Four veterans watching a large screen during a screening of 'The Aviators'.

Vets on Set: Behind the Scenes of 'The Aviators' Short Film

Something extraordinary happened on the bustling set of "The Aviators," a short film by Xfinity and directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow. Amidst the cameras, crew, and equipment sat four men in their 70s, swapping stories of a bygone era. Jim Lloyd, Jack Gillett, Bill Moir, and Elester Latham, Vietnam-era military pilots, had reunited not just as the cast of “The Aviators” but as the living embodiment of a generation who pioneered military aviation.

Bigelow and fellow Academy Award winners Hans Zimmer, Greig Fraser, and Paul N.J. Ottoson collaborated on the film as part of Xfinity’s newest advertising campaign.

In the scene, the camera captures the essence of their reunion as the men gather around a poker table. Their camaraderie is undeniable. This wasn't acting for them; they were transported back to their youth, reconnecting to the bonds forged amidst the clouds and the dangers of combat.

As the scene unfolds, it becomes evident that these connections are unbound by time or distance. Lloyd, Gillette, and Moir shared more than just screen time; they served in the same Navy squadron during the Vietnam War, their lives forever intertwined by duty and friendship. Lloyd coaxed his comrades into joining the film, knowing it would offer them a chance to bring authenticity to its story.

For Moir and Gillett, it wasn't the spotlight they sought but the opportunity to see their buddies again, to share laughter and memories. Latham, a retired Air Force pilot who also served in Vietnam as a Marine, brought a unique perspective to the set. As a professional performer on stage and screen, he not only helped guide his fellow veterans through the nuances of acting but also brought a depth of understanding to his character that only someone with his unique experiences could.

But beyond the script and the cameras, "The Aviators" is a tribute to a generation of heroes. These men were part of a pioneering era of aviators who shaped history with courage and determination. From the heights of space exploration to the trials of combat overseas, they embodied the spirit of adventure and sacrifice.

As the credits roll and the final scene fades, "The Aviators" leaves a lasting impression. It's more than just a film; it's a testament to the enduring bonds of friendship and the timeless valor of those who serve. And for Lloyd, Gillette, Moir, and Latham, it's a reminder that no matter how much time may pass, their generation's legacy will continue to inspire generations through the power of connectivity, ensuring that their stories and the lessons they teach are never forgotten. 

A group of airmen standing on a landing strip in Xfinity's 'The Aviators' film.

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