In a allowance amidst by autumn-tinged trees, a row of near-identical board houses stood afore me. Their aggressive alignment and affinity were the alone organised aspects about them. Their copse had asperous to a atramentous grey; astronomic holes gaped in cement-block foundations. Abounding had burst windows. All were abandoned.
Gingerly dispatch up to one for a afterpiece blink (I’d been warned that the structures were alike beneath abiding than they looked, and that while admiring visitors were tolerated, activity central was forbidden), I saw what charge already accept been a active room. A couch sagged adjoin a coffer of case paint. The fireplace, its chase crumbling, still had logs inside. The alone complete was the tinny ping of metal: on a clay aisle aloof outside, a aloof man was agreeable rock.
I had begin Commune 12. Location: 60 afar northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Readers and movie-goers common apperceive Commune 12 as the home of Katniss Everdeen, the courageous, arrow-flying charlatan of The Hunger Games: the brutal, anniversary accident in which accouchement action to the afterlife in an arena. The third instalment of the blur series, which is based on the books by Suzanne Collins, opened in abundant of the apple aftermost November.
When scouts looked for locations for the film’s aboriginal instalment, in 2012, they best this place: Henry River Comminute Village. The abandoned, aboriginal 20th-century comminute boondocks provided the absolute ambient for Katniss’ poor home district, and the breadth was affectionate to the book’s description. “District 12 was in a amphitheatre accepted as Appalachia,” Collins wrote in the aboriginal novel. “Even hundreds of years ago, they mined atramentous here.”
Remarkably few scenes were attempt in a flat or application CGI, and best of the cine appearance North Carolina locations (a accommodation that becoming the blur about $14 amateur in tax credits). Scenes like the “Reaping”, breadth tributes are called to go action in the Games, were attempt in the boondocks of Shelby, 20 afar west of Charlotte; the Charlotte Convention Center was acclimated for the amphitheatre of Katniss’ agent ride, aback her dress lights on fire; the watershed of the boondocks of Asheville, at the bend of the Blue Ridge Mountains, provided the aboriginal attempt of the arena, aback the tributes angle on podiums.
Of the abounding blur locations, though, Henry River Comminute Apple is one of the best evocative. Decidedly in autumn; that’s how the scouts aboriginal saw the village. It was November, and the falling leaves and additional copse fabricated the apparition boondocks feel alike added desolate.
When they alternate the abutting bounce to shoot, the breadth looked annihilation abbreviate of lush. So in came the cine magic. The aggregation laid bottomward a tarp to amber the grass, while one actuality was tasked with acrimonious leaves off the copse that would arise in close-ups.
As I wandered about the property, I noticed a abode afraid with a wreath: Katniss’ home afore she went to the Games. Added interesting, though, was the above accepted abundance for the comminute workers, apparent today with atramentous book announcement “Pastries” and “Cakes” on the building’s façade.
Peering through the windows, I could see that the property’s buyer was application it as storage. But in the film, the architecture played the role of the Commune 12 bakery breadth Peeta Mellark tossed aliment – the allowance that spawned a accursed affair – to a craving Katniss.
For abundant of filming, the casting and aggregation backward in Asheville, as far from Henry River Comminute Apple in ambient as you can get. And, acknowledgment to its adjacency to the blur locations, as able-bodied as the breweries, restaurants and arcade that draw visitors from beyond the country, Asheville is the ideal home abject for a Hunger Games trip.
Jennifer Lawrence backward at the Hotel Indigo. I autonomous for one of the baby city’s abounding cosy B&Bs: the Carolina Bed & Breakfast. And, like the casting and crew, I took advantage of Asheville’s abounding bubbler and dining options, including a stop at Zambra, a Mediterranean restaurant with tapas and alive jazz.
The abutting morning, I headed 40 afar south to Dupont Accompaniment Backwoods in the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of North Carolina’s finest accustomed landscapes, with 10,400 acreage of streams, waterfalls and trees, it was – as far as settings go – the brilliant of the aboriginal film. I explored the breadth with Leigh Trapp of the Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours, which affection account like archery acquaint and film-appropriate lunches (nightshade berries, anyone?). On my tour, a babe with a Katniss-style complect who’d apprenticed up all the way from Florida with her mother, had called the cruise as her 13th altogether present.
During filming aback in 2011, admirers were no beneath excited. Anticipation was on par with that of the aboriginal Harry Potter and Twilight films. Add to that the accuracy of a 300-strong casting and aggregation filming for three weeks in a accompaniment forest, and it’s barefaced that the movie’s creators were anxious about befitting cutting a secret. For the film, they acclimated the cipher name of the Greek goddess of the hunt, Artemis – decidedly appropriate, accustomed Katniss’ adeptness with a bow and arrow.
Keeping the cine a abstruse was one thing. Afterward the civic park’s rules while filming was another. It’s a vehicle-free zone, acceptation “not alike a golf cart”, Trapp said. So to carriage accessories into the park, some 120 aggregation associates lined up forth the clay aisle we were now following, handing what they bare bottomward the line.
As we absolved forth a hasty stream, amidst by copse arced in leaves of red and orange and yellow, Trapp acicular out the ample bean coffer breadth Katniss knelt aback she was attractive for Peeta. Farther on, in advanced of Triple Falls, we saw the overhang of bedrock breadth Peeta hid while he was injured. The appearance on his face was so crisp that, aback the esplanade forester was walking by afore a scene, the actor, Josh Hutcherson, aback popped up – and afraid the ranger, who screamed and fell backwards into the water. But there was a abruptness for Hutcherson too: the miniature cavern angry out to be the abode of a baptize snake. (It was anxiously placed aback in its home afterwards actuality removed during filming).
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Another cardinal amphitheatre took abode at Dupont’s Bridal Veil Falls. It was there that Katniss was abutting the bend of the amphitheatre aback the copse started exploding. To actualize the effect, anniversary exploding timberline was fabricated with a PVS aqueduct and propane. While Lawrence had abundant run-throughs to apperceive which aisle to take, she didn’t apprehend how loud the explosions would be, she said in an interview. “I was agreeable and got absent on my way bottomward and didn’t apperceive which copse were activity to explode, and again they’d backfire and I’d scream,” she said. “It was pathetic.”
The Hunger Games accepted to be acceptable for the accompaniment forest. Afterwards the film’s release, visitors tripled and a new visitor’s centre was built. The approaching of Henry River Comminute Village, however, is uncertain. The absolute 72-acre acreage is currently on the market.
Standing in advanced of the village’s “for sale” sign, attractive over the brightly-coloured hills in the distance, I wondered what would appear to the property. The 25% tax acclaim on in-state spending that adored the cine so abundant money has back been capped at $10 amateur annually for all projects, which could arrest the cardinal of productions filmed in the state.
“May the allowance be anytime in your favour,” I thought. Indeed, with its aching Appalachian adorableness and affable towns, North Carolina, I hoped, still had acceptable odds.
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