Josh Hutcherson at an Advance Screening of 'Journey to the Center of the Earth.'

Josh Hutcherson fans in Indianapolis got a special treat this week as the 15-year-old movie star dropped in on an advance screening of his new film Journey to the Center of the Earth. Not only did his fans get to see him in 3D in the movie, but they had a chance to see him in 3D in the lobby of the Kerasotes ShowPlace 16.

Josh Hutcherson arrives at the screeningHutcherson took some time to chat with Film School Rejects about his new movie. He nodded to my kids, who attended the screening and snatched a couple autographs from him, saying that it was right up their alley.

Before we even had a chance to talk about the visual effects and the 3D process, I had to ask about the wad of dino drool that gets dropped in his mouth. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve gotten a taste of this scene, and Hutcherson told me what it really tasted like.

“It was like that stuff you put on your sunburns afterwards, that gel stuff, mixed with balsa wood and cork. At least that’s what they told me it was,” he said. “It tasted like crap. But it wasn’t hazardous, so that’s the good news.”

Hutcherson apparently drew the short stick for this film as he also had to eat a bowl of trilobite guts. “It was like chicken salad and milk, mixed together with some sort of really sour stuff in it. So it was really not that tasty,” he said. “It was a gag effect for real, totally.”

Okay, with dino drool and trilobite guts out of the way, on to the other cool stuff about the movie…

Journey to the Center of the Earth employs RealD’s crystal-clear 3D technology to make it an immersive action film. Shot digitally, the cast and crew were able to see the 3D effects immediately rather than waiting for a post-production process. “With this new technology, you can shoot, say ‘cut,’ walk over to a little tent set up right next to set and watch it in 3D,” Hutcherson explained. “There’s no tech work that has to be done afterwards to transfer it over to 3D.”

However, even with this on-the-set 3D capability, there was still plenty of things that had to be added later. “There’s quite a bit of blue screen and green screen involved in this film, which is difficult, especially in scenes where you had to run from the giant dinosaur, and all you had to look back on is this green screen with this little tennis ball,” Hutcherson said.

Josh Hutcherson signs autographs for fansBefore reading the script, Hutcherson did not want to bring any preconceived notions, so he avoided reading the Jules Verne classic or seeing the original 1959 film. “I like to go into each project with a fresh mind,” he said. But now that the movie’s out, the book’s on his summer reading list. “Everybody’s telling me it’s an amazing book and I love the story,” Hutcherson said. “I lived it, so I’ve gotta definitely check it out.”

Now that Hutcherson has more than a dozen movies to his credit, and he’s not even old enough to drive, he’s looking ahead to an acting future. And he’s gotten a taste of action flicks. “As of now, that’s one of my favorite genres just because I’m young and I get to do all the stunts and fun stuff,” he said. Look out, Nicolas Cage.

Hutcherson’s next project is the vampire flick Cirque du Freak, which he just finished shooting two months ago. “I was a sucker [rather than a suckee],” he admits. “So I like to change it up.”

The advance screening of Journey to the Center of the Earth was sponsored by Heartland Truly Moving Pictures, a non-profit Indianapolis-based organization that recognizes and honors filmmakers whose work explores the human journey by expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life. The organization has included the film on its list of about 100 “Truly Moving Pictures,” which includes movies like this summer’s WALL-E and Kit Kittredge: An American Girl.

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