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Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Second Unit Shooting On 'Hunger Games'

by Kevin Jagernauth
August 4, 2011 9:24 AM
28 Comments
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While retirement is still in the cards for Steven Soderbergh, the director moves to the beat of his own interests and impulses and if anything, his always-full calendar proves he likes to be occupied and on the move. But even with that said, we never could have guessed he would take on something like this.

Over the past day or so, Twitter has revealed that Steven Soderbergh has been spotted on the set of "The Hunger Games," the upcoming young adult book adaptation by Gary Ross. "Soderbergh in the house this weekend!!! very exciting!" tweeted production designer Eddie Mills, while electrician on the film Chrys Blackstone posted, "Holy shit! Just found out that Steven Soderbergh is coming to the #hungergames to direct 2nd Unit. I am so excited this is getting good!" Sources have confirmed with The Playlist that yes, Soderbergh is second unit directing on 'Hunger Games' but it's not quite as random and odd as you might think.

Ross and Soderbergh have actually been friends for years. Soderbergh produced "Pleasantville," while Ross has often taken a look at Soderbergh's scripts. Another connection comes in the shape of Phil Messina, a production designer on "The Hunger Games" who has also worked on Soderbergh's "Erin Brockovich," "Traffic," "Solaris," "The Good German," "Che: Part Two" and the 'Ocean's' trilogy. As for Soderbergh's participation on 'Hunger Games,' it was required no more than Ross asking for him to come aboard.

Considering how ridiculously tight the timeline is on the film -- it's due in theaters in just over seven months -- getting Soderbergh to help out is a smart choice. The director is already known to work very, very quickly. How fast? Earlier this year, Matt Damon recounted that during the "Contagion" shoot, Soderbergh would be editing the day's work into a final cut shape after filming had wrapped each day. "Steven would have his headphones on, sitting at his laptop. And in about 20 minutes he’d cut together the day’s work. ‘OK,’ he’d say, pull his headphones off and turn the computer around and show us, right there, what we’d shot that day and how it would look on the big screen when the movie comes out. THAT FAST. He’s a FREAK,” Damon said.

For Ross, who is moving very fast as it is, having someone on the ground who is a friend, who works quickly and who he knows will deliver what he needs will be a huge asset. We have to say, we pretty much didn't care at all about "The Hunger Games" until now. And yeah, we realize second unit work is not the kind of stuff that bears an auteur signature but at it least gives us something to pay attention to other than the Peeta/Gale/Katniss trifecta of swoony teen heartache or whatever. "The Hunger Games" opens on March 23, 2012. Meanwhile, Soderbergh will head to Venice later this month for the world premiere of "Contagion" before shooting the Channing Tatum-led male stripper pic, "Magic Mike," this fall.

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28 Comments

  • Jason | August 11, 2011 10:07 AMReply

    "Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.
    In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem,
    a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts.
    Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy
    and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate
    in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death - televised
    for all of Panem to see. "

    I don't see romance mentioned anywhere.

  • Xian | August 7, 2011 1:37 AMReply

    I can watch "Battle Royale" again... Same thing, less slick perhaps.

  • Zoe | August 5, 2011 10:36 AMReply

    The romance stuff is such a throw away element in these books. The focus is the Games, war and rebellion. However, unfortunately, Hollywood might take that element and run with it because they have something to sell.

  • Ariana | August 5, 2011 9:59 AMReply

    Even though I'm going to sound like another crazy Hunger Games fan, it really bothers me that the impression people who have not read the books are getting is that it's just another crappy book turned movie about a teen love tingle. The books are so much more then that. Yeah, there is romance, but it's truly not that prominent. The Hunger Games are no more about romance then the Harry Potter books/movies are. It's a dystopia. Yes, the romance is there, but the story really focuses on the struggles of a sixteen year girl who was forced to grow up and take care of her family at merely the age of 12 after her father died in a mine accident and her mother fell into a deep depression. Since she has been setting this high stander of strength and repressed feelings for herself, all of which are only furthermore put to the test when her younger sister is picked to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised tournament in which children between the ages of 12 and 18 are forced to fight to the death in a kill or be killed scenario, knowing that their families are back at home being forced to watch this all. The main character, Katniss, steps in to take her sisters place, no way believing that she will make it out alive. This then sets in motion a series of events that Katniss has almost no control over but is constantly trying to find her footing in. It's an amazing book that speaks of a lot about humanity and the physiological side of warfare. Not bad for a so called "Peeta/Gale/Katniss trifecta of swoony teen heartache", is it? :)

  • Jon | August 5, 2011 6:49 AMReply

    Question for the touchy Hunger Games fans: are you teens defending a favorite book or adults feeling defensive about reading something from the YA section?

    Genuine question considering how violent some of these reactions are.

  • Really? | August 5, 2011 5:27 AMReply

    Fuck you assholes! This book is hardly about romance. Do some damn research you morons.

  • Stephen B | August 5, 2011 4:00 AMReply

    Ed -- Twas a joke. The photoshop job is hilarious.

  • Stephen B | August 5, 2011 3:59 AMReply

    Anon -- I know. It was a joke.

  • Edward Davis | August 5, 2011 3:15 AMReply

    Major lol at the person who thought Soderbergh was standing in that shot, heh.

  • Dim | August 5, 2011 3:06 AMReply

    The Love Triangle is NON-EXISTENT in the first book and has some of it in the second book and by the third book, the romance is second to the war and the action. It's not another Twilight and it certainly will NOT be a movie with swoony teen heartache. As a fan of The Hunger Games, I say read the books before making judgments that are so incredulously stupid and uninformed, that anyone can tell you've never read the books. It was never intended to be firstly about romance. Just read the synopsis.

    But concerning the article, I'm very excited.

  • Jesse | August 5, 2011 2:56 AMReply

    I got a call to day from the set that they urgently need PA's. Too bad they didn't leave a phone number...

  • rodie | August 5, 2011 2:24 AMReply

    I absolutely love Soderbergh. Even his "failure" films are brave and creative in certain ways. He's one of the best working today and certainly the hardest working.

    There's going to be this terribly odd vacuum when he retires. . .But he's such restless creative, I'm hoping he's only away for 4-5 years and then comes roaring back. That's my guess anyway.

  • jm | August 5, 2011 1:13 AMReply

    The point is maybe you should read the books before you dismiss them as YA nonsense.

  • zozo | August 5, 2011 1:12 AMReply

    Btw, that's silly not sily.

  • zozo | August 5, 2011 1:11 AMReply

    Stephen King is right; "young adult" is right up there with airplane food and jumbo shrimp in the oxy moron hall of fame. It's a sily marketing term.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | August 5, 2011 1:04 AMReply

    If "Hunger Games" turns out to be as great as "To Kill A Mockingbird" we'll eat our shoes.

  • jm | August 5, 2011 1:03 AMReply

    I love how dismissive Indie Wire is about ANYTHING out of the YA section (because you know, if it isn't written for their age group 25 to 30 and up then it must be drivel)So I guess The Catcher in the Rye (about a teen) To Kill A Mockingbird (about young kids ) are crap as well?. The Hunger Games does NOT focus on a love triangle it focuses on war and it's affect on kids. The thing is you guys have not even read the books and you make assumptions about the quality and all that does is make you look like uninformed assholes. Essentially, until you read the books your opinions regarding the quality are meaningless.

  • Raix | August 4, 2011 12:37 PMReply

    "Swoony teen heartache"? e_e No. Just... no. *laughs** Didn't Do The Research. (Tv Tropes Will Ruin Your Vocabulary! :D) It's a dystopia, like The Giver, 1984, Divergent, etc...

  • JD | August 4, 2011 12:20 PMReply

    Soderbergh also shot second unit on Pleasantville. Gary Ross discusses this on the commentary... I think (listened to it about 12 years ago).

  • Finnick | August 4, 2011 12:01 PMReply

    And yeah, we realize second unit work is not the kind of stuff that bears an auteur signature but at it least gives us something to pay attention to other than the Peeta/Gale/Katniss trifecta of swoony teen heartache or whatever

    Haha fuck you. That's not what this book series is about. There's this thing called a library card. Get one, use it.

  • hank | August 4, 2011 11:59 AMReply

    he's not retiring, guys. c'mon.

  • danTriBeCa | August 4, 2011 11:37 AMReply

    i've never gotten when people dump on him..no other director is operating on his level..action/drama/comedy/musical/tentpole/documentary all within 2 years...?
    proof again he's awesome..
    what other oscar winning director just does that for a friend?

    --crickets---

  • Ray H | August 4, 2011 10:51 AMReply

    Also, Soderbergh is on the Seabiscuit commentary with Ross.

  • Catherine Scott | August 4, 2011 10:48 AMReply

    This is awesome.

  • Anon | August 4, 2011 10:48 AMReply

    @Stephen The Playlist photoshopped him into the picture.

  • Stephen B | August 4, 2011 10:40 AMReply

    Love the picture. You'd think a director/DOP would know better than to be standing right in the shot.

  • jimmiescoffee | August 4, 2011 9:33 AMReply

    Soderbergh.maybe the best living director. this is cool.

  • jon | August 4, 2011 9:31 AMReply

    crazy.

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