The 'Real Story' Behind Soderbergh on 'Hunger Games' Fully Revealed
A few weeks ago, news started to hit that Oscar winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh was helping out his friend, director Gary Ross, working as second unit director on The Hunger Games adaptation in the works. It was intriguing news because Soderbergh is quite a big name and yet was working second unit on a film that most don't even care about. Now we have an update, as Moviefone spoke directly with Soderbergh and learned he was just helping Ross for only a couple of days early on. "'Why is he here? What's going on? Is the movie in trouble? Is he directing footage from the second one?' All of this crazy-ass speculation."
As always, most Hollywood news tidbits get overblown, and little stories like this get made into much more exciting stories than they should be. It all started because Soderbergh showed up on set, and various crew started tweeting about his appearance, which was kindling for the rumor mill until The Playlist confirmed his involvement. So then what is the real story behind all of this? Soderbergh himself explains it all:
"Back in April, [The Hunger Games director] Gary [Ross] -- who is a close friend of mine [and] I've exchanged creative favors with non-stop over the last 15 years -- when he got the boards for the shoot … called me and said, 'Hey, first week of August, I got these two days of second unit, Is there any way you can come down and help me out? Because I'd rather have you do it than hire somebody who I don't know,' " Soderbergh recalled. "I said, 'Actually, that works out.' We'll just be finishing Contagion and prepping Magic Mike, and yeah, it could be fun."
And that's that. Sodebergh came down and helped out for a few days, also reiterating that he isn't adding any of his own style, of course, since that's not a second unit director's job. His "duty" was to "come in and duplicate exactly what Gary and [cinematographer] Tom Stern … are doing, to mimic as closely as I can to their aesthetic." He adds, "if I've done my job properly … by design, you won't be able to tell what I did because it's supposed to cut seamlessly into what they're doing." Sounds about right; I'm surprised anyone thought otherwise. It might be because most don't seem to know what exactly a second unit director does.
Let's toss in some explanation for those who don't know (via Wikipedia). The second unit is a team that shoots subsidiary footage for a motion picture. Its work is distinct from that of the first unit, which shoots all scenes involving principal actors. Second unit footage typically includes establishing shots, close-ups, inserts, and cutaways. I was excited to see that Soderbergh, one of my favorite filmmakers, was helping out, but I wasn't expecting this to have any impact on the film itself. Lionsgate has The Hunger Games scheduled for release on March 23rd, 2012 early next year and just debuted the first teaser trailer earlier this week.