In order to score spots in the prestigious fan camp area of the Hunger Games: Catching Fire red carpet, I, along with the rest of the staff of Welcome to District 12, stayed two nights on Chick Hearn Ct. outside of the Nokia Theatre in LA Live.
Saturday started at 5:30AM, leaving early to make it to our 8:30 check in time with all of our stuff.
Our fansite friends, including fellow Victor’s Village staff members The Girl With The Pearl and Them There Eyes, arrived soon.
Good thing too since Willow Shields and Stephanie Leigh Schlund came to sign posters for fans.
There was also that Kindle Fire booth from the mall tour where we could take our pictures with Katniss.
After grabbing dinner, everyone took their camping chairs and blankets from the camping area to the square to watch the first Hunger Games movie. It was a pretty cool way to watch this movie we’ve seen so many times, considering it was a Saturday night and they were playing the movie in the midst of people heading to clubs and fancy restaurants.
The next day proved to be a big one, with even more Catching Fire people coming to sign posters for fans. We got to meet Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Josh Hutcherson, and Francis Lawrence, who are all awesome.
Throughout the day, the KIIS FM booth ran contests and giveaways, even a scavenger hunt that cause a kid to run up to us frantically asking for a belt (we thought at first he was trying to sell us one). The day ended with a dinner with the fansite runners that was delicious and fun.
At 5 AM the next day, we were all woken up by security to pack up and vacate at 6AM so they could set up completely for the red carpet later that day. Overall, the weekend was a lot of fun, and I would definitely camp again. It was great to be with the fans and to bond with others excited about The Hunger Games.
We won’t talk about the movie! We won’t talk about the movie! Won’t talk about it! Won’t! But OH MY GOODNESS, WE WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE MOVIE. Some of you are seeing it right now (!!!!!!!!) and others are on their way to the theater soon, so we’ll keep our mouths zipped until then!
So let’s talk about something awesome, but also less spoiler-y. We attended the freaking Catching Fire premiere!
The title quote came from a teenage boy we encountered while walking from our hotel to Nokia LA Live, where Catching Fire Fan Camp was held, in our Victor’s Village t-shirts. We were less than a mile away, but apparently if you’re less than a few blocks away, you’re in an interesting section of town! Who knew? However, it may have been worth it for that quote!
Without getting into too much detail (because other VV writers will later), Fan Camp was a blast! I met both Them There Eyes and Twiffidy, along with several other fansite friends, for the very first time and all of them were incredibly fun! It feels so good to geek out with others who understand what it’s all about.
And then… PREMIERE DAY!
Let’s preface this by reminding everyone that I am from Boston. The city may get referred to as “Hollywood East” thanks to all the recent filming in the area, but what happened on November 18 felt just about as far from my hometown state-of-mind as I could get.
For starters, we had our own prep team! We headed to Capella Salon in Studio City, where Tate, Brendan, and Tina, the very talented friends of Amie and Sheila from HG Girl on Fire, made us premiere ready. It was all very Capitol, which I chose to embrace it for the day and just allow myself to get girly! Mostly because it’s kind of nice to have someone mold your unruly hair into perfection and then declare it “so Hunger Games.” I HAVE MY WEAKNESSES.
This was quickly followed by that dress I begged my fashionable friend to help me shop for before leaving and my killer red heels– No seriously, when I woke up to catch my flight home on Wednesday, I was pretty certain I would being losing my right foot in the name of the Catching Fire premiere.
We were asked to take part in the Yahoo! Catching Fire livestream, which seemed really cool even though we didn’t quite know what it entailed. Turns out not having your phone on the red carpet for security purposes and not knowing exactly where to meet Lionsgate reps to go on air don’t mix well, but after half-running around a building in said killer heels, we made it into the red carpet! There’s I proceeded to do the “I don’t know what to do with my hands” dance in front of an international audience at about the 7 minute mark. The questions were mostly what I expected them to be, which is pretty simplistic as to not be spoiler-filled. It’s hard not to look like a vapid fangirl when answering those types of questions, but we pulled it off okay!
SKIPPING THE MOVIE. Because because because I have to. I’m doing this for your own good!
The after party. It was something out of this world. Them There Eyes always says “If you’re going to go Capitol, GO CAPITOL.” Well, they listened. The party took place in a giant tent with the Mockingjay symbol lit up on top. The entrance was a red carpet surrounded by timpani drummers like those used during the Tribute Parade scene. Lights shined down and danced around the room. White roses floated in massive glass columns and lined the walls in fancy bouquets. For a better visual, check out this video!
I spent most of the after party gawking alongside Arianna and Aldrin of Down With The Capitol. At one point, we realized we were a few feet away from Francis Lawrence. We wanted to thank him, but there’s this funny thing in Hollywood where almost everyone but us had no real problem interrupting his previous conversation to grab him and start a new one. We literally stood two feet from Francis for about 20 minutes before getting a chance to say something without completely interrupting a previous conversation, which could have been with studio reps, for all we know. We thanked him for the what he did with the movie (we think we will too, once you see it!) and he seemed so genuinely pleased to hear we liked it, which was brilliant.
Also stopping to have a brief chat with Francis was Alan Ritchson. To confirm all your suspicions: Yes. He is, in fact, a real life Ken doll. It’s like he’s right out of Life-Size, guys!
We caught Bruno Gunn by the bar, where he was drinking water and I was drinking liquid courage. He talked to us about loving the books and why he chooses to be so active among the fans. It comes down to this: This man really recognizes what a wonderful, unique experience this is and he wants to delve into every moment of it. He was so enthusiastic about the fan base that it kind of blew my mind. It’s not something you see everyday.
Then we saw the crowd. There were two couches forming a circle and in the middle of it all, Sam Claflin. But not just Sam! He was accompanied by Stef Dawson, who will play Annie in the Mockingjay films! For the record, Stef is so small and adorable. She looks so young that I maaaaaay have mistaken her for some rich execs’ little daughter at first. Shhhhhh! But she was just about the sweetest thing ever and now we’re even more excited to see her in Mockingjay!
It took a lot of patience, but eventually we were able to snap a photo with them and talk. Poor Sam was obviously exhausted, but he handled the social aspects like a champ: Talking about the movie, giving love to the fanbase on behalf of the whole cast and telling us how bummed he was that we couldn’t meet the other leads (who were whisked away to promotional gigs on the other side of the country almost immediately after finishing with the red carpet). He joked about not being hot enough, to which Amie calmly replied “I’m going to give you a minute to take that back.” I admitted to him that some parts of the movie had me physically shaking (a bit embarrassing, in hindsight) and he cheered “Then we did our job!”
We know that celebrities are just people, but they’re people who don’t normally talk to me. So it was really freaking cool and also surprisingly intimidating, even though they’re all really nice.
We didn’t find out until after the fact that Suzanne Collins was also in attendance. From wherever you are reading this right now, you can probably hear our hearts breaking into a thousand tiny pieces. She’s the one person we REALLY need to thank, since she inspired all this from the very beginning. We think she already knows, though.
We get jaded about the fandom sometimes, we’ll admit it! It’s not perfect, for sure, but we are so damn lucky to be a part of it. Not just because of “perks” like these, but because the fansites were able to share it all together. This fandom has so many amazing people in it. Some of them are (semi) untouchable actors, sure. But some of them are you and I.
Thanks For Always Making This Worth It,
The Girl With The Pearl
P.S. There’s a couple more after party photos under the cut!
Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch Clip
Facebook Live Event
Jennifer Lawrence and Francis Lawrence Tumblr Chat
Know what’s awesome? Global Fan Day. Know what’s not awesome? Yeah, having to work during the entirety of Global Fan Day, feeling like a jerk, taking out your phone to check on things, but then realizing your data plan won’t cover the chats, hangouts, and whatever else went on– because that’s just how the cookie crumbles. Also, I’m outside pretty much 90% of the time during my earning hours, and well, it’s raining right now, so, do the math!
I’m sure it was an awesome, fantastic, amazing good time, but little ol’ me didn’t get home until almost 9pm, and then frankly all I wanted to do was waste time on Pinterest, catch up with friends, and um– eat food finally, also put on my jammies. That’s right folks, this article was written while I was in my jammies! That’s okay, I’m sure we’ve all done it, some of us have probably even tweeted whilst naked.
Anyway, I was able to catch up on some of the happenings today, and while none of the stuff was live for me it was still enjoyable. I liked the Google Hangout, Jen was on as usual, teasing Josh like crazy, and forgetting about Liam’s most intense scenes (the whipping scene). However, it’s got to be said– there was a lot of repeating going on throughout the day, mostly because there are only so many original questions to be asked, and so many original answers that could be said– and no, that’s not a dig. However, there were still some valuable tid-bits that were revealed, like that Katniss’ bow was custom made, and worth $8,000, also that Jen nearly lost it. That parts of the film were also likely used in Jurassic Park, that the CGI monkey’s are top of the line, and that the sounds are based on Howler Monkey’s, and that Liam just seems like a very quiet, thoughtful guy. Oh, also that Josh Hutcherson needs to probably do a dance movie!
Dance movie, Josh Hutcherson, NOW!
Them There Eyes
Ah, finally. Cast interviews and press tour goings-on have started trickling onto the Internet, and it’s been worth the wait. Already, we have some fairly hilarious videos. Not that I’m complaining, but when did junket interviews start including playing games? Here are a couple revelations from what we’ve seen so far.
1) Jena Malone and Sam Claflin are the other Dream Team.
We got our first taste of this during the Fansite Roundtable interview with the two of them, but that’s not just a one time thing. They seem to have fun during their interviews together and can play off each other well. It kind of makes you expect to see that off-screen chemistry to translate to an interesting dynamic on-screen. And we know that if Jennifer and Josh are understandably busy, they can at least send Sam and Jena to keep us entertained in their stead.
2) Interview games tend to include white boards and vague rules.
Here, write your answer on this white board! Why? I don’t know, just do it.
What’s the point of having teams if everyone is just showing their answer? It doesn’t matter, just go with it, it’s fun.
3. Francis Lawrence likes to talk a lot.
And thank heaven for that! For me, I like going into movies knowing very little, but Hunger Games fans are big worriers. Just hearing Francis Lawrence acknowledge some of our favorite, small moments from the book and indicating that those little things are in the movie gives me great hope, without completely ruining it. Describing Peeta’s touching speech in District 11 gave me a lot of feelings, and it’s nice to hear finally speak about Sam and Jena make the perfect Finnick and Johanna.
Is he a pirate? Is he flirting with Josh Horowitz? Either way, it’s great to hear from him.
4. And here’s the biggest revelation of all… The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is just around the corner! With interviews coming out, that’s the sure sign that we are almost there! Can you taste it?
Reduced to watching videos on my phone during breaks at work while coworkers look at me funny
Watch out guys. In a recent interview, Francis Lawrence dropped the biggest news (to me, anyway) regarding The Hunger Games: Catching Fire that we’ve had in a while.
Will this one have better CGI?
Uh, yeah. I think the effects are phenomenal. If you know the book, there’s a monkey-mutt attack, and Weta, who did Rise of the Planet of the Apes and King Kong, did the monkeys for us.
WHOA! Hold up.
Weta refers to Weta Digital, a digital effects company co-founded by Peter Jackson, which is known for developing and utilizing ground-breaking technology and has done prestigious, award-winning visual effects work for so many movies, including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, The Avengers, Avatar, Iron Man 3, King Kong, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and so many others.
Wait a second.
Are you telling me… that the monkey-mutts were done by a company who has done visual effects for movies that specifically require CGI monkeys and apes?
One criticism that was often heard among fans and non-fans alike is that The Hunger Games was a bit lacking on the visual effects side. Which, if you ask me, is all down to money. The budget for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire allows for a world-renowned visual effects company to step in and handle the CGI.
This news has made me a bit too excited about Catching Fire coming out. You know that the arena will be hidden from us for as long as Lionsgate can allow it, and I’m dying to know if my “just you wait for Catching Fire”‘s that I doled out to the skeptical masses have been proven right.
So be excited, guys! They’ll most likely not be as bad as the dog-mutts.
Did Andy Serkis mocap for the lead monkey-mutt for this too?
Yesterday we got a bevy of new promotional material for Catching Fire, Twiffidy did the honors of regaling us with her adoration for the four Entertainment Weekly covers (available at newsstands this Friday!) featuring some of our favorite Hunger Games characters, and some of our least– that all depends on your own personal taste. However, yesterday along with the amazing, stupendous, shiny, new EW cover reveals, we also got a behind the scenes featurette, which sadly isn’t even a word, but that’s not stopping people from continuing the usage of it. Any who my lovelies, the featurette was all about the amazingness known as IMAX.
Right, so if you were blissfully unaware of this already I hope it wasn’t jarring news to you, but portions of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was filmed in IMAX format. I like IMAX, it’s bigger, clearer, louder, but– it’s more often than not more expensive to buy a ticket and sit your butt down in a cinema showroom’s plush seat. Meh, I think we can deal, unless we plan on going and seeing the film a handful of times! Oh wait, we probably will! Oops. I highly recommend that many of us start budgeting for this frivolous, but totally and yes entirely necessary expensive. More on the featurette though, because it is also entirely necessary to discuss is it’s contents, just like the contents of the stomach contents of a murder victim. Well, it wasn’t very in depth, or very reveal-y, which is all good to me, I actually don’t want too much delved into in promotional material myself. Although what was revealed was the thematic and cinematic usage of the IMAX format to better enhance the depiction of the arena scenes. Erm, that means that the only portions of the film that are in IMAX format are the arena scenes. Know what I say to this? Huzzah! Me likes this choice, it’s what I hoped Francis Lawrence and his team would choose to use the IMAX format for, and the idea of its specific usage at the point in which Katniss enters the arena harkens back to a classic film from the year 1939 called The Wizard of Oz. Way back when that film was released the use of color film was brand new, and if you know anything about that film, you know that the color portion of it started the moment Dorothy entered the magical, scary, and dangerous world of Oz.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Totally.
Them There Eyes
Earlier this week, we talked about the new Entertainment Weekly article and how it wasn’t much of a shocker. Alas, we didn’t take in to account The Hunger Games fandom’s ability to OVERREACT LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW.
What about now? Francis Lawrence talked about “manning up” Peeta:
“We made some changes to Peeta’s narrative,” says [Francis] Lawrence. “We manned him up a little. And by the way it didn’t take a lot, just little choices to make here and there. The story doesn’t really change, his relationship with Katniss doesn’t change, he’s just a different kind of character.” For instance, in the book, the Hunger Games kicks off and Peeta is paralyzed when the other all-star tributes dive into the water. “The option is for either me drowning or sitting there like a cat batting my paw into the water,” says Josh Hutcherson with a laugh. “Either way the visual is horrible.” Easy fix: Let Peeta swim.
And suddenly Francis Lawrence, who fans were seemingly optimistic about until a few days ago, is nothing short of the devil. “HE’S DESTROYING OUR PEETA!” Nevermind that nobody is aware of the context in which Peeta is being “manned up” or in comparison to what other elements, or the fact that Lawrence stated that the changes were very minimal. And Frankie says he’s “a different kind of character”! As we all know, we should be taking ALL THE THINGS literally and Peeta will be totally unrecognizable now. right?!
Everyone seems to assume that Francis Lawrence is talking about toughening Peeta up from his role in the books because the example provided talks about him swimming, which he does not in the books. (P.S. Swimming means Peeta has an extra skill, not that he is all that equals manliness. We know plenty of people who would start and win a bar fight, but can’t swim well.) Yet we’re thinking no, mainly because Hunger Games Book!Peeta was much tougher than Movie!Peeta. Think about it!
We love that The Hunger Games characters subvert gender stereotypes in many instances, but something went awry in the first movie. In order to make Katniss look stronger, they made Peeta look helpless. The only time his strength is mentioned is when Katniss brings it up. The only time his strength is shown is when Katniss tells him to show it off. He’s a jittery mess when working with the Careers. He rarely talks back. That not how we recall Book!Peeta at all. So is working Movie!Peeta up to a level more on par with Book!Peeta really a bad thing?
We also seem to be forgetting that once the Quarter Quell is announced, both Peeta and Katniss become more emotionally callous. Peeta puts himself, Katniss, and Haymitch through his own version of Victor bootcamp. He becomes friendly with the other tributes in a way Katniss can’t, but he’s doing so on a strategic level. He’s facing down his death and he’s not taking it lightly. Why is it that when Peeta is described as getting tougher, everyone assumes they’re trying to make him into a testosterone-driven dickhead action hero instead of considering the natural freaking progression of his character?!
Peeta has strengths! Manly ones! He also has a great deal of sensitivity and charm that fans love. The idea that the progression of one somehow negates the other is downright stupid. He can be strong and skilled and artsy and still have deep feelings, just like in the books! Crazy, we know!
Personally, we’re looking forward to seeing how this plays out on the big screen.
The Mulan Reference In The Title Is Ill-Suited But We Don’t Even Care,
The Girl With The Pearl
We know, we know! Trailer reaction is coming SOON! Overtly fangirling in a long chat session takes time and planning! But in the meantime…
Admittedly, we’re not always a trusting or optimistic bunch here at Victor’s Village. We worry. We doubt. We bite off all our fingernails (Just me?) It’s only because we’re the type of parents who want the best for our baby, especially when they start hanging out with new kids who seem nice… but how do you really know until it’s too late? Did we mention that none of us have children?
When Francis Lawrence came on the scene. We worried. We watched his music videos, but they were music videos. How did we know he could handle a franchise on a much larger scale? And how did we know he cared about being faithful to the source material when I Am Legend was so different from the original book? This Francis Lawrence seemed like a nice, reliable young man, but appearances aren’t everything!
When the first stills and trailer came out, we began to believe in him a little more. Everything looked faithful to the book, the settings featured looked good and not all bathed in CGI, and there was a historical context being developed. Cautious optimism sprouted within us. The director has a vision and he’s acting upon it accordingly! Huzzah! … But the first trailer only focuses in a few key scenes. What if that vision turns out to suck when you see it all splayed out in full view?
The new trailer has changed out minds. There’s a mix of different scenes, different characters, action, thrills, and a freaking boatload of anticipation! Even the tiniest glimpses are jam-packed with emotion and style. Francis Lawrence’s vision is shining bright and we think we might be able to put him on our “List of People We Can Trust With The Hunger Games Franchise”.
If there was a fandom trust fall involved, we’re like 83% sure he would catch us.
Of course, we reserve the rights to the tiniest sliver of pessimism. We think we will love Catching Fire. All signs point to it! Of course, we could be horribly wrong. You’ve got us rooting for you now, Francis! You better deliver!
The Victor’s Village Stamp of Approval! ..It Doesn’t Get You That Far, But Hey!
The Girl With The Pearl