‘The Hunger Games’ Countdown: The Promo Campaign's Future and Thoughts from ‘Hunger Games’ Shorts Director John Lyde

‘The Hunger Games’ Countdown: The Promo Campaign's Future and Thoughts from ‘Hunger Games’ Shorts Director John Lyde

Aug 24, 2011

MPAA Trailer WarningMinus MTV recently announcing plans for Jennifer Lawrence to sing on the soundtrack, little news has come from The Hunger Games. However, this is clearly the calm before the storm because on Sunday, August 28th during the MTV Video Music Awards, we will all finally get to see the teaser trailer for The Hunger Games.

Coincidently, CinemaBlend.com editor-in-chief Katey Rich recently took the time to sit down with me to discuss Lionsgate’s promotional campaign for the film. Katey recently wrote a piece about how the studio’s effort thus far puts The Hunger Games on par with The Twilight Saga, basically highlighting a few prime elements: “Attractive, Young White People, Caught In A Love Triangle And Looking Somber.” No, it’s not necessarily a bad thing and clearly could have positive financial repercussions, but this is a story with so many more profound selling points -- it’s a wonder why Lionsgate chose to enter the marketing ring with these images. Check out my full discussion on the topic with Katey in the video below. Keep in mind this piece was recorded on Monday, just before the announcement of the release of the teaser trailer this weekend. However, in lieu of that news, be sure to pay attention to the tail end of the video when we discuss what a teaser trailer could mean for the final product.

Be sure to check back on Movies.com after the VMAs for a round-up report on the fan site community’s reaction to the film’s first trailer. And, if you’re interested in getting your Hunger Games teaser trailer experience out to the public, TheHob.org is here to help. They want you to record yourself watching the teaser trailer, upload the video to YouTube and send it in for a chance to be featured on their site. Considering how giddy I got at the end of that video, I will not be participating as I’d like to bet my reaction might be a bit on the embarrassing side. But, if you’ve got the guts, more power to you! You can find all the details right here.

You can also get involved in the Hunger Games fan community through the Fireside Chat and Panem Radio. In honor of the one-year anniversary of Mockingjay, two polls have gone up, one on the Fireside Chat Facebook page and the other on the Panem Radio Facebook page, allowing you to vote for your favorite Mockingjay moment and the most heartbreaking Mockingjay moment. On top of that, they're looking for written or audio submissions from fans recalling where they were when Mockingjay hit stands at midnight last year. And that's not all: the Fireside Chat and Panem Radio are also giving away some free swag, too! Keep an eye on their Facebook pages for all the details.

John LyderInterview with Mainstay Productions Director John Lyde

If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games, I’d like to bet you’ve caught Mainstay Productions’ Katniss & Rue, The Second Quarter Quell or maybe even the Katniss and Peeta chemistry screen test. A reason I think it’s safe to make that generalization? Katniss & Rue has over a million hits on YouTube. Clearly director John Lyde and his team are doing something right when it comes to bringing Suzanne Collins’ beloved books and characters to life. While we wait to see if Gary Ross is capable of doing the same on Sunday night, Lyde’s work certainly has the power to hold you over.

Lyde’s been making films ever since he was just 12-years-old, working with a mere camcorder and two VCRs to shoot and edit his pieces. After spending some time sending scripts out and trying to get a few projects off the ground, Lyde decided it was time to take matters into his own hands and make films on his own terms. Lyde explained, “A couple of years ago, I just found people that I really liked working with, so we formed our company, Mainstay.”

Mainstay worked on the films Minor Details and You’re So Cupid!, both of which feature actress Danielle Chuchran. It was Chuchran that compelled Lyde to bring a portion of The Hunger Games to life in a short film so that Chuchran could use that video as an audition tape for the role of Katniss Everdeen in the feature. Clearly Chuchran didn’t get the role, but Lyde proudly explained that she did get to meet with Ross and was told she made it to the final five.

While she didn’t snag the coveted lead role, that didn’t put an end to Lyde’s Hunger Games efforts. Just recently he released his second completed short, The Second Quarter Quell, and he’s got plans to make not just another short, but a series of seven. Read all about that -- as well as Lyde’s take on the feature film -- in the interview below.

Movies.com: What does it entail to produce one of these shorts? From what I see, I’d imagine a lot of resources need to go into making something like this.

John Lyde: It’s more just mental preparation. For the first one, I read the scene in the morning and then I read the part in the book with Katniss and Rue, and I’m like, ‘That would be probably the best scene to do.’ So I went out, I was on a morning run listening to Linkin Park, and the two songs that I used in the short were two of the songs that I was listening to, and so I just started having all these different images in my mind of how to tell that short. And so then with my kids, we just went on drives around the mountains looking for a good place to film, which we found and then I called Danielle [Chuchran ] up and asked her and Savanna [Kylie Lewis] if they wanted to do it. The hardest part of all of it was finding a bow and arrow. We never could find a silver one. [Laughs] So that took a while to find one that we had access to, but my buddies, they were all for it. We had a free Saturday to do it and so we shot it all in one day.

Danielle Chuchran

Movies.com: What did you shoot on?

JL: We shot on four different cameras. We shot on the GoPro for just a couple shots and then there was the Sony EX1, which I have, and then we had a RED and then a Canon T2i that my buddy had. We wanted to shoot the majority of it on the RED, but then the power switch had a fault with it; at lunch time it wouldn’t turn back on and so we had to shoot the rest of it just on the Sony EX1.

Movies.com: How is it for you making a short that you’re adapting from a book? Does it pose any particular hurdles?

JL: To me, I don’t know if there’s any hurdles. I knew that Rue was the wrong skin color. We had certain technical things wrong like the bow or like the wardrobe, but as far as taking all the lines straight from the book, I thought the book worked so well that it was pretty straight forward in the scene. There wasn’t too detailed of a script; it was pretty much just the book.

Movies.com: A lot of fans are rightfully worried about certain parts not being represented properly in the feature. But, then again, this is a different medium. Did you consider that when working on your shorts?

JL: Well, I know just from YouTube comments I think Rue not being black was the biggest complaint, so I made sure in the video description to put a disclaimer from the very start. It was funny because the fans are so adamant about things and so we got lots of comments about the wardrobe, how everyone was supposed to be wearing the same thing and that was incorrect. I think people are going to be in for quite a bit of a surprise when they see the actual movie. I think the core of it will all be there, but it’ll be quite different from the book.

Movies.com: As a director, how would you approach that if you were working on the feature? Where do you draw the line between sticking to the source material and making it an effective film?

JL: I think what Gary Ross is doing is really smart because he’s involved Suzanne Collins from the very beginning and since she’s written screenplays before, I think she understands things have to change. I remember reading one article where she said she wrote one draft of the script and, after, Gary Ross came in and re-wrote it. She was really happy with where he took it because it worked as a script instead of just a book. I think with shorts it works because I took a two-page scene and made it ten minutes whereas they have to take the whole book and make it less than two hours, so it’s not gonna have every scene in there. The one script I read, I’m not sure if it’s the shooting script, but the scene where they sing to Rue is shorter. She only sings like one verse.

Gary Ross on the Set of The Hunger Games

Movies.com: This is in the feature film? You got to read that script?

JL: I don’t know which version it is. I don’t know if it’s the shooting script, if it was the old version before Gary Ross wrote. It’s the version where Gale goes to the Capitol with Haymitch.

Movies.com:  Wow, that’s a pretty big change! Was there anything else so glaringly different?

JL: No, that’s the biggest one. I don’t know if it’s the old one, before Gary Ross came on or not, but we’ll see. [Laughs]

Movies.com: So, how are you feeling about Steven Soderbergh’s involvement?

JL: Well, I think what they’re doing that for, I think they want him to direct the second one.

Movies.com: That’s actually a thought I haven’t heard, but that makes a lot of sense.

JL: Here’s two things: one, Lionsgate is really concerned about the dailies that Gary Ross is bringing in, so they brought in another director to help him make things better. So that’s one possibility. The other one is that, because they already have a release date for the second one, they could be shooting some stuff right now for the second one.

Movies.com:  That makes a lot of sense from a production standpoint.

JL: Yeah. If you look at what they do for the Twilight films, is they try to bring in a bigger director for each subsequent one, so it makes sense that they would try to get someone like Soderbergh to do the second one.

John Lyde on the Set of Katniss & Rue

Movies.com: As for the future of your Hunger Games films, do you have any plans for additional shorts? Any specific scenes in mind?

JL: Yeah. We had a whole bunch of e-mails where people said to do stuff with Gale or with Peeta and Katniss and I’m like, well I don’t want to do anything that has actually been cast because we wouldn’t be able to compare with it and so I was like, ‘Why don’t we do something original?’ I was planning on doing Finnick and Annie, something when they were younger, so something original that leads to the book, but that’s not in the book. I shared that with the staff at DownWithTheCaptiol.net and one of them is a writer and she’s like, ‘Hey, do you mind if I take a crack at it?’ I just gave her a one paragraph thing of what I was thinking and she came back with a whole bunch of pages that I thought were great, so we ended up taking it and dividing it into like seven short stories that are about anywhere from three to five minutes long. They basically go through this relationship between Finnick and Annie, when they were young, like around 9-years-old, up until right after Annie comes back from the Hunger Games and she’s starting to go crazy.

Movies.com: Sounds like you’ve got a web series on the way!

JL: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is; it’s gonna be a web series. It’ll be fairly simple to shoot because the locations are really simple and I want to do something different than the other Hunger Games stuff that was violent; I wanted to do something that didn’t have any violence, but you saw the effects of what the violence did. It starts out where you see them both young and innocent and then you see what happens when Finnick gets back from the games and then also what happens when Annie gets back from the games.

Movies.com: Do you know when you’re going to start shooting?

JL: We almost were gonna film the first one this weekend, but then we ran into some casting issues with soccer games. [Laughs]

Casting issues aside, Lyde plans to shoot within the next month and a half and hopes to begin releasing this new series in November.

The Hunger Games Countdown runs here on Movies.com every other Wednesday. There are 211 days until release.

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