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Dallas Video Festival: Playing With Fire


by Manuel Mendoza 7 Nov 2008

Chris Strompolos as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation Remaking Raiders of the Lost Ark was fun and perilous, according to producer/star Chris Strompolos. It was a miracle that only one trip to the hospital was necessary, especially considering Strompolos and his partners in crime were 12 years old when filming […]

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Chris Strompolos as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation

Remaking Raiders of the Lost Ark was fun and perilous, according to producer/star Chris Strompolos. It was a miracle that only one trip to the hospital was necessary, especially considering Strompolos and his partners in crime were 12 years old when filming began in 1982.

“We were having a really great time doing really dangerous things,” he said last night after their meticulous Raiders re-creation, subtitled The Adaptation, opened the Dallas Video Festival. (Here’s our festival preview.)

He was talking about the famed truck fight, when cinematographer Jayson Lamb hung down from the engine compartment to shoot Strompolos as Indy being dragged by the Nazis. But that sounded like only the third most dangerous scene.

Competing for top honors were the bar fire and the late scene when Belloq’s head explodes, the former potentially more dangerous, the latter resulting in a trip to the emergency room. You decide.

For the bar fire, director Eric Zala consulted a magic book that recommended using rubbing alcohol as the accelerant (please don’t try this at home) because it doesn’t burn as hot as, say, gasoline and is easier to control. The scene went OK — in the basement of Zala’s house in Ocean Springs, Miss., without his mother’s knowledge. When she found out, they were assigned a fire chaperone.

For the Belloq death scene, they used plaster to cover Zala’s head, but forget to lubricate his face with Vaseline. In the end, the plaster had to be surgically removed and Zala temporarily lost his eyebrows and eyelashes.

Strompolos spoke during a great new feature at the video festival: “Coffee and Conversation.” As anyone who knows festival director Bart Weiss can tell you, he doesn’t like to leave much time between screenings because he wants to show as many films as possible. Now, at the festival’s new venue, the Q&A can move downstairs to the Angelika Cafe, which also makes for more intimate discussion.

Zala, Lamb and Strompolos

Hollywood producer Scott Rudin has optioned the trio’s life stories for a feature film, and Strompolos and Zala, after years of being out of touch, have formed a production company to make movies, appropriately called Rolling Boulder Films.

Because of the obvious copyright issues, The Adaptation is rarely screened publicly. That it’s screened at all is a tribute to Steven Spielberg’s endorsement of the project after the fact.

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