It’s like Boyhood meets American Movie: In 1982, a pair of 12-year-old best friends, Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala, embarked on a journey to create a shot-by-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark on a shoestring budget with a cast of friends and non-actors. With Strompolos portraying Indiana Jones and Zala serving as director and the villain Rene Belloq, it took the two teenagers seven years to complete their adaptation of Raiders; the viewer watches them age from 12 to 19 as the film moves toward its Ark of the Covenant-opening end. However, the remake was missing one crucial scene that was impossible for the teens to recreate: Indiana Jones’ fight atop a circling airplane.
Decades after Strompolos and Zala’s film was finished and forgotten, dubbed VHS copies eventually landed in the hands of filmmaker Eli Roth and ultimately Spielberg, who praised the now-adults’ work. Inspired by the recognition, the duo launched a Kickstarter in 2014 to finally film the nixed airplane scene. Having easily surpassed their fundraising goal, their attempt to finish Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation was in turn documented by Vice as part of their American Obsession series.
“Raiders is perfect,” Zala explains about why they opted to take on the daunting task of remaking the first Indiana Jones film. In Vice’s 10-minute making-of film, Strompolos and Zala discuss the genesis of the project, how often they saw the film the year it was released and the painstaking detail the pair put into storyboarding the entire film. The end product isn’t perfect, but it’s still better than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.