A Massachusetts air reserve base was one of several locations used for Netflix’s star-studded December release, “Don’t Look Up,” giving Hollywood stars and film crews a glimpse into how the Air Force works.
Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, saw the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, and Jennifer Lawrence as they filmed various scenes on base over the course of eight days.
Production and film crews, set designers and more were all in tow, helping make the set process a reality, said Lt. Col. Rodney B. Furr, chief of public affairs for the base.
Furr was in charge of coordinating with the film’s production crew, ensuring the process went as smoothly as possible, which included security and escorts for everyone associated with the film; coordinating background actors; and scheduling flight plans.
“My team and I were working so hard … while one scene was filming, we’re planning the next, trying to scramble quickly,” he said.
The Westover Public Affairs Office worked directly with the film’s location manager and producer to facilitate their requests, whenever possible. This meant carrying a phone, radio, and checklist at all times, with eight, 18-hour days for Furr and his crew.
As for stargazing at the multiple Academy Award winners on site, Furr said there simply wasn’t time. They were busy working and the team of Air Force members was busy planning logistics for scenes ahead.
“It was very rewarding knowing my team and I executed this task,” he said. “And very educational for us.”
‘Don’t Look Up’ lets Air Force show diversity
Furr said crews would come in to create scenes from scratch, and plan detailed tasks, just like they do in the military.
“It was astounding at how similar the fields are and out planning processes,” he said.
Meanwhile actors came in to perform their role, then were off doing something completely different at a new location the next; their versatility was outstanding, Furr said.
In a similar light, Furr said the opportunity was a great one to education the film crew on how the Air Force works on a daily basis, and the ability they have to cover a broad range of talents.
“We wanted to show them how diverse an air base really is,” he said. “A lot of people know the Air Force from what they see in the movies, fighter jets moving around and flight control boards, but it’s also so much more than that.”
That public relations aspect, he said, was the most rewarding part of the gig.
“We are extremely empowered and diverse, which helps us take care of business and execute our mission,” Furr said. “The Air Force offers so much more than most realize.”
Part of that meant using authentic air men and women in the film, both as paid and unpaid background actors.
The film features multiple shots with a C5 Super Galaxy, one of the largest, most capable transports in the world, Furr said. (It’s the largest aircraft in the Air Force arsenal, dubbed for strategic transporting.) Just one is large enough to fix five Greyhound busses. This opened many opportunities for interior shots that aren’t usually possible in smaller planes.
Exterior shots of the C5 include the soaring plane, with take offs and landings.
DiCaprio and Lawrence are among those featured alongside the plane.
“Netflix was able to use a real military base and genuine equipment without an additional cost. We really wanted to pay it forward,” Furr said. “The fact that a lot of our other airmen were out there supporting it allowed to show us how our airmen are empowered.”
“Don’t Look Up” is available for streaming on Netflix. The Westover Reserve Air Base scenes, including the C5 Super Galaxy, are at the beginning of the film, starting at a minute in, airing for six minutes.
For more information on “Don’t Look Up,” visit Netflix.Read comments