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Former child filmmakers turn journey into documentary

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In 1981, a new action hero strode onto the scene. Brilliant, dashing and daring, he was everything a kid going to the movies could possibly ask for. "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" has made more than $3 million since its release, making its mark on millions of people.

In particular, two young boys in Mississippi were struck by the bravery and bravado of the adventuring archaeology professor, so they decided they would memorialize their love in a shot-for-shot adaptation. Over the course of seven summers, they re-created the movie they enjoyed so much. Now, their story is being turned into a movie of its own.

"The kid filmmakers, Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala, met in elementary school and are now in their early 40s," said Mike Fleming at Deadline. "They will produce with (Jeremy) Coon two projects, and their life rights are part of the package. First, Coon intends to direct a documentary as he works to set up a narrative feature, which is essentially a movie about the making of a movie that is a remake of another movie."

The fan version has garnered its own amount of attention, at festivals and from the creator himself — "... From Spielberg, at least, when he wrote a letter to them calling their film an 'inspiration' and didn’t have all extant copies burned," Sean O’Neal at the AV Club wrote.

Their adaptation is fairly true to the original, with real snakes, a six-foot wide fiberglass boulder and actual fire that almost burned down their house.

"The boys made a few inventive substitutions," wrote Sarah Hepola in The Austin Chronicle back in 2003 when the movie made its big-screen debut at the Alamo Drafthouse. "A puppy dog stands in for a monkey, a boat for a plane. But even more impressive are the things they don't substitute — a submarine, a truck on fire, a melting face, the same copy of a 1936 Life magazine used in the original. This is not 'cute' or 'impressive considering their age' — it is a genuine virtuoso work."

email: ataylor@deseretnews.com