More Pics and Superman Scoopage from the Plano Set

CBM scooper EC Cameron is sent in this report from Plano, Illinois where "Superman: Man of Steel" is now filming. "I have been able to find some GREAT spoilers and tidbits from the set, including..."

* Smallville battle scenes!
* A possible Funeral!
* And… Birthday cake!

Set crew workers (painters, construction workers, etc) were absolutely EVERYwhere. Security personnel were many, yellow-shirted, and very tight-lipped. They did not overtly discourage any photos, but they did their best to block good shots with screens, trucks, and other impediments. A few hardworking set crew members were helpful & forthcoming with information, and several local residents were happy to tell about their brushes with Hollywood.

So, I WAS able to get the following news from the set and from other sources...

!!! WARNING !!!
!!! SPOILERS !!!

Downtown Smallville WILL be in the heat of battle! Crews will be shooting a scene during the early part of the week of August 22-29, 2011 where they will be blowing up a 7-11/gas station. They will also be setting up a “jet fighter” and a military helicopter in the downtown streets of “Smallville”, where supposedly they both crash.

There will be a scene involving Clark’s parents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) having a birthday party at a picnic table in someone’s backyard. (Will this be the cliché’ superbreath-blowing-the-entire-cake-when-blowing-out-the-candles scene? Unknown—that is entirely speculation on my part!) The resident whose yard was used did not get to see filming close enough to verify Clark’s age in the scene. Also, the request for that local resident’s picnic table came VERY last minute, so this might be an unplanned addition to the script, or something to throw off inquiring fans like me.

On Thursday, July 28th, filming was being done for "a bridge scene" in nearby Serena, Illinois. No word on what the scene entailed. (Possibly a re-creation of Smallville's famous Clark-meets-speeding-Luthor's-Lexus scene???—Unknown!). Serena Illinois is very middle-of-nowhere, so it would not be confused with any Metropolis scenery.

Might there possibly also be a funeral scene? Well...

At a neighborhood ice cream shop, I spoke with a lady who attends a church in nearby Oswego, IL. She told me that her church had initially been approached for doing a “church scene”, because of her church’s lovely stained glass windows. However, the movie people were looking for a specific appearance in a church, and that church did not match it. The movie people wanted one that had the doors in the front, and symmetrical shape on both sides-- very small, like a stereotypical American country church. Her church has a section going off to one side that they could not work into the scene, so her church is not being used after all.

Due to the lack of religion in Hollywood and DC characters, I’d say it’s a safe bet that a church would be needed for a funeral scene (Pa Kent??).

However, I was unable to confirm that any other church had definitely been chosen for filming any scenes, so this scene might not make it to film anyway.

As one of the movie crew confirmed, and as you might have already seen from the pre-released promo photo shot of Henry Cavill in costume, Superman will definitely wear his traditional uniform-- red shorts and all-- and NOT the revised “DC-52” outfit coming out in September. No confirmation about what stage of the movie he will put on tights.

I was never able to get a consistent agreement from film crews about the pronunciation of Henry Cavill’s last name. Does it rhyme with “gravel” or “Seville” (in Spain)? Or is it something else altogether? I got three different answers, so Henry’s publicist really needs to address this issue asap.

When I first went there, on Tuesday, August 2nd, crews were filming more of the house and farm scenes, and the town set was still under construction.

Crews were setting up for filming at Plano's Centennial Elementary School. Across the street, I spoke with a teacher from that school. She told me that they had all gotten letters that the crew would be filming interior shots in a nearby house that day, and also in the school nearby. She also said she had been able to go inside to see the school set, since she teaches there. The main entryway had been altered for an interior shot, and the front door blocked off, so it just looked like a long school hallway. She was not aware of any other school changes or shots.

Just a few blocks away, filming was in progress inside a small home. I was unable to confirm an exact address, but police had the block area cordoned off securely. The house is rather close to other houses, and would not pass in exterior shots as a farmhouse, but interior might be used as such.

The next day, the same teacher told me she had originally been informed that the residents should expect filming to run into Wednesday, if needed, but apparently it was not necessary, and filming crews were breaking down sets in this part of town right after.

Meanwhile, sets were still being built in Downtown Plano, which is substantially changed. Crews were only using a little over one city block, but they were doing a lot of work. Several sets were being worked on or finished for filming. I returned a couple of weeks later to see what other work had been done. Based on what was built or being worked on, scenes will definitely include:

* A gas station (built JUST FOR the movie, with fake pumps, and NOT working pumps—which will be blown up as mentioned previously). The fake pumps were installed after these pictures were taken, and then a truck parked so as to block camera shots. Hence, some of my photos do not have any pumps.

* A Sears store (also built just for the movie, among the downtown storefronts, right in what used to be an alleyway no less!). The one day we took photos, the “Smallville Kansas” part of the sign had not yet been added, the next time it had. And yes, there is a Sears store some blocks away. Apparently, they needed this one to be downtown or demolish-able somehow. The interior was curtained off from public view whenever the doors were open, but I did get a peek in later in set production. There are no interior props, so no scenes will likely be shot there.

* One storefront roof area (above a store canopy/awning that said "Gray's Bakery") is open to the sky, like something crashed into it or maybe for filming into the room from above (based on nearby damage and how some pieces seem to be intentionally hanging out of the bricks, I would guess the former).

* Another storefront near there, seemingly undamaged, is "Ezra's Mailbox", a kind of small-town UPS store, etc. its window announcing you can do faxes, internet, and other mailbox-store-type things there. Nice attention to detail here by the set crew, as everywhere along the street.

* Right next to “Ezra’s Mailbox” and “Gray’s Bakery”, another small storefront's roof tiles look like something man-sized was supposed to have hit there, and is dented accordingly. Later signage indicated it was meant to be a cheesy-looking bar, the “High Noon Saloon”.

* Crews were also busy at work on a large storefront piece. It has a big chunk taken out of the side on the ground floor the size of a large doorway-- the right size if someone indestructible flew into/out of it or was thrown into it. Later, other work indicated siding damage was being imitated. One window on this building did say it was “Valley Furniture” (ironically enough, a real furniture store is immediately across the street). And another sign elsewhere on the building says it is also the “Smallville Antique Mall”. Most of the ground floor was hidden behind screens and tarps. Later, they added the tailpiece of a small aircraft, so that it looked like the aircraft had crashed into this building.

* Another strange juxtaposition of reality was the creation of a colorful barbershop (with some nicely detailed interiors) just a few doors away from the real barbershop.

* Also along the “Smallville” street set is the “Smallville Land Surveyor’s” office where an actual land surveyor’s office is, and a “Midwest Plus Investments', which is actually an accountant’s office. Elsewhere, behind a fabric sign for a real hair salon was a fake sign for a gun shop. (Apparently, “hometown friendly Americana” can’t happen without a gun shop-- Hollywood stereotypes all of us Midwestern yanks, so we supposedly all own guns and frequent gun shops.)

* One more building was being worked on while I was there. Later visits indicated it had been painted to be “Bud’s Garage”. It’s a long building with lots of painting and work having been done to it, so it should figure prominently into some scene.

* Down the street and away from most of the sets, also nicely painted with some great window detailing, is a store called "Payne's Toys and Comics". Looking through the storefront window, I saw that the inside is set up as a mobile office with a small amount of office furniture. It seems that it is not only scenery, but used by the crew as office space (someone has a nice sense of humor!).

* A couple of doors down from the comic shop is an optometrist’s office, “Dr. Homer Ferret”. According to a local, this was created just for the movie set, although it looks very real. Between the comic store and the optometrist is a real dentist’s office. I would think they will include that too, but might have to change some signs temporarily.

* A large corner bar (the “Heads or Tails” bar) is a real working bar. It has been painted, but the paint job—was purposely faded by the set crews. The bar has a great huge American flag painted on one side of it to look perfectly older (nice job, painters!), and should make for a wonderful camera shot. This corner bar is definitely an actual working business (and really is what the movie signs say), unlike many storefronts in downtown Plano right now (that are either sets or storing equipment for set crews).

* There were a few other newly painted buildings nearby, but all of these were isolated from one another. None of them seemed to have a definite function (like a post office, bar, etc), but were all the same color scheme.

* A "First State Bank" storefront is nicely taken care of and in the midst of things, so it will likely be used. It DOES seem very stereotypical Americana (the apparent look of most sets there). In real life, it actually holds some lawyers’ offices, but the “bank” sign is still prominently in stone at the top of the storefront. It is sandwiched between some definite set pieces.

* One popular spot for people to stop and take photos of each other, was in front of the windows for the “Hydrant Café”, where one of the windows proclaimed “SHS: Go Spartans!”. As you recall, the Smallville High School team is the Spartans.

* Something that COULD be used a scenery is a real Amtrak train station (working, seemed newly painted in the color scheme, but then Amtrak is good about upkeep of their stations around here),

* The post office/village hall is also real and working, and its signs have been changed to be the Smallville Town Hall. The Seal of the City of Smallville is above the doors, with the profile of a Native American Indian Chief, surrounded by text proudly declaring that the town was “Founded by Ezra Small in 1892”. (Sorry, but this photo was the least blurry I could get of the City Seal.)

* One corner building has been converted into the “Smallville Hotel, estab. 1890”. (Interesting, considering the name of “Smallville” was assigned in 1892, according to the City Seal. Possibly my memory of the year on one or the other is incorrect, but I don’t think so.)

* Everywhere else along the street, there was a lot of very impressive attention to detail. Phone numbers—even tiny ones that would never appear on film—were in the northern Kansas “785” area code. The faux realtor’s office had listings posted in its windows with Kansas addresses in tiny fonts. In the window of the (fake) recently-out-of-business “Videoman” store was a sign saying “We Support Our Troops: Here’s to the Heroes”, which was sponsored by the “Smallville Bike Club – Rippin’ it up since 1973!” The “Vacant For Lease” phone number is a real Kansas number. (For the record, this is the only fake store that is supposedly vacant, whereas most of the real stores are actually vacant. Smallville has a much better economy and unemployment rate than the real Plano, apparently.) Another tiny store even had a sign with lots of very small print identifying it as the offices of a general contractor, “Center Systems”. The local Smallville Pizza parlor declares that they make “Smallville’s Best Pizza” and are “Home of the Triple J Pizza”—whatever that means. There was, of course, a large “Grain & Feed” store, apparently with a sale going on. The only two issues I could find were the phone numbers on the menus posted in the Chinese take-out’s windows (these had the Chicago suburban “630” area code), and a couple of places were named “Valley” as in “the Fox Valley”, where they’re actually filming (for the record, Kansas is very, VERY flat).

The corn in the field is currently a nice height for a Kryptonian to run through dramatically-- IF they want to do one of those shots again. So at least they won't have to grow one, like they did in Australia for Superman Returns!

As of the time of this writing, I was unable to see any actors or filming in person.

EC Cameron

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