Interview: ‘Earth to Echo’ director Dave Green on directing like a 13-year-old

Dave Green (center) is seen with a giant, not very portable camera on the found footage sci-fi adventure "Earth to Echo." Credit: Patrick Wymore
Dave Green (center) is seen with a giant, not very portable camera on the found footage sci-fi adventure “Earth to Echo.”
Credit: Patrick Wymore

Director Dave Green was once like the kids in his film, “Earth to Echo,” a found footage entry about three friends who come to the aid of a beset-upon alien, which they shoot with a variety of cameras.

“I constantly had a video camera,” Green recalls. “I’d make films with my friends, or stop-motion shorts using my stuffed animals.” Of course, this was back in the day. “There was no way to edit. You had to edit in camera. Now if I talk to the kids who are actually in that movie and I say, ‘I had to connect two VCRs and edit that way,’ they’d be like, ‘What are you talking about, grandpa?’”

Actually, “Earth to Echo” isn’t “found footage” at all. That would imply the footage was lost. In the world of the film, the three lead characters shot and, after the fact, edited it. To be more specific, it was edited by adults trying to act like kids with exponentially snazzier technology than they had themselves when they were growing up.

“What made the movie exciting to me for me was that we were telling the story from a really distinct point of view, and that point of view happens to be from a 13-year-old,” Green says. “He’s able to pause the movie, fast forward through the movie, skip through time and say, ‘You know what, I’m embarrassed by this part. Let’s not show it.’ That idea cracked the egg on what the storytelling potential could be.”

Of course, pretending to be a 13-year-old moviemaker can be difficult, though at least there’s plenty of examples. “It only takes one look at Vine to see what’s going on online — and to feel like, ‘Oh my god, I’m so old. My ideas are so old.’ Because there’s so much freshness.”

Of his cast, Teo Halm — who plays the more serious one, Alex — is “probably the filmmaker of the group,” Green says, though Brian “Astro” Bradley has dabbled as well. Halm’s videos so far mostly star his cat. “I saw one where he was looking out a window with his cat, and then he leans in to bite his cat in the head. That was the whole clip,” Green recalls.

Dave Green (left) directs his young actors on set of the boy's adventure "Earth to Echo." Credit: Patrick Wymore
Dave Green (left) directs his young actors on set of the boy’s adventure “Earth to Echo.”
Credit: Patrick Wymore

At least some of the footage is actually shot by the kid actors themselves, who also had to deal with pretending to interact with special effects that wouldn’t be seen till later. “I wanted to create an environment for the kids where they had the freedom to tell me, ‘This blocking doesn’t work out,’ or ‘I can’t stand there,’ or ‘I don’t think I would look at the camera at this time.’ Even Astro, who holds the camera, would say to me every once in awhile, ‘I think I would shot it THIS way,” Green says. “It was really important to make them feel like they weren’t on a real ‘movie set.’”

One of the main ideas behind making “Earth to Echo” was that it be, for Green and his regular writing partner, Henry Gayden, nostalgic. “We were children who had grown up on these adventure movies that had kids as the main characters. We hadn’t seen a movie like that in a long time,” Green says. Indeed, along with “E.T.,” a clear inspiration was “The Goonies,” which also features a suburban neighborhood being uprooted.

But here, the big move — which will split up the three friends around the country — can’t be reversed. This adds a melancholy that runs under the film’s adventure. “I put myself back in the shoes of being a middle school kid, who was transitioning into high school. You have certain friends that go away, and then when you’re going to college you have other friends you drift away from. We wanted to create this period of time for the kids that felt very dramatically charged,” Green says. “It colors every scene. You know it’s these kids’ last adventure together.”

See our review of “Earth to Echo” here.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge


Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."


Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.


Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.


Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…


FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.


'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…


TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.


5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.


College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)


Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.


Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.


Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.


Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.


London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.


Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."