QUEST FOR THE LOST TREASURES
After the creation of “A Day in Hot Springs,” Jesse and I had an idea for a number of sequels/prequels: make one video for each day of the week and release them as a webseries online to be known as “The Week in Hot Springs.” The first of which would be “Another Day in Hot Springs” which I clearly remember writing with Jesse while sitting hunched over a picnic table at Chautauqua Park in downtown Hot Springs. From that bizarre story, we spun off into other episode ideas like “1001 Arabian Gumps,” “Paradox,” “War of the Dandelions” and later going back to the night before “A Day in Hot Springs” (The Night in Hot Springs) and as far back as the beginning of time itself (“The First Day in Hot Springs.”)
Armed with scripts in hand and a ton of ambition, we set about casting and filming the stories, starting with Quest for the Lost Treasures. However, a number of factors, not least of which was my own horrible procrastination, led to only portions of the series being filmed. Cast members dropped in and out unexpectedly, schedules never jived, scenes were shot and reshot, throwing continuity to the wind.
We finally just “finished” in 2009 with the completion of a number of shorts we called “The Adventures in Hot Springs” which WERE released as webisodes and with numerous incomplete Week in Hot Springs videos “in the can,” digitally. I instead turned my attention to writing as I moved away from Hot Springs and away from my filming buddies.
Right off the bat, the first character Jesse meets in “Quest for the Lost Treasures” in an odd entity who is known only as “The Man.” From the earliest scripts, we always envisioned him as this laid back guy in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts, sitting in a random back yard, with an underlying darkness to him beneath his cheerful demeanor.
The Man informs him that, due to his actions at the end of the last video, Jesse must now serve as The Man’s manslave for all eternity. When Gump protests, The Man offers a sole chance for salvation: find all 5 lost treasures of Hot Springs within 12 hours, and you will be set free.
The original Man was played by Tanis Koehn and shot in a hurried pace – the editing is frantic and the scene is rushed because of it. We never finished filming any other scenes with Tanis. But in Jamie Klotz’s Diary, The Man was written in as the character Jamie meets when she is trapped in another dimension by Professor Dorn, and she learns that he, too, is trapped there, making him much more sympathetic than the original Man.
The idea of sending characters around looking for something in a montage set to the song “Runaway” wasn’t even a new concept to Quest for the Lost Treasures. Read my blog post, “Refried Ideas; or The Montage Scene” about the original 2004 version of the “Gibbers: The Movie” script to see how I felt in 2009 after we finally completed the Week in Hot Springs version of that scene.
2007-2009: (remember, no continuity!)
So Jesse is returned to Hot Springs and rounds up Jim and Taylor to go treasure-hunting with him. The first question Jim has is: how are you going to know what the treasures even are? Jesse has no idea… but conveniently finds a “magic treasure finder” in a box of raisin bran. The treasure finder later reappears in Jamie Klotz’s Diary, given to Jamie by Dr. Lawrence, and reappears in Jamie Klotz’s Diary II, as seen in the screenshot to the left.
The very first treasure Jesse finds on his search is a treasure that later carried over to Jamie Klotz’s Diary also: a rubber duck. While it’s almost forgettable in JKD – she finds it in the river during the treasure hunt – it became a critical part of JKD2 when determining what the “extraordinary secrets” of each treasure are. One other reference is left: Kaitlyn’s new best friend Rachel almost directly quotes Gump when squeaking the duck.
One of the later treasures Gump finds (in a scene never filmed) is a pair of sunglasses, which he finagles off a nerdy kid who’s trying to get a date with his crush – a reference back to a video I was involved in making for school called “True Love Sunglasses.” While not the same glasses, it’s loosely referenced by Jamie finding a pair of sunglasses in her treasure hunt.
The second to the last treasure Gump & co. find in Quest for the Lost Treasures would have involved them meeting guys dressed up as Super Mario and Link from The Legend of Zelda, and of course Jamie Klotz’s Diary is replete with Zelda references. Another scene left unfilmed would have seen Jesse, Jim and Taylor scouring the public library for ideas, much as Jamie and Kaitlyn do after visiting Dr. Lawrence.
After Jesse’s new girlfriend, Eli, is kidnapped by the Mutant Peanut Butter Ninja, forcing Jesse to choose between saving himself or Eli and becoming the Man’s manslave, Jesse turns to Jim and Taylor for help… in the form of a training montage! Including running around the track at the high school and running up one of Hot Springs’ awesome staircases.
Jesse confronts the Ninja high atop the dam at Cold Brook, then finds out that the final missing treasure was with Eli all along, thus stopping The Man as well. Just as everyone is celebrating Gump’s victory, Jesse’s vehicle, The Gumpmobile, rolls up and Jesse gets a blast from the future as his future self proclaims the real danger is an unknown villain known only as “Half Pint” and asks Jesse to come with him back to the future.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS SECTION
Jamie Klotz’s Diary took a lot of direct inspiration from Quest for the Lost Treasures, and that was intentional. The first JKD movie was made not just for fun but to show that I finally had the resources and ability as a filmmaker to do what I had been unable to as an 18-year old. JKD2 is a step toward more serious filmmaking, with a clear and distinct plot from beginning to end instead of the more carefree and random JKD1, similar to how Quest for the Lost Treasures, if finished, would have had a more defined story than A Day in Hot Springs (though not by much, in retrospect).
In our next column, we’ll cover 1001 Arabian Gumps to War of the Dandelions and what elements of those inspired Jamie Klotz’s Diary. (It’s much less than Day in Hot Springs and QFLT.)