It’s been seven years since there was a big screen Superman adventure in theaters, and audiences are about to get a decidedly different take on the classic superhero tale when The Man of Steel debuts today. As the trailers have shown, Director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) has reimagined the character’s origins with a more introspective and contemporary tone that’s far removed from previous adaptations.
We caught an early screening of the film this week, and were proud to see a group of Full Sail graduates among the names credited with realizing this new vision of the franchise. These artists were Joe Mason (Art Department Assistant; Film, 2008), Ronnie Menahem (lead effects technical director; Computer Animation, 2003), Eric Sibley (compositor; Computer Animation, 2009), Frederick George Stuhrberg (Lidar processing; Digital Media, 1996).
Joe Mason worked on set during the film’s California shoot, serving as art department assistant alongside influential production designer Alex McDowell (Fight Club, Minority Report, The Crow). We caught up with Joe this week to learn about his position on the film, and what it was like being part of the production of this anticipated summer blockbuster.
Full Sail: What first struck you when you saw the new direction they were taking this Superman in?
JM: Just being on set and looking at how they designed the new Superman, staring right at him in that new costume, was very fascinating. It looks great, it’s a new, fresh idea – then on screen it looks even better. Their approach with doing it in this style is making it a more a believable world. So if you liked The Dark Knight and that whole Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy then you’ll like the feel of this new Superman.
Full Sail: Working in the art department, what kind of contributions were you making during the production?
Joe Mason: A lot of time you’re fixing things and running graphics to the set, but you also do things like researching local junkyards to find certain pieces that they need. Then the more you work with these people they start to understand that you have other skills and talents. Alex McDowell found out that I do graphic design and storyboard art, so I got to create some concept things for him on the spot. It was a great opportunity for me. Being on Man of Steel and getting to work with him was an honor because he’s considered such a legend.
FS: It’s obviously one of the biggest releases of the year for comic book fans, what will you remember most about your experience working on the film?
JM: I’m a big fan of Zack Snyder’s films personally, and the production work of Alex McDonald, so what was most exciting was being surrounded by some of the best people in the business. Just the other day we had the cast and crew screening, so I got to reunite with everyone I worked with. It was a fun event, and that’s just one of the perks of working on a movie this big. It’s like a reward, this is why you chose this career, because you want to reach moments like that and build great memories.