R A C H E L H E W I S O N
L I T T L E S I S
“In 1986, London Cannon Films started filming Superman IV in Milton Keynes. At the time my big sister Carol was working for the Milton Keynes Development Corporation. They had recently finished building the Central Business Exchange (CBX) building and now needed to find some commercial tenants for the building. My sister was asked to man the Marketing Suite. Whilst the Milton Keynes Development Corporation were trying to find occupiers for the building, they were approached by London Cannon Films who were interested in using Milton Keynes for Superman IV.
With its grid roads and shiny new office blocks, Milton Keynes could pass as being set in the USA. So, Cannon set up residence in the CBX building (later to become Argos Head Office). Christopher Reeve and Mariel Hemingway had their trailers set up in the underground carpark so they could be kept out of sight. To create the offices of the Daily Planet an entire floor of the CBX had to be refurbished, in particular, all the strip lighting had to be replaced, as normal lights would show up green on film. Whilst Cannon Films were shooting, my sister’s job was to do anything to help, liaising primarily with the location manager. She helped get telephone lines installed, water supply connected, electricity set up and also ideas for other locations for filming around the city. In exchange, she was allowed free reign of the set and access to the catering truck. At the time, my sister’s camera only had an automatic flash, which means she couldn’t take any photos whilst they were filming, but could roam around as she pleased, although she mostly tried to stay out of the way so as not to be a nuisance.
One day the location manager asked if there was anyone else that might like to come and see the set and of course, she thought of me (her little sister – aged 7) straight away, as I was a huge Superman fan. I remember walking around all the locations that you can see in the pictures and clearly remember going to watch them filming on set. It was a scene involving Clark Kent and Lacy Warfield in an office, with a large desk. That pretty much blew my mind.
Towards the end of filming there was a marketing event held for prospective occupiers of the building. The CEOs from several big firms were invited to the set and to mingle with the cast whilst enjoying bubbly and fireworks. My sister met Gene Hackman at the event too…”
The following is an excerpt from the Superman IV Production Notes – where the fate of the Superman statue (as shown above) is explained –
“The Metropolis Museum of Modern Art – which houses the Superman Exhibition – was constructed in the Winter Gardens, an intriguing botanical exercise contained in a vast canopy of cantilevered glass. Dwarfing the exhibit was a 22-foot high statue of Superman, sculpted from eight twelve-feet blocks of expanded polystyrene at a cost of $21,000. The effigy, built on a steel skeleton, weighed more than a ton-and-a-half and became the subject of some philosophic differences as filming proceeded –
An alert marketing division, looking to future promotions, had ear-marked it as an eye-catching centrepiece for a Department Store display. But Gene Hackman and Sidney Furie were alreay musing over an unscripted alternative – what if Lex Luthor were simply to knock it over, sort of symbolically knock Superman from his perch?
Art, not to mention some schoolboy curiosity, won the day – Superman came crashing to the ground and shattered into a myriad of pieces. Exit sculptor Derek Howarth and Marketing Division close to tears…”