Film

Raiders: A tribute

Our trio of cross-country TED salons wrapped up this week with a screening at the gorgeous vintage Silent Movie Theater in Hollywood. TED has always celebrated creativity, innovation, and the passionate pursuit of a vision that others might have written of as … crazy. So when we heard that three teenagers in Mississippi had re-created the Lucas/Spielberg classic, Raiders of the Lost Ark — shot-by-shot and stunt-by-stunt (rolling boulder and all) — we had to see it for ourselves. So we arranged the first LA screening of Raiders: Adaptation.

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We’re told that Steven Spielberg himself loved the movie (calling it a “loving and detailed tribute”), and we could definitely see why. The deliciously campy (and sweetly sincere) fan film was wildly impressive at times — both in its faithful execution of sets, stunts and special effects (all funded with teenage allowances) and its clever substitutions (a motorboat for a seaplane; a well-trained puppy for a monkey). But perhaps most inspiring was their commitment to actually finishing the movie, which took them four years. Filmmakers Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala and Jayson Lamb — now in their 30s, of course — delighted us with tales of what it took to see it through: fires lit in parents’ basements, props bought with allowance money, snakes borrowed from a local pet store, and a 6-foot rolling boulder created 4 times in different ways, before they got it right. Producer Scott Rudin has acquired the rights to their story, and a movie about their experiences making the film is in production at Paramount. So you can expect to hear a lot more from them in the years to come…

Outside of the film itself, you couldn’t help but be struck by the extraordinary level of Raiders knowledge among the TED in LA audience. It’s a testament to the enduring legacy and emotional resonance of the film that the entire audience anticipated plot twists, mouthed classic lines (“Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”) and roared in recognition of iconic moments, like Indy’s narrow escapes and understated gestures. The evening was a real tribute to our love affair with Indiana Jones. Of course, it was also a fantastic reason to simply reconnect with TEDsters in LA. We’re going to have to make a habit of it…