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FLY BOYS

Thirty Years In The Making
"The Devlin-Bill partnership has gone on for more than thirty years," says Dean Devlin. "My father was a producer who produced the first movie Tony Bill ever directed, My Bodyguard. I've known him my whole life. He's wonderful with actors, helping to discover John Turturro, Tim Robbins, Matt Dillon -- a long list actually. And he's absolutely knowledgeable and passionate about flying."

When Devlin sent Bill the screenplay, he included a note. It had only one line: "Tony, this is the script you were born to direct.” Devlin and Bill's great enthusiasm for the story helped the duo raise their approximate $60 million budget independently, and the two set out to make a film with a sweeping, epic scope but an intimate, indie-film feel, using their combined abilities and experience.

Actors and crew credit Bill and Devlin with creating an extraordinary on-set atmosphere that not only informed them, but made the often difficult work much easier. "Tony loves flying and Dean just loves movies, so their love and belief in this story comes through," says co-star Henderson. "It makes it a joy to come to work when someone truly, truly cares, the way these two do. It enables you to find a part of yourself that really cares too. It's contagious." The relaxed confidence that Devlin and Bill brought to the set was welcoming to the actors, as well: "Always the same rhythm, always the same sweetness, that's Tony Bill," says Reno. "I came here and discovered a man who is not in a hurry, who never yells, always the same level of voice and energy and so smart at the same time. It is rare to work with someone who is so talented and content. It's exceptional how at peace he is with himself."

Devlin, a hands-on producer full of ideas, was involved and active in every aspect of the production. "Dean Devlin is a genius," says Philip Winchester. "Working with him has been an absolute dream-come-true. It's incredible working with people like Dean and Tony Bill, who's the perfect director for this film.”

Braham sees complementary strengths in the Bill-Devlin partnership. "Tony has wonderful insight into an actor's mind and visually is very aware, but is fine to give others that responsibility," he says. "Dean's very clear on storytelling, very visually literate, which has been an exceptional help to me, with this new camera system. It's a terrific collaboration."

That collaboration, spread out to include the entire cast and crew of FLYBOYS, finds its ultimate triumph in recounting the long-ago tales of courage and determination of the Lafayette Escadrille. With an unparalleled level of authenticity and devotion to detail, the filmmakers take audiences into the skies, on a hero's journey. As Bill says, "Pilots are people that can do something that most other people on earth can not do. They can leave it." And the experience of being in the air can change a man: "What it does is really open up the world to you," says star James Franco. "There's something about a bird's-eye view that allows you to connect everything up. Things seem bigger and a lot smaller at the same time. You never see the world the same way again." Reality, then and now…

In the writing and filming of FLYBOYS, every effort was made to be as real – and realistic – as possible. The fleet of aircraft assembled by this production is second only to those amassed by Howard Hughes for HELL'S ANGELS in 1929. Among them, the legendary Bristol Fighter is the last flying model of its kind in the world, and the Bleriot seen at the Escadrille aerodrome is the oldest flying aircraft in the world. Tony Bill was astounded when he learned of its provenance. "It was like having an extra working for you in the background and discovering that he is the oldest person on the planet,” he says. "I couldn't believe it. Not only was it part of aviation<

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