Fan Film, Fan Films

Indiana Jones: The Silent Serial Fan Film

Over the Memorial Day weekend of 1977, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg hung out on a beach in Hawaii, making sand castles and holding an impromptu filmmaker support group of sorts. Lucas was certain his new Sci-Fi epic, which had just opened that weekend, was about to flop, but Spielberg assured him he’d be fine.

Then the E.T. auteur turned around and complained that he wanted a chance to direct a James Bond flick, but Cubby Broccoli wouldn’t give him a shot. Lucas, in turn, assured him that he had a much better idea for a movie based around a solo adventurer—the character was Indiana Jones, a globe-trotting archeologist, inspired by the heroes in the 1940s Republic serials (and the story of how Lucas saw those movies under the radar while a student at USC is revealed in my new book, the tirelessly promoted ).

Given Indy’s origins, it’s only fitting then that amateur filmmaker Brandon Sabatula has retrofitted the fedora-festooned hero into a serialized fan film, Indiana Jones and the Spirit of the People.

Getting even more meta, the flick is a silent movie, throwing back to the oldest Jones-like movie, The Spiders, a two-part silent adventure from the early 1900s. Broken up in to six chapters, each roughly 10 minutes, Indy ends each segment in a cliffhanger, just like they did in the old days.

While the silent film treatment is a fun throwback—and filmmaker Sabatula readily admits he did it to help his movie stand out—it was also a necessity. The roughly hour-long film was shot six years ago, when he and his cohorts were just out of high school. They wanted music in their movie, but didn’t have editing equipment, so they carried a boom box with them and played segments of John Williams’ Raiders of the Lost Ark soundtrack while filming scenes, guessing where they were previously in the music when taping a new shot. The end result was a mish-mash of unrelated music cues that made a properly cut audio version out of the question.

That said, by going into silent film territory, the story was tightened by the use of title cards, allowing editing to focus purely on visual concerns. Does it work? Take a look at the chapters below, and give your opinion in the comments!

Indiana Jones and the Spirit of the People Trailer

Chapter 1: The Orb of Souls

Chapter 2: Propositions

Chapter 3: Raiders of the Hidden Idol

Chapter 4: Reclaiming the Spirit

Chapter 5: Race to the Cave

Chapter 6: The Power of Rapa

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