Feodor Chin is an actor, writer, producer, director, and bon vivant. Recently, he teamed up with some fellow INTERPRETATIONS filmmakers to screen their shorts at Michael McCarthy’s El Cid Short Film Night in Los Angeles (read about the first “MISINTERPRETATIONS” event here). This Thursday, November 18, they’ll be doing it again, screening 16 Interpretations shorts on the big screen. Here, Feo explains why the INTERPRETATIONS Initiative was as important to him as the Ark of the Covenant.
In the summer of 1982, two young friends from southern Mississippi set out to film a shot for shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala were not at all deterred by the fact that they had no filmmaking experience, no budget, no equipment, and at 10 and 11 years old, respectively, they had yet to even hit puberty. What they did have was an audiocassette version of the film (clandestinely recorded at the local movie theater) which served as their script, a pair of very understanding and supportive mothers, and a shared love of the film that bordered on obsession. Ambitious? Oh, yes. Foolhardy? Perhaps. Inspired? Most definitely. In 1989, seven years after they began, Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation would finally have its premiere.
I first read about Chris and Eric’s fascinating story in an issue of Vanity Fair. And while I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing their film, I understand it to be not only an impressive and faithful homage to the original, but a genuinely engaging and inspiring tribute to the art of filmmaking itself. With little more than their own creativity and enthusiasm, these kids managed to successfully “interpret” one of the most beloved action-adventure films of all times. Decades later, as grown men sitting in his office, Spielberg himself reportedly told them, “I watched it. Then took it home and watched it again. And yes, it inspired even me.”
It’s an inspiring story alright. And when it comes to the Interpretations Initiative and the Interpretations filmmakers, I think the parallels are pretty obvious. We were all working with the same four lines, and for most of us, I imagine, we had little else to go on but our own enthusiasm, creativity, and passion. Every single one of the Interpretations entries is a testament to the power of DIY filmmaking.
So I’d like to invite you to come celebrate the chutzpah and moxie of your fellow artists at the Interpretations Special Edition of the El Cid Short Film Night this Thursday, November 18 at 8pm. The full lineup of 16 films is below (along with some possible last minute additions) but some of my personal favorites include:
Steve Nguyen and Brian L. Tan’s Kill Joy
Have you seen The Hurt Locker? Here’s the 3 minute version. Seriously.
Jimmie Rhee’s Modification
These special effects will blow your mind.
John P. Raposas’ Mother
This is not only my favorite Interpretations short, it may very well be my favorite short film period.
So come out to El Cid Restaurant, 4212 W. Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles, Thursday, November 18 to see these shorts and many more and to meet and mingle with some truly inspired artists. Pre-show party at 8pm, Show at 8:30pm, Dance Party(!) at 10pm. Admission is $8. And to see excerpts from Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation check out this video from the BBC.
SPICE IT UP! by Feodor Chin
Cafe On A Staircase by Jolene Kim
WWJD by Randall Park, David J. Lee, Neil Sehgal
The Case by Timothy Tau
White Out by Deborah S. Craig
Top Dog by John Fukuda
Modification by Jimmie Rhee
My Secret War by Iyin Landre
Sketch by Eric Heights
Vignette by Nic Cha Kim
I Spy by Lewis Tan
Mother by John Raposas
Infertile Affairs by Huy Chheng
Bathroom Battle Royale by DuNo Tran
Forget Me Not by Rachel Tejada
Kill Joy by Steve Nguyen & Brian L. Tan