Francis Lawrence talks about how he became the director of three Hunger Games films incrementally and the gigantic amount of work that went in to making Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part 1 and Mockingjay Part 2 – for one period in 2013, all at the same time. Juggling post-production, promotion and pre-production for two further films? Now, that’s impressive. He discussues the stories he is drawn to that just happen to be big stories; he is always attracted to world building and lone characters in large landcapes from Katniss in Panem to Robert Neville in an empty New York. He reminisces about wanting to be a director when he was a kid, rediscovering his ambition in high school after watching Citizen Kane and Battleship Potemkin and working his way up through the ranks of the crew to director. He talks about signing on to Catching Fire and not feeling bound by the first installment because there was so much creation from the second novel up for grabs for him to sink his teeth into including the characters’ vast changes and growth throughout the series.
And finally, music to fans’ ears, Francis has always maintained that he wanted to make the book on film rather than reinvent the story. He confesses that perhaps looking back the studio would have preferred the final films to be livelier, funnier and a little more entertaining. However his goal to stay truthful to the books won out and he talks of how the audience dwindled due to the increasing darkness and tonal shift after Catching Fire.
I think we can speak for every fan when we say thank you, Francis! I always presumed going in, way back in 2011, that it was impossible for big budget cinema to stick to Suzanne Collins’ template but they managed to hold on and see it through. Thankfully they did because this story was too important to lighten and I am still a little in awe that all four films retained the bleakness and truthfulness of the novels.