From Panem To Hollywood
If you’re anything like me, you have been following everything Hunger Games since you finished book 1. With picture and video leaks dominating the web, this has undoubtedly been the most highly anticipated movie of 2012 launching its leads into superstardom and skyrocketing the series to literary classic status only 4 years after its publication. Lucky for me, Maggie Kealey, President of the FROSCH Entertainment Division, headquartered in Hollywood, scored the travel production contract for this major Blockbuster!!! As soon as I found out I kept poor Marnee Revri who handled the production out of the NC Entertainment office, at her desk for what felt like hours as I turned green with envy when she told me she got to go on set and talk to Jennifer Lawrence! I felt our little chat was too fun not to share so I asked her if I could do a quick interview to pass onto our social media fans.
*Spoiler Alert* If you haven’t read the book yet, cancel your weekend plans and go get it NOW, oh, and I wouldn’t continue reading!
First and most important question, are you on Team Gale or Team Peeta?
Team Peeta! I always love the underdog. But I also liked that he had clearly cared about her from afar since they were little. Like the story about him giving her the bread when she was trying to find food on the streets.
What led you to coordinating the travel for the Hunger Games movie production? Have you worked on such high profile projects before?
Personally, this is the largest production that I’ve worked on. FROSCH Entertainment, which is headquartered in Hollywood, originally received the contract directly from Lionsgate. In the past few years there has been a lot of movie filming in North Carolina, which is why FROSCH created an office here. Since the Hunger Games had planned on filming 100% of the production in my home state, I was assigned as head of the production.
Were you a fan of the Hunger Games series prior to working for the film?
No, it is not a book I would have normally read, but I like to learn everything I can about my clients and what I will be doing for them. Once I started it I was hooked. I finished all 3 books in a week!
Did you realize this movie was going to be something special immediately? If not at what point did you realize what a huge following it had?
I knew immediately after I read it. This is a story that, even though it’s a little science fiction, is very relatable. You can really draw so many parallels to the way our society is shaping out.
As their travel agent, where did your role start and end? (e.g. did you organize travel when they were scouting locations all the way to the movie premiere?
Everywhere and anywhere I was needed. The contract began a little over a year ago when they had already chosen on the location (which was partly why I got the contract). It started with set designer and builders and I have continued to handle some travel for a producer until just before the premiere.
Your home state, North Carolina, is the filming location for The Hunger Games’ District 12. How did the locals react to this activity? Has there been any tourist buzz for fans wanting to visit these sights as there was with Twilight Saga?
I have not really seen or heard of any crazy fans; most was filmed in the mountains, with indoor filming in a huge warehouse in Charlotte so there wasn’t disruption in any main public areas.
Besides North Carolina, what other locations served as a backdrop for Panem? What location served as the Rocky Mountain city of the Capital? The Hunger Games arena?
To my knowledge all the filming was done in NC. They may have done a few retakes or additional scenes in a Los Angeles studio but the bulk of the film was here. Most of the filming for the outdoor arena was done in the countryside at night because of weather. They also had at least 7 sets in the warehouse in Charlotte, such as the house scenes, the train and the training arena.
The ornate and elaborate costumes of the tributes and Panem’s elite Capitol-dwellers are practically stars themselves. What special considerations did you have to take to transport these types of props and costumes?
The majority of the costumes and wigs were actually made by local stylists in Charlotte. They had an army of seamstresses/hair dressers and makeup artists there the entire shoot. They did have to bring in an additional 20 extra hair and makeup assistants for shooting the final parade in Panem which was filmed downtown Charlotte. One pivotal costume that had to be transported was Katniss’ “FIRE DRESS”that she wears when she’s first introduced in the capital. This was quite a production as it was an expensive and delicate dress that had to be flown in from California!
Were you able to see the set? What was that like experience like? Was it your first time on a film set?
Yes I was able to visit the set in Charlotte. It was an amazing as it was the first true set I have been on. It was quite surprising to me how much is now done on computers as the actual set seemed quite basic. Probably my favorite part of visiting the set was seeing Woody Harrelson’s trailer “hippy trailer”. I gave it this nickname because he is an extremely environmentally conscious person. He’s a vegan and requires that all of his costumes be made out of special “green” material. Another thing that really amazed me was that I brought my nephew from Ireland on set with me and he was bragging to his friends back home. The fact that during filming it had already developed a following overseas really blew my mind.
Did you get to have any one on one contact with the stars of the movie? Any particularly positive experiences from that?
Not really. I mostly spoke with someone from the production team. I did get to speak with Jennifer Lawrence once when she called to confirm her ticket. She was very nice.
Any word on the rest of the franchise? Will you be doing their travel? If so, do you know where Catching Fire will be taking place?
All I am hearing right now is gossip but given how popular it’s become I don’t think there is any doubt in anyone’s mind that they will film the remaining 2 books. Obviously I am hoping they will invite us back to do the travel for the remainder of the trilogy. We worked very hard for this production. I have heard rumbling that a good portion may be filmed in Hawaii.
Any other fun stories from the production that you would like to share?
It was an amazing experience and I have made lifelong friends, we made an amazing team that just seemed to work really well together. We remain in touch today. I have also received wonderful letters of recommendation from production and was recommended to the North Carolina production offices as a preferred vendor when booking production travel in NC. I’m hoping this is just the beginning of my career in the big Hollywood production industry!
(Photo: michi003 on Flickr)