NOTE: The following contains plot elements for the first HUNGER GAMES film. If you do not wish to be spoiled, please don't read further. If network notes make you angry, have a shot of bourbon.
THE HUNGER GAMES FINE CUT 1 NOTES
Hello! Thanks for getting us this cut in a timely manner. We really feel that there's a great show in here, but unfortunately, there are just too many disparate elements in the cut right now. Remember, guys, THE HUNGER GAMES is a competition show; we need to emphasize the competition! "Tension and stakes" need to be our mantra! If we don't repeatedly drive home how important these games are to the contestants, the audience will be bored. Right now, we are putting sooooo much emphasis on Katniss, it's pretty obvious that she wins. Let's throw in some red herrings here and make sure our story telling is on point. Until this is done, we cannot give time coded notes. Let's do a comprehensive bite pass so we can really feel for the contestants. Further music and comedy passes would also help out a lot.
This whole entire opening section with Katniss and her family and then hunting with Gale is just off the mark. As this is a competition show, we need to start with them getting ready for the competition. Please remove this entire section and let's start at the Reaping. If the audience doesn't know right off the bat that this is an intense competition show, they will be confused and not watch any further!
Once Katniss volunteers to take the place of her sister, then add in a strong Katniss intro package. Who she is, what she likes about District 12, her hobbies, what her favorite Capitol fashions are, etc. This is where we can show footage of her hunting and using her bow and arrow. Make sure to add a bite along the lines of "Even though I'm a girl, I really do like to hunt. I'm hoping my archery skills would be really helpful in games!" That way, when she uses the bow and arrow later, the audience won't be confused.
Let's also add in a Peeta intro package as well. In his package, make sure to add that he's single and a romantic; otherwise him falling in love with Katniss later won't have any context.
TRAIN RIDE TO CAPITOL
I'm leaning towards killing this whole sequence. It's lessening the tension of the show. Haymitch is just too sad. Remember: we like fun drunks, not morose drunks. Yes, I understand that he drinks in order to lessen the guilt he feels for killing 23 other adolescents when we won the games years ago, but man, this is just depressing! If we do end up keeping this section, put in some bites from both Katniss and Peeta saying how badly they want to win and how important it is to them. Remember, this is a competition! If the stakes are not vitals to us, they won't be vital to the audience.
Here is a great opportunity to put in some bio bites from the other contestants. Which districts are they from? What music do they like to listen to? What is their favorite way to kill someone? These bits of information will really help establish these players into the minds of our viewers so they can root for someone. If the audience doesn't know how a 10-year-old from District 5 likes to garrote people with fishing line, how can they get invested in the competition?
The big, booming triumphant music here works very well. Please continue using these types of cues as it lets the audience know when something crucial happens. Remember, bombastic music = important!
This whole section can be cut down as a montage. This is too slow.
GAMEMAKERS EVALUATE THE TRIBUTES
This whole section can be removed. Let's make this a web extra.
TRIBUTES INTERVIEW WITH CESAR
This whole section should be removed. Maybe a snap-in?
Ugh, finally! It's taking waaaaay too long to get to this portion. When all the tributes are in place, let's throw in big stakes bites. If they are fighting for their lives, we have to hear it from them! We want to get the audience off of swiping right on Tinder and on their iPads tweeting like crazy!
When the games start and the blood bath begins, the camera work right now is just too shaky. Let's go for some wides and medium shots to show which child is killing which. If I can't see who's winning, I can't be invested.
As Katniss gets up into the tree, let's get into her head. Is she happy that Peeta is still alive? Is she worried about the careers? Is she wondering about her sister? Right now, I'm feeling for her about 96%; having her open up in a bite will have me up to 100%.
Can we vary up the music here some? Dub-step is testing well with our younger audiences -- find a place to put some in.
TRACKER JACKER SECTION
When Katniss sees Peeta allied with the Career Tributes, this is really jarring. She's disappointed in him but so are we. Let's get a bite from him where he lets us know that he's really on Katniss' side but planning on possibly double-crossing the careers. That will add some depth to his character and let us know that he's a good guy. If he doesn't tell us he's a good person, how do we know that that's true?
Great bite from Cesar explaining what a Tracker Jacker is. This is a great example of the bites we should be having throughout the whole episode.
Katniss' scene work with Rue is nice, but it again would benefit from a bite pass. Why are they aligned together? How will this benefit them in the competition? And when Rue gets eliminated, these bites will really help the audience feel for her passing. If we aren't telling the audience how to feel at all times then we are not doing our jobs.
Please make sure all the District 11 rioters have signed a release.
IN THE CAVE
Katniss & Peeta kissing is great and all, but the music under it is not matching the scene! Let's go for the romance full throttle here. Strings, etc. Maybe throw in some candle effects? If we can't go full "Bachelor" on this scene, let's do at least an "Average Joe."
FIGHT WITH CATO
Cato does work well as a bad guy but he needs more set up. Let's add some flashbacks of Cato killing some of the other tributes to this fight to really show how strong a competitor he is. When he gets eliminated, let's add a few final bites to underline how his killer instinct got the best of him. The audience can only appreciate irony if we spell it out for them.
Thanks again. Please have these done with notes responses by 11am tomorrow. Thanks!