‘I Can Get the Pentagon to Vouch for Me’ – Michael Bay letter to the CIA
Michael Bay is well known for working closely with government agencies when making his films, mostly the Pentagon but also NASA. Less well known is how he worked with the CIA to vet his script for the Benghazi movie 13 Hours, and how his request to film the CIA’s Memorial Wall was turned down by the Agency.
Bay first approached the CIA in early March 2015, shortly before filming on 13 Hours began. He went on a tour of Langley and the CIA reviewed his script in order to remove ‘sensitive and uncleared information’ from the book that had made its way into the screenplay. A few days later Bay wrote to the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs to thank them, and to ask permission to film the CIA’s Memorial Wall in the lobby of the Old Headquarters Building.
Bay made the point that:
I can get the Pentagon to vouch for me regarding the utmost professionalism when we shoot government assets.
Having made almost his entire ouvre with the assistance of the Pentagon, I have no doubt this is true. Nonetheless, the CIA weren’t convinced and denied Bay access for filming at Langley, saying this was because they hadn’t cleared the original book. But this makes little sense – Bay was not responsible for the original book and he apparently agreed to make all the changes the CIA requested, so the script should not have posed any problems for them. I’m guessing there were other reasons behind the CIA rejecting Bay’s request, as the documents show that by that stage the relationship had gone sour.
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