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High Hopes
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 of heights."

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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