‘Hunger Games\': 5 Behind The Scenes Secrets From The Berlin ‘Mockingjay — Part 2′ Set
MTV News hit the "Mockingjay" set in Berlin, German with director Francis Lawrence.
Guten tag, fellow “Hunger Games” fans! And we say “guten tag” because we’re coming at you straight from Berlin, Germany, where the dedicated cast and crew of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” are mere hours away from the film’s world premiere.
And Berlin is the perfect place for “The Hunger Games” to say goodbye, because other than the arena itself (and Atlanta, Georgia), it’s tough to come up with a place that has added more to the “Hunger Games” ~aesthetic~ over the past couple of movies. So to celebrate this unique, chock-full-of-history town, director Francis Lawrence and producers Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik took MTV News and a group of other journalists on a tour of two of the movies’ most important filming locations — after we got past the dozens of excited fans already lining up at their hotel, of course.
Here’s what we learned when we visited Districts 13 and 2:
Beetee’s weapons lab in District 13 is actually an old power plant.
The Kraftwerk plant, located in Köpenicker Strasse in Mitte, was the perfect location for Beetee’s weapons training facility. “The size and scope of this place you can’t replicate, so we wanted to find as real an environment as possible,” Lawrence explained. “It was actually quite difficult to find environments that felt like they were underground.”
The arrows were CG, and the flames were also added later, but everything else you saw in Beetee’s lair was built in Kraftwerk.
“It’s strange to come back here and find it empty, because for us, this location will always look like Beetee’s workshop,” Jacobson said.
The Tempelhof airport closed years ago, but according to Lawrence — who used the site to film crucial District 2 scenes (there’s one with a train you’ll recognize instantly) in “Part 2,” and can be seen jokingly modeling above — the film crew’s use of the site had locals reeling. The city was set to vote on what to do with the airport site while “Mockingjay” was filming there, but since Lawrence and co. had to make the property look bombed-out to reflect the damage war had done to District 2, they (understandably) mistakenly believed that Tempelhof had been destroyed without their permission. “All the neighbors here started to panic that the building was being knocked down before the vote even happened… [they were] complaining to the local government.”
The crew came to Berlin because recreating its aesthetic onscreen was “impossible.”
According to Lawrence, the move to Berlin from Atlanta, Georgia to Berlin (and Paris) wasn’t due to financial reasons. Instead, it was “born from the need for real, immersive environments for the streets of the Capitol and some of the new districts,” he explained. “We had already shot a lot of ’Catching Fire’ in Atlanta, we knew we were going to be back there for some of this, but we knew what the possibilities were architecturally in Atlanta. We knew they were limited, in terms of the things we would need.”
“The incentives in Atlanta were much better,” Jacobson added. “This was a creative choice. The scope, and the monumentality to the locations here, we could not find in the states.”
Woody Harrelson once skipped a Berlin shoot for a Lorde concert.
When one German reporter noted that a major concert venue was directly across the street from Tempelhof — and that she’d bumped into Woody Harrelson at a Lorde concert there — Lawrence remembered that concert, since Harrelson had been late for filming because of it. He noted that Lorde came to visit the cast before the show, and that he would have loved to have seen it, but unlike Harrelson he actually showed up to work instead. Oops!
Though both Jacobson and Lawrence insisted that the city was mainly chosen due to its architecture, Jacobson did reveal that “there’s a political context to the books that is never lost to the people who live here, so it was a very fitting place to finish the movie.”