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TheRaider.net Films Raiders: The Adaptation Production
 
The Making of
 

Production

 
The film was shot on the 1980’s classic format, Betamax. After the boys burned out the first camera, a rental camera was used while Jayson Lamb delivered pizzas to save up to buy his own new video camera with a new format, VHS. Jayson wrecked his car in the process.
 
Originally, Chris and Eric’s roles were reversed – Eric was going to be producer, Chris was going to direct. During the first day of shooting, after two years of preparation, the boys found they naturally gravitated toward different roles -- Chris producing, and Eric directing. In a discussion lasting about a minute, they both agreed to switch, and stayed in those roles through the following five years, through completion.
 
First Raiders: The Adaptation shot ever filmed: Satipo pulling the gun on Indy, but the sound of thunder from an approaching thunderstorm messed up the shot.
 
Raiders: The Adaptation was shot completely out of sequence over seven years, resulting in the casts' transformation in voice tone, hair style and body size from scene to scene. For example, in the college classroom scene, the cutaway of Indy (Chris) ’s reaction to the female student’s "I love you" message written her eyelids had to be re-shot because it was out-of-focus. The shooting schedule didn’t permit returning to that location for another three years. By that time, Chris’s voice had changed with puberty. In the final edited version, the re-shot cutaway sticks out noticeably by Chris’s voice dropping several octaves.
 
When the boys started, they were too young to grow their own stubble, which Chris needed for his character of Indy, who is usually seen with about three-days growth of stubble. To remedy this, Chris smeared Vaseline and ash on his cheeks to simulate fake stubble. By the time they finished several years later, Chris was sporting his own naturally grown stubble.
 
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Basement hieroglyphs.
Nearly all of the interiors were shot in Eric’s mom’s house in Ocean Springs, Mississippi – The Cave Scene, the Well of Souls, the Map Room, the Catacombs, the Bantu Wind hold, and the Bar fight (which nearly burned the house down) were all shot in the basement. Sallah’s Porch, the Cabin Scene, the Tent Scene, Indy’s House, were shot inside the house proper, while Indy’s flight from the Hovitos across an open field was shot in Eric’s backyard.
 
When they first started off, the boys lacked filmmaking skills, and the first scenes they shot looked really bad. As a result, extensive portions of the jungle and cave sequences were re-shot probably two or three times.
 
The shot of Indy (Chris) running from the boulder right behind him that tracks backwards with him was achieved by Jayson constricting himself into a shopping cart and pointing the camera at Chris – and Chris pushed the shopping cart with Jayson in it, his hands on the cart out of frame.
 
In Indy’s Study, there are artifacts on his desk. Those "artifacts" are actually fragments of plaster that were surgically removed from Eric’s head during a mishap whilst preparing the FX shot where Belloq’s head explodes.
 
In the Pan Am Clipper Scene, the boys located and used the same issue of the Life magazine featured in close-up as in the original – the November 1936 issue, which features a West Point cadet drinking a glass of water on the cover.
 
As the cast was well under the legal drinking age, all the booze that’s being slugged down in the film is not whiskey, bourbon, scotch or l'eau-de-vie. It’s either apple juice or water.
 
The gunshots exploding fiery holes in the wall of the Raven Bar during the gunfight were the result of an invention of Jayson’s: Dubbed the Jay-o-phone, due to its resemblance to a xylophone, Jayson fashioned a 2x1 piece of plywood with rows of metal bars affixed to the top. Jayson painstakingly created squibs by emptying Tylenol gel caplets of their contents filled them with gunpowder and an electric fuse, sealing each with melted candle wax. Wires were attached to each caplet’s fuse, running to individual bars on the Jay-o-phone. The wires were then concealed in the walls beneath dried plaster. Then, by attached positively- and negatively-charged clamps, Jay ran live electrical current through a large flathead screwdriver. Finally, when Jayson dragged the electrified screwdriver across the metal bars of the Jay-o-phone, he completed the circuit for each bar/wire/squib, and they exploded in the intended bullet-like rat-tat-tat succession.
 
In the bar scene, the German solider that dies, a condom filled with fake blood, was taped to the actor’s chest (Kurt Zala, Eric’s little brother). An attached fire cracker was supposed to burst the condom and thus splatter the blood. It didn’t work, so Jayson had Kurt pop the condom with his hand "acting" as if he were being shot. The condom exploded beautifully.
 
To create the explosives, an underage Jayson effortlessly bought gun powder at a local Mom & Pop Gun shop & General Store.
 
In experimenting for gunshot effects, Jayson ran the wires for the explosives up his pant leg and attached it to a fake-blood filled condom, taped to his chest. The effect work well, but the idea of having raw current on his chest with the liquid from the fake blood was slightly dangerous.
 
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Exploding Belloq.
The Jay-o-phone was also used in the melting scene when the lights and generator explode. This was achieved with brillow pads connected to the end of electrical wire with gunpowder sprinkled over it. When the electrical current ran through it caused the brillow pad to ignite and thus explode with the gunpowder. A similar technique was used directly on the soldiers when they are electrocuted by the streams of electricity flowing through Belloq.
 
For the "glowing red light effect" in the chests of the soldiers as they die, Christmas lights were strapped to the actors’ chests with the exploding brillow pad/gunpowder combination to give the effect.
 
The first ghost experiment was created by reflecting a puppet on a sheet of glass, while Jayson’s sister "acted horrified" with the ghost image superimposed over her.
 
Jayson Lamb created the effects for the ghosts that come out of the Ark at the end and swirl about the German soldiers. First, they filmed the soldiers on the set, looking about at empty air. Then, Jayson swirled silk tied to black puppet sticks around in a tank of lit water. He watched the video of the actors on a monitor and mimicked the movement of the ghosts to correspond to the actors' choreography. Jayson then super-imposed the silk swirling "ghosts" on top of the shots of the soldiers looking around. With the two images overlaid - viola! Ghosts now encircled the frightened soldiers.
 
Production was shut down for a summer because the boys lit Eric on fire with gasoline for the bar scene. Shooting was resumed after they found an "adult chaperone" – one who was actually far less responsible than they were.
 
The boys used approximately 36 bottles of Isopropyl alcohol for the final shot of the Bar fight, with the set engulfed in flames.
 
The closest the boys ever got to being actually arrested was when the owner of a diner in downtown Gulfport discovered them setting up merchant stands in the alley behind the diner, in preparation for shooting the Cairo Street Fight scene the following day. For reasons still not entirely known, the diner owner thought the boys were shooting pornographic movies (bed sheets draped over the merchant stands?), and announced he was calling the police. While Chris and Eric were waiting for Gulfport’s finest to arrive, the owner of a furniture store on the other side of the alley came out of a back door into the alley and asked what they were doing. The boys explained, then got an idea: they asked for his permission to shoot, on his side of the alley. The man said yes, and so, by the time the police arrived (three squad cars, and later, a plainclothes officer), the boys could legitimately claim to have permission to shoot in the alley.
 
In the truck sequence, when Indy gets shot, Jayson ran tubing up Chris’s (Indy’s) arm underneath his jacket. Several holes were perforated into the tubing tip. So when the cue came, one blew the end of the tube causing fake blood to burst out of Indy’s shoulder, as if he where shot.
 
The Raven Bar and the bar in Cairo where Indy and Belloq confront one another are actually the same location – they just painted the same room white.
 
The part of Imam, the elderly Arab cleric who helps Indy (Chris) and Sallah (Alan Stenum) decipher the glyphs on the Medallion, is played by Jayson Lamb, the film’s cameraman and special FX artisan, under layers of self-applied make-up.
 
After much searching for a location in Mississippi that could pass for the Sahara desert and Tanis excavation scenes, Eric and Chris finally found one – a "dirt farm" in Lizana, Mississippi, that supplied construction sites with dirt. The boys asked the dirt farmer if they could film the needed scenes on his property. Initially he told then no, commenting, "You boys are just dreamin." Later on, his wife spotted the boys on a local TV news station talking about their movie. At his wife’s insistence, he agreed to Chris and Eric’s request.
 
Since they lacked their own orchestra to score music, the boys needed some means to get their footage to match timing with John Williams’ original score. In some scenes such as the Map Room, Eric used a stopwatch and gave hand-signals to Chris for when certain actions should be done, to time the action in sync with Williams’ score to be edited in later.
 
In the scene where Indy is opening the Well of the Souls, the shot required a flash of lighting behind Indy. The night of the shoot, there was no lighting, no rain, and no storms to be seen. However, the moment the record button was pushed on the camera for this shot, a beautiful flash of lighting streaked across the sky behind Chris. It never happened again… only that one time, captured on the first take.
 
The snakes used in the Well of the Souls were loaned form a local pet store in Ocean Springs, Man’s Best Friend, brought over for the day in pillowcases.
 
The Tent Scene between Belloq (Eric) and Marion (Angela Rodriguez) is actually shot in Eric’s mother’s living room. Eric used an old sewing machine to stitch together acres of fabric to drape from the ceiling to create the tent set. Eric also stitched together all of the Nazi flags used, and forty traditional Arab costumes.
 
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Marion's costumes.
Angela Rodriguez, who played Marion, asked her mom to sew together Marion’s famous lacy white cocktail dress, complete with low back and tulle tail. She did so, aided by photos provided by the boys. The end result was a very faithful reproduction (sole significant difference was Angela’s version had a much higher neckline (read: no cleavage) than in the original.
 
When Indy (Chris) topples the giant Jackal statue in the Well of Souls scene, it actually fell the wrong way, in the opposite direction intended. The falling statue arm caused the breakaway wall to fall as well, so the shot was kept in the final version.
 
Shooting was halted on a few occasions. One main occasion was when Eric and Chris had a falling out over a girl.
 
The airplane scene is the only scene omitted from the film, despite having a plane lined up. The reasons for its omission were ultimately that an attempted pipe bomb to blow up an miniature of the plane didn’t work, concerns that blowing up an amateur miniature plane would look silly, and the scene being the only one in the Raiders story not essential to its plot.
 
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Truck Scene storyboard.
The Truck Scene was composed of 76 separate shots. Shooting was divided up according to whether or not the truck was being pushed or pulled by another vehicle. Why? This is because the truck had no engine. The truck used, a ’64 Ford, was donated free of charge by a tenant in one of the cottages behind Eric’s house, because it was broken. The boys removed the engine, spray painted it army-green, built a wooden frame for the back and covered it with canvas. When it came time to shoot, they either towed the truck from the front, or pushed it from behind with another vehicle, depending on the angle of the shot. A giveaway to this is a shot taken underneath the truck, when Indy (Chris) is dragging behind the truck, it can be seen that the truck has no axle connecting the front and back wheels.
 
The brakes on the truck used for the Truck Scene consisted of a pulley system that Eric’s brother Kurt rigged underneath the vehicle. A rope ran through pulleys, up through the rusted floor of the cab and was tied to a hammer. One had to pull up on the hammer to activate the pulley system to stop to truck -- scary stuff if you are going under the truck!
 
The white truck that explodes at the end of the Cairo Street Fight Scene is the same truck as used in the Truck Scene, re-painted (much as Spielberg and Lucas happened to also re-use the same truck for both scenes in the original).
 
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The first kiss.
The Cabin Scene, in which Indy (Chris) and Marion (Angela Rodriguez) have their big kissing scene – was actually the first time that Chris (then aged 13) had ever kissed a girl. They went on to maintain an off-screen teenage romance.
 
The submarine scene was the only scene not shot in Mississippi. Instead, it was shot in nearby Alabama, at a naval park in Mobile Bay, which featured a retired battleship (USS Alabama) and submarine (USS Drum) from the WWII era. Over the course of three years of persistent nagging, Chris talked one Captain Deffley into allowing the shooting on the submarine and battleship. The agreement did not include shutting the park down, however, so the boys shot around bemused tourists.
 
When Indy (Chris) is swimming up alongside the submarine and climbing up the side of it, Chris is actually swimming in the alligator infested waters of Alabama’s Back Bay.
 
The final character to appear in the film, the Warehouse Man pushing the crated Ark down the aisle of the government warehouse, is actually played by Chris (Indy), who worked at that same warehouse as a summer job.
 
The person who played the most parts in Raiders: The Adaptation is Eric’s long-suffering little brother. Kurt Zala, who is listed no less than eighteen times under "Cast" in the end credits alone. This is because whenever another kids failed to show up (a hazard in teenage film-making), Kurt was unfailingly pressed into service.
 
Despite the fact that Chris played Indiana, Eric was the main person who suffered major injuries; including his head being trapped inside layers of construction plaster, suffering singed hair from being lit on fire, and a broken arm.

Next: Post-Production & Beyond >>

 

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