Summer movie preview: Kids find adventure, film it with phones in ‘Earth to Echo’

First Published      Last Updated Apr 24 2014 09:31 am

The idea for the kids' adventure "Earth to Echo" (opening July 2) started with a question posed to director Dave Green: "What would happen if kids were to go out in the middle of nowhere and find something?"

What the kids find is a mystery, possible alien in origin (at least as seen in the movie's trailer).

But what interested Green is how the kids would capture the moment.

"If kids were to go out in the middle of nowhere and find something today, they'd film it all themselves," he said in a phone interview. "It would all be shot on their iPhones."

So "Earth to Echo" becomes the latest entry of the "found footage" style of filmmaking — a handheld-camera format familiar to horror films, like "The Blair Witch Project," but not often used in a family-friendly movie.

"We wanted to give the found-footage genre a bit of a kick in the pants," Green said.

Unlike a horror movie, where the people who "shoot" the footage are usually dead by the end, Green said that "the people who shot the footage [in 'Earth to Echo'] also cut it together. What that lends us is a lot of flexibility, and a lot of playfulness in the way the movie is shot and told, because it's from a kid's point of view."

He said he was also inspired by the movies he grew up with, like "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," "The Goonies" and "Stand by Me."

"Those were movies that centered around kids, and were kids' stories exclusively," he said. "As a kid, you have a certain kind of ownership over those stories. They're your stories. They're not told from the adult perspective. They're told by seeing the world through a kid's point of view."

Young people today, Green noted, "shoot everything they see and do. … Part of being 12 or 13 right now is seeing the world online, and seeing the world through your list of followers and friends."