Making fan films isn’t such a big deal these days: Get some friends together, shoot your epically written script on an iPhone and upload the thing to YouTube. But back in the ’80s it was a much different animal — in fact, the undertaking of not only making a fan film, but recreating an entire film, could be described as herculean.
Just ask Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala, two grade-school friends who decided to remake Raiders of the Lost Ark shot for shot (when resources allowed).
Their recreation of Steven Spielberg’s classic film nearly cost one of them their lives due to a plaster face-mask incident, and it did cost them their friendship for a time. However, the two have come together once again to not only talk about their adventures, but also bring the story to the big screen, Deadline reports.
Napoleon Dynamite producer Jeremy Coon has optioned the 2012 book Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made by Alan Eisenstock, Zala and Strompolos, and wants to turn it into two films. The first will be a documentary telling the boys’ story while the second will work toward building the foundation of a feature narrative version.
“I thought the movie was an urban myth but when I saw it, from a filmmaker perspective it was more inspiring than any movie I’d ever seen,” Coon said after seeing the fan film known as Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation. “These kids had done something ridiculous and impossible and the last time I had the experience of a movie being made because it was sheer fun was when I’d seen Kill Bill. I went in feeling cynical but there was no cynicism in these kids. They did the movie because they loved it. It had its premiere and then sat on a shelf.”
Coon hopes the films will go smoothly, noting there might be some legal issues to work out with Spielberg or writer George Lucas (or Disney, now that Lucasfilm is owned by the Mouse House), but there is a bit of history there. At some point, Spielberg wrote to the amateur filmmakers, saying he liked the film; he later met with them. Maybe another sitdown can be arranged for this new film, too.