5 Things Faster Than the Ridiculous Amount of Time It Took to Edit Top Gun: Maverick’s First Dogfight Sequence

The film’s editor, Eddie Hamilton, sure took his time on the five-minute-long scene — about a year, in fact
5 Things Faster Than the Ridiculous Amount of Time It Took to Edit Top Gun: Maverick’s First Dogfight Sequence

It took a whopping 35 years for fans to get another Top Gun, and it’s no secret how incredibly successful this beat-for-beat remake legacy sequel of the original movie has been. And filming sequences where pilots loop over each other while actors try not to vomit was no simple feat — hence the film’s entire Wikipedia page dedicated solely to its award wins and nominations. In particular, Maverick’s editor, Eddie Hamilton, has received 12 nominations for his work, and boy, did the man earn them.

That clip is the first dogfight sequence, in which Maverick teaches a new fleet of pilots how to be cocky while constantly giving himself a pep talk. Cringy dialogue aside, it’s a fun sequence with some tremendous flying maneuvers that took Hamilton an entire year to cut together. As the editor told Deadline earlier this month, The first dogfight scene, where Maverick’s shooting the pilots down and they’re doing the pushups, started out at about 15 minutes long. In the finished movie, it’s like four minutes, 50 seconds, so you can imagine it just got compressed and compressed and compressed and compressed, so only the very, very best shots were left at the end. … I was editing that sequence for about a year, I would say, on and off almost every day.

Daaaamn. That is, on average, the amount of time it usually takes for an entire Hollywood studio film to spend in post-production — not just a 15-minute sequence cut down to five. Sure, it’s the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from a blockbuster starring Tom Cruise, who’s so addicted to work, he once quipped, I don’t have days off.

Paramount Pictures

“I am powered by adrenaline and L. Ron Hubbard’s toilet fiction!”

But still, a year is a lot of time for a single scene, especially considering that Hamilton could have actually started and finished any of the following things during that exact same period, like...

Building a Solar Farm

Akmu.cazri, Wikimedia Commons

According to many of the experts on solar plants, its totally possible to build an entire solar farm in well under a year — which is also less than how long it took Rooster to get over his Maverick issues. In fact, itd be possible to build more than one community solar farm in the time it took to trim that first dogfight, with plenty of time spared for a couple of dozen beach football games.

Creating A Vaccine

Braňo, Unsplash

Thats right! In the Before Times, it may have taken quite a while to create a brand new vaccine — what with there being many viruses to deal with at once and people with money controlling both the research and production aspects — but when the world got toppled by COVID-19, it was all hands (and dough) on deck. Thanks to everyone (sorta) pulling together on an international scale, humanity proved that we could, in fact, create groundbreaking medicine faster than editing five minutes of a movie where people fly around a lot.

It sure is nice to have time — and money.

A Full-Term Pregnancy

freestocks, Unsplash

Creating a human being inside a womb, giving birth and naming the kid Hangman would have taken less time. In fairness, editing Top Gun: Maverick was a beast of an endeavor since a total of around 800 hours found a home on the cutting room floor. Thats 33 days. 

As Hamilton told Deadline: (We shot) 800 to 814 hours (of footage). It was, quite honestly, very overwhelming at times. There was one day in March 2019 when they had 27 cameras running because there were four jets up in the air with various cameras on them and two units filming on the ground, which added up to 27 cameras. And I remember getting so much footage the next morning and just thinking this was going to be very difficult.

Yeah, no shit.

Making An Award-Winning Movie

Casablanca was shot and released in only six months. Moonlight was filmed and premiered in under a year. Most Hollywood studio movies take an average of 300 days to make it all the way through post-production and onto the big screen. What Im saying is, that even though it was a job well done, this long-ass editing stint of one sequence isnt the norm and probably shouldnt be. How Hamilton didnt suffer from chronic motion sickness is a feat all its own.

So kudos to Hamilton for painstakingly compressing those 15 minutes of actors sounding like smug aviators while jets zip around to just under five minutes. It sure took long enough.

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