Locals contribute to ‘Raiders’ movie remake, which will be screened at Marquis
MIDDLEBURY — They’ll be rolling out the proverbial red carpet at Middlebury’s Marquis Theater this Wednesday night at 7 p.m. for the premier of a true cinematic blockbuster: “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
What’s that you say? Wasn’t that movie, starring Harrison Ford, released back in 1981? Is this an updated version with a couple of minutes of extra footage?
While this particular “Raiders” is faithful to the dialogue and construct of the original, it does so through a patchwork of more than 42 scenes, each lovingly acted and shot by children and adults as an homage to the rollicking adventure about a globetrotting history professor who uses guile, a handgun and a whip in his race with the Third Reich to find the legendary Ark of the Covenant.
This new film is the product of a crowdsourcing effort initiated by Northampton (Mass.) Community Television. In essence, the nonprofit organization thought it would be neat to farm out the 42 “Raiders” scenes to like-minded community access stations in the region, including Middlebury Community Television (MCTV). Those stations would then recruit local talent to shoot, and act in, individual scenes in as serious or whimsical a manner as they pleased.
Kurt Broderson, MCTV’s technology coordinator, took an immediate fancy to the project and offered to take on one of the scenes. He is involved with a longstanding video programming initiative of MCTV and Middlebury’s Ilsley Library. He has introduced many kids to the basics of movie making through this program and a series of video camps. The camps’ primary attendees are from grades 4 through 6.
“We’ve got a fairly large group of kids that have had training and exposure to filmmaking,” Broderson said.
Broderson and his family have collaborated on some of their own whimsical movies — including, most recently, a “Goonies meets Home Alone” short film involving a treasure hunt.
So when he heard about the Northampton “Raiders” project, Broderson had one thought.
VIDEO CAMP KIDS
Broderson opened up the “Raiders” assignment to anyone who had attended video camp. Thirteen kids signed up for what they thought would be Middlebury’s lone scene contribution to “Raiders.” It’s the scene where Indiana Jones is following a group of German soldiers carrying the Ark to a remote island cave, where they plan to open the mysterious chest.
It was on a hot summer day early last August that the kids, accompanied by a handful of adult supervisors, gathered at a gravel pit in New Haven to do the shoot. The Marble Valley Players theater group graciously lent them some costumes, including military regalia for the faux Nazi soldiers.
“It probably took three to four hours to film the three-minute scene,” said Broderson, whose daughter Annika, 5, played Marion (Indi’s love interest). His son, 8-year-old Keil, played Indiana Jones.
The Middlebury cast played the scene pretty much true to the film, and submitted it.
Soon thereafter, they learned Northampton was looking for people to take on additional scenes. So the Middlebury group took on an additional three scenes, including the final one of the movie. The crew made their own ark, which they painted gold. The cast for that scene included Ilsley Director Kevin Unrath, MCTV Director Dick Thodal and Broderson, who finally got to don an Indiana Jones hat.
The other two movie scenes done locally were completed in stop-motion animation using Legos, by groups of siblings in Orwell and Middlebury. Stop-motion filming involves the painstaking process of giving motion to on-screen objects by shooting them in individual frames, moving the objects slightly between each shot.
Joy, Faith and Jeremy Holzhammer of Orwell engineered the “Raiders” scene in which Indiana surprisingly finds Marion alive, tied up inside a tent in the desert. He elects not to untie her for fear of tipping off her Nazi captors to his whereabouts.
Jeremy, 8, said he has always been a Legos enthusiast, and enjoyed being able to mix that passion with movie making.
“Anything involving Legos, I like,” Jeremy said.
Faith, 12, enjoyed adding the sound effects to the Legos scene — though she confessed it got a little strange making the smooching noise in the Ilsley when the Indi and Marion figures shared a kiss during filming.
She’s looking forward to the premier at the Marquis.
“It will be really fun to see it come to life on the screen,” she said.
Joy, who is Faith’s twin sister, was tickled by the group’s insertion of R2D2 — a celebrated Star Wars droid — into the scene.
“You can stick R2D2 into the background, and no one is complaining,” Joy said gleefully.
Their mom, Brooke Holzhammer, is proud of her children, though she was a little concerned about their turn as Nazi soldiers in the gravel pit scene.
“We asked that they not wear any swastikas,” she stressed.
EDUCATIONAL AND FUN
All told, Brooke estimates her children spent around two weeks on their stop-motion scene. It’s an assignment that branched into academics, she noted, citing the study of history as an example.
“It’s been really interesting watching the kids,” Brooke said, adding the filmmaking process has helped them look at video differently; they can now better appreciate the behind-the-scenes work that goes into movies.
Jack and Will Nop of Middlebury provided the other stop-motion Lego scene. It was the one where Jones is talking to a couple of government agents about the Nazi search for the Ark.
Jack, who was 15 at the time of the project, had already been doing stop-motion animation for a while. Around 20 examples of his work can be seen on YouTube, under the title “NopFilms.”
He filmed his “Raiders” scene in more that 2,000 individual shots during roughly two-and-a-half months.
“I think it turned out to be one of my better projects,” Jack said. “It was fun.”
Broderson is hoping for a great crowd at the Marquis on March 16. Viewers will not only be able to relive the iconic movie in a different context, they will get some great surprises during every scene shift that will feature new actors, and a different treatment of the material.
“The range of styles is so varied,” said Broderson, who has had a sneak peek at the full movie. “There are several animated scenes. There’s one scene where one guy plays every role. There’s one scene with a sock puppet.
“It went really well,” he added.
The March 16 screening will be free, though donations will be accepted for the summer children’s filmmaking camps at the Ilsley. The “Raiders” film trailer can be seen at www.crowdsourcedcinema.com.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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