‘Indiana Jones’ filming draws fans from all over the world

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Elodie Cinquanta flew all the way from OrsiGeres, Switzerland, to chase her dream. Early on a recent morning, that dream came true when she met director Steven Spielberg on High Street.

“We were coming here for that. It is a dream. So we are very happy now,” she said.

Cinquanta, 20, and three other fans of Spielberg and “Indiana Jones” are among the throngs who have come downtown to watch the fourth “Indy” movie being filmed. This quartet just traveled a little farther.

Cinquanta, along with Aaron Wilkinson, 21, of Christchurch, New Zealand, Antoni Conteddu, 26, of Bologna, Italy, and Fred China, 26, of Lyon, France, also met co-star Shia LaBeouf, but it was the director they really came to see.

They are the kind of fans who are really more interested in the director than the star, the kind who love Spielberg’s movies because, for the most part, he doesn’t rely on computer-generated imagery (CGI), but on real sets and real acting.

“CGI is a bad thing for movies. It’s not magic,” said China as the group had breakfast Monday at Atticus Bookstore and Cafe, up the street from where the movie was filming.

It’s “not artistic – all computer,” added Cinquanta.

“The movies from the ’80s produced by Spielberg … all have a good feeling,” Conteddu said. “This kind of feeling is lost nowadays. It’s all about money and box office.”

You can have “Lord of the Rings,” even though it was filmed in New Zealand. Give them “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” the movie Spielberg directed after “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and “The Goonies,” which Spielberg wrote and produced.

The four, who knew of each other from Internet fan forums but met for the first time when they arrived here, range in their devotion. Wilkinson traveled the farthest and is an “Indiana Jones” fan, but said he is “just sort of tagging along.” An unexpected leap in a stock he owns gave him the opportunity to take a vacation from his meteorology job.

China, a Web designer, is a collector of “Goonies” and “Indiana Jones” memorabilia and is creating a Harrison Ford Web site in French. He wears an Indiana Jones costume that cost him almost $2,000. The hat is a genuine Herbert Johnson fedora.

“I went to San Francisco just to buy the shoes” while heading to the “Goonies” set in Oregon, he said.

Conteddu’s MySpace page tells his story: Wannabeonindy4. “My first goal was to be an extra in the movie,” he said. He couldn’t get a work visa, but he came anyway.

“It was a good chance to meet new people, see the United States and see what kind of work or activities a movie requires … I love cinema.”

Conteddu wasn’t with the others when they ran into Spielberg, and he wasn’t happy to learn he missed out. “I’m not so obsessed about meeting the stars, but it’s so bad to know they had the chance to spend a minute …”

“Five minutes!” said Wilkinson. The others were sympathetic to Conteddu but thrilled that Spielberg signed their T-shirts, drawings and other stuff. “To Elodie, thank you for your art!” Spielberg wrote on her portrait of him.

“He took his time for us. He was very nice,” said Cinquanta.

All four spoke highly of people they’ve met in Connecticut. Conteddu said New Haven reminded him of Bologna.

“It has a similar feeling … because Bologna too is a university city so it’s full of young people and old buildings.”

A couple of things surprised them, though. Not having cars, they haven’t gotten outside the central city, so they haven’t seen a McDonald’s yet. But one thing they did see that they didn’t expect: a raccoon.

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