Director Gary Ross Talks Hunger Games And Catching Fire

The Hunger Games has finally hit theaters over the weekends, and most fans seems to be pleased with the adaptation. But this is only the first book in the trilogy that has definite plans to be adapted for the big screen as well.

The director, Gary Ross, answered questions about the film and its sequel during a Los Angeles press junket.

Ross explained the idea behind the aesthetic look of the film, and why he planned on shooting it the way he did. He also described what the studio thought of his filming the project.

Well it’s also very handheld. There’s also a lot of vérité in it; that was really intentional. I’m trying to capture what was visceral in the books, which is your first-person present tense narrative, and that’s gonna require a certain amount of subjectivity. In order to be in Katniss’ point of view and in her shoes—what being in a character’s point of view is, is restricting the information that the audience has to what that character has, and not being writer omniscient. I’m not cutting from place-to-place, I’m moving in this serpentine, destabilized path as Katniss wanders through this world. That’s not only true in the shooting style, it’s also true in the editing style. My editors are Stephen Mirrione who cut Babel andBiutiful and Juliette Welfling who cut The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and all the Jacques Audiard films, The Beat That My Heart Skipped and A Prophet and stuff like that. This was a very conscious decision to create a very subjective style because the books are so subjective, they’re first-person and they’re urgent and you see the world as she sees the world, so that was the reason for it.

As far as the studio’s concerned, I made a little short film with some references in the beginning when I got the gig, and I was very clear what I was gonna do. Part of it was to get the job, but the other thing was if I was gonna get the job, I wanted them to know what this movie was going to be. I wasn’t going to make a slick, glossy over-produced piece of entertainment because then I would be doing what the Capitol did. Then I’m actually putting on the Hunger Games and not making a movie of the Hunger Games. Especially with this premise, it had to feel very, very real and it had to feel urgent, so it was a true use of the word vérité, it had to feel true.

Obviously, it will be quite a while before the DVD is even thought of, let alone the reveals of what deleted scenes fans can expect. But Ross says there were actually only a few scenes that were cut from the film.

No, there weren’t many scenes that I shot that were cut. There were some things from the book that I wanted to put in that I couldn’t, like the Avox subplot, where they came from, things like that. There weren’t many scenes [that I cut], there were a few scenes, but I don’t kind of believe in the whole ‘Director’s Cut’ thing, because this is the director’s cut, the thing I’m doing. There isn’t another version of the movie that I would’ve done, this is my version of the movie that I really intended to do. I think there’ll be a lot of cool supplemental materials on the DVD, but I don’t think I’ll be putting in other scenes that got dropped.

He also confirmed that he will be working on the next film, Catching Fire, the second novel in the trilogy.

I am attached to the next film and I’m intending to do it, I haven’t had a chance to think about it yet. […] It’s not like I’ve had a chance to think about Catching Fire but yeah it’s my intention to do the next one. They’ve asked me to do so.

In case you are worried about the second film having a different feel than the first, Ross says there will be differences but nothing is set in stone yet.

I think that there may be some aesthetic departures from what I did here, but I don’t wanna talk about them yet not because I’m being evasive, but just because they’re so half-baked I wouldn’t be doing myself justice in the process if I talked about them prematurely, but I think there may be some differences, yeah.

Ross also took time to explain the problems with the editing process. What scenes were the most difficult and which were the easiest when it came down to the editing.

Some things that I thought were going to be really, really difficult I had prepped so much for that they fell in so nicely, like the Tracker Jacker sequence or even The Reaping. They’re so unimaginably difficult with the number of axes you’re shooting and what the storytelling is, like The Reaping is eight pages and you need to cover it so specifically. The Tracker Jacker scene is basically vertically configured over 80 feet in a tree and we’re really in the trees and Jen’s really climbing the tree with harnesses on, and the crew’s hanging out of trees and scaffolding and stuff like that, so they were very, very daunting in the run-up to them, in the prep, but they actually fell in very easy—and the fire sequence—‘cause we were ready for them.

Other stuff, it’s always like a three-page dialogue scene where you just kind of get in there, and I don’t remember anything in particular, but none of this was actually that hard. We were so prepped, it wasn’t like I ever got in the weeds and felt buried on any particular day. Any director, if you really ask them, will tell you that the toughest thing to do is like a dinner table or a dialogue scene because you need to keep that electricity maintained throughout the course of the film. But to be actually honest with you, this thing was a blast to shoot and it wasn’t bad. It was very difficult physically, but I felt pretty clear. I mean I had a great time doing it, I really did. I didn’t ever feel in the weeds, and I have felt in the weeds before, and I didn’t on this one.

The sequel, Catching Fire, has been given a release date on November 22, 2013.

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