Luke Wilson, director Wil Shriner, writer Carl Hiaasen, and the three main kids talk about the family film
"If you don't fight, you have no chance at all!"
That message is especially true for kids; they never feel like their voice is heard. But, in the book Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen, a group of kids in Florida decided that was going to stand up to the adults and save some endangered owls.
That award-winning book has been turned into a feature film, written and directed by Wil Shriner. Hoot stars three fairly new kid actors as the leads, Logan Lerman, who plays the main teen Roy Eberhardt; he's just moved to Florida from Montana. Roy doesn't have any friends, until he meets Brie Larson, who is his pseudo love interest Beatrice; and finally Cody Linley, he's the loner kid nicknamed 'Mullet Fingers.'
Luke Wilson rounds out the cast as the town's police force, Officer Delinko. Luke talked about the old saying of 'don't work with kids or animals,' saying the kids weren't the problem, the animals were. "These kids were good; I was thinking the whole time, 'How did they go to school, and still have time to work?' I worked with Logan the most and I was impressed that not only did he know his lines, but he was a kid as well. The dogs were the problem; you have them on set and they can't do what they're supposed to do. You think all this money is going out the window trying to have this dog do it."
And Luke drives around in this old beat-up police car; he says that was the biggest pain trying to get it started every morning. "The guys told me, 'Luke, don't stop revving this thing, because it'll go off if you do. So the director would come up and was trying to tell me something and he had to speak over the noise of the car. 'No, you're going to have to yell; can't stop revving.' There was nothing I could do."
All three kids have had experience before in Hollywood; Logan's acted in Jack and Bobby on The WB, Cody was in My Dog Skip, and Brie was most recently in Sleepover. She's also a very talented singer/songwriter and composed a song for the movie soundtrack; she got to work with Jimmy Buffett, who's also stars in the film, the producer of the film, and the composer of the film. "Everyone had to get the approval on me, but Jimmy already knew who I was from the music; he worked with the guy I was touring with, Jessie McCartney. Later, Jimmy asked me to write a song for the soundtrack, so that was really cool. It's about the relationship between Roy and Beatrice; I wrote it with this band, Phantom Planet."
Both Cody and Logan had a blast on set together. The said the first scene they had to shoot no doubt ended up on the blooper reel. "We're fishing," Cody said. Logan added, "They took these fish really seriously; there were scuba divers under water, they were checking everything." As Cody started to make a move, "the mullet jumped out of the basket and we had to make up the whole scene cause the fish swam away."
Carl knew he had something special with this book; he wrote it about his childhood living in Florida. He started his career as a newspaper columnist; he never imagined one of his books would impact kids the way Hoot did. "My books have always had that smart-ass attitude and the kids have really received it. The letters I've gotten are amazing; this book has been taught at schools for a while. When I get some of these letters from these kids are amazing. It was important to me to keep the theme of the movie the same as the book; at least have the feel and the theme. As I'm thinking back about the letters, the kids are the heroes of these books."
Director, Wil Shriner found the book so interesting, he knew he had to make this into a film; he points out the overall tone of the movie is much more than just kids trying to save the owls. "Kids learning they can make a difference is the key of the movie. All of us are concerned about where we live. The owls are there for representation; they could really represent anything. The message in the book is these developers don't care about the owls. Now, they keep pushing the Everglades back. The movie isn't just a message about the environment; it's about fun."
Carl gives the credit to Jimmy for getting the message of Hoot out there. "Wil and I aren't the most diplomatic people in the world; we needed Jimmy for that part - he's that 600 pound gorilla who got us over. You're the voice of the little guy, and you might not stand up for it, but you speak up about it. If you're a caring person and you see things are going on, fight for it."
That's also how the three actors felt; as Cody puts it, he saw the bigger picture while shooting the film. "I think before the film, none of us really - I couldn't see how kids could really help out. After the film, it shows anyone can help the environment."
Along with Brie's song on the Hoot soundtrack, Jimmy Buffett really put together a great mix of tunes, some his own, some not; Wil had his hand in that side as well. "The soundtrack is fantastic; Jimmy and I talked about making like the old days in Florida. Jimmy's band played tremendous instruments. We were watching the movie and he's just sitting back making music. Phil Marshall, producer Frank Marshall's brother, came in and brought it all in together for us. Floridays is a great song that we remade from one of Jimmy's songs."
Hoot is a really good family movie; it opens in theaters May 5th, rated PG.