II - In the spotlights
your lives affected by your Raiders:
The Adaptation experience,
before the Vanity
think it shaped us, at an age in which we were
very shape-able. The experience taught us a lot
and built friendships between us that have endured
both time, distance and change. For myself, I
was very, very happy that we finished, and relieved
that we did. For a long time, many, including
us, wondered if we ever would. And so, that simply
finishing the film was the envisioned pinnacle
of the experience.
Chris: It probably
defined who I am as an adult probably more than
I learned many lessons about the stamina friendships
can have, utmost persistence, total confidence,
taking risks amidst considerable doubt and making
one’s dreams a reality. I think the biggest
lesson I learned was never, ever, ever, ever give
Prior to our screening at the Alamo
Draft House in Texas (2003) and the release
of the March (2004) Hollywood edition of Vanity
Fair article, I was more affected by the
experience of making our version of Raiders;
instead of the final piece.
|From the experience
||Tolerance - working
with a diverse group of friends under stressful
conditions (long, hot shoots- sometimes lasting
from 8AM-11PM or later)
||How to trouble-shoot problems
on the fly
||How to make a feature length
movie & FX without any money
||Ability to take and be self-critical
(we re-shot the first 2-3 years of our movie,
because it looked really bad)
||And much, much more…
How much did the Vanity
Fair article affect
the future of Raiders:
The Adaptation and
Cover of the issue featuring the article.
Well, to be precise, what started all this notoriety,
was the discovery of our film by Eli Roth, the
director of Cabin Fever,
who got a copy from a friend of a friend of mine.
Eli passed it on to Steven Spielberg, who wrote
us each a very kind letter. Eli also passed a
copy on to Harry Knowles, of Ain’t-It-Cool-News
fame, who then wrote an amazing
review on his website.
That’s when suddenly things
exploded, and suddenly the world’s heard
of this little film, made fifteen years earlier.
We were then approached by agents and magazines
wanting to interview us – Rolling
We decided to give an exclusive to Vanity
Fair, and when their 10,000 word article
came out, attention on us and our film continued
to grow. All this attention is really quite unexpected.
It’s thrilling, and fun. It can be stressful
at times… suddenly a lot of people want
a piece of you, and what you’ve created,
or feel entitled to stake a claim. And it’s
very much a business, so one has to be careful.
But we’ve resolved that as long as we be
careful to make good decisions, and stick together
as a trio, we can weather any storm.
The people who really deserve the most credit
for altering the course of time here is Eli Roth,
Harry Knowles and Tim & Karrie League. Without
them, none of this would have ever happened. It
was only in the wake of all of that that Vanity
Fair became interested in our story. Jim
Windolf wrote a beautiful piece about us, but
our lives were already in major transition after
Eli discovered our movie, Tim League flew us down
and then Harry wrote his piece about us. The Vanity
Fair article certainly focused the spotlight
Besides Paramount Pictures
making a block buster movie based on our story,
flying around the world and writing cool Q&A
to websites like yours; my life is pretty much
You not only received a
letter from Steven Spielberg but you also met
him in person! How did that go?
Dreams do come true. It was everything I imagined
it to be. He was an amazing man. Down to earth,
relaxed, he listened to us, was very kind and
very conversational. He gave us so much of his
time, brought us into his office and showed us
outtakes from Raiders
and Temple of Doom
that probably, no one will never ever see. It
was a magical day that I will always remember
until I die. He was very real, very warm-hearted
and intelligent. I still can't quite get my head
around it. A life experience that has permanently
changed me. The photo of the four of us hangs
proudly in my home. It inspires me everyday.
It was an utterly singular experience. There were
so many times during the making of our film where
we'd fantasize about how cool it would be if we
ever met the Man himself who, along with George
Lucas, crafted this perfect adventure, created
this world that we so much wanted to inhabit.
Then jump forward 15, 20 years, and the three
of us are sitting in a conference room at Amblin,
on the Universal lot, drumming our fingers on
the table nervously as we await the arrival of
our host. Minutes pass, and we hear that familiar
voice coming through the other side of the door,
talking to someone about some business detail,
and recognizing it from countless TV interviews
viewed over the course of our childhood and lives.
Nervousness ratchets up several notches. After
a minute, the door swings open, and in walks...
Steven Spielberg. "Hey guys, what's going
on?" He sat down next to us, and we just
talked, about Raiders,
his filming his original, our filming our remake...
movies... art... life... It was amazing. He couldn't
have been more down-to-earth and real. He even
screened for us the blooper reel from Raiders
and Temple of Doom,
something few have ever seen. He even graciously
assented to our request for a photo together.
All-in-all, we chatted with Mr. Spielberg for
about 45 minutes or so... but it took me the rest
of the day to work out of the daydreamish haze
that I was in afterwards.
I was amazed at how humble he was and extremely
generous with his time. Our meeting was arranged
just the day before, so I was shocked that our
meeting went beyond a handshake. Not to mention
45 min, great conversation and a rare screening
of a blooper reel.
In all honesty though, you know when a person
comes across an event that just makes their mind
freeze. Well, my mind has been frozen since Eli
Roth first called us to say that Mr. Spielberg
wanted to send a letter to the three of us. Maybe
in twenty years or so, our meeting with Mr. Spielberg
might fully sink in.
In February 2004 we heard
that Hollywood producer Scott Rudin had purchased
the life rights to your life story. Any chance
that someone will make a film about yours?
Yes, that’s true. As of this writing, it’s
our understanding that Mr. Rudin and his team
are currently working on selecting a screenwriter
for the Untitled Raiders
Remake Project. After that, the screenwriting
process begins, then the screenplay is finalized,
and a director chosen. It’s all very surreal,
Indeed. Scott Rudin Productions in conjunction
with Paramount Pictures
is already attaching a writer to scribe our story
for the big screen. Soon, our story will be sealed
in celluloid. It’s an incredible feeling
to have a blockbuster movie being made about a
chapter of one’s life. I still can’t
really wrap my head around it.
The movie that Scott Rudin will be making of us
will be a dramatic, Hollywood retelling of us
Since it is supposed to be a blockbuster movie,
it will have some fictitious moments. But there
is no doubt in our minds that Mr. Rudin will keep
the heart and soul of our adventures in his movie.
Meanwhile I'm going through 40+
hours of raw footage of what we shot and I'm making
a documentary with it, tentatively called When
We Were Kids. This will of course be the
straight telling of our adventures from actual
footage of our childhood. Back then, I never stopped
the camera. So a lot of our exploits are preserved
on video. Now it's just about me fleshing it all
out and editing it down for the documentary.
Now that the 'ark
is outta the truck' what feedback or responses
have you received from those who have seen the
Jayson, Eric and
I’m struck by just many people I run into,
who upon seeing our film, or even hearing about
it, relay passionate accounts of their growing
up doing something along a similar vein. I mean,
I had no idea just how grown adults now used to
be kids playing Indiana Jones at the same time
as we were, or Luke Skywalker, or similar pursuits.
We just took it farther, is all. But it’s
really cool realizing how many people relate to
that… escaping into fantasy as a child,
or even teenager. I think that may be partly why
this little film seems to have struck a chord
with many, folks recognizing and relating to that
love of fantasy and sense of adventure.
The feedback from people just still astounds me.
It has struck a chord in people’s hearts
that I had no idea was possible – young
and old. Eric had a 12 year boy come up to him
in Idaho and say – "Are you one of
the Raiders guys?
Oh my god, that was the most incredible movie.
You guys did an awesome job.” We have been
told by people that it inspires them – that
it has affected them in such a deep way. There
was a woman whose son has a terminal brain disorder
and she has always wanted to make a documentary
about his life. She never did because she didn’t
have the confidence and didn’t know where
to start. She saw our movie and began writing
the documentary the very next day. She thought
to herself “Well, if twelve year olds can
make a feature length version of Raiders
of the Lost Ark, then I can make a documentary
about my son.” Now THAT is what this whole
experience is truly, truly about. When people
are inspired by our movie – that inspires
me. It fills me up in such an awesome way.
I got the call from Eli Roth and the letter from
Mr. Steven Spielberg, I didn't care much for our
finished film. But now as I sit down with each
showing and interview I'm seeing the movie from
a new point of view. As I realize there's more
to our movie than the experience we had in making
Any chance that Raiders:
The Adaptation will
be released on DVD?
we’re in a peculiar legal situation involving
copyright. Obviously, there’d be numerous
legal hurdles that would need to be cleared. Of
course, we now have the privilege of working with
and being associated with some very influential
people in Hollywood who are excited by the story
and the film… if anyone could clear such
hurdles, it would be them. But all of this is
theoretical at this point. Concretely, there are
no plans at this time to do so. Because of the
copyright considerations, we only screen it free
to the public, on very rare occasions.
Chris: There are
many legal obstacles to overcome – so probably
no time soon for a DVD.
There's a lot of legal hurdles to go through.
Also I'm digitally re-mastering it. So when/if
it gets released it will be the movie we always
intended on making. Instead of the hissing, grainy
multi-generation copy we have now.
What do you hope the future
holds for your own destiny? Will it involve adventure?
hope that the future hold that the three of us
will continue to be good friends, and continue
our adventures together. Adventure is the name
of the game.
Chris: We are continuing
to ride this great wave. Maintaining our friendship
and facing every bit of adventure that comes our
way is what life is composed of right now –
and it is wonderful. I am the happiest I’ve
ever been in my whole life and have realized that
dreams can indeed come true. That sounds SO corny,
but I’m in my 30s now and I can say that
kinda stuff. (smile) Other things on my plate:
I’m getting my foot in the door as an independent
producer and have set up a home office here in
Los Angeles. I’m developing two scripts
currently and am working as a creative producer
on a third low budget sci-fi movie tentatively
called "Game Over." I hope to bring
my original ideas to the big screen soon.
Jayson: Every moment
in life is an adventure. In fact, adventure is
What advice would
you give to other potential fan-film makers?
let yourself be constricted by what’s "impossible".
ever give up or take "no" for an answer.
Believe in yourself 1000% and don’t wait
for people to manifest your ideas or come to you.
Take control of what you want and don’t
let anything stand in your way. If you have an
idea that you are passionate about, it will be
the true love and faith in what you are doing
that will carry you to each new challenging level.
You must do it because you love it and believe
in it. If you don’t – it will fall
apart or the result won’t be genuine. People
will know. And most importantly, you will know
that your heart wasn’t in it.
in a steady-cam or shopping cart. Locked-down
shots tend to make boring shots.
Don’t use the microphone on
the camera when possible. Instead, make or buy
a microphone boom (PVC pipe w/ tin can & rubber
bands) to hold over the actor’s head’s
while they talk. It’s not just about the
quality of the mic you use that make for high
quality sound. It’s also about where you
place the mic.
Measure your shots!!! - On most
camera lenses, there are a lot of numbers on it
that measure feet and inches. If you measure from
your camera to your subject matter that you are
filming, this will allow you to get an exact focus.
Never rely on eyeing the shot alone. We lost a
lot of good footage because I never measured the
focus for the shots.
When doing FX and unusual shots,
do test shots and get it right before the actual
official shoot. Don’t settle for “it’s
good enough.” Keep working at it until you’re
able to do it right.
The crew should be made up of diverse
personalities and opinions. If the crew thinks
alike, you’ll end up with the problem of
“group think.” Which often means the
final product has major problems that never got
dealt with or noticed during production. But when
a production is made up of people with very different
personalities (as it is with Eric, Chris and I)
and those people are able to focus on a single
issue. Then through consensus, a solid film can
When a shoot begins, leave your
ego at the door, especially for the crew and director.
Break from the mold of hiring only
your friends. If you’re in high school,
then use its diverse population and clubs to recruit
the crew you need:
Script Writer = talk to the English
Dept. and see if they know any students that
write in the style that you need.
= art department
= Drama Dept., Art Dept., Shop
= Gym (a lot of stunt work is gymnastics on
a film set. But
always remember: Safety First), martial arts
= Drama Department
= Math clubs (also make great organizers –Assistant
= Band dept., high school bands, local musicians.
Guys Today >>
Gilles Verschuere wishes to
extend his warmest thanks to Chris, Jayson &
Eric for taking the time to answer the questions
and for sharing all the wonderful photos.