“RAIDERS!: THE STORY OF THE GREATEST FAN FILM EVER MADE”
Three Childhood Friends
“Raiders” is the true story of three childhood friends and their journey to complete a shot-for-shot remake of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. After Steven Spielberg’s classic film was released 35 years ago, three 11-year-old boys from Mississippi began what would become a 7-year-long labor of love and tribute to their favorite film: a faithful, shot-for-shot adaptation of the action adventure film. The New York Times calls their film “a testament to the transporting power of movie love.” They finished every scene except one— the film’s explosive airplane scene.
Then some two decades later, the trio reunited with the original cast members from their childhood in order to complete their masterpiece. “Raiders” is the story of this project’s culmination. It chronicles the dedication of the friends to their artistic vision and this is mixed in with movie magic “to create a personal, epic love letter to a true modern classic”.
Special features include more than four hours on bonus content such as dual audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, outtakes from the Adaptation, Q&A footage from the Adaptation’s 2003 premiere, a photo booklet featuring storyboard art from the Adaptation and an HD digital copy of the film
In 1982, three 11-year old boys in Mississippi, Chris Strompolo, Jayson Lamb and Eric Zala, set out to remake their favorite films of all times. They filmed the whole thing shot by shot except for the famous exploding airplane climax. Then some twenty-five years later they set out to correct this omission.:
Filmmakers Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen followed filmmakers once they learned of and saw the guys’ “Raiders of the Lost Ark: Adaptation” that took the then youngsters seven summers and all they money they could scrape up from their birthdays and Christmas presents. Using the basement of one of their mothers’ house, they made their shot-by-shot recreation of the film they so deeply loved.
Coon and Skousen began their documentary just when the three began planning the completion their film: to blow up a full size airplane and finish the last scene. The documentarians capture the enthusiasm of these adult children living their dream even when one of them risked losing his job.
In one scene the documentary looks at the Nepalese bar scene from the original and then went on to set, one of their mother’s basement on fire without any real safety equipment on hand. This had to be scary for the boys’ family. Coon and Skousen show the dedication and spirit, even through the tougher times of production.
Anyone who’s ever had a passion project or loves the original film will enjoy this. Gradually Skousen and Coon bring in these kids’ more personal back-stories. They were the children of divorce. Comic book nerd Zala was often lonely, but his life changed when he got a girlfriend, a young woman who got involved in their project. When local media began to show an interest, Eric and Chris were shown with props made by Jayson who got little to no mention and this caused resentment. While Chris and Eric remained friends, Chris accused Eric of selling out his dreams with his 9 to 5 job, yet Eric stood by his friend as he began to get into the Hollywood drug scene until things became impossible to ignore.
Therefore the twenty-fifth reunion of cast and crew to shoot that last, expensive scene, is, quite an achievement. There are still multiple problems in achieving their dreams with Eric on the cusp of losing his job when he needs more time due to weather delays. At first, watching these grown men spend thousands to finish a childhood endeavor seems crazy but we also see the passion they shared.
The original film embodies the spirit of adventure, which is what inspired the boys to begin with. It was an impossible task even then so there was no real reason to not finish it now. As we see all these different people from their lives come together to help make this dream a reality, we begin understanding that this project is immensely inspiring involved.
Things certainly don’t go where we imagined they would. There’s stolen girlfriends, drugs, fractured friendships and difficult family situations. It seems as if anything that could go wrong, did for these wannabe filmmakers. Still, 30 years later, they could not forget this project from their youth. It gave them something when everything else was going wrong, and it’s a dream that their families have always wanted for them. It doesn’t matter how well done the finished product is because their fan film is the definition of persistence, imagination, and dedication. Watching them complete their movie gives us hope that we can accomplish all the goals we once dreamt of achieving.