Raiders Of The Lost Ark: The Adaptation may be—after Raiders Of The Lost Ark itself—the greatest adventure film of all time. At the very least, it's got the most inspiring making-of story.
The project began in 1982, when Chris Stompolos, Eric Zela, and Jayson Lamb—then 12 years old—began filming a shot-for-shot recreation of the Steven Spielberg/George Lucas/Harrison Ford masterpiece on a Betamax camera. Over the next seven years, they spent every summer working on the project, which they eventually finished and screened in 1989 in their hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi.
A VHS copy of the film eventually ended up in the hands of Eli Roth, and by 2003, it became an unlikely sensation, screening at theaters around the world. There was just one problem: The "airplane scene," in which Indiana Jones (played in the adaptation by Stompolos) battles a brutish warrior, eventually killing him by leading him into an airplane's propellers, was the one scene they couldn't recreate.
That's something that the original crew is looking to fix, finally, with the help of their fans on Kickstarter. At the moment, they've raised nearly $40,000 of their $50,000 goal, with over a week to go—and they're so close now, they can just about taste it.
"Indeed, it will be the realization of a dream if the project gets funded," Stompolos says of the prospect of filming the scene. "A perfect, mythological bookend and a piece to a larger puzzle. It's been a part of our story, but now we get a chance to rectify the past."
The story of the adaptation has been optioned by Jeremy Coon—best known for producing Napolean Dynamite—as both a documentary and a feature film, and part of the point of the campaign is to give that documentary a fitting climax. But Stompolos also says that he has every intention of re-editing the adaptation to include the scene properly.
"We plan to edit the plane scene and drop it in," he says. "I'll go from age 15 to age 42. The audience will think, 'Wow, Indy and Marion were in the Well of the Souls for a long time."
Given the nature of the adaptation, that'll probably just make the film even more incredible. And for his part, Stompolos recognizes that the chance to revisit this childhood dream one more time is an especially unique opportunity. "It feels like putting on a comfortable pair of pants," he says. "Even though Eric and I have already done it, it still seems like a great idea to remake Raiders."