Raiders: The story behind the greatest fan film ever made

Chris Strompolo and Eric Zala on their shot-for-shot remake of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' that eventually drew the attention of Steven Spielberg.
Chris Strompolo and Eric Zala started filming 'Raiders' when they were 11 years old and shot their final scene 25 years later. (Drafthouse Films)

We all have that favourite film from our childhood, the one you'd act out in the basement or backyard, studying every scene and line to perfect your re-creation.

In 1982, when Chris Strompolo and Eric Zala were 11 years old, they took that passion to the next level — the two of them decided to make a shot-for-shot remake of the Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Over the years Strompolo and Zala kept working on the film, using birthdays and holidays to get money for that next scene or an Indiana Jones-worthy leather jacket. Then, over two decades later, they finally captured the final scene they needed to complete their remake. Oh, and drew the attention and blessings of Steven Spielberg along the way.

Chris Strompolo as Indiana Jones in their shot-for-shot remake of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.' (Drafthouse Films)

A new documentary, Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, looks at the friends' monumental undertaking — from setting fire to Zala's mother's basement (which he calls "an absolute miracle" since the house didn't burn down), to convincing the owner of a dirt farm to let 20 neighbourhood kids descend on his property to shoot the Sahara Desert scenes.

"It does force you to be resourceful — high in creativity, low on budget — so there were some things we improvised," Zala tells Shad.

WEB EXTRA | Watch the trailer for Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, and see just how big that basement fire was:


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.