Air Force, Hollywood partner during making of 'First Man'
By Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor, Secretary of the Air Force public Affairs
/ Published October 12, 2018
ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) -- Since the inception of the Air Force in 1947, film makers, novelists and even creators of video games have wanted to tell the tales of Airmen. The Air Force Public Affairs Entertainment Liaison office works to project and protect the image of the U.S. Air Force within the global entertainment environment.
From the storyboard to the big screen, at no cost to the government, these Airmen assist with entertainment productions with an airpower tie. The office recently participated in the filming of the major motion picture “First Man,” starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, in theaters Oct. 12, 2018.
Gosling’s portrayal depicts Armstrong’s personal struggles as an X-15 test pilot stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 1961, through the moon landing in 1969. To capture the era correctly, filmmakers worked with Airmen to provide value and accuracy on location at the Rosamond Dry Lake Bed.
The Air Force’s involvement ensures projects highlighting Airmen and the mission are plausible and realistic.
“This movie celebrates a lot of great Air Force heroes, like Ed White,” said Josh Singer, screenwriter of “First Man.” “It was important to all of us who worked on the film that we get it right and remember them and their sacrifices.”
In support of the film, production staff borrowed and restored a period-correct firetruck from the Air Force Flight Test Museum. The Air Force also delivered unclassified technological specifications, coordinated research trips and allowed the film’s art and visual effects team access to legacy X-15 aircraft models so they could meticulously and accurately render an exact replica.
“Our team was really integrated (with Airmen) on set due to some of the explosives we used,” said J.D. Schwalm, “First Man” special effects supervisor. “Anytime that we can work with the U.S. military is amazing and the help makes our vision that much easier to achieve.”
According to the entertainment office, the relationship between the Air Force and Hollywood remains strong by providing script review, location scout visits, costume and research assistance on hundreds of films and television programs such as “Sully,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Man of Steel,” “Lone Survivor,” as well as multiple “Transformers” and “Iron Man” films.
“Being involved in these productions provides the Air Force the opportunity to communicate our capabilities and values to a segment of society we may not be able to reach otherwise,” said Lt. Col. Nathan Broshear, Entertainment Liaison Office director. “If we can inspire the next generation of pilots, astronauts, innovators, explorers and Airmen, then our goal of educating and informing American audiences will have been achieved.”