Many, many years ago I used to be a theater kid. I still am if we’re going to be honest, but not to the degree that young teenage me was. I had my favorite musicals and my favorite musicals with my all time love being Spring Awakening. I could honestly write an auto-biography on how the show affected me but I’ll focus on the one tiny piece that opened a whole new world for me; John Gallagher Jr.
He played Moritz in the original production and is the one who introduced me to the world of The Hunger Games. He talked about them on Twitter once way back before a movie was even an idea to Hollywood and being the impressionable youth I was, I was hooked immediately. So I got the first book from the my library and actually never read it. I have a really bad attention span, so it wasn’t until about a year later that I would actually pick up the book and read it through. And that’s where that spark of interest turned into a full blown obsession.
I read the entire trilogy in a few days which says something about those books because a.) I have a horrible attention span and b.) I’m an awfully slow reader. But I read each one, fell in love with the world, and managed to fall in love with all the characters as well.
Katniss inspired me, Peeta was a bit too relatable at times, Gale seemed like one of my old friends while seeing myself in him at the same time. I also fell in love with the political side of it all; the parallels between these books an our actual state of the world was undeniable. In other words, I was a huge ball of emotions. As I’m sure you can tell.
These books are so cleverly written that I could go on all day about them, but I thought I’d share how my love for these books went beyond the pages and into my real life. How the films would soon would bring many exciting things into my life. And how The Hunger Games would change my life. Yet again.
Fast forward to the first Hunger Games film. It was announced, its cast was in place, and my favorite part of this all, the filming location was announced as well. This is where my love would sky rocket. I was born and raised in North Carolina so just imagine my excitement when they said The Hunger Games would be shot here. Now imagine my excitement when they said it’d be shooting right up the road from me.
Sadly, I never got to see any of the actual filming, but I did get to (re)visit most of the locations after filming was done. I got to see District 12 in all its emptiness and beauty. I was able to visit Peeta’s bakery and pretend to give Katniss some bread while dancing across the windows. I also got to visit the area of District 12 where the reaping took place.
I was able to take my favorite book series and actually live it. It’s crazy to read something, but to immerse yourself in it is something entirely different. I understood even more the poverty of District 12, the intensity surrounding the reaping ball. This was just another layer in my love for The Hunger Games.
All of this was not too long after the filming had stopped, so the local towns and communities were just in their planning stages for when the film would actually release. As the film’s release date grew closer, the excitement was basically vibrating through the entire community. Let me breakdown exactly what I and the community did during this time.
- Ran a Hunger Games themed 5k and helped gather canned goods for families nearby who were in need. It was my first 5k and is actually what got me hooked on exercising more.
- Entered a Hunger Games art competition. Yeah, I actually did this. I used to draw quite a bit so when this was announced, I thought, “What the hell?” and went for it. From the beginning I dissected The Hunger Games as much as I could because that’s how my brain functions when consuming any type of media, so I drew a portrait of Katniss as she looks at you, the person viewing the art, with a tear in her eye as Rue lays in the background, her body surrounded by flowers.
This scene hurt me so much when reading. It solidified what The Hunger Games were and what they meant. And I won 3rd place. I was honestly shocked because I never even considered my drawings to be any place worthy. Suffice to say, it was an amazing night.
- Went to an early screening of the film which involved me camping out and buying a Nook from Barnes and Noble. The screening turned out to be full of people involved in the film! The lady besides me said her son was actually an extra in the reaping ball scene. How cool is that?!
- Local towns held a really cool event where the local libraries gave out a ton of copies of The Hunger Games. This was for more people to get involved in the series and reading in general and also for kids who maybe couldn’t afford books to call their own. I think I now own 8 copies of The Hunger Games because of this.
Like I said, the community was thriving. Everyone came together to witness this amazing thing that was created in our own backyards. The film was a success, obviously, but its success helped North Carolina become a hotspot for future shows and films to be filmed at and while this isn’t exactly the case anymore, those few years were incredible and insane. And while the other films in The Hunger Games trilogy filmed elsewhere, we still had the original. The beautiful, amazing, opener.
The Hunger Games changed us all. It affected our lives in the best way and I’ll always be so grateful for that year; the year of The Hunger Games. I’ve never witness that with a film before, but I just know Suzanne Collins would be proud of what her book has done. I know she knows, but I just want to thank her everyday for The Hunger Games.
It made me love reading as never before, it made me realize that hey, maybe I could write something that thought provoking and entertaining, all while being YA. The world is open to countless possibilities.
I’ll never be able to put into words what The Hunger Games means to me but I here I am trying. If you’ve read it, high five! If you haven’t, I encourage you to. It’s an experience you won’t forget.
Here it’s safe, here it’s warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.
Travis has been a self-proclaimed geek ever since being introduced to Star Wars before he could speak. He spends most of his free time reading comics, watching TV, collecting toys, blogging, and traveling the US to attend all sorts of conventions. He also likes coffee quite a bit. You can find Travis on Twitter and his own blog.