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Burb's Eye View: A fanboy's homage gets the phone ringing

January 24, 2012|By Bryan Mahoney

It’s a scene that I’ve watched a dozen or so times, even relived at Disneyland: Indiana Jones and his partner snake through a jungle temple to find a lost golden idol, then are chased out again by booby traps and a giant boulder.

The iconic opening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” solidified Indy in movie history and simultaneously granted the wishes of geeks like me who wanted to see what would come of a union between George Lucas and Steven Spielberg at the peak of their careers.

This weekend I watched the scene again on my small laptop screen and I couldn’t help but notice the performance this time was a bit wooden. No, not wooden, plastic.

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Though the audio is the same, the “actors” have changed — they’re action figures, brought painstakingly to life by the single biggest Indy fan I’ve ever met. The stop-motion animation — six minutes of pure, unadulterated fanboy joy — was created to mark the 30th anniversary of “Raiders” in a Burbank apartment overlooking a 7-Eleven and a Carl’s Jr.

The work — with 270,000 views in less than a month — is bringing filmmaker Jeff Gurwood that much closer to realizing the film career he has worked for since eighth grade.

“I never thought it would be a million-hit sort of thing, but it had a strong chance of doing well because it has a built-in fan base,” Gurwood said.

Last week, a Japanese morning talk show called him for an interview. A friend helped him translate it. They kept referring to Gurwood as the Creator, “Like a god,” he laughs.

The Hollywood Reporter’s coverage resulted in about 20,000 hits in a day. Entertainment Weekly notes “it’s impossible to ever get tired of the traitorous, doomed Alfred Molina doll.”

The video, “Indyanimation,” was posted in December, at the end of six months of work, 45 hours a week. Each night Gurwood returned to his breakfast nook-cum-studio surrounded by three 6-foot-tall Indy movie posters — Harrison Ford staring directly over his shoulder.

“It made me do a better job because I knew I had him to look up to,” he said.

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