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Film & Media Studies brings cult fan film screening, filmmaker to campus

Friday, September 19, 2014

LAWRENCE — In 1982, 11-year-old Chris Strompolos asked 12-year-old Eric Zala a question: “Would you like to help me do a remake of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’? I’m playing Indiana Jones.” And seven years later, a cult classic film was created. That film, “Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation,” will be presented by the Department of Film & Media Studies during its annual film rally at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, in Woodruff Auditorium, Kansas Union.

Following the screening, Strompolos will be present to lead a discussion about the film and the recent Kickstarter campaign that raised $50,000 to film the final scene not previously afforded. Eric Zala will Skype in for the discussion. A meet-and-greet with film & media studies faculty and alumni, as well as several campus organizations, will take place at 7:30 p.m. The event is free, and the public is welcome.

Every shot is the product of Strompolos and Zala’s creative collaboration and their self-taught filmmaking skills, along with assistance from their friend Jayson Lamb. This fan film shows people that even with a lack of resources, it is still possible to create something passionate and meaningful.

“The creative machine is filled with both turmoil and bliss, and it’s important to learn the tools now to be diligent and tenacious,” said Strompolos. "Hopefully after watching our tribute to ‘Raiders,’ it will excite and inspire and plant the seed that if kids can remake ‘Raiders’ shot-for-shot, then the sky is the limit. As far as staying motivated, choose great material, choose a great team, and don't ever give up. Finish it. Always.”

Strompolos and Zala did it all themselves – every shot, every line of dialogue, every stunt. They borrowed and collected costumes, convinced neighborhood kids to wear grass skirts and play natives, cast a 15-year-old as Indy’s love interest, rounded up 7,000 snakes (sort of), built the Ark, the Idol, the huge boulder, found a desert in Mississippi, and melted the bad guys’ faces off.

“This is an opportunity to see a rare and incredibly unique film. ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation’ illustrates how rewarding creativity and persistence can be,” said Joshua Wille, doctoral student in film and media studies, who was instrumental in bringing the film to KU. “The university is an ideal space to present this film because students of KU, particularly in the School of the Arts and film & media studies, can appreciate the imagination and aspirations of filmmakers like Chris and Eric.”

The film was produced and directed by three boys from the Mississippi Gulf Coast more than 20 years ago. The group of young friends shot the film in seven years, using a few inventive substitutions – a puppy dog stands in for a monkey, a boat for a plane. They didn’t skimp on production value by including a submarine, a truck on fire, a melting face and the same copy of a 1936 Life magazine used in the original.

An 11-page article in the March 2004 “Vanity Fair: Hollywood Issue” and a recent meeting with Steven Spielberg have put these Mississippi men in the national spotlight. Scott Rudin recently purchased their story rights, and the feature film about their childhood adventures will be released by Paramount Pictures and Scott Rudin Productions. 

The Department of Film & Media Studies is one of four departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.