Unofficial set photos are nothing new to the movie news industry. Professional and amateur photographers hang around the set, hoping to get a quick glance at a star they admire or perhaps just a look at the costume design for a particular film. No big deal, right? Personally, I never thought so, until recently.
There’s a pretty glaring divide between the images that make their way onto websites every once in a while and the material that’s pouring out of the set of The Dark Knight Rises. The film is still about a year away yet I feel as though I’ve seen the large majority of it. Even if Christopher Nolan does have something up his sleeve, as Anne Hathaway recently suggested, does that make it okay to spoil everything else?
Luckily material hasn’t been oozing from The Hunger Games set at the same pace, but we’ve got the fan sites and Lionsgate to thank for that. Just recently, several outlets received an e-mail from an individual who claimed to have accessed the set illegally and was eager to spill the details. On a less threatening, but still debatable note, legitimate set extras are sharing their stories, too.
I came across one of these messages myself and can confirm nothing was too deep into spoiler territory or stretched beyond anything we might find in any other movie news story, but the point of the matter is what these individuals did is wrong. As a set extra, you sign your name on that non-disclosure agreement and you absolutely have to abide by it. But, does that make it wrong for fan sites to post information their readers would genuinely like to see?
To be completely honest, if someone claiming to be an extra e-mailed me directly sharing details from the set, the only two things that might make me think twice about posting are the legitimacy of their claims and if the material they’ve got to offer spoils any plot points. Details on highly anticipated costume pieces? That’s news. Regardless, this is where the studio really has to come in and Lionsgate is certainly taking care of business appropriately and watching out for its product, which, as a fan, I greatly appreciate.
But, as I said, I didn’t get any e-mails directly asking for coverage. However, TheHob.org and Mockingjay.net both did and they've got insightful takes on the situation as well ...
Extras are in a unique position as they have the privilege to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the filmmakers are bringing The Hunger Games to life. For fans of the book, this is an extremely exciting opportunity, and a number like to be able to share their experience with other fans.
But there is a fine line about what extras can share given the non-disclosure agreement they have to sign with Lionsgate when they walk on the set. Some extras may not clearly understand what that NDA bars them from saying, so they try to share limited information - generalizations about what actors they saw on the set, what type of scenes were being filmed, what the costumes looked like, etc - all the types of which we've seen before from articles and pictures from news outlets and other fans that have gotten near the set and/or talked with the cast members.
This is the level of detail that was included in an email from an extra that we received this weekend and chose to share with readers on our blog. Nothing over the top and in line with previous "spoilers" from the set. While some fans weren't happy with the post, as they want to stay spoiler free, many were thrilled for that insider info. We eventually removed the post based on the request from Lionsgate (as has happened in the past with pictures of the set), and have continued to received tweets and emails from our readers who are bummed they missed the info. But we also recognize and respect that Lionsgate is protecting all images and information to make sure they can maximize the fans’ experience of a completed film come March.
This latest information from an extra has gained a lot of attention only because it came at the same time as a more malicious report from someone who illegally accessed the set and sent the details to some fansites. That is the sort of information we think we can all say should not and will not be shared or tolerated within the fandom. But small updates here and there - either from an extra or a fan that just gets near the set - are inevitable and will always be met with a mixed reaction from fans who either want spoilers or are trying to avoid them.
Crystal of Mockingjay.net
Once production at the Capitol set began, things started to come into the Mockingjay.net inbox that we knew we couldn’t publish. We got set photos of extras in Capitol costumes, photos of the Capitol set, and detailed accounts of principal actor costumes. While some of it was exciting, we received spoilers of scenes never seen in the books and I admit, this ended up being a total bummer for me and Kimmy. Out of respect for the production crew, Lionsgate, the hard working actors, and most of all for our fans, we decided that we wouldn’t publish any of it.
I understand extras that are fans of the book are excited to be part of the movie, but they have to understand that they signed a non-disclosure agreement stating that they wouldn’t talk about any of it. With that comes an unspoken understanding that doing so could ruin the movie for everyone else. People send us the photos of Prim and Katniss at the reaping while off-camera all the time, hoping we’ll post them, but as a true fan of The Hunger Games, is that really how you want to see them? Standing around waiting for their scene and laughing with some unknown crew member? It’s not how I want to see them. Photos such as these are great after the movie is out, but before that it’s just unwanted spoilers, usually of very shoddy quality.
This is one of the few downsides of working for a big fan site. People tend to bring us news that they wouldn’t take elsewhere, like to a large media outlet. They know we’re fans and that we’ll be as excited as they are. What they don’t seem to realize is that they’re also ruining the movie for us and that if we were to post it, we’d be doing the fandom a terrible disservice.
Having been an extra on my all-time favorite TV show, I know what it’s like to be a fan on the set of something you adore. The only advice I can give is to eat it all up and write it all down for you to remember later. Just don’t blog about it. Don’t tweet it to the world. Don’t sneak pictures of the actors and post them on Facebook. Above all, don’t disrespect the work of everyone around you. You’ve seen firsthand just how much work goes into a movie production. Imagine what those people would say to you if they knew what you’d done.
What do you think? Is it okay to post information from a movie extra?