July 4th weekend is always a big weekend at the box office. Earth to Echo opens on Wednesday and it is fun for the whole family.
Earth to Echo follows Tuck, Munch and Alex, a trio of inseparable friends whose lives are about to change. Their neighborhood is being destroyed by a highway construction project that is forcing their families to move away. But just two days before they must part ways, the boys begin receiving a strange series of signals on their phones. Convinced something bigger is going on, they team up with another school friend, Emma, and set out to look for the source of their phone signals. What they discover is something beyond their wildest imaginations: a small alien who has become stranded on Earth. In need of their help, the four friends come together to protect the alien and help him find his way home.
When you see the movie, you’ll feel like you’re a kid again and on the adventure of a lifetime. We had the chance to sit down with Teo Halm, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Reese Hartwig & Ella Linnea Wahlestedt to get all the scoop on what you need to know about the movie and some fun behind-the-scenes secrets.
1. The project was kept under wraps during auditions.
A lot of times actors go into auditions knowing exactly what they’re auditioning for. This wasn’t the case with Earth to Echo. “Originally when we auditioned for it, it was titled the ‘Untitled Wolf Project.’ So we just assumed it had something to do with wolves,” Ella Wahlestedt told us. “We didn’t get to read the script until after we were cast and we found out it was about aliens and how cool are aliens?”
2. The movie will remind you of the great adventure movies of the 80s.
When you watch Earth to Echo, you’ll find some similarities to some of the great kid adventures of the 80s. Just reading the description of the movie calls out to some of them like The Goonies and E.T.. That’s something that producer Andrew Panay really want to capture in this film. “The reason why it relates to those 80s movies like E.T., The Goonies & Stand By Me is because those movies were loved by anyone at any age,” Teo explained to us. “A kid could see it and love it because it’s cute. A teenager could love it because there’s some edge to it and action. I think that’s been lost for a while. What Dave Green and Henry Gayden tried to accomplish was to bring back that lost genre of movies and not just family movies but movies that anyone can see from any age group and enjoy.”
3. The cast had some fun bonding times before filming began.
In order to make the chemistry of the four characters seem natural, the cast had some time to bond weeks before filming began. What did they do? “Dave Green had this great idea,” Reese Hartwig said. “We only had 28 days to shoot so the whole first day jitters type thing he wanted to knock out before we started. About a week or so before starting we all met up at CityWalk and did the iFly indoor skydiving and went to dinner. We all just hung out and broke the ice so when we got to work, we got straight to it.”
4. One of the cast members has “The X Factor.”
If you’re watching the movie and thinking, hey, Tuck looks familiar, you may have been a fan of “The X Factor.” While Teo, Ella and Reese are relative newcomers, Brian Bradley aka Astro is no stranger to show business. While he may be newer to acting, he stole many hearts on season 1 of “The X Factor.”
5. Ella got her girl time hanging out in the makeup trailer.
While a lot of the story revolves around Tuck, Munch and Alex, Ella’s Emma joins in on the fun about halfway through the film and holds her own with all the boys. So how did she handle all the testosterone? “I lucked out with this bunch. They’re really cool but occasionally you need some girl time so I headed over to the hair and makeup trailer to talk girly things.”
6. The film is shot from the kids point of view a-la the found-footage-esque style.
When you hear the words “found footage” and movie, it usually immediately points to a horror movie of some sort. That’s not the case with Echo. While the footage in this case isn’t necessarily “found,” the movie is shown only through the eyes of various cameras controlled by the kids whether it’s a handheld camcorder, glasses with a camera in them, security cameras, cell phones or a go-pro. “We had to keep a hand on the camera at all times if we were filming,” Teo explained. “Most of the time they tell young actors ‘don’t look at the camera, the camera is not a person, look away.’ This movie, they were saying ‘look at the camera, look at the camera.’ In this movie, the camera is the audience and we were making a movie for the audience.”
So what’s the reasoning for this style of filming? Tuck is an avid filmmaker who posts his videos on Youtube, so what you’re seeing is the finished video of the adventure.
7. Echo might be the cutest movie alien ever.
Watch out Wall-E, there’s a new alien on the block. If you’ve seen the posters or trailers for Earth to Echo, then you’ve definitely seen the adorableness that is Echo. Did you know he was designed by a 19-year-old named Ross Tran? When Tran showed director Dave Green his first sketch of Echo, Green said “That’s him. That’s Echo. It was futuristic but also warm, neither too robotic nor too organic.” Also, in order to help the actors act alongside Echo, various 3-D printings of Echo in different expressions and movements were created. Doesn’t he look like the perfect mix of an owl and Wall-E? We definitely would buy our own Echo to play with.
8. The cast loved to prank each other…or mainly Teo.
The cast got along so well that pranks were bound to happen. Poor Teo ended up getting pranked a lot which included everything from people scaring him when he walked around corners to telling him the script had changed the morning of. “Every morning, I was really scared about not having my lines memorized,” he said. “Then they’d say ‘oh there’s new revised sides for today, have you seen them?’ I’d be like no and they’d say ‘oh you have a giant monologue today’ so I’d run around set asking people for the new sides and no one knew what I was talking about and they made me look like a fool.”
9. The message of the film is…
We asked the kids to tell us what they hope viewers walk away with after seeing the movie. Here’s what they said.
Teo: “You are not just a kid. You’re more than what adults think or say you can be. Be ambitious and you’re not just a kid.”
Astro: “I think it’s really about friendship. Echo was an alien but I think it’s really symbolizing something that brings a group of people together. Echo can be anything from food on Thanksgiving to music, as long as it brings people together.”
Earth to Echo opens July 2, 2014.