Steven Soderbergh Joins 'The Hunger Games' as Second Unit Director

When Matt Damon told reporters earlier this year that Steven Soderbergh was retiring, it must have come as quite a shock to the Academy Award-winning director. Not only is Soderbergh busy with his new star-studded film Contagion, but he also has the secret agent action film Haywire coming out this winter.

As if those projects weren't enough, now comes word that Soderbergh is making time in his busy schedule to work on The Hunger Games in the role of Second Unit Director.

Film blog The Playlist first reported Soderbergh's role after uncovering Twitter updates from Hunger Games crew members (including this gem from electrician Chrys Blackstone, who wrote "Holy sh*t! Just found out that Steven Soderbergh is coming to the #hungergames to direct 2nd Unit. I am so excited this is getting good!").

At first blush, Soderbergh's involvement with The Hunger Games may seem unusual -- what's a busy Oscar winner doing shooting second unit? -- but when you dig a bit deeper, it makes perfect sense.

Soderbergh is a close friend to Hunger Games director Gary Ross (Soderbergh produced Ross' first film, Pleasantville). In agreeing to shoot second unit material, Soderbergh is simply helping out a friend who is on an extremely tight schedule. The Playlist also notes that Soderbergh may be interested in helping former collaborator Phil Messina, a production designer on The Hunger Games who has worked on a number of Soderbergh's films.

So, what does Soderbergh's involvement with the film mean from a practical perspective? Not all that much. Presumably, Soderbergh will help Ross by working fast and efficiently (as he does on all of his own movies), but from a style perspective, there's probably not a lot that Soderbergh can do to impart his vision on the film, nor would he want to.

Nevertheless, it's pretty awesome for Soderbergh to help out a friend like this, and I'm sure that the cast and crew is glad to have him on board too. The Hunger Games opens only seven months from now, which doesn't leave Ross a lot of time to put together what could be the first entry in the next big young adult film franchise. Having an experienced director/cinematographer like Soderbergh on set will definitely help Ross work at a faster pace.

The Hunger Games hits theaters on March 23, 2012.

Source: The Playlist

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