You don’t have to overtax the Google machine to find negative comments about being on set with Steven Spielberg. Type in “working with Steven Spielberg” and in 0.57 seconds 20,900,000 results appear, including an article where Shia LaBeouf rants, “He’s less a director than he is a f—ing company.”
LaBeouf’s resume is dotted with Spielberg-produced or -directed films like Disturbia, Transformers, Eagle Eye and, most famously, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but if Spielberg ever does the same search it’s unlikely they’ll ever pair up again. “You get there, and you realize you’re not meeting the Spielberg you dream of,” LaBeouf told Variety. “You’re meeting a different Spielberg, who is in a different stage in his career.”
But that’s pretty much it for the negativity. There’s a story about Crispin Glover suing Spielberg for using his likeness in Back to the Future Part II and the critical drone that his films are overly sentimental, but primarily it’s LaBeouf against Spielberg and the world. Most of his other co-workers have nothing but praise for the filmmaker Empire magazine ranked as the greatest film director of all time.
This weekend he returns to theatres with Ready Player One, a sci-fi film that brings a virtual reality world called the OASIS to vivid life. Star Tye Sheridan calls the director a great and passionate collaborator who makes everyone feel equal on set. Co-star Ralph Ineson calls Spielberg “one of the most iconic figures of the last 100 years,” adding that it was difficult to takes notes from him on set. “When he is speaking to you your mind vaguely goes blank the first few times because your internal monologue just goes, ‘My god, Steven Spielberg is giving me a note.’ And then you realize you haven’t actually heard the note.”
All directors give suggestions on set, but it seems it’s the way Spielberg speaks to his actors that sets him apart.
Ed Burns remembers making a mess of several takes on the set of Saving Private Ryan to the point where Tom Hanks said to him, “I’ve seen you act before, and this isn’t acting.” Afraid he would be replaced, he got nervous and continued to blow take after take but Spielberg didn’t offer guidance. Two weeks passed. The cast started laying bets on who would be fired first.
Turns out, no one was fired and Burns learned a lesson he would later take into his own directorial efforts like Sidewalks of New York. The actor reports that Spielberg said, “I like to give my actors three takes to figure it out. If I step in after the first take and give you a note, especially with young actors, you’ll hear me rather than your own voice.”
Burns calls the experience “a life changer” adding it taught him that being a director is “about knowing when to give direction.”
The superstar director says the listening lesson was learned early in life. “From a very young age my parents taught me probably the most valuable lesson of my life: Sometimes it’s better not to talk, but to listen.”
There’s someone else Spielberg keeps in mind when making a film. “I always like to think of the audience when I am directing. Because I am the audience.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s four big releases, including “Finding Dory,” the buddy comedy “Central Intelligence” with Duane Johnson and Kevin Hart, and a duo of documentaries, “De Palma,” an unflinching look at the films of Brian De Palma and the self explanatory “Raiders! The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made.”
Richard and CTV NewsChannel morning show host Todd Van der Heyden chat up the weekend’s big releases, including “Finding Dory,” the literary bio “Genius” with Jude Law and Colin Firth, and a duo of documentaries, “De Palma,” an unflinching look at the films of Brian De Palma and the self explanatory “Raiders! The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made.”
“We didn’t know what we were getting into,” says Eric Zala.
Zala, along with Chris Stompolos and Jayson Lamb, spent much of the 1980s, their entire teen years, 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, they stopped at nothing to translate their vision to the screen, almost burning down a family home in the pursuit of their DIY dream.
“You can be surprised at what you accomplish,” says Zala. “As adults you have awareness of your limitations, real or perceived. That was one thing we had on our side when we embarked on this as kids. We didn’t know what we were trying to do was impossible. It’s a damn good thing because we would have been scared to death.”
A new documentary called Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made uses the original home movie as a basis to pick up the story decades after the trio abandoned the project. Zala and Stompolos are front and center to tell the tale of the obsession as they, now as thirty-somethings, try and finish the movie by shooting the one scene that eluded them as children, the exploding airplane sequence.
Stompolos describes seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time as “lightening in a bottle.”
“For our generation I don’t think we had ever seen such a perfectly crafted, mythologically aligned hero,” he says. “Indiana Jones was human, accessible, smart, macho, academic and flawed and could get hurt. The historical context was interesting and everything was just perfect. This larger than life character just kind of blew my mind. For me I wanted to create a playground for myself and see what it would be like to have those experiences.”
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.
“We finished it in ‘89 and would have loved for Spielberg to see it but that was a pipe dream,” says Zala. “We certainly didn’t anticipate any kind of fan film movement back then. As far as we knew we were alone in the world. Come to find out, we weren’t. Lots of kids played Indiana Jones in their backyard. We just took it a little further. None of this was supposed to happen, we just did it for ourselves.”
“Eric and I pushed it over the finish line and stayed true to the pure vision,” says Stompolos, “because we simply love the movie.”
For this pair of fan filmmakers Raiders of the Lost Ark isn’t just a childhood fixation. Both have seen it recently, thirty-five years after Zala says it, “split my brain open.”
“It took our breath away,” Stompolos says of his recent viewing. “Even now there is so much detail. We caught so many new things. I can still watch the film and love it. I don’t ever get tired of it. The thing that amazes me to this day is that no matter how many times we’ve seen it, it still has secrets to give.”
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.
A new thriller, As Above/So Below, follows in a long tradition of Hollywood movies. Mad Men co-star Ben Feldman and Edwin Hodge play archaeologists who explore miles of unmapped catacombs under the streets of Paris and uncover a dark secret beneath the City of Lights.
According to Romancing the Stones: Archaeology in Popular Culture by Mark A. Hall, every decade since the 1920s has produced at least one film dealing with the eerie aspects of archaeology. “In the 1932 film The Mummy,” writes Hall, “the archaeologist Sir Joseph Whemple states: ‘much more is learned from studying bits of broken pottery than from all the sensational finds. Our job is to increase the sum of human knowledge of the past,’ but it is often as a foil for the supernatural elements to come.”
Harrison Ford played the screen’s most famous archaeologist, Indiana Jones. He is, as Major Eaton (William Hootkins) describes him, “a professor of archeology, expert on the occult, and how does one say it? Obtainer of rare antiquities.”
In each of the four movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, the Last Crusade and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull a fabled object has great supernatural power. Whether it is the Ark of the Covenant, the Shiva Stones, the Holy Grail or an extraterrestrial crystal skull, Indy unleashes all kinds of trouble in the present because he messes with the past.
Angelina Jolie became a superstar playing Lara Croft, the athletic, aristocratic archaeologist and star of two movies, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Cradle of Life.
The character originated in a wildly popular video game series that saw her track down meteorite fragments that endowed humans with supernatural powers and magical stones. On film Jolie’s Croft said, “Everything lost is meant to be found,” as she stirred up trouble by uncovering ancient talismans and rescuing Pandora’s Box from an evil scientist.
The movie that established the link between archaeology and the paranormal was 1932s The Mummy. Inspired by the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb and the controversy over his “curse” in 1922—rumours of a jinx began after Lord Carnarvon, the man who sponsored the dig of King Tut’s Tomb, died six weeks after the discovery—the film uses a Mummy’s spell as the catalyst for the action.
In the spooky movie Sir Joseph Whemple (David Manners) translates the hieroglyphics: “’Death… eternal punishment… for… anyone… who… opens… this… casket. In the name… of Amon-Ra… the king of the gods.’ Good heavens, what a terrible curse!”