Much like actors audition for roles in big-budget productions like The Hunger Games, so too do directors have to “audition” for the chance to helm a project they are interested in. The process is markedly different from that of an actor’s audition, but has the same end goal in mind: to present his or herself as the best fit for the job.
There are several different ways in which a director can assert themselves, but the most common is the pitch trailer or sizzle reel. Yes, directors are typically selected based on their previous work, but a pitch trailer can better display what type of tone and style they’re going for a given project.
One of the more recent examples of a sizzle reel made available to the public was Joe Carnahan’s pitch for Daredevil. The reel was comprised of a wide variety of film footage – including some scenes from Mark Steven Johnson’s original Daredevil adaptation – but the tone was decidedly different. Carnahan ultimately didn’t get the job, but his footage helped fans better understand where he would have taken the property.
Perhaps following in Carnahan’s lead – or maybe to just to confirm to fans that he’s still trying to break into big-budget features – Mortal Kombat: Legacy director Kevin Tancharoen has released his pitch reel for The Hunger Games. Unlike Carnahan’s reel, though, we have the added foresight of knowing how The Hunger Games inevitably turned out, and can use it for comparison.
While not a completely different take on the Suzanne Collins’ novel, Tancharoen’s vision for The Hunger Games revels a little more in the source material’s sci-fi nature. If Tancharoen had made it far enough to pitch a reel to Lionsgate, then he was either on the director short list or was being strongly considered for it. We know that the director job eventually went to Gary Ross – who has bowed out of The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire – but it’s interesting to consider how the film might have looked with Tancharoen at the helm.
Part of Tancharoen’s sizzle reel even included potential casting for key characters in the film – a move that Tancharoen tells Slashfilm was meant only to present some casting choices. Most fans would agree that the casting of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss was a near perfect choice, but what if a relative unknown like Kaya Scodelario (Skins) had taken on the role?
Some might be shocked to learn that a pitch reel isn’t comprised of original content, but is actually a mash-up of scenes from other films. Like setting up a potential tone and highlighting some casting suggestions, making the film marketable is another element of the pitch. It’s easier to sell a film to audiences based upon a comparison to another known quantity like Harry Potter, rather than paint it as a completely original idea, even if it is.
Tancharoen is no stranger to getting projects off the ground via grass roots movements, as evidenced by his Mortal Kombat fan-film. It was through the success of that short film that Tancharoen was able to develop the Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series, and eventually be given the chance to direct a Mortal Kombat reboot.
His vision of The Hunger Games didn’t play out the way he hoped, but Tancharoen still has some projects lined up that will surely keep him busy. And maybe by the time Lionsgate gets around to selecting a director for Hunger Games: Mockingjay – that is, if Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence doesn’t hang around – they will remember Tancharoen’s pitch.