A young Indiana Jones travels from the deserts of Mexico to the highlands of Scotland in at the bequest of an old friend and in search of a medieval prize – the Treasure of the Templars.
In this prequel to the trilogy, discover the origins of some of his friendships and rivalries. Journey with the young Jones as he crosses continents and gets himself into a familiar mix of action, trouble and adventure.
FAN FILM FOLLIES (through Christopher Moshier): How did you get to the point of deciding to make your own Indiana Jones fan film adventure?
KENNETH GAWNE: It was the end of my first year at university in Dundee, Scotland. Having lived at home for the previous 18 years, I was enjoying my newfound independence and freedom so I decided to take a trip to California. It was while on this trip, onboard the Queen Mary, that I met someone who has since become a lifelong friend and filmmaking partner, DANIEL RISER.
We were both Indiana Jones fans but up until this point I had never come across filmmaking in any capacity – I had acted in a few school plays before but my closest connection to movie making was the name of my hometown in Northern Ireland, Holywood (pronounced as Hollywood). It was a hazy day in Vista, in Southern California and me, Dan and his friend from Ohio JOSH EDWARDS were trying to decide what to do. Me and Josh had a day to kill before we returned to respective homes and we all wanted to do something fun on our last day there. So the idea of making a little movie came up – Dan was an aspiring filmmaker after all and it all sounded like fun to me. I think my only input at this point was “How about we make it an Indiana Jones film?” I already had the hat and jacket anyway.
Dan wanted to direct but both Josh and myself were vying for the main role – the only fair way to settle things seemed to be a coin toss. Fate had a plan for me that day for I won the coin toss – an event which I has brought me much pleasure and also much suffering. So with Dan directing, Josh controlling camera and me as famed archaeologist Indiana Jones, we trooped out to a barren patch of wasteland behinds Dan’s house just off the freeway. The script was still hot from the printer, only minutes old, written in only a few short hours. So armed with only a video camera and a dream, we began filming on our ‘masterpiece’.
It was a very physical experience, for me at least – there was a lot of running and falling and jumping and more running and more falling…and I loved it! I had never experienced anything so exciting as this before – up until this point acting to me had been something you did in the very enclosed space of a stage and in a very rehearsed and staged manner. But this was much more real and dynamic.
Its ironic looking back now that how things began was actually to foreshadow how things would be years later. Even back then, without our limited vision of the scale of the film, we faced severe restrictions and cast and crew had to double up. So not only was Dan directing my screen debut, but he was also chasing me as the antagonist in the action scenes, and then seconds later conversing with me as an ally in the dialogue scenes, dressed only in a bed sheet for a costume (apparently authentic Shaman attire).
Filming culminated in our stunt sequence where I had to jump off this dirt bank and roll down into the dust below. Despite a few scrapes and scuffs (a sign of things to come) it all seemed to go well until we reviewed the footage later that evening and found that I had actually misjudged the frame and jumped out of shot.
So that was the extent of our first session of filming in California – it goes without saying none of this made it into the final edit of Templars (we didn’t even have the name of the film at this stage) but a dream had been born – a dream that would endure for over 3 years and span the globe, crossing continents and uniting people from the USA, the UK and Europe. Many problems would be encountered, many sacrifices suffered, but also lifelong friendships forged and unforgettable memories made.
FFF: This is, I think, the first Fan Film than I can recall where it was actually filmed around the world in different locals. That is just amazing to me. How was this pulled off to get a cast and crew where they needed to be?
KG: All I can say is that it was not easy. As mentioned above it did not start out from intention, it developed gradually. Jonathan Lawrence had always said to me that if I could get the money to fly him and Paul over to Scotland that he would come and finish the movie. So once things had become more serious with the film I worked hard towards making this a reality and got that money together.
With Jonathan and Paul coming to Scotland Daniel Riser, Josh Edwards and Lauren Henline were generous enough to put their own money into flights to come over as well, coming over on the same flight as Jonathan.
FFF: You play Indiana Jones. You must have been fanboy “JONESing” during the shoot. With the whip to the gun and the stunts what prepared you to play one of the most recognized icons in movie history?
KG: What prepared me? You know I think prepared is probably the wrong word and to tell the truth I was probably a lot less prepared for this shoot than I should have been. However there are reasons that the character of Indiana Jones appealed to me and sharing a love of ancient history, a sense of adventure and the joy of traveling all helped me enter the spirit of the character quite well. With regard to the stunts and so on this was something relatively knew to me and something I found increasingly compelling and exciting to discover throughout the movie.
FFF: What type of time and money was put into the final product? I understand all involved had their “normal” lives.
KG: Yes it was very tough for me…well the project completely consumed me so every free moment I had was spent working on it in some capacity whether figuring out script ideas, searching for locations, sourcing props and costumes, interviewing actors, etc. Once production began in Scotland we had 6 weeks of solid shooting so there was no real free time for anyone during that. Since post production began the real people suffering are Jonathan and Daniel with the monstrous job of editing this goliath and Paul helping out with pick up shots, scale models, etc. As for money for me it was a case of whatever I had went into the movie. Other people would help out to what extent they could with transportation costs, offer of help (eg – accommodation), etc. I know Jonathan has spent a fair bit on post production as well.
FFF: What was the transition from just doing some goofy movie for a couple days while on vacation to actually making a full blown fan film?
KG: Hmm….probably about a year. Certainly once I heard Daniel wasn’t coming to the UK that totally changed my role, my perspective and my drive. Once Jonathan came onboard the entire quality of the production and its production values skyrocketed astronomically.
FFF: I notice there is nothing on the cast so far on the website. Can you clue us in on some of the characters, the people who play them, and their background?
KG: I could – but I don’t really want to. There are a few surprises in there in terms of characters and I want people to discover them for themselves. Regarding the actors there will be new sections for them going up on the website in the near future.
FFF: What’s the craziest thing you did as a stunt during the production?
KG: Hmmm…the most dramatic is probably where I jumped off a waterfall – it all almost went spectacularly wrong. I had only ever rehearsed the jump in swim shorts which had always gone fine, but kitted out in full indygear changed the weighting completely and the hat – well when I jumped I reached up to grab the hat and that somehow brought my whole face forward so I hit the water face first. Splat. Not an experience I care to repeat. That said maybe the craziest thing I did was agreeing to a fistfight between my character and Jonathan’s character – he is quite blind without his glasses (as I found out)!!
FFF: What was your greatest challenge of making the film?
KG: Greatest challenge – so many challenges to chose from. In truth probably getting the darn thing made at all. So many obstacles would keep appearing – locations changing, people pulling out at the last minute, weather problems, transportation issues…I could go on and on.
FFF: How about the biggest high?
KG: The biggest high has to be when we test screened the trailer to an audience of about 40 people on the queen Mary in Long Beach, California. The expressions on people’s faces made it all worth while.
FFF: Your synopsis of the film teases, “In this prequel to the trilogy, discover the origins of some of his friendships and rivalries.” Can you mention what character we may see throughout the film? I am sure Brody is a given.
KG: I am afraid you are wrong – no Marcus brody. You’ll just have to wait and see.
FFF: How will you release the film? Will you have an event showing? What do you think the reaction will be?
KG: Well, we have plans for a premier in both Dundee, Scotland and Hollywood, California. There are also various Indy fans around the world offering to organize screenings in their respective countries. Beyond this film festivals if possible and of course on the internet. As far as fan reaction, personally I hope people just enjoy it for what it is and see the love, hard work and passion that went into making it.
FFF: Have you discussed any further filmmaking projects beyond the current Indiana Jones one?
KG: Oh yes – we want to make a western next.
FFF: I’m diggin’ the new website. When do you think everything else will be live?
KG: Still working out some difficulties on that one but hopefully in the next few weeks or so.
FFF: Do you think Harrison Ford is up for another go round as Indie? Do you think the series could go on with a new (actor) face like say the James Bond or Jack Ryan series?
KG: Simply put, Harrison ford is Indiana Jones. He totally defined that character and made it what it is. I don’t think the franchise could survive without him.
FFF: Fan Films are getting so much more sophisticated as the years drum on. With sites like YouTube or Google/Yahoo video these productions can be seen by millions. How do you think this is going to change the actual movie industry if any?
KG: I think it will be a long time before we see any drastic changes. It’s so easy nowadays to download MP3s and videos from the internet, yet CD and DVD sales are still booming. I think the cinema will be around for a long time yet – I certainly hope so. It’s an experience.
FFF: The floor is yours. What else do we need to know and who would you like to thank?
KG: Obviously the entire cast and crew of the film, that’s a given. Specifically Daniel riser for introducing me to filmmaking, and Jonathan Lawrence for mentoring me and always asking for me – he has made the film look the way it does.
It would also be wrong of me not to thank George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison ford. Without them there would be no Treasure of the Templars.