SUPERBMAN; the other movie, began as a simple student film project in the fall of 1978 at Orange Coast College. Our original concept was to create a film not unlike Hardware Wars. It would be a ten minute, satirical trailer with a few key scenes and no plot. Armed with a good supply of naive enthusiasm we imposed on family, friends and professional contacts to provide more and more production value. Everyone was excited with the new potential and it soon became obvious that there was virtually no limit to what a little ingenuity could provide. The project grew.

We fell back to regroup. The concept was changed and a half hour script was written. The new SUPERBMAN had good guys and bad guys and action and adventure — it even had a plot. Locations were scouted money was raised; props were built, special effects were planned and over 400 storyboard panels were drawn. By the end of the school year we were ready to go back into production. Unfortunately, Orange Coast College was not. They were shutting down for the summer and all of the film equipment was going into cold storage with no exceptions.

Our only hope then, lay in a tenuous contact that we had made with the film department at Cal State, Long Beach. Armed with 400 storyboard panels and three completed scenes, we pleaded our case one sunny afternoon. Three hours later we had all of the equipment and support that we would need for the rest of the summer. We were pleased, we were delighted, we were ecstatic. We were shocked. We didn't ask any questions and we didn't look back.

SUPERBMAN was back in production. Principle photography lasted throughout the summer of 1979 on 12 locations all over Orange County. We borrowed a 500 pound phone booth from GTE and dragged it around with us in a U-Haul trailer. We pulled all-nighters at Keystone Savings, Victoria Station and at the OCC Computer Center. We were rained out once at the Avco Tower in Newport Beach and once in the desert near Palm Springs. We staged a pie fight, with 50 extras, at Golden West College and ransacked the producer's house by shooting several scenes inside and by building two sets and a miniature in the garage. It was a busy summer.

Coordinating everyone's schedule became one of our biggest problems. At the time we were all working or going to school full time and so production was literally squeezed into every night, weekend and holiday, Time, however, wasn't the only thing that got squeezed. As the budget began to grow, our personal worth began to dwindle. Virtually everything on the film, from pie goop to costumes, was donated -- everything, that is, but the lab costs and they were killing us. Passing the hat just wasn't cutting it and so we decided to try and get outsiders to invest in the project. With that SUPERBMAN became probably the only student film project ever to be financed, in part, by independent investors.

The school year saw our emphasis shift from principle photography to editing and special effects. We used firecrackers and a vacuum cleaner to blow up a miniature city made of styrofoam picnic coolers. We made our titles smear by laboriously animating them in the camera. We created location matte shots through the careful placement of black paper on a fish tank and when a suitable location could not be found for the entrance to Rex Ruthor's underground lair, we painted a matte painting instead.

The summer of 1980 found our film almost complete but for a few holes which we had to go out and shoot or reshoot. Filming, editing and the endless tasks of cutting in music and sound effects rounded out the summer and fall. By winter we were done and all that was left to do was to A&B roll the film. The movie was just over a thousand feet long. It was made up of 419 pieces of film which we then spent the next three months finding and cataloging and cutting and gluing. The opinion was unanimous — if we never A&B rolled another film it would be too soon.

SUPERBMAN premiered on February 21, 1981 in the auditorium at Cal State Long Beach, That night we rented tuxedos and put on a program that included the film, a blooper reel, live entertainment and displays. Afterwards we held a reception to thank our 400 guests for all of their help. We hit the science fiction convention circuit in 1981 and spent the balance of the year showing the film to capacity crowds at Equicon '81 in Los Angeles, The 1981 San Diego Comic Con and at Worldcon '81 in Boston each time receiving an overwhelming and enthusiastic response.

© 1981 / 2015 Vern Dietsche, Dave Teubner All rights reserved