A Peek Inside ‘The Hunger Games’ with Movie Producer Jon Kilik

Over on Publisher’s Weekly, local bookseller Elizabeth Bluemle has an account of the Q&A with Jon Kilik, one of the producers for the Hunger Games movie, from a session last weekend in Burlington:

We may live in a small state, but big things do happen here. On Sunday, we had the opportunity to sit in on a Q&A session with Hunger Games movie producer, Jon Kilik, who who addressed everything from why the Cornucopia is gray instead of gold to (sort of) why Peeta didn’t lose his leg.

Kilik graduated from the University of Vermont in the 1970s and still has strong ties to the community. He spoke to two groups of moviegoers at special ticketed showings at the Williston, Vt. Majestic 10 movie theater after the screenings. (To make the $20 ticket fee even more worthwhile, the event was a fundraising effort for the UVM Film and Television Studies Department, in memory of a beloved professor, Lucille Jarvis, and it raised about $5,000.)

Before the Q&A, we hadn’t realized just how impressive and varied is Mr. Kilik’s resume. He’s produced some of the most provocative, beautifully made, unconventional films of the past 25 years, including Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Dead Man Walking, Basquiat, Pleasantville, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Berlin, the upcoming The Comedian, and many more. He’s got nearly 40 films to his credit, from comedies to intense dramas to documentaries. His interest in telling true stories both faithfully and dramatically helps explain why The Hunger Games stays so close to the book. (Also helpful, of course, was Suzanne Collins’s role — she’s an industry veteran — as screenwriter and executive producer.)

What follows is as close a verbatim accounting of some of the questions and answers as my thumbs could manage on my iPhone. My fingers were flying! The audience members came up with some terrific questions, and I was impressed by Mr. Kilik’s thoughtful, good-humored responses. He was wonderful. I’ve paraphrased anything I wasn’t able to quote exactly, so you’ll be able to distinguish between what he actually said (in quotes) and what I took away from what he said (not in quotes). Often, he said much more during a response than I could capture. It was a treasure of an opportunity for someone who loves both books and film, and I’m still aglow at having been there.

For a more proper interview (and there are many out there!), check out this one in Vermont’s arts weekly, Seven Days.

Q: You’ve never made this kind of movie before [not sure if the questioner meant a movie for kids, or a dystopian action film]. Why did you decide to do this one?

Kilik: “I saw it as a future that we’re almost in today.” [He likened the story to life in high school, and spoke of its relevance to our society today.] “Although it takes place in the future, it’s not really science fiction. It’s allegory for our times. If it were just fantasy, I don’t think [the huge popular response to the story] would be the thing that it is today.”

Read the full interview over on the Publisher’s Weekly website.