Saturday, February 13, 2016

Secret director behind The Hunger Games

Steven Soderbergh, prolific filmmaker of "Contagion," "Haywire," "Oceans Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen," helps out on the record-breaking first installment of "The Hunger Games."

Secret director behind The Hunger Games


Was Steven Soderbergh’s latest release really a box office flop?  Well, yes, if you’re talking about Haywire, the globe-hopping hitwoman thriller starring mixed martial arts goddess Gina Carano that came and went early this year.  But not if you’re talking the record-breaking mega-hit The Hunger Games.

True, director Gary Ross was the man in charge of the first installment of the adaptation of Suzanne Collins dystopian Young Adult book trilogy, but Soderbergh’s name is there on the credits (way down, as Second Unit Director). And, indeed, he was way down there -- in North Carolina, last year -- shooting a key sequence of the Jennifer Lawrence-starring tale of a deadly competition between a gaggle of post-apocalytic teens.

“It ‘s the riot scene, where this little town goes beserk,” Soderbergh says, referring to the pivotal point in The Hunger Games where the Appalachian have-nots of District 12 go wild in the streets, protesting the edicts of the power elite in The Capitol. “It’s supposed to be Battle of Algiers time, and so that was a style that I hadn’t employed on one of my own films in a long time.”

Soderbergh, busy on his own slate of films, took the two-day job as a favor to Ross, an old friend.

“He’s one of the people I show everything to, in various stages, to get feedback and ideas, and he’s always been willing to roll up the sleeves and help me fix things," he explains. "And so back in March of last year when he called me and he said `I’ve got two days of second unit in August, is there any way you can come down and do this?’ … I said, `Yeah, it sounds like fun.’”

Soderbergh, who does double-duty as cinematographer on all of his films (pseudonymously,  as Peter Andrews), said that the experience was both “a blast” and the cause of considerable anxiety.

“If I’m shooting something for myself, I know when I’ve got it by my definition, but here I’m trying to help my friend out and I was really worried — like, I hope this is what he wants! He showed me enough footage for me to understand what the aesthetic was, but I was worried — in the car going back to the airport I thought of two shots I could have gotten but didn’t.”

Next up for Soderbergh, who still says he’s retiring from the business in 2013, is Magic Mike, his Channing Tatum male stripper movie, then Behind the Candelabra, his Liberace movie, and then Side Effects, a psychopharmacological thriller with Tatum again, and Rooney Mara, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones.  

Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
Latest Videos:
Also on
letter icon Newsletter