Mark Boal evaluates stories as a journalist – first and foremost.
This is the process he uses while developing projects.
Boal is the mastermind behind “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” His latest project, “Echo 3,” debuts on Thursday, Nov. 24, on Apple TV+.
“Echo 3” is set in South America, with English and Spanish dialogue.
The series follows Amber Chesborough (Jessica Ann Collins), a brilliant young scientist who is the emotional heart of a small American family. When Amber goes missing along the Colombia-Venezuela border, her brother, Bambi (Luke Evans), and her husband, Prince (Michiel Huisman) – two men with deep military experience and complicated pasts – struggle to find her in a layered personal drama, set against the explosive backdrop of a secret war.
The series also stars Martina Gusmán as Violetta, a prominent political columnist, and features James Udom, Maria del Rosario, Alejandro Furth, Juan Pablo Raba and Bradley Whitford.
“In the case of ‘Echo 3,’ that element, that depth, is primarily the relationship between the United States and Latin America,” Boal says. “You could spend a lifetime trying to understand all the complexities of it, and people do. The country of Colombia, where most of the story is set, particularly fascinates me. For years, I knew it from afar as an avid consumer of news, culture and history. Getting a chance to put my feet on the ground there and discover firsthand the beauty, struggles and contradictions of the place was an opportunity I could not pass up. I traveled there with an empty notebook and sought to fill it up.”
Boal says he wanted to create a show that he wanted to watch – one that was filled with action, substance, psychology and feeling for politics.
“It took three years all in from starting to talk with Apple to the end of production,” Boal says. “It takes a minute to build something like this.”
Boal spent time developing the characters to have multiple layers.
“There’s a mixture of action, tension and suspense,” he says. “At the same time, themes about how people love each other, and how they lie to each other.”
While most filming took place in Colombia, Boal says part of production moved to New Mexico – specifically Angel Fire.
“Everybody was committed to doing their best work,” Boal says. “From our sound mixer to the crew in New Mexico, I got this feeling that everybody wanted to go for it. It was a collective effort.”
Boal says Angel Fire was chosen as a location because the production was trying to find a mountain that had snow on it while coinciding with the production schedule.
“Taos stays open a little later than some other places, but we shot at Angel Fire,” he says. “We had an awesome experience there. Angel Fire is a great place to shoot a movie. We tried to disguise the mountain with a little bit of visual effects, but if you’ve skied the mountain, you know where it is. We began filming the day after the season closed.”