A few weeks ago, Steven Soderbergh showed up on the North Carolina set of next year's very much anticipated film, 'The Hunger Games.' After a 'Hunger Games' crewmember "outed" Soderbergh's presence on Twitter (the Tweet was quickly deleted), the Internet went wild with speculation: Was 'The Hunger Games' director Gary Ross in trouble? Was Soderbergh taking over? Was he shooting second unit? Why would Soderbergh only be there to shoot on second unit? Was Soderbergh shooting the sequel?
Moviefone spoke to Soderbergh just this afternoon to discuss his new film, 'Contagion' (the full interview will publish next week). But he also took the time to tell us the full story of why, exactly, Steven Soderbergh was on the set of 'The Hunger Games.' So, in Steven Soderbergh's own words...
I show up in North Carolina, a crewmember Tweets, "Steven Soderbergh's here." And immediately the f*cking firestorm starts. "Why is he here? What's going on? Is the movie in trouble? Is he directing footage from the second one?" All of this crazy-ass speculation. People just spinning off.
The story is really simple. Back in April, [director] Gary [Ross] -- who is a close friend of mine I've exchanged creative favors with non-stop over the last 15 years -- when he got the boards for the shoot in April called me and said, "Hey, first week of August, I got these two days of second unit. Is there any way you can come down and help me out? Because I'd rather have you do it than hire somebody who I don't know." I said, "Actually, that works out." We'll just be finishing 'Contagion' and prepping 'Magic Mike' and, yeah, it could be fun.
Cut to two months later, and I show up to do this thing. Of course the whole design of it and what's fun about it, for me, is my job is to come in and duplicate exactly what Gary and Tom Stern, the [cinematographer], are doing. To mimic as closely as I can to their aesthetic. And that's what I attempted to do. But if I've done my job properly, I hope I did, by design, you won't be able to tell what I did. Because it's supposed to cut seamlessly into what they're doing. That's the whole point. That's why he asked me to come down, because he knew that I would be rigorous about matching what they were doing.
You know, he showed me stuff on either side of the area in which I was going to be shooting stuff and we talked at length. And I thought, OK, I see what you guys are doing. I know what the tool kit is. I know what the rules are. And it's fun in a way. I found it much more nerve-wracking than when you're shooting for yourself. Because I was constantly thinking, Oh, I hope that he likes this. I hope he likes that.
Did Soderbergh feel an excitement that he had not felt in some time?
Yeah! Well, first of all it was film, which I totally forgot existed. So that was new. And, yeah, I mean I was really back to that situation of being the person who has to please someone else – as opposed to pleasing myself. And that made me really anxious. You know, I wanted to do a good job... Gary is a friend of mine.
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.
Follow Moviefone on Twitter.