Have you ever wanted to put on a leather jacket and dash out of your ramshackle house to the forest to meet your sorta kinda boyfriend? Or have an impossibly good looking young man toss stale bread to you as you lie in a crumpled heap in the mud and rain? That’s what The Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours is here for – to help you live out your Hunger Games fantasies.
Welcome to Henry River Mill Village in Bourke County, North Carolina. Once a textile village in the early 19th century, it was chosen by director Gary Ross as the location for much of the District 12 scenes. Following the release of the film, it attracted so many visitors and vandals that owner Wade Shepherd closed the area.
Enter Leigh Trapp and Tammy Hopkin, founders of The Unofficial Hunger Games Fan Tours. Inking a deal with Shepherd last year, they now organise tours of the village and other key shooting locations. Having explored the Dupont State Recreational Forest, where other key scenes in the movie were filmed, we just had to try out the tour, and Leigh and Tammy were kind enough to host us.
We started at the house of Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), where he threw two loaves of bread to a starving Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). Two teenage actors re-enacted that scene for us, to much amusement, before we all got a chance to try it out for ourselves. The bread was made of rubber, though.
16 year old Emma Moore, who was playing the role of Katniss, seemed to be having the most fun hamming it up. And all while wearing that iconic leather jacket on a hot, sweltering day.
We then took a stroll through the village. Leigh told us that the Depression-era squalor of the plot of land was what convinced Ross to set District 12 here, and it’s easy to see why. The place is the very definition of run down and abandoned.
Next, we went to the house of Katniss, for that scene where she puts on the jacket, says something nasty to the cat, then strides on out to meet Gale (Liam Hemsworth). Naturally, we were given a chance to try it out for ourselves, and Gillian just had to have a go at it.
Then it was time for our very own Hunger Games, with the chance to ‘bake’ our own bread. This was really clay, which was then spray painted to make it look like real bread.
We were even given a pack of food inspired by the novel – goat’s cheese with basil, beef jerky, a croissant, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes and water. I’m not much of a cheese fan, but I thought this was really creative on their part. The (kind of) spartan meal reflected the lifestyle of the District 12 inhabitants, though the amount of food available would have been a feast for them.
Then came the funnest part of the day: archery tag!
Don’t be fooled by the pose – Gillian actually kind of sucked at it, being unable to hit very many targets. #loser #nyahnyah
Unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures of the actual game, since we were – duh – busying shooting fake arrows at each other. But here’s some nice shots of us pretending that we are actually capable of real archery.
We also met Leigh’s son Tyler Chase, who, as it turns out, played a small role on The Walking Dead season 3 as Ben (one of Tyrese’s original group). Tyler’s only 19, but he’s bubbling over with energy, and played a big part in helping to organise the day’s events too. It was fitting too, given that we had just come from exploring The Walking Dead shooting locations in Georgia.
And that’s that. In the meantime, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens in Singapore tomorrow. Look out for our review, and our full length interview with Leigh and Tammy, coming very soon!
What did you think of The Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours? Would you fancy joining one of their tours? Tell us!
Most of the images in this post were taken with a Nikon 1 V2