Film takes flight at Redstone
October 7, 2008
Most children’s movies make Utah filmmaker Rocco DeVilliers’ stomach turn. "They’re slapstick and cheesy," he said in a telephone interview Thursday.
Kids may be entertained by the secret-agent and superhero fare, the zoo of animated chimpanzees and talking pets blasting through megaplexes across the United States, but parents are rarely as lucky.
DeVilliers, who lives in Salt Lake City, hopes his first feature-length film, "The Flyboys" will be the exception to the rule.
He has spent the last six years writing, directing and producing the film about two kids from a small town who accidentally stow away aboard an airplane owned by the mob. The film releases at the Redstone 8 Cinemas in Park City this weekend.
Viewers can expect to see a high-paced adventure about friendship and boyhood mischief. What they won’t see is any computer-generated special effects in the film, which was shot in St. George and Hurricane, Utah.
Audiences aren’t stupid, DeVilliers says. When something is filmed in front of a green screen, people can tell. "It has the clean, safe antiseptic look," he said.
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The two-engine propeller plane in the film, a Twin Beechcraf D-18, dives, spins and swoops with the help of a stuntman. The silver plane was made famous in World War II.
Not depending on computer wizardy to deliver thrills to viewers is not standard practice in most moviemaking, but DeVilliers believes it adds an authentic feel of the film.
Authenticity was important to DeVilliers because the film is based, in part, on his childhood.
DeVilliers grew up in Oregon, but spent time with his grandfather, who was a crop duster in Blackfoot, Idaho. He used his experience riding in his grandpa’s Twin Beechcraft as inspiration for the film. "It was pure magic," he said. "Just being able to play in the cockpit, it was the best playground."
The film was released in four towns in Southern Utah this fall and comes to Park City after winning the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature Film at the Durango Film Festival and the Audience Choice Award at the Jackson Hole Film Festival, among other prizes.
"The Flyboys" is an independent film whose high-quality cinematography doesn’t look like a typical tripod-less independent film. "It’s a big production," DeVilliers said of the $2 million project.
Nor is the subject matter typical indie fare. The movie, DeVilliers says, is made for the heartland, not Hollywood. He sites "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Stand Me" as additional inspiration. DeVilliers sought to put his protagonists, played by 12-year-olds Jason McIntyre and Kyle Barrett, in real mortal danger with real consequences. "I wanted to make the kind of film that I would have loved to see when I was 12 years old, but that I would still want to see today," he explained.
DeVilliers, who has two kids of his own, praised Steven Spielberg’s "E.T.: Extra Terrestrial" as one of the best kids’ movies of all time that combined a sense of adventure and fun.
"The Flyboys" captures that same mature tone, he said. "I’m very proud of the film. It seems to be a breath of fresh air for audiences."
"The Flyboys" opens at the Redstone 8 Cinemas this weekend. For more information on the film, check out http://www.theflyboys.com .