A fan of the Hunger Games books and movie? Interested in exploring possible backstories behind the blockbusters? A group of area students has just the film for you.Working from the Suzanne Collins novels, Joshua Chislett and Christian Von Krause from Kitchener wrote the screenplay called The Cirrus Quell: A Hunger Games Story, with Chislett directing and Von Krause playing the title character.
The fan film focuses on four main characters: Cirrus Quell, the 17-year-old volunteer from District 7; Mason Tramonit, played by Elmira’s Emeka Agada; Gem from District 10 and Scout from District 1. The story is set 51 years before the Katniss Everdeen story of the Hunger Games books during the 23rd Annual Hunger Games of Panem.
The film was released early this month, with a running time of approximately one hour and 10 minutes divided into six parts on YouTube. It’s already garnered more than 13,000 views.
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This is 18-year-old Chislett’s first feature film, although he has made a number of short films.
“My friend got me into the books a year or two ago and I became freakishly obsessed with them. Then I heard they were making a movie of the first book and that got me thinking about doing a movie based in the same world,” said Chislett.
Many fan films have been made in the world Collins created but they were all either remakes of the first Hunger Games book or sequels, so Chislett decided to film a prequel with all original characters.
“In the books they never mention why the Quarter Quell (from the second book) is created so I thought we could do a film about the reason behind that. I like (Collins’) writing style as it leaves a lot to the imagination, with enough description for the reader to create their own world.”
Chislett said he does like the first Hunger Games movie, but he would have filmed many things differently if he had the chance because of his love of the books and characters.
“Overall I am very satisfied with it because most books that are adapted into films aren’t really that great, but this one is pretty close.”
The independent film was self financed by Chislett and production took eight weeks to complete starting in April.
The director planned out most of his shots as he would be using a handheld Canon Digital Rebel T3i to shoot the film.
“His style of shooting made the film feel more real to me,” said Agada.
Agada met Chislett through Von Krause and the two of them hit it off instantly.
“When it came to the character I play I feel he was just trying to survive so I looked at films like I Am Legend and the original Hunger Games film and I felt that my character would be more reserved and keep to himself just trying to survive and not make any close relationships,” said Agada.
The film was shot in Kitchener at the Huron Natural area, Chicopee and the Grand River forest with some of the b-roll shot in Nova Scotia during a family trip Chislett took.
The story of the Hunger Games, teenagers who have to kill each other until only one remains standing, conjures some violent imagery, something that Chislett said he was not afraid to tackle.
“I really wanted to have more violence than they did in the Hollywood film because it is the Hunger Games, children are killing each other, and I wanted it to have a real-world setting and fears which come with the violence of the characters attacking each other. I was mindful, however, not to set the story around gore.”
The filmmaker hopes to enter their movie into film festivals and is currently working on another original script called the Valley of Ashes to star Agada. His new script is a post-apocalyptic story similar to The Road and Walking Dead television series.
Agada has been working in Toronto as an extra on the new Robocop movie filming in the city and has plans to work with other local directors on their projects.
Both the director and actor are planning on making more films to hone their craft.
“There were a few things I wish I could have done better and with time I will get better at anticipating what will be needed during shoots,” said Chislett.
Both of them take their passion for film seriously and hope to one day make a career in the movies.