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Back in 1981, the action-adventure movie Raiders Lost Ark was a fan favorite for many. But the ultimate fans were a teenage trio who kind of took it a little bit further.

At age 12 and 11, in the summer of 1981, our guest today, director, Eric Zala, and friends devoted what turned out to be seven years of their childhood to shooting a shot-by-shot adaptation of Steven Spielberg’s, Raiders of the Lost Ark. 

Driven only by their fandom with no idea about editing, sound, or movie making, Eric, Chris Strompolos, and Jayson Lamb finished the film (except for the blown-up plane scene) and even had a hometown premiere.

Years later, after studying at NYU film school, Eli Roth got a hold of a copy of the film, showed it to Steven Spielberg, and the rest is history. 

The guys decided to finalize the project with their new recognition by shooting the final scene they had abandoned.

Director Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen joined them to document their adventure. In 2015, The Raider! The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Made documentary was released.

Eric has credits on other films like An Early Twilight (1993) and Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (2003). After all these years, Eric’s start to indie filmmaking remains a fascinating dream-coming-through story. It was hilarious hearing about the making Raiders adaptation and their parents’ reactions. 

Enjoy my entertaining conversation with Eric Zala.

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