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Why 'The Hunger Games' Filmmakers Came to Austin With 'Mockingjay - Part 1'

Lionsgate Publicity
'Hunger Games' Director Francis Lawrence, right, with actress Julianne Moore.

The third film in the popular “Hunger Games” series hits theatres on Friday. To drum up anticipation for “Mockingjay Part-1," the filmmakers are traveling the globe for special premieres. So far they’ve been to London, L.A. and Austin. 

KUT sat down with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson to talk about the film and why they made a stop in Central Texas.

Nina Jacobson on Why They Stopped in Austin:

Credit Lionsgate Publicity
Producer Nina Jacobson on set of 'The Hunger Games.'

"Austin has a great, smart community of people who love movies and love to talk about them. And we've also had really good food."

Francis Lawrence on Austin as a Film Hub:

"If Texas would sort of compete with Louisiana and with Georgia and places like that then I think it would be a booming scene. But, the truth is, is that anybody can make movies anywhere. And so if you have great filmmakers, and Austin has great filmmakers, it's a place to be."

Nina on Splitting Book 3 Into 2 Films:

"We thought about this so much, and for me to imagine doing the third book as one movie, it would feel so rushed because, for people who've read the book, a lot of big things happen in this book. And to have time to explore the relationships and introduce some of our new characters and to explore the propaganda war ... We live in a time where these propaganda wars are raging all around us and we felt lucky to have a movie where we could actually spend a little time on that."

Credit Lionsgate Publicity
Lawrence with actor Liam Hemsworth.

Francis on Keeping Fans Interested:

"The only reason it was actually split into two stories, or the only reason we as filmmakers I think actually allowed it to be split into two stories, is that there were sort of two individual stories. In each half, Katniss has her own dramatic question, there's a set of themes we're exploring, she has her own character arc, her own objectives. So, because of that, Part 1 feels like a whole - but with the promise of more movie coming later. And so Part 2 has its own new objectives, a very different Katniss arc, a whole other set of themes that we're exploring. And so they feel like two distinct, stand-alone movies."

Nina on Julianne Moore as President Coin:

"That was one of the most interesting characters to develop because the books are told all from the point of view of Katniss. So you get her take on a character but you don't ever get to spend that much time with them if Katniss isn't in the scene. So, from the beginning, Julianne Moore had great ideas about Coin. Whereas the take of Katniss on the character in the books is that she seems very cold and tough, Julianne wanted to bring more warmth and dimension to the character."

Francis on the Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman:

"He was almost done, honestly, when he died. So he had two substantial scenes left to shoot - two scenes with dialogue - one for Part 1 and one for Part 2. We never even thought for a second we were going to try to digitally recreate him, so we re-wrote those scenes and gave his part to other actors. So Elizabeth [Banks] took a scene for Part 1 and Woody [Harrelson] took a scene for Part 2. So we just sort of changed the scenes around a little bit. I think the toughest thing for us, honestly, was not the sort of logistical side of the filmmaking. It was really the emotional side of carrying on and getting a groove back to the work after he died."

Nina on Hoffman:

"But, still, it takes my breath away every time I watch the film because, he does, he seems so alive."

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" hits theaters on Nov. 21.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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