Okay, Katniss fans. You’ve done it: last year you fell in love with the film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, and this Thanksgiving you went bananas over the sequel, Catching Fire. You’re probably thinking, “Now I have to wait a whole year for the next one? I could just kill something!”
Fortunately, there is something to feed your insatiable desire for more Panem drama. In July 2011, MainStay Productions posted a fan film on YouTube called “The Second Quarter Quell.” At the time, no one knew if the big screen franchise would be successful. No one knew if book 2 would ever be adapted. Yet the passion for the series was intense, and as a result, creative works by amateurs and fans filled the internet. With it passing a landmark 9 million views today and spawning 27,000 page comments, the undisputed winner is “The Second Quarter Quell.”
More than two decades ago, a young and brutal Haymitch Abernathy won the 50th Hunger Games. In the second novel, he relates the story of his victory to Katniss. Instead of 24 kids sent to the Capitol in tribute, there were 48 sent. Twice the contestants, twice the death. As Katniss’s mentor for the second time, he wants her to understand how he discovered a weakness of the arena and exploited it.
Although a fan favorite chapter, it’s no surprise this back story was cut from the big screen Catching Fire. At two and a half hours, there’s no room for extraneous character development that isn’t directly necessary for the plot. That gap resulted in a happy niche for MainStay Productions. As of right now, their 12 minute short is the most popularly recognized version of Haymitch’s back story on film. It’s unlikely to be reproduced in the Mockingjay adaptations, and no other amateur production has come close in terms of quality of execution. Other creative fans have even cut and edited music videos from it: the true sign of internet success.
As YouTube productions go, it’s intense. Far more blood flows here than the big screen adaptations will allow, and although the actors are older teenagers, this short closely mirrors the horrors in the book. The Hunger Games are a nightmare, and anyone who survives walks out of the arena a little less human for it. If you want to know how Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch became such a bitter, angry soul, just open your laptop, grab a security blanket, and watch.