DTF: Sparks Fly In Documentary About Pilot’s Turbulent Dating Life [Exclusive Interview]


DTF is a story about love, sex, and addiction. In this new documentary director Al Bailey follows a widowed pilot (Christian) around the world to document his quest for romance using the Tinder dating app. DTF is entertaining and captivating as it takes a raw look inside a professional pilot’s risqué personal life. For legal reasons, Christian’s real identity is kept anonymous, his voice is altered and his face blurred out. He lives the lifestyle of a touring rockstar and the camera crew reluctantly follows  while he racks up SkyMiles on his Tinder card. Soon into the filming Bailey realized Christian was a flight risk. Either the pilot or director will have to pull out of this project before there are serious consequences to their lives and friendship.

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In order to make this documentary, filmmaker Al Bailey follows his pilot friend around for 18 months. DTF gives us a first-class look at the life of a pilot and the baggage some carry. Bailey’s idea of documenting his friend’s Tinder escapades quickly turned into something much more raunchy. The documentary reveals how one pilot deals with the stress of being responsible for hundreds of lives in the air. DTF blows the whistle on the airline industry and shows the reckless and exciting lives some airline professionals lead.

DTF is a Jump Seat Productions film. The Red Arrow Studios company, Gravitas Ventures, will handle the distribution in America. DTF lands in the USA on September 15th and is available on Digital HD and Cable VOD. For more information on the film visit https://www.dtfdoc.com.

First-time director Al Bailey connected with me over the phone from the UK to talk about DTF. We chatted about the main character’s behavior patterns and how this film is a cautionary tale to the airline industry. He told me what part of the world the pilot had the best luck using Tinder. Bailey also spoke about his previous career as a professional soccer player and his other upcoming projects that will be taking flight soon. As we start our descent into this interview please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position.  

Al Bailey: Nice to meet you, Jake. 

Jake Perry: Nice to meet you. Good morning!

Al Bailey: Well, early evening for me, but good morning to yourself. 

Jake Perry: Oh yeah, that’s right. You’re over there across the pond! DTF. Very cool movie. I enjoyed it a lot. 

Al Bailey: Thank you. A lot of craziness, but hopefully it’s kind of exposing something on more of a serious level, but I think it’s certainly captivated everyone that’s watched it so far. 

Jake Perry: DTF a documentary about your pilot friend from Denmark, his personal and romantic challenges, and he’s using Tinder across the world. After watching it, it almost seems like a wake-up call to the airline industry and also Tinder and dating apps. Did you have any of this in mind, that it might be a warning to these things? Or are you just trying to make a documentary on your friend when you started out?

Al Bailey: Yeah, in essence, it completely turned out something that we weren’t setting out to do at the beginning. It was literally a kind of month sized idea. I wasn’t obviously that naive and the respect that the fundamentals will find a little bit possible, but I didn’t think we’d find kind of the depraved behavior that would kind of unearth really. Certainly not to the extent. So it’s turned out into a cautionary tale that certainly wasn’t our initial format imagination. 

Jake Perry: This guy lives like a rock star, he’s like a pirate just flying into city to city and just breaking hearts and taking names out there. 

Al Bailey: Yeah. it’s a bubble I didn’t know existed. I had heard stories from various friends and “Christian”, as we call him, as well. So I kind of had a rough idea of things that went on, but unfortunately, until you’re in that environment, you’re never quite prepared for the extent that it was. 

Jake Perry: You set up this guy, Christian, with his wife, Charlotte, who unfortunately passed away. So did you feel some sort of responsibility to help him in his search again, to set him up with somebody? 

Al Bailey: Fundamentally, it doesn’t come across quite as much in the piece, but I knew Charlotte a lot better than I did…Christian. I always have to bite my tongue and call him Christian. I obviously knew Charlotte a lot longer than I did Christian. So if you’re looking at kind of a sense of loyalty, we’re more on her side, more than Christian, but obviously, as the experience evolved, it did feel almost a feeling of guilt actually. It was quite a sobering experience, obviously quite hazy experience cause it was spread over 18 months, so it was a bit of a blur in the sense of how I was feeling. It’s only in retrospect now that I look back and maybe my loyalties did lie outside of Christian and more towards kind of what Charlotte’s feelings might have been on the whole thing. 

Jake Perry: Yeah, I can see that. Christian is an anonymous character. His face is blurred and his voice is distorted. Towards the end of the movie, I almost thought this documentary sort of turned into a thriller because you don’t know what he’s going to do next. And also when you take away his voice and picture, it kind of dehumanizes him, and he’s just this evil guy flying around doing crazy stuff. 

Al Bailey: (laughs) Yeah. Obviously that was all from chancereally initially it was all kind of legal reasons. We had quite a few issues after shooting in terms of how I got this thing out of that for one reason or another, I can imagine. But we did find, as we were putting it together, that it did have some kind of sinister nature to the character I suppose, that was coming across on screen. So that you can’t see his face and distortion of his voice certainly went towards giving that impression of a dark kind of look on something that could be seen as not that. 

Jake Perry: Yes, and also you don’t know who the pilot is so it’s like this guy could be anybody, he could be your pilot tomorrow. You don’t know which kind of leaves it up in the air. I like that. 

Al Bailey: Yeah. Yeah. We did wrangle with the idea, you know, moral responsibility to kind of reveal the identity. But first and foremost, we were restricted from contractual situations. But the other reason I can kind of give some clarification from my point of view, we did find he’s certainly not a lone wolf. We think this kind of behavior, the toxic masculinity kind of should be discussed and be out there, and maybe it’s the airline’s issues to deal with it. And it’s just that they were with it in some way or they see fit obviously revealing his identity. You know, it would obviously affect him personally, but whether it would have any effects on the industry as a whole. If we took the stunts of reporting one individual, how much would it be done, or could be as opposed to exposing this kind of behavior as something that is repeated by others, we kind of felt with that objective, and see whether that got there. 

Jake Perry: Yeah. I feel like ego is a big part of this too. He’s a pilot, this guy kind of has some superhero powers where he can fly all over the world. He has his feeling of being indestructible and then he just becomes reckless. And so my question is, do you think that maybe the cameras were feeding his ego a little bit? Was he hamming it up or does this guy really act like this all the time? 

Al Bailey: I have absolutely no question that he was being the circus of the clown in terms of wanting to show us this world, he gives us this kind of heightened show-off. And it was almost part of dealing with us as a crew, in a situation, that he certainly had something set in his mind that he was going to kind of take us on this ride of craziness, really. So I have no doubt that with anyone. With anyone, I think whenever there’s a camera that there’s always going to be heightened kind of behavior. And we certainly got that in book it falls. 

Jake Perry: Yeah, he’s just hamming it up for the camera and he really just takes you down this dark path in the beginning. You feel bad for him, you just think he’s grieving and then you realize this guy might have a couple screws loose. 

Al Bailey: Yeah. Yeah. It certainly crossed my mind on several occasions. I mean, we did with the piece, we kind of kept it. We wanted the audience to experience the rawness of what we felt on the journey. But we had a lot of kind of fortunate, where we came back to the UK and he was kind of addressing these issues and in some forms of counseling and things like that, but we just felt like completely took you out for the journey and the experience. And to be honest, the behavior almost didn’t deserve that kind of empathy when we look back now. So we chose to admit that really. 

Jake Perry: Right. Good. Good. So have you spoke to Christian? Has he seen the documentary yet? 

Al Bailey: I have only spoke to him through third parties. I’m unaware. Because of the covert crisis, he did actually move from commercial to private not long after we shot the documentary. I believe he’s seen it. I’ve had no kind of written or formal response from him. So it’s been, it’s been difficult in that sense in terms of, the relationship was, is not now, but it was like I say, I had more of a loyalty to, to his late wife that I didn’t have him. So you know, is what it is, I suppose.  

Jake Perry: In this film, you’re basically this guy’s wingman. You travel all over Hong Kong, Venice Beach, Las Vegas. In your personal opinion, where is it the easiest to score the babes? Asking for a friend. 

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Al Bailey: (laughs) That’s an interesting question. Again, we don’t obviously show every, we went over the, well, I think we shot for a solid three months, shoot time spread over 18 months. Sometimes he was in his room watching Netflix and we didn’t get anything at all interesting that would be for screenplay. In terms of, if I can think of times when there was interacting with certainlyvia the Tinder date app, it was definitely more US, but were more engaged in the Tinder. Whereas a lot of the far east was less though. In terms of genuinely, I would say the west side of the states, in terms of there was definitely more interaction and kind of communication on the Tinder and the getting dates on that side of the world. 

Jake Perry: Cool. Let me ask you about this title. Let’s just put it out there for the record. Everyone’s going to read this and be like, what does DTF mean? I know, but can you just say, what does this title mean? 

Al Bailey: Yeah, initially that obviously wasn’t the title of the project when we first started kind of putting it together. And then obviously with what we’d captured, we realized we got something very different than what we were kind of set out to do. It’s a little bit of a play on acronyms of turns of Delta Tango Foxtrot, if you were being polite, but unfortunately, there’s not a lot of politeness in the documentary and it actually means down to F-U-C-K, which would be what would appear on your Tinder profile if you were inclined to engage in sexual acts via the dating app. 

Jake Perry: Yeah. What was the other working title? I came up with one “Planes, Trains, and Penicillin.” 

Al Bailey: (laughs) That’s an interesting one.

Jake Perry: Or just Planes and Trains. 

Al Bailey: Actually, the original site was, Tinder Scout, believe it or not, but that never, that never materialized in terms of scouting for kind of romance, but that never came into the equation once we’d kind of delved into the weird and wonderful world that we were thrown into. 

Jake Perry: You’re a first-time director. Congratulations! What can we look forward to? What’s next? 

Al Bailey: Yeah. I’ve got a few, couple of things in the pipeline, documentary wise. We’re looking at something that is, again, a character study, that will be relatively similar to DTF in a profile sense where we’re looking at the international sports betting syndicate. There’s a certain character in that, I can’t divulge who it is, but we might be doing a profile on. Then aside from that, we’re doing something a little bit more richer for the soul, we’re doing a comparison of soccer and the township of South Africa and affluent areas of the UK and getting these kids together by swapping shirts and playing in a game together and seeing the two different stories of the individuals playing in these games. So there’s a little bit more of a romantic look at that sport here in the UK and South Africa. So somewhat very different, two different projects, one not to dissimilar with the DTF and another far removed from it 

Jake Perry: Right on. Are you a former professional soccer player? Is that what I hear? 

Al Bailey: I was, yeah. A long long time ago, when I was 25/ 26, when I came out of the game, which was an unusual age to come out, you either come out over here, like 17, 18, or into your mid-thirties, but I came out slap bang in the middle and reeducate myself in English literature and film studies. A blink and you would have missed me. But I had a couple of bright moments, quality over quantity. (laughs) 

Jake Perry: Exactly. Exactly. There’s probably a trading card of Al Bailey out there somewhere 

Al Bailey: Somewhere, somewhere. Buried. (laughs)

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Jake Perry: Thanks so much for talking to me, DTF is a cool documentary. I hope everyone checks it out. Where can people find you? I couldn’t really find you on the internet. 

Al Bailey: So we were out in the UK, been out in the UK for two weeks, for all account of platforms and iTunes where it’s the number one in the doc charts for a couple of weeks on iTunes, which was great. It coming out in the US and worldwide tomorrow the 15th. And again, all the VOD platforms that will be out there. 

Jake Perry: What about, do you have like a personal Twitter or Instagram you want to plug where people can look you up? 

Al Bailey: I think the documentary, DTFdocumentary.com and all the kind of socials, I think can spiral off that website. 

Jake Perry: Okay, cool. I’ll just tell the girls to keep swiping on Tinder and maybe they’ll bump into you. 

Al Bailey: Yeah. Try to avoid the shocking blonde hair, as a warning. (laughs)

Jake Perry: I know I kept looking at the Christian character with the shaggy blonde hair and I’m like, who is that? Christopher Atkins from the blue lagoon? Is it Leif Garrett? Who is he!?

Al Bailey: (laughs) Yeah. You’re looking and sure people that know him will know who he is, but obviously, for legal reasons, we’re not allowed to come to divulge. 

Jake Perry: I hear ya. All right, man. Thanks so much for talking to me, Al. Good luck with DTF!

Al Bailey: Absolutely, pleasure, thanks again Jake, bye now. 

Check out this documentary and let us know if you’re DTF!

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