As filmmakers explored real planes, they found that
many of the details they gathered actually helped drive
the story. Given that crop dusters needn't fly above
1,000 feet, filmmakers theorized that despite his dream
of becoming a world-famous air racer, Dusty might have
some reservations about doing what it takes to achieve
it. "He's not built to fly high -- he's never had to fly high,"
says Hall. "So it makes perfect sense that he'd be afraid
Dusty's fear of heights prompted filmmakers to seek the guidance of a phobia specialist to ensure they characterized
the fear appropriately. "We knew if we captured it the right way, we'd connect that much more with that guy
in the audience who's dealing with his own fear -- whether it's of heights or something else entirely," says Hall.
"Dusty's character and condition is relatable because we all suffer fears -- some more than others -- and we
have all experienced struggles in our lives that we cannot easily overcome," says John Tsilimparis. The licensed
psychotherapist, who met with film- makers and has treated people with anxiety disorders for two decades, said
acrophobia -- the fear of heights -- is "marked by symptoms of dizziness, sweating, nausea, dry mouth, shaking,
heart palpitations, labored breathing and the inability to speak or think clearly.
"Dusty's dilemma is very human and we resonate with his pain," continues Tsilimparis. "We feel compassion for
him and we want him to succeed. We also love the underdog."
"We've all been the underdog in our own lives," adds Hall. "We've all been Dusty at some point. It's that
familiarity -- paired with the authenticity we worked so hard to incorporate at every level -- that'll make audiences
root for this guy. And I think that's one of the best parts of going to the movies."
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