In recent years fandom has developed a bad name. Gamergate and the kneejerk reaction to “Ghostbusters” have given being a geek a bad name. “Raiders! The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made” harkens back to a pure time before twitter trolls gave nerd culture a black eye.
The story begins in 1982 when three eleven year old Indiana Jones obsessed kids, Eric Zala and Chris Stompolos and Jayson Lamb, embarked on a journey that would eat up most of their childhoods. The audacious trio spent seven summers making a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark, complete with special effects, car chases and melting heads. Ambitious in the extreme, the boys almost burn down a family home in the pursuit of their DIY dream and it becomes clear that the most astonishing thing about their project isn’t that they attempted it, but that their parents allowed them to continue with it.
The new documentary by Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen uses the original fan film as a basis to pick up the story decades after the three friends abandoned the project. Zala and Stompolos are front and center to tell the tale of the obsession as they, now as thirty-something men, try and finish the film by shooting the one scene that eluded them as kids, the exploding airplane sequence.
Enthusiasm and chutzpah go a long way, especially when they aren’t tainted by cynicism. The love of “Raiders” these fans—both as kids and adults—share is pure and respectful, and their passion bleeds through the screen. Film geeks will love “Raiders! The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made,” but despite its subject, it isn’t just for Indy-heads. It’s for anyone who ever had an impossible dream, anyone who never said no, even when the odds were stacked against them. In the doc no less a fan than Steven Spielberg says he was inspired by their dedication and chances are good you will be too.