Getting the script right

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Producer Jon Kilik’s adaption of “The Hunger Games” has soared from a small-scale production and is one of the most anticipated movies of the year. The Vermont Cynic had the chance to talk to Kilik, a UVM alumnus, who discovered his passion for film making right here on campus. 

The Vermont Cynic: There are many different roles a producer can take, especially in a major film like this. How do you see your role in “The Hunger Games?” 

Jon Kilik: I tend to just work the same way I always work, which pretty much includes all aspects of [production]. It includes script, development of the script, casting, getting financing together, [finding] where we’re going to shoot.

[When] we finally get the financing together and all those other creative elements, then we finally go off and shoot it. When that happens I’m on the set all the time. 

Every day is a new set of problems, challenges and evolution … Every day of shooting is an opportunity to bring what’s on the page to life, and you want    to continuously be surprised with what comes out of those shooting days. 

VC: What has the most important part of the process been for you?

JK: Getting the script right [and] adapting the book in a way that was faithful to it. At the same time, [making] the transition to make it into a different medium to bring it all to life visually was a big challenge with this one. 

It was written in a way that was very personal. You’re constantly in this character’s head, and it’s a very personal journey [that is] sometimes really hard to translate.

VC: What inspired you to adapt this book in particular? 

JK: I read the book and I thought it had something that was important to tell … and it had a lot to say about where we are as a society. 

This whole concept of a survival game was in this story, a futuristic fiction, but in reading it I thought it was something I could relate to today. That whole sense of having to survive, and throwing our kids into this kind of situation in which they’re scrutinized every minute of the day and put under a great deal of pressure. 

VC: This sounds like such a cool job.

JK: Yeah, I mean, I was taking the normal liberal arts … sociology, psychology and so forth. Then I took a film class junior year for fun and I thought, “Wow, this would really be a cool job” … Then I took a production class and another one … I started to look at it as something I could really turn into a career. 

So, when I graduated I moved down to New York to try to find a position and couldn’t really find an entry-level position, so I took an internship in Burlington on Channel 3 and finally got a job in New York a year later.

VC: How do you feel your time at UVM inspired your choices as a producer later in life? What about this production in general? 

JK: UVM was great because it was my first time living out on my own, and that in and of itself is a great, life-changing experience. Then I took a whole mix of liberal arts classes, as well as lots of sports and clubs and whatever else I could get my hands on. It was a great opportunity to start to meet different people and try out different things. 

My parents, teachers, and friends were all really encouraging … when I found film class, I gave it a try, and I only discovered that at UVM. It was inspiring. 

There will be a special UVM-exclusive showing of “The Hunger Games” at midnight on Thursday, March 22 for $8 at Essex Cinemas. After that, the movie will be available in all Vermont theaters at the regular price, starting during business hours on March 23 .