Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Space movie filmed at Edwards Air Force Base
Posted: Feb. 28, 2000

Actor Mark Moses, playing Navy Capt. Alan Shepard, is ready for "take off" in a "Race to Space" scene, filmed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Photo: USAF/John Haire
Some base members stepped back in time as they participated as extras in Tri-Star's latest movie, "Race to Space," which wrapped up filming here recently.

"Race to Space" is about a young boy, played by Alex Linz, who dreams of becoming an astronaut. The movie also stars James Woods as the boy's father; Annabeth Gish as an Air Force veterinarian in charge of training the first chimpanzee in space; and Ham the chimp.

The film is loosely based on the early U.S. space program, Project Mercury, which included several flights made with monkeys and chimps.

The Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Honor Guard played itself, as the film called for an honor guard to post the colors in one scene. Dressed in early 1960's uniforms, team members said they were pleased that the film company wanted to realistically portray the group.

"I was honored that they asked us to be in it," said Senior Airman Miguel Gamino Telles. "This movie will give people a chance to see one aspect of what we do. I'm hoping this exposure will recruit more airmen to join the honor guard."

Besides showing airmen how the movie business works, "Race to Space," also gave several movie members a genuine view of military life.

Gish, who has starred in feature films like "Double Jeopardy," "Shag" and "Mystic Pizza," said her grandfather served in the Navy, but she had little knowledge of what it's like to be in the service herself until she landed this role.

Director of photography, Cristian Sebaldt (left), film director Sean McNamara and Maj. John Toniolli, Los Angeles Western Region Public Affairs, discuss a scene for "Race to Space," filmed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Photo: USAF/John Haire
"I have much more respect now that I've put on the uniform for this role," said Gish, who portrays an Air Force major. "One day when we were filming, I watched test pilots get ready for a flight. I had a surge of pride and patriotism being this close to those who protect this country."

She added that the Air Force technical support the crew received was much appreciated.

"Everyone was so warm and supportive. Maj. John Toniolli and Master Sgt. Tom Giannazzo from Los Angeles Western Region Public Affairs were an immense help in terms of information and research -- including how to salute properly."

The director of the film, Sean McNamara, chose Edwards as one of two locations to film because of location and T-38 aircraft based here.

"The hangars we filmed in had spectacular architecture," McNamara said. "They were conducive settings for a beautiful wide-screen look."

As for the T-38s, McNamara said: "Edwards was nice enough to loan us one of these jets for a scene that calls for Astronaut Alan Shepard (played by Mark Moses) and the boy to fly in.

"The support at Edwards was absolutely wonderful. Everyone really enjoyed their stay."

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