During the long wait for the fifth Indiana Jones film, fans have sought to fill the gap with fan created content. We had the chance to speak to the producers of one such fan project, The Indiana Jones Interrogations. The Indiana Jones Interrogations is a short seven part miniseries featuring Indiana Jones in a documentary format being interrogated by his captors.
We had a chance to speak with the star of the series Jonathan Rogers, as well as the co-producer Jonas Acuff on how they brought the fan film to life. They were generous enough to answer our questions about the film as well as what may be coming next.
When did you first get introduced to the Indiana Jones franchise?
Jonathan Rogers: When I was a kid, I first stumbled upon a few minutes of “The Last Crusade” playing on TV, which is the earliest memory of my first time seeing the character. I proceeded to view the other original three films in opposite release order, purely by circumstance, and I found myself loving all three for their thrilling action and Ford’s charismatic performance. I’ve been fascinated by the character’s exploits ever since, and recall the release of “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” being the height of my Indy obsession. It excites me greatly that there will be at least one more film with Ford in the role, and hopefully afterwards, the franchise can continue to prosper in his absence.
Jonas Acuff: "I think my dad showed it to me, but like “Star Wars”, it's something that's always been present so it's kinda hard to remember exactly when I first saw it. They have a much grittier tone than “Star Wars”, so in a way they were some of the first ‘scary’ movies I saw. My dad wanted me to cover my eyes at moments like the faces melting in “Raiders”, or the heart removal in “Temple of Doom”. Moments like that are rites of passage, and opens up a much more visceral world of movies."
What would you two say is your favorite Indiana Jones film, and why?
Jonas: "Each one has very important components to them, both as films and to Indy's character. As just a single piece of filmmaking, “Raiders” is a giant, truly perfect movie. “Temple of Doom” has the most fun, and the most creative set pieces. “Last Crusade” probably has the most successful character arc, where we really see Indy as a character with a family. As an editor, “Last Crusade” has one of the best jump cuts ever, from Indy hyping up Marcus as an archeologist super-spy, to immediately seeing him lost and bumbling around in Ä°skenderun. Classic."
Jonathan: "Most definitely “Temple of Doom” for me. I think “Raiders” is, as Jonas said, objectively the best film out of the bunch, and I do love “Last Crusade” as a character piece (I even enjoy “Crystal Skull”, even while being fully aware it made a lot of serious mistakes and could have been vastly better) but “Temple” was unforgettable viewing for me as a youngster. It was probably the most exciting, entertaining movie I had ever seen at that point. I continue to be astounded by the bravura filmmaking and creativity on display in it, and in spite of whatever flaws it may have, there is undeniable artistry to be found, of a kind missing from the vast majority of blockbuster action films."
What was your Inspiration for this fan Film
Jonathan: "As an aspiring filmmaker, I am always interested in practicing my skill and learning about the process through my own low-budget works. It was inevitable I would someday do an Indiana Jones love letter like this series. I personally took a lot of stylistic inspiration from the “The Joker Blogs”, a YouTube web series that was a fan-made spin off from “The Dark Knight”.
Initially it was entirely thanks to having no budget or crew to speak of, and I designed the plot to accommodate my limitations as the only physical actor present (Every piece of footage you see of Indy in captivity was filmed in a tiny corner of my apartment, with me acting to thin air, having to carefully time my reactions to pre-recorded lines from my other actors). When Jonas came on board, that’s when the ‘found footage’ aesthetic properly formed."
What Made you decide to create this film in an interview format?
Jonathan: "I’ll let Jonas answer that one, it’s really his brainchild."
Jonas: "To prove the one take format would work I used our first teaser as an experiment. The teaser was originally going to be cut with the dialogue, and big titles that said things like "COMING SOON". It occurred to me that was a bit cheesy and we could try to do it all in one take. That was where the tone and format of the series was truly born. No titles, no music, just an unedited film strip. I was inspired by the found footage series, “Marble Hornets”, which is based around the idea of tapes being discovered and uploaded online. Mix that with a bit of “Joker Blogs”, and “Indiana Jones”, and it's a really interesting opportunity for something new, not just fan service to the Indy series. We have something like an hour of scripted, character based material, and only 2 or 3 punches are thrown in the whole thing. If you're gonna invest this kind of time into a fan project, make it worth it, something that wouldn't be done otherwise with the character."
I really enjoyed Jonathan’s portrayal of Dr. Jones. What is your process for getting into character?
Jonathan: "Thank you. It’s a lot more fast and loose than it may seem. I didn’t have much of a routine to get in character, I’ve just made sure to carefully study Harrison Ford’s mannerisms, both on the big screen and in real life interviews. Once you have a feel for how Ford talks, and laughs, and gesticulates in conversations, it kinda comes naturally after that. It was certainly a challenge though. For it’s one thing to try and properly emulate Indy as we usually see him, acting as the sly and sardonic adventurer, but the real test is whenever we had to dive into Indy in an atypical way (such as seeing his spirit broken by torture, or having a quiet emotional breakdown). So in those situations, I had to just ballpark how I’d predict Harrison would have played the moment."
I liked that you created a complex character in Claire that both Indiana and the audience both warm towards, what was your process in creating her?
Jonathan: "I wanted very much to have an interesting, nuanced female character in this series. It’s a tradition for Indy’s leading ladies to be either tough or sassy, or both, but I liked the idea of Claire being a more meek, reserved individual, someone very guarded and cautious when speaking to her old mentor. Not all strength has to be aggressive, and I like that Claire acts as an interesting female character in a unique way for this franchise. At the heart of the series, is
exploring the moral ambiguity of Indiana Jones, and Claire’s characterization allows that to happen. Indy must interact with someone who has betrayed everything he stands for, but also challenges his own self-righteousness and makes him see himself in a new light. One of my hopes was that this story can help bridge the gap between the darker, mercenary-like ‘just a nudge from the darkness’ character in “Raiders” to the more altruistic man we see in “Last Crusade”."
Do you have any plans for a continuation of the Indiana Jones Interrogations?
Jonas: "We have some plans for combining it all together, but that's a ways off. We would like to do something that people can watch as a movie that builds the world a little more, and can truly thank everyone that helped make the series happen."
I saw your next project is about Kylo Ren. Can you talk about that?
Jonathan: Take it away, Jonas.
Jonas: "It's a short film, but with far more production effort than “Interrogations”, which we managed to do with just a brick wall. We can't fall back on dirty black and white footage to hide our sins, it's going to resemble as close to an episodic “Star Wars” movie as we can manage. It's a fun challenge to make something that is hopefully worthy of Star Wars, so we're throwing everything we've got at it. We're keeping the same lessons learned from “Interrogations”, to do character based material rather than just leaning on fan-service."
"One of my major pet-peeves with Star Wars fan films is that far too many of them are just pretty light-saber fights in the forest, or an excuse to mess around with homemade CGI. Jamie Costa's Han Solo fan film, “A Smuggler's Trade” is the first in a very long time to actually use the characters to tell a story. That's the best kind of fan-film, a story the fans take it upon themselves to share."
"We're walking a very fine line with “Smuggler's Son”, trying to weave our way through a bit of the canon that hopefully won't be proven wrong by Episodes 8 and 9. That would be embarrassing. “Rogue One” canonizing the Whills was great though, it really opens up the possibility for the more mystical side to the Force we're trying to focus in on with our movie. My running motto is to find more of the fantasy in science fantasy with this. It's one of the great things about “Star Wars”: genre-bending is built into the series."
Jonathan: Well said. There you have it!
For more information on the Indiana Jones Interrogations, check it out at their official website!