In the summer of 1982, before digital cameras and special effects software, three 12 year old boys from Mississippi decided to spend their summer recreating Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark in their backyard. Doing a shot for shot remake of a 16 million dollar movie being no small task, they did not finish the movie until six years later in 1988.
Eric Zala, Jayson Lamb, and Chris Strompolos first sneaked a recorder into a movie theater in 1981 to record the soundtrack and sound effects. The boys then spent the next year watching the movie over and over to write down storyboards and make note of camera work. The following summer, the boys began shooting the opening scenes of the movie with Chris Strompolos as Indiana Jones. The first summer’s worth of footage proved to be nearly unusable, due to the boy’s inexperience with cameras and movie-making. However, in the next six summers, the boys improved and tweaked the materials they had to get the desired effects. Production came to a halt after the boy’s parents grounded them from movie making after they nearly set Eric’s basement on fire attempting to re-create the bar scene. The following year, with adult supervision, the boys filmed the scene without mishap. The scene where Indiana Jones is chased by a large boulder gave the boys a great deal of trouble–they went through five different types of materials to create the boulder. It was not til four years after beginning to film that the boys hit upon a suitable process and material for making their boulder. They paid a local man to let them dig a crater in his backyard. They then filled the this crater with fiberglass, pried it up, filled the hole again, and glued the two halves together.
Eight summers and $5,000 later, Zala, Lamb, and Strompolos finished their shot by shot remake of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. They screened their film in front of some friends in an auditorium in 1989. Afterwards, they put it away and moved away from Mississippi and on to college. In 2003, their film was discovered by film critic Harry Knowles, who screened it at his annual film festival. From then on, Lamb, Zala, and Strompolos began receiving offers to view props from the original film and even were able to meet their childhood hero, Harrison Ford. A making-of documentary is in the work, showing the extreme lengths that three young fans went to in order to create what may be one of the best fan-videos ever made. The movie has been screened at film festivals, and though it is difficult to find the full version online, the movie is set to become a Youtube sensation.
Dedication, passion, and determination took three young boys through their childhood summers from ages 12 to 18. It bonded them together, and 30 years later they are still close friends. With just the props they had on hand, and their pooled allowance, they were able to create a 100 minute labor of love–and all this before digital cameras and editing software! You don’t need fancy equipment to make a movie future generations will love–all you need is time, some good friends, and patience.