Homemade Hunger Games


Friday, March 23, 2012

This weekend, The Hunger Games opens, and it’s likely to be one of the year’s most successful movies. Based on the trilogy of dystopian young adult novels by Suzanne Collins, it’s about a teenage girl named Katniss Everdeen living in a future, totalitarian North America called Panem. Each year, the country’s impoverished 12 districts send two teenagers each to the Capitol for a spectacularly brutal ritual: a televised fight to the death, in which the victor brings home food and other aid. Children kill each other on national television — it’s Lord of the Flies meets Survivor.

First published in 2008, The Hunger Games lures readers in with a plucky female protagonist and a plot filled with political injustice, bloody hand-to-hand combat, and a love triangle. Some enthralled readers didn’t wait for Hollywood to put the book on screen: not long after it was published, fans started filming scenes and posting them on YouTube — there are hundreds of videos there now.

One of the most popular videos, with more than one million hits, is by a group of teens in Pittsburgh who call themselves Books2Film. Director Hannah Snyder, 15, wrote a script for the entire book with a friend: "We looked at it and we were like, 'Oh wait a minute. This is not practical.'" So Snyder and her friends started by filming a single dramatic scene.

Video: Books2Film's adaptation of The Hunger Games Feast Scene

Kim Shelby
, a graphic design student at Southern Utah University, spent eight months producing a trailer (for a film that didn't exist) as her senior project. The result belies the $300 budget. "Everyone was really into it,” she remembers. “How often do you get to kill people on a Saturday afternoon?"

Video: Kim Shelby's trailer for The Hunger Games

David Levithan
, one of the editors of The Hunger Games trilogy, loves these videos — and that they beat Hollywood to the punch. "Once the movie comes out, there's going to be an official screen version of what this story looks like,” he says. “I think it’s pretty awesome that hundreds of teenagers, and some adults, have gotten their vision out there first."

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Michele Siegel

Comments [7]

Robin from ri

Here's the link to our 30 minute parody (made with love):


Apr. 18 2012 11:50 AM

This is amazing. Both were outstanding considering it was done on less than a shoestring budget by youngsters with little experience. However, the second one is very polished.

Apr. 02 2012 10:01 AM

@Karen Offutt - I appreciate your concern about this, and share it in some ways... but it's important to know that the books are definitely NOT about "killing for fun." The characters are forced to fight and kill for survival by a totalitarian government, in order to entertain the wealthy.

Mar. 24 2012 07:15 PM
Karen Offutt from Baltimore, MD

It is sad and frightening that the most popular movie today among the young is about a game of killing people for fun. Whatever is running through their minds now will not be there when they experience the profound sadness of a loved one dying. Life is so precious that it is appalling to see it trivialized in the name of some kind of creative art. Karen Offutt

Mar. 24 2012 04:12 PM
Jacqui Sergio

While I appreciate discussion of the creative process which is, after all why I follow your show assiduously, I ask
please, please that you address the question of why such violent content increasingly attracts young people?
Obviously, PR for the books and the film are working their influence, but iIt is disturbing. I am a teacher who has worked extensively with artistic kids who have learning differences. Their interests matter deeply to me since they reflect a wider culture.

At this same moment, I thank you for the beautiful conversation with Willem DeFoe, so gifted and genuine a professional. Simply to hear his voice coupled with your incisive questioning was a pleasure this morning.

Mar. 24 2012 07:55 AM

Propaganda, "Dream Within a Dream" on the subj of dystopian music and one of my favorite bands from the 80s video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUlDnfZUtbI&feature=related

Mar. 23 2012 02:30 PM
C Miranda from NYC

Whoa. Just found my new time-suck.

Mar. 23 2012 12:33 PM

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