Behind the Scenes of Superhero: A SpiritClips Original

This Father’s Day, we are proud to present the world premiere of the SpiritClips Original Short Film “Superhero,” available exclusively at In the film, a boy’s love protects his father from a raging firestorm.

Tommy Nash and Jake Vaughn

Tommy Nash and Jake Vaughn play father and son.


Inspired by the Arizona Hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, writer and director John Dion (“Collision“, “Camaro“) wrote a SpiritClip about these everyday heroes. “I was interested in the idea of heroic duty. Duty to one’s family and duty to one’s job,” John said. “While fathers are often seen as heroes, they are enriched and strengthened by their families, particularly by their children. A child shapes a parent’s life as much as a parent shapes a child’s life.”

Writer and director John Dion with cast

Writer and director John Dion with cast

Filming the Wildfire Scenes

In order to make the wildfire scenes in “Superhero” look realistic, the production team combined on-set special effects with on-computer visual effects. On the day of the shoot, we used flame bars, which are metal hoses like gas lines that shoot fire. Then, in post-production, we used visual effects to add background fire, smoke, and embers. The burning log that falls on the father’s fire shelter was a real log as thick as a person’s torso. When Tommy Nash kicks away the burning log, his shelter really is on fire!

Firefighters on set

Firefighters on location in Thousand Oaks, CA

Creating Superhero‘s Action Figure

To create the action figure featured in the film, our production staffer Iliana Guevara found an existing toy, then modified and repainted it. She chose the blue and red “Superman” colors, then added yellow to symbolize the fireman. The action figure represents the bond between father and son.

Josh's superhero

Josh’s superhero


  • Jake: Tommy Nash
  • Annie: Sarah McElligot
  • Josh: Jake Vaughn
  • Firefighter: Tim Scanlon
  • Firefighter: David Hill
  • Firefighter: Brian Hoffman


  • Director and Writer: John Dion
  • Produced by: Rob Fried
  • Executive Producer: Iris Ichishita
  • Co-Producer: Nare Mkrtchyan
  • Line Producer: Rebecca Stone
  • Director of Photography: Jeff Dolen
  • Production Designer: Adriana Serrano
  • Costume Designer: June Suepunpuck
  • Casting Director: Tanner Thomason
  • Original Score: Chris Thomas
  • Editor: James Lee Hernandez
  • 1st Assistant Director: Daniel Ringey
  • 2nd Assistant Director: John Klymshyn
  • Script Supervisor: Nicole M. Rivera
  • 1st Assistant Camera: Alicia Pharris
  • 2nd Assistant Camera: Paulina Bryant
  • 2nd Assistant Camera: Matt LaRoche
  • DIT/BTS: Dustin Elkin
  • Gaffer: Gabriel Lewis
  • Key Grip: Rocky Romines
  • Grip and Electric: Blake R. Farnham
  • Grip and Electric: Jake Koenig
  • Grip and Electric: Blake Gaytan
  • Grip and Electric: David M. Adams
  • Grip and Electric: Chris Commons
  • Grip and Electric: David Lee
  • Production Sound Mixer: Ellie Bootorich
  • Make-Up and Hair: Cat Elrod
  • Set Dresser: Yuri Elvin
  • Set Dresser: Zak Dunn
  • Production Coordinator: Iliana Guevara
  • Stunt Coordinator: Tripp Pickell
  • Key Production Assistant: Bayan Hedayaty
  • Production Assistant: Frank Paulino
  • Production Assistant: Jack Avetissian
  • Production Assistant: DuJuan Johnson
  • Craft Services PA: Antonia Navarra
  • Special Effects Coordinator: Albert Lannutti
  • Special Effects Technician: Nick Danischewsky
  • Special Effects Technician: Richard Miranda
  • Special Effects Technician: Jason Rogin
  • Fire Safety Officer: Michael Proett
  • Visual Effects Supervisor: James Lee Hernandez
  • Post Production Sound Mixer and : Eric Marks
  • Teacher: Stella Pacific
  • Catering: Impeccable Taste Catering
  • Special Thanks: Sarah McElligot and Hannah Mae
  • Special Thanks: Peter King

About Steven Tagle

Steven Tagle has been published in Spork and The Rumpus, and his documentaries have aired on Current TV. The recipient of a 2013 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, he studies fiction writing in the University of Massachusetts Amherst MFA Program for Poets and Writers.

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