VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - As childhood friends growing up in Ocean Springs in the early '80s, Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala pooled their creativity to re-make one of their favorite films: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Years later, their fan film would become world famous for recreating the movie shot for shot, except for one action packed scene: the big airplane explosion.
This week, the filmmakers are finally getting to add that missing sequence to their masterpiece. WLOX News caught up with Strompolos and Zala as they prepared and tested the pyrotechnics at a dirt quarry in Vancleave. Also there was pyrotechnics pro Dan Todd, who is the man behind the sampling of the actual airplane explosion scene.
"There's no difference between the type of passion and spirit and excitement that I had when I was a 10-year-old boy, to now as a 43-year-old," Strompolos said.
Both men agree it would have been easier to shoot the scenes in Los Angeles or Las Vegas, where they now live, but they felt it was important to finish their adventure right where it started 32 years ago.
"There it's certainly easier to find a location that passes for a desert, but we believe in Mississippi," Zala said. "We grew up here and having shot our childhood here, it felt right to return here."
For Strompolos and Zala, getting the final go ahead and raising the money to shoot the missing scene was unexpected and surreal.
"Doing the scene itself has been an incredible amount of work," said Strompolos, who was decked out from head to toe in his Indiana Jones attire. "I mean, I certainly don't have nearly as much energy as I did when I was 15, but it's still just as exciting."
The duo hopes the three decade long project will keep inspiring other Mississippians interested in film production, and they are already looking forward to their next projects.
"The next step is Eric and I have a handful of films that we want to come down here and do, because there are vibrant, passionate filmmakers down here that really want to work on film," said Strompolos.
Film production is expected to wrap up next week.