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BMZ Interview: Living in the Age of Airplanes Director/Producer Brian J. Terwilliger


Written by: BMZ Staff
Date: May 4, 2015

BMZ talks with Director/Producer Brian J. Terwilliger on his latest film, LIVING IN THE AGE OF AIRPLANES.


Category: Interviews

Living in the Age of Airplanes takes audiences on an epic journey through 18 countries and across all seven continents as it presents a unique perspective on how the airplane has changed the world. We speak with Director/Producer Brian J. Terwilliger on the making of his new film.

Can you tell us a bit about your filmmaking background, and how you got involved in the Large Format genre?

When I was a sophomore in high school, I took a class in video production and fell in love with the creative process of making movies. I was determined to learn every facet of the film industry, so both during and after college I worked in various capacities, from movie-theatre projectionist to production manager on independent films. I eventually produced and directed my first film titled One Six Right. It’s an aviation-themed documentary about the love of flying from a pilot’s perspective. It was mostly seen on TV and home video (i.e. small screens).

With my latest project, Living in the Age of Airplanes, I wanted to tell the larger story of aviation and how the airplane has changed the world. To reach a mainstream audience with a visually epic film -- for people of all ages -- there was no better canvas than that of the giant screen.

I understand you’ve done a number of documentaries on aviation. Have you always had an interest in aviation, and do you plan on creating more films on the subject?

I’ve loved planes since I was a kid. Growing up, I went to countless airshows, collected aviation posters, built and flew model airplanes and then earned my private pilot’s license when I was twenty. Making movies about aviation is a marriage of my two passions.

This film takes a different approach to flying, focusing more on the impact of flight rather than the planes themselves. How did the idea for the film originate?

To reach the broadest audience I needed to tell a story that connects with most people -- and most people aren’t inherently fascinated by airplanes! But focusing on the countless ways that airplanes affect all of us -- even those who have never flown -- seemed like a compelling idea and a fresh take on something that has become extraordinarily ordinary. I wanted to celebrate aviation in a new and unexpected way.

You traveled to all seven continents to make this film. How long was the process? Were there any locations that unfortunately had to be left on the cutting room floor?

The film took six years to make, start to finish. The filming took place in the middle of that period, lasting a year and half. We shot in 95 locations in 18 countries across all 7 continents, capturing 260 hours of footage! While only a fraction of the shots were able to make the final cut, there’s a little bit of everywhere we shot somewhere in the film.

The film in a sense attempts to bring wonder back to the experience of flying, and to commercial flights in particular. For most people though, flying has become a taxing affair. What’s your take on the whole business?

I’m fascinated by the juxtaposition of the unmatched speed of air travel against the perception that flying is often inconvenient. I can’t think of any other technology that is so valuable to us yet is appreciated so little. There is no close alternative to what airplanes offer us; in fact, if we couldn’t fly -- we probably wouldn’t go! It’s hard to imagine a world without airplanes since we were all born into the time when they already existed. Through this film, I want to reignite the childlike fascination that many of us once had in flying.

For those wanting to see the film, how many theaters have committed to launch Airplanes so far?

It’s now playing in 17 cities and more theatres will be opening throughout this year and beyond. For the complete list of theatres, visit and click on "Find a Theatre."

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects in the museum theater space, or otherwise?

I have a couple projects that I’d like to get underway in 2016 and 2017, but for the rest of this year, I’ll be promoting and traveling to events related to Living in the Age of Airplanes. It’s important to me to support this film first before changing gears entirely.

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