Study Guide

The Hunger Games Screenwriter

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Suzanne Collins, Gray Ross, and Billy Ray

If your baby's going to get boiled, you may as well do the boiling yourself. (We know that sounds a little harsh, but stick with us.)

That was the thinking of Suzanne Collins, who wrote the novel on which The Hunger Games was based and stayed neck deep in the production the whole while. (She also scored an executive producer credit to go along with her screenwriting gig.) Collins was no stranger to filmmaking, having cut her teeth writing for kids' television shows like Oswald and Clarissa Explains It All. But she also dabbled in young adult novels, producing five books in the Underland Chronicles series before taking on The Hunger Games (source).

So Collins had the chops to write the screenplay herself, and as a Hollywood veteran she was set up to ensure she got the final word in how it all came together. That said, she couldn't quite get across the finish line on her own. The director himself, Gary Ross, stepped in to help shape it into its final form. We'll talk all about him over in the "Directors" section.

They also brought a third musketeer into the process: Billy Ray, an accomplished screenwriter and director in his own right, who'd worked on everything from the silly disaster movie Volcano to the not-at-all-silly journalist-who-faked-his-stories movie Shattered Glass.

Together, they found the things to drop and the things to keep in order to present an almost ideal movie version of the novel. Accuracy and faithfulness were their watchwords, though they had to make a few concessions to the PG-13 rating. (That dog attack at the end was much more horrific in the books.)

But considering those limitations, it's amazing how much of the book—its spirit, its flavor and the way it sells us on this very dark world—transfers to the big screen. It owes a lot of that to the screenplay, and to the fact that Collins and Ray were pretty much all in from the beginning of the project.

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