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Defense Mechanism (2014)
Funny and Heartwrenching
Just watched this over the weekend at Pensacon 2015.
It was a standout, even among some other quality films. In the end, it took best of show, and rightfully so.
It's a touching, beautifully acted piece, that really gives a fresh take on the zombie genre with some genuine humor and heart. Both the leads give their characters a real spark.
I needed to fill ten lines, and can't say anything more without spoiling this short film, but it is certainly worth your time. A real gem!
I've love to see more from the makers of this.
Ground Control (1998)
I'm currently in process to become an air traffic controller, so I'm at the point where I devour anything relating to ATC. I don't need to write anything else about the inaccuracies in the movie, as a couple of former ATC's have done that. The phraseology, the scopes, the sets - they're pretty far from the real thing.
What I'd like to do, however, is talk about what I found *right* about the movie. There are three pretty big things that I felt get across the overall theme of ATC: 1) When Kristy Swanson's character starts screwing up after first plugging in, Kiefer's character plugs in with her. After saving her butt, he goes into a discussion of how to look at the scope. In your mind, you need to turn this 2D display into a 3D representation. Then, you use the information you have about each aircraft - its speed, altitude, and direction - to see and resolve conflicts ahead of time.
I felt that was a pretty accurate description of what's going through a controller's mind when he's looking at the scope.
2) The bit by the young "hotshot" controller, where he talks about how controllers view airplanes, is pretty spot on. You can't view them as individual airplanes full of hundreds of people - you need to detach yourself from that completely, or otherwise you'll go crazy with the pressure. I've talked with many controllers, and they each use different methods. Some picture empty airplanes in their mind, some just see "targets", some view them as math problems to solved, as is the case in the movie.
3) The constant battle of safety vs. budget. If you look at today's FAA, they have slashed controller pay, forced out the more experienced higher-paid controllers, blown billions on failed technology upgrade projects, and generally made a mess of things. The facility where I'm being assigned to has constant equipment failures, mainly because the equipment in question is over 30 years old. Miami Center's Oceanic sector - which covers the entire strip of ocean from Miami to the Dominican Republic - has frequent radar outages which take days to fix.
And as traffic increases more and more every year, there are fewer controllers to guide them. Everyone will tell you that ATC is a stressful job, and that you need to unplug every time knowing you had 100% accuracy. Now imagine forcing someone to work 10 hours a day, 6 days a week under that pressure. That's the reality at the world's busiest facilities - like Atlanta Center - which are understaffed. Take a look at what happened with that fatal ComAir crash in Kentucky. The tower was short staffed, so they only had 1 controller on duty instead of the required two. 50 people died as a result.
And through every error, the FAA always says: "Safety was never compromised". For that reason, I found the conflicts between the working controllers and the management to be pretty realistic. The controllers want things to run safely, whereas the management wants to cut corners and boost their own careers.
Think about that the next time you fly.