Raiders Of The Lost Airplane Scene
By Dale Angell
"...to this day, still the greatest bit of flattery that George [Lucas] and I have ever received." - Steven Spielberg, EMPIRE Magazine.
In 1982, Chris Strompolos, age 10, and Eric Zala, age 11, started on what would become an obsession: reshooting “Raiders of the Lost Ark” scene by scene, starring them and their friends. In 1989 they finished. Almost. The film was there, made with Rube Goldberg contraptions and cardboard sets in parents' basements, friends in Boy Scout uniforms as Nazis, and rolling a gigantic fiberglass boulder through the family garage to recreate the film's signature scene. But they were missing one scene: the flying wing scene. While they were able to recreate every set and prop from the film, the pyro and prop airplane were out of reach.
The beta video was put away and would probably have vanished forever, but for a copy that fell into the hands of Eli Roth, writer/director of “Cabin Fever” in 2002, who passed on a copy to Steven Spielberg. While there are many rights issues, Spielberg was flattered they would make such a fan film as homage to the original. Because of the rights issues, the film is rarely seen. And any money it makes is donated to charity. Yet it has become a hit at festivals and fan conventions.
“From the point of our fan film's discovery by horror director/producer Eli Roth in 2002 until now, our ‘RAIDERS ADAPTATION’ has been considered by some to be the greatest fan film ever made, garnering press and attention all over he world.” Says Eric Zala.
After a feature article in Vanity Fair and a world premiere at the famous Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, “RAIDERS ADAPTATION” was officially unleashed into the world. Chris and Eric have managed to turn their video, coined by one writer as ‘the ultimate love letter,’ into a successful touring package of film education, inspirational lectures, and fundraising power for charities, micro-cinemas, colleges, universities and film workshops all over the world.
The Raiders Guys have raised thousands for various nonprofits and charities – some of which include The Festival of Children Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, Canadian Cancer Society and the Austin Miller Scholarship Fund.” (From IMDB) The project has also spawned a book by author Alan Eisenstock, published by St. Martin's Press / Thomas Dunne Books on the making of the video remake.
In 2014, Chris and Eric came up with the wild idea to shoot the missing flying wing scene. They launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money. Funding came in quickly, and soon the project was funded. Some funds even came from Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Steven Spielberg and many other impressive sources.
The flying wing was built in Mississippi; the Well of Souls set was built in Hollywood and transported to Mississippi where the original video was shot. The landing strip was built, complete with control tower in a stone quarry near where the then-10- and 11-year-olds started shooting the film back in 1982. Several of Hollywood’s top professionals donated their time, many even helping with funding. The widescreen digital epic scene was shot and cut into the Bata Max video movie. The actor’s ages change all over the place from 10, to 17 to 42. But what great fun!
Enter “Napoleon Dynamite” producer Jeremy Coon. Coon is also supporting the project and has bought the rights to the book. He is also currently shooting a documentary on the making of the film, finishing the missing scene and working diligently to set the groundwork to set a narrative feature in motion.
The scene went into production in the summer of 2014 and the edit was completed in August. The film is now in sound at Sound 4 Cinema’s LAB 6 in the Redman Movies studios in Salt Lake City. Redman was involved with “Napoleon Dynamite” as well. Guy Walker, production mixer on the project, is working with LAB 6’s Dale Angell on the sound design and mix. “We are deconstructing Ben Burt’s sound design and trying to make the soundtrack as close as possible to the original scene in “Raiders.” It is tempting to alter the mix, having some fun with it, but in the end we want it to be indistinguishable from the original track, but with the new actors dialogue.” The final mix is being done at Skywalker Sound at Lucas’ ranch in Northern California.
If this were not already the greatest fan film ever shot, it most certainly is now. Sadly the film still cannot be released, but the finished version will tour festivals, conventions, fundraisers and other events. The documentary will be out soon, and we can all hope the feature will not be far behind.
Watch for an upcoming segment on Dale's Toy Man Video series on You Tube.
To see the shot by shot remake, click here.