and it by no means unusual as an extra to drive your own car and be paid additional for it.

    I was paid about $20 to $40 for my car (can't remember if that was a flat fee or not) and then $22 an hour as an extra (I'm union as an actor so they had to be union as an extra). Not terrible money for driving around the block a few times and sitting my car reading for the rest!

    Now, I can tell you that this woman was getting paid more than the $25 for her car. Beyond that all I can say is that I doubt she was actually doing the stunt. It seems more likely to me that she was the victim of a stunt gone wrong.

    If the rules are similar in the US to Canada though it isn't inconceivable that she was what is regarded as 'special skills extra', or 'stunt extra' but in even in those cases, she might have been involved in the stunt but not a central component of it.

    So, if she's a stunt or special skills extra, there is nothing unusual about her being in that situation. If she's a regular extra there's nothing unusual about her being in her own car (though from my understanding, and what I have seen, it is unusual for her to be in a tow rig with that car.)

    Either way what we all already know is most certainly true: this is going to get someone or some parties in some serious trouble. If this woman lives through it an recovers well from her injuries, she's most certainly going to see more money that she would have from working on the film.

  • Michael P

    Which, by the way, has led to few, if any, changes in the way the industry handles gunshot stunts.

  • Trcarter1

    Guys, things like this have been common place in the industry for decades. Produces and other movie executives take write offs for the destruction or use of their own vehicles. A stunt person might want to use their own vehicle as they are more sure of its maintainence and capabilities. I am sure the stunt person had his own good reason for using his own vehicle. I hope for the money he was paid to use his vehicle that he actually was looking for a write-off. This is my only real concern as to whether or not the stunt person was somehow forced to use his vehicle.

  • LeeMajors

    Everybody is coming out of the woodwork screaming 'Hang Bay !'. Funny thing is, it's either followed by a comment saying how they really hate him or his films.

  • CTFace

    Drawing a comparison between a child driving a negligent parent's car, and an adult doing something of her own free will and volition is ridiculous.

    Do the producers/director/stunt crew have something to answer for? Hell yes, of course. Did the woman take a dumb risk? Maybe. Does she bare some responsibility? Yes. Personal accountability is sadly quite unfashionable these days.

  • Genius Jones

    The 'controversy' is that she wasn't a stuntwoman. Presumably, she was just an extra with no stunt training of any kind. So that is what makes the accounts of the story that she was involved in the actual filming of a stunt somewhat controversial. The studio is denying those accounts, saying she was merely hit in the face by debris or something. But we'll see what the police and the film's investors' insurance investigations say really happened.

  • Musicofthenight2000

    As bad as I feel for the young woman that was injured, this just goes to show how lousy movies have become. Remember the good old days when movies had plots? Now it is all just special effects. That is all the last two Transformers movies were: special effects. No plot what so ever. Movies today are decreasing in a rapid state. I hope this does change the industry and we stop relying on explosions to make a movie.

  • Musicofthenight2000

    Maybe you demand explosions and special effects, but intelligent people want a plot and a decent story.

  • Sobrien302

    …and be out $25.00?

  • Wyatt Samuel K

    Your condescension and the personal slight betrays your claim of intelligence. This isn't about me or you, but rather the general public. Look at the highest grossing movies yearly, and you will find that most are blockbusters that are more slanted towards stunts and the 'movie experience' rather than attempts to provoke thought. Since movie companies are in the business of making money, they give the public what gets them the most money and publicity in return. Marketing to the general public gets them more money as opposed to marketing to this 'intelligent demographic' that you are referring to.

  • Rob

    Of course, when this turns out to be a completely freak accident, much like described by a poster above who claims to have been there, none of these douchebags will be around to say “gee, maybe I was a bit hasty…”.

  • DocSpin

    Do you HEAR the audience demanding more stunts? No, what you refer to is people playing to see blockbusters. Stunts are not a prerequisite of a “blockbuster” (e.g. Avatar, Spider-man, et alia). Your statements have even less validity. You might want to consider a little more fiber in your diet.

  • Wyatt Samuel K

    What other manner to 'hear' the audience demanding more stunts is more valid than looking at movie gross numbers? And what blockbuster production does not have stunts or FX? At least I gave some evidence to support my point. You just went off on an Op/Ed piece. I demonstrated how your statement does not have validity, and you retorted with some childish 'well, yours are worse' routine. Be a little civil. Remove the stick and live in the real world.

  • ktlman

    her car was not being towed. She was on the opposite side of the highway providing the “backdrop” of a regular car. The cable that snapped was on the other side of the jersey barrier.

  • SAG buddy

    I'm a New York SAG extra. I have used my OWN vehicle steadily for years. There is NOTHING uncommon about the practice.

  • T-dot

    Exactly what I figured when I posted above. I have never heard of an extra being towed.

    Judging from the latest update that I read, I suspect the confusion about her being towed may have been because, if I read this right, when the cable towing another car snapped, the cable tore through her car, and I believe also ended up pulling her car along the median for a bit (I guess because of the velocity of whatever was on the other end of the line).

  • Buttons Rock

    Absurd. People have been dying on movie sets as long as people have been making movies. Trust me, an injury related incident won't even so much as cause a blip on the “repercussions” radar.

  • Gus

    Everything written here is pure speculation by folks outside the industry.

    It is obvious to me what happened.

    I'm very sorry this young lady was victim to a bad rig. Hopefully, this will have some effective changes in rigging and those allowed to perform these tasks, but I doubt it.

    More CYA “safety classes” by the studios is probably all that will happen, besides the mega pay-off for the up-coming lawsuit.

    I hope the victim recovers completely.

  • Carpenters and Joinery

    CGI can be alot more costly especially for a more basic set piece!