'Transformers' put Airmen, aircraft on big screen

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons
  • Air Force News Agency
More than 300 Airmen and numerous aircraft will be seen around the world in the latest DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures film, "Transformers" being released to theaters July 4.

The movie combines the use of live action with computer-generated imagery to enhance the story as Airmen served as extras in the movie, some with speaking roles, and aircraft are featured in the summer blockbuster.

"We would never have been able to make this movie without the willingness of the (Defense Department) to embrace this project. We're proud of the fact that almost every military role, including extras, was played by military or ex-military personnel," said Ian Bryce, the producer of "Transformers."

"It's a thrill to know my face will be seen in a movie," said Airman 1st Class Mehtar Sullivan, an emergency management technician with the 49th Civil Engineer Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.

Air Force aircraft played a huge role by providing security during the filming and in one case during the movie, an F-22 Raptor turns into an evil "Transformer" called Starscream.

Mr. Bryce said he was particularly awed by the sight of the F-22 in an unrestricted climb to 15,000 feet. 

"I'm not sure how many people have seen that, but I am honored," he said. "It was just one of the many exciting things we were privileged to see."

With details of the "Transformers" essential to the movie, some machines took up to 10,000 pieces to make. Using real aircraft made the movie more realistic and aided in the computer-generated battle scenes.

Along with the F-22s, F-117 Nighthawks and the CV-22 Osprey are featured prominently throughout the movie. Also featured are the A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-17 Globemaster III, MH-53 Pave Low, HH-53 Super Jolly Green Giant, AC-130 Gunship, C-130 Hercules, MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle and Air Force One.

"Transformers" was also the first motion picture permitted to film in and around the Pentagon grounds since 9/11. The cast and crew felt the weight of the responsibility and followed instructions to the letter. When filming was completed, they were invited to visit and pay respects at the private 9/11 Memorial Chapel.

"We were able to access and film aircraft and areas that people have never filmed on before and expand the presence of the military," said Tyrese Gibson, an actor in the movie. 

"We just hope we did them justice," said Josh Duhamel, who stars in "Transformers."

A special movie screening in Washington, D.C., allowed many servicemembers to view the movie before the rest of the public. Many left the movie proud of the military involvement and the way military life was depicted on screen.

"The movie was fantastic," said Chief Master Sgt. Mike Gasparetto stationed at the Pentagon. "The special effects were amazing and there was even a good plot to go with it. The movie accurately depicted life in the military and I think is a great recruiting tool. The movie did a great job of putting a face on what we do as Airmen and as servicemembers, which I think is important for the general public to see so they understand better our job in protecting them." 

Airmen were not the only ones in attendance. Soldiers, Sailors and Marines were also invited to the screening.

"Military people will get a lot out of this movie because of how realistic they depicted the way it is in the field, the way we all work together, and the equipment we use," said Army Sgt. Charles Eggleston, a Walter Reed patient. "The whole thing was action packed and I loved seeing the A-10 'bringing the rain' the way they always came to help us out while I was in Iraq. Some of my fellow Soldiers and I were talking about it's funny that with all the movies out there, it took a movie about alien robots invading the planet to get the military stuff right." 

The work of Airmen and other military members left a lasting impression on the minds of the cast and crew.

"We had a lot of guys from the military on set and they were terrific," said Jon Voight, a seasoned actor who plays in the movie. "They set the bar pretty high. They are the real heroes." 

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