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Thu, Jul 26, 2007

Speed And Angels: 'The Real Top Gun Story'

Filmmaker Drew On Navy Experience

by ANN Correspondent Aleta Vinas

If Speed and Angels had been released to the general public, it may very well have given Top Gun a run for its money as favorite aviation film.

Producer Paco Chierici conceived the idea for Speed and Angels prior to his retirement after 20 years in the US Navy. Starting out in A-6 Intruders moving on to F-14s then F-5s with the Reserves. About four years prior to retirement Chierici started thinking "I knew that the end was near and I felt very passionate about telling the real story." He wanted to share the people, what they do, how they fly, how passionate they are about each other, about their community, flying the incredible aircraft and how passionate they are about their country and families. Chierici believes "It's a no brainer people will fall in love with this group."

He terms Speed and Angels an "action documentary," Chierici explained. "It feels very much like a feature film, it’s very rich not only in terms of character and character development but also in terms of action."

From inception to funding and to get it "in the can" took about three years. Chierici met Mike Homer in the course of his search for funding. Homer fell in love with the concept and the characters became Executive Producer and helped Chierici raise about 75% of the funds. "We struck gold with Mike," boasts Chierici.

About a dozen pilots were followed prior to narrowing the field. No one was initially in the limelight, "we snuck up on them" says Chierici. The film follows two pilots Jay and Meagan from raw enthusiasm to seasoned aviator. The film follows the two through training, carrier qualification and deployment. It also follows the pilots behind the scenes to, sometimes tearful, get togethers at home. "It's difficult to be part of something this intimate." Notes Chierici "It requires an honesty that most people are not used to giving away freely. They believed in us and trusted us and believed in the film."

Director Peyton Wilson was a one woman camera crew on the carriers. Unprecedented access was granted for the filming which takes place on aircraft carriers and in the air. The dogfight scenes were choreographed and recreated for the movie but the actual voice tapes were used from the original training.

"The film is about chasing your dream, chasing your passion and over coming all the obstacles in your life that try to prevent you from chasing your dream," says Chierici. We are allowed to look over the shoulders of two people and follow their journey. "It is a film with a universal theme and not falling victim to the inevitable obstacles." Chierici adds.

The film will play twice a day in the SkyScape Theater at the EAA Museum during AirVenture. Now is the time to see it since a distribution deal was recently signed with Salient Media out of Los Angeles (CA). Chierici hopes the film will be "released later this year or maybe early next year hopefully in theaters. If not theaters then on cable TV and then after that on DVD."

FMI: www.speedandangels.com

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