Tuesday, May 27, 2008

When Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last week, the fanfare fit Hillary Clinton's infamous mockery of Barack Obama: "The skies will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing." Except, in this case, the majestic Palais des Festivals doors opened, the lights of flash photography came up, and a thousand voices called out to catch the attention of Indy pioneers Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford. You couldn't ask for a better homecoming (even the mob outside the press conference huddled close to television screens), and the frothy reception extended through the following weekend, when the first Indiana Jones film in 18 long years scored a whopping $151 million opening-weekend gross. The world of America's cherished pop hero is not a cheap one.

Except, that is, for Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos and Jayson Lamb, the three Mississippi-born filmmakers living in it since their teenage years. When the trio set out to make Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation in 1981, they were all around the age of twelve, and couldn't have imagined the long gestation period that would culminate in international notice for their project. Made for no money on clunky camcorders, Raiders: The Adaptation does a surprisingly spot-on job of recreating the original film shot-for-shot (the kids even set their basement on fire to replicate certain explosive sequences), and the adolescent actors, offering their best impressions of Ford, Karen Black and the rest of the cast, add an additional context that turns the whole thing into an accidental coming-of-age story.

As the years went by, the team went into various different lines of work. Then, in 2003, horror director Eli Roth found out about the project and managed to pass it along to Steven Spielberg. A lengthy feature in Vanity Fair followed, and Raiders: The Adaptation became a cult phenomenon, screening all over the world. Zala left his job at Electronic Arts, joining Strompolos in founding a new production company. While Raiders: The Adaptation continues to have a life of its own, Zala and Strompolos have managed to leverage its success into a launching pad for their filmmaking careers. In essence, an innocuous fanboy tribute became a notably unique DIY strategy. A week after Raiders: The Adaptation had its Los Angeles premiere, Zala spoke to Stream about their newfound exposure, with an eye toward the future.

Read the whole interview in Stream...

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home