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Believing a Man Can Fly

As the old adage goes, an Oscar is heavier than you’d expect. For Colin Chilvers, it was true in more ways than one.


At the 51st Academy Awards on April 9, 1979, Chilvers joined fellow special-effects wizards Denys Coop, Roy Field, Derek Meddings, and Zoran Perisic onstage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

Presenter Steve Martin handed them each a Special Achievement statuette for their groundbreaking work on Superman: The Movie.  

As creative supervisor and director of special effects for the blockbuster film, he and his team had pulled off the seemingly impossible -- making the world believe that a man can indeed fly. But the occasion was a bittersweet one. Les Bowie, an effects supervisor on Superman and a friend of Chilvers, had passed away shortly before the ceremony.

Chilvers experienced his share of heartache while forging a path in the industry. But with every roadblock, his resolve grew only stronger. From his early days in the art department of 2001: A Space Odyssey to supervising the effects of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and working with Ray Harryhausen on Clash of the Titans, Chilvers’ remarkable journey kept building momentum and led to that historic night in 1979.

In addition to supervising visual effects on such films as X-Men, Driven, and K-19: The Widowmaker, Chilvers was a successful director of commercials, episodic television and music videos. The 42-minute-long Smooth Criminal, which he directed for Michael Jackson, would garner critical acclaim as the most ambitious music video ever produced.

Believing a Man Can Fly: Memories of a Life in Special Effects and Film is the story of a man’s lifelong quest to turn the impossible into reality and to achieve new heights of movie magic while adapting to unprecedented change.

Buy it now:

BearManor Media - Hardcover | Softcover

Barnes & Noble

You can also buy copies autographed by Colin Chilvers at!

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