"Raiders of the Lost Ark" fan film gets Hollywood treatment


(CBS News) Maybe you know what a fan film is, but if not, it's the ultimate act of devotion by a movie fan, a painstaking amateur re-creation of a beloved studio film.

The original "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" had nine nominations and won four Oscars at the 1982 Academy Awards. That same year, childhood friends from Ocean Springs, Miss., set out to remake the masterpiece, shot for shot, and line for line. Their creation is what some people call the best fan film ever made.

"Kids don't know what they can't do," said Chris Strompolos, who played Indiana Jones.

The kids were just 10 and 11 when production began. The movie was made over the course of eight summers, and the young filmmakers, with no actual filmmaking knowledge, drafted story boards and costume designs, pooled allowances and gifts to buy cameras and props.

Alan Eisenstock, author of "Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made," explained on "CBS This Morning: Saturday" that part of what was so interesting about the movie was watching the boys go from being little kids to teenagers. He said that Strompolos started out using ashes to re-create Indiana Jones' signature 5 o'clock shadow, but years later, by the time filming was done, he was shaving.

"What's funny about watching the movie is there are times when you see 11- and 12-year-old Chris, and then you cut to another scene, and he's 17," he said. "So it's an amazing kind of crazy movie to watch."

The result of all their hard work was "Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation," and years later their Indiana Jones adaptation caught fire with the indie-film community after it was leaked online.

"This was something that was made not to make money, not to become famous, it was done for absolute love," said Matt Singer, an editor from thedissolve.com. "These kids loved "Raiders of the Lost Ark and this was how they wanted to express it."

After watching the film in 2003, Steven Spielberg was so impressed he wrote a letter to Strompolos.

"Dear Chris, Wanted to write and let you know how impressed I was with your very loving and detailed tribute to our 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,'" he wrote. "I'll be waiting to see your names someday on the big screen."

Ten years later, that's coming true. This week Hollywood producer Jeremy Coon optioned the rights to their story, which will become a documentary and feature film.

For a full interview with Alan Eisenstock, watch the video in the player above.