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Forbes (PART 1) ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Cinematographer Kevin LaRosa II: Flight Scenes Are Real

Kevin LaRosa II has worked as a stuntman and aerial cinematographer on many popular movies including, “The Avengers” and “Iron Man,” but none as significant as, “Top Gun: Maverick.” LaRosa II, 36 and vice president of Helinet Aviation Services, was responsible for setting up and filming the jaw-dropping flight scenes from both inside and outside of the movie’s U.S. Navy F-18 fighter jets. He is currently at work on another film, “Devotion,” a true Korean War aviation story to be released later this year. Here, in Part 3 of our behind-the-scenes look at “Top Gun: Maverick,” we interview LaRosa II (his father was a famous stunt pilot) over the phone. Following are edited excerpts from a longer conversation.

Jim Clash: How do you think the movie came out from a cinematographic standpoint?

Kevin LaRosa II: I’m proud and very happy. It’s a testament to an amazing crew - it takes a village - an incredible story and great aerial photography. But there is so much more - 800 hours - of aviation footage that the world hasn’t seen yet only because the movie has to be an acceptable length. [Director] Joe Kosinski says you could make a whole other film - say, “Top Gun: Extreme,” from it.

Clash: What were the biggest filming challenges to make this movie so realistic?

LaRosa II: We knew in the very beginning we had to make a sequel to a very iconic movie. To do that, we needed a cinematic level of production that had never been achieved. That takes a lot of effort and expense. Sometimes you get that one take that’s perfect, but often you don’t, so you go back and reshoot it until it’s right. Also, there was a lot of new technology that had to be tested. Finally, the Navy has another business that they do. We were a byproduct of that. While we paid the Navy financially for everything we needed, we couldn’t interrupt their business. We had to find ways to help them incorporate us into their normal daily routines, which was difficult. We had multiple units filming different parts of the movie at the same time, and that all had to be coordinated.


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