Raiders!The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made

In the summer of 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark hit theatres, impressing untold numbers of children, but three little boys in particular.

Chris, Jayson, and Eric collaborated in making a scene-for-scene recreation of the movie. Just 12 years old when they started, they spent every spring break, summer vacation, and Christmas holiday shooting scenes for the next 7 years. The next 7 years, guys! How many kids do you know with that kind of attention span? Or for that matter, how unusual to keep the same interests (and friends) all throughout puberty!

Filmed over 7 years, the kids get progressively bigger. The scenes, however, were shot out of order. It’s a real document of their childhood if not totally accurate to Spielberg’s vision. The stunts and effects were all kid-conceived and kid-supervised. They lit each other on fire, they leapt from moving vehicles. They kept their parents on the down-lo.

All these years later, they reunite (as adults, some of them with kids the age they were when they first started) to do the one scene that they never pulled off in their childhood: the airplane scene. Unwilling to compromise, they raise money to build an actual plane, and plan to actually blow it up. They’ve got 9 days to pull off 124 shots, and they’re already crazy over budget. Plus, their wives and bosses aren’t too happy with them. Is this the fulfillment of a childhood dream, or a case of you can’t go home again?

Either way, this is a cool movie. It puts you in touch with that joyful passion that maybe only kids can possess. This movie has champions in Eli Roth and Ernest Cline, author of Spielberg’s upcoming Ready Player One. It ignites the geeky fire in all of us, and angers the responsible adult in me. It might also make you a little weepy for the dreams you left behind.

 

 

 

Tell me: what weird thing did you spend a lot of time doing as a kid? I wrote plays, then directed them. I also devoted a lot of time to highly-produced lip-sync concerts where my friends and I covered Jem tunes.

 

 

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28 thoughts on “Raiders!The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made

  1. Wendell

    This sounds like an awesome film. I can’t imagine pulling this off over such a long stretch of time. I definitely want to check this out.

    For me, the weird thing was my best friend and I creating fairly detailed versions of football, basketball, and baseball using a deck of cards then building full blown leagues around these games. We played out full seasons and even kept stats.

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  2. J.

    This sounds great – that’s the kind of commitment Hollywood should have! Definitely want to see this one!

    I don’t think I done anything remotely interesting when I was a kid. Honestly. I recreated the Star Wars trilogy with my toys, but every kid done that. This is a whole different level of awesome!

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  3. Christopher

    This sounds so amazing. Just from the description I love and admire these guys. As a side note the writer Philip Lopate wrote a book called Being With Children about his time working with school kids and one of the myths he wanted to dispel was that children have a short attention span. He found they could focus on long-term projects.
    What’s amazing about these boys is they created their own long-term project and stuck with it.
    And what weird thing didn’t I do as a kid? Like you I wrote plays but none of mine were ever produced. I couldn’t get my friends to go along and my ambitions were bigger than I could manage in the backyard–especially my own version of Creature From The Black Lagoon that was really a cheap ripoff of Jaws.
    The plays were actually one of the least weird things I did.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Well lucky for me I had a lot of siblings. And I thank goodness every day that VHS is such a flimsy medium. I hope any evidence is moldering right now.
      Thanks for the info on the book. You’re right – and I don’t wonder if our passion for things is even stronger as a kid. I don’t know that I am so single-minded about anything today as I used to be.

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  4. badblokebob

    The trailer for this looked great, so I’m glad to hear it’s suitably nostalgia-filled. Can’t wait to get a chance to see it.

    I spent my childhood constantly planning and writing films to make, and never actually getting round to doing it. Not much ever changed…

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    1. Jay Post author

      We were a family of limited means and never would have had access to a camera, and looking back, that’s probably for the best. I did have waterfall bangs after all.

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  5. Liz A.

    I think the weirdest thing we did as kids was to create a haunted house in our bedrooms. During the day. In the middle of summer. Wasn’t very scary.

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    1. Jay Post author

      I choreographed dances too! And by choreographed I mean pretty much that I made them up and my sisters and cousin would try to copy me. BUT we wore matching Vuarnet tshirts, skorts, and slouchy socks, so we looked super coo, which I thought was the whole point.

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  6. Lloyd Marken

    A lovely review Jay. I’ve learnt about Jem thanks to my wife. 🙂 When I was 13 I read Steven Spielberg had been making films when he was 8 years with his father 8mm camera. My father had an 8mm camera so I set about writing scripts but unfortunately as my father had warned me the camera no longer worked and we had little money to spare for it. I gave up for a while but the following year when a badge for Scouts referred to organising an activity I decided it would be for a short film. I was now earning pocket money so I set a budget. Again my parents told me I couldn’t blow up toy cars and wrangle mate’s older brothers to drive cars irresponsibly at local car parks. So I changed my script to cyberpunk future set around the Scout Den. A video camera was hired out for the weekend and everything was filmed in sequence one Saturday morning. At 28 I got my own video camera and blew up a toy car and shot another short film with friends. Maybe I’m due for another go at it. To childhood dreams being realised by our adult selves Jay. To dreams.

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  7. Pingback: 10 Must-See Documentaries on Netflix | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

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