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Hungry for Experience

Film students get their big break working behind the scenes on “The Hunger Games”

By Rita Larkin

Jizi

Student Anna Brown '12 and Miriam Alison '11, seen right, on set with other members of "The Hunger Games" camera crew.

WHILE MOST FOLKS in Asheville were hoping for a celebrity sighting of Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci or Lenny Kravitz as the actors were in the area filming “The Hunger Games,” a group of Mass Communication majors were staying mum about secret shooting locales and getting their big break behind the cameras.

In May, lecturer Anne Slatton, also head of the 48 Hour Film Project team, was con­tacted by a UNC Asheville alum and told filming was to start soon and interns were needed.

Based on the eponymous book by Suzanne Collins, which is set in post-apocalyptic country of Panem, the film made use of the lush, isolated forests of Western North Carolina.

Slatton quickly organized a summer course that would allow the students to receive class credit while gaining the experience of being on a multimillion-dollar production. Eight students, including seniors and recent alumni, signed up and worked with camera crews, the props and art depart­ments, makeup, and editorial team. Their responsi­bilities involved everything from lighting flam­ing arrows and constructing fake boulders to running monitor cables for directors.

Student Film Wins Award

UNC Asheville's team, which featured some of Slatton's students and alumni, recently won Best Film at Asheville's 48 Hour Film Project. At 7 p.m. Friday, a mandatory prop, character, and line of dialog was announced, and each team had just 48 hours to incorporate them into a finished seven-minute film.

Intern Miriam Allison, who graduated in May 2011, prepared slates, packed equipment carts with lenses, film stock, batteries, and other equipment, then pushed or backpacked the heavy loads out into the wooded locales as far as she could. The days were long— sometimes 15 hours—but the experience was worth it. “Once you proved you weren’t there to look at celebrities, they trusted you,” she says. “They welcomed questions and taught us specifics. I love those guys.”
As the intern coordinator, Slatton checked on the students during the filming and watched them become comfortable in their roles. When they started, “they felt prepared though a little terri­fied. They quickly found out how to do their jobs.”

The gig went so well for many that they stayed on as paid employees after the semester, and were offered help in find­ing jobs if they moved to Los Angeles. Slatton was a little worried a few students would head west before complet­ing their degrees, but they were all back in class this fall. As for Allison, she’s moved on to a part-time posi­tion making “The Healer,” which is being filmed in Hendersonville.

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