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BREVARD — The lush forests featured in the trailer for “The Hunger Games,” the film adaptation of the best-selling novel premiering Friday, are not some technicolor trick.
DuPont State Recreational Forest served as the setting for some of pivotal, action-packed scenes filmed last summer.
Although Bruce MacDonald — the assistant forest supervisor who served as the primary liaison for the Hollywood cast and crew — recognizes moments in the trailer, he can barely find proof of the production in the pristine park itself.
He wants to keep it that way, even though he expects his mission to get complicated in the coming weeks.
But MacDonald will have some help with the hordes of “Hunger Games” fans craving new Facebook profile pics poised as a camouflaged Peeta at the bottom of Triple Falls rock.
Or maybe as heroine Katniss relieving her burn wounds in a Bridal Veil Falls pool.
An enterprising Brevard duo is setting up Hunger Games Fan Tours that will explore DuPont filming locations — under wise supervision — and MacDonald is on board for their effort.
“We had some concerns (about the filming),” MacDonald said. “And we had to talk about and negotiate on some things. But (crew members) were really respectful and the filming part really worked out. Now we have to think about the impact of a lot of (“Hunger Games” fans) visits.”
His concerns aren’t limited to infrastructural overload in a park that’s already packed in the summer.
“Nothing here was engineered for your safety,” he said. “It’s the natural world — not a movie set.”
MacDonald noted that two fans were seriously hurt after a dangerous film re-enactment of a waterfall jump after the release of the 1992 Daniel Day-Lewis saga, “The Last of the Mohicans,” which was partly filmed in DuPont.
It was movie magic that kept hero Nathaniel safe on the big screen.
A booming industry
Even 20 years later, “The Last of the Mohicans” brings fans to the forest. Fan tours still go through DuPont about once a year.
If Leigh Trapp’s experience is any indication, “The Hunger Games” impact is poised to seriously dwarf “The Last of the Mohicans” at DuPont.
Trapp is one of the two women behind the Hunger Games Fan Tours, which will explore DuPont filming locations.
An award-winning festival and event planner, Trapp started out creating elaborate themed birthday parties for her now-teenage son.
Since then, she has designed magical experiences in the United Kingdom for “Harry Potter” fans and led tours in the United States for the “The Twilight Saga”-obsessed.
Trapp believes that experiential tours where fans not only visit the film settings but also get to pretend to be in their favorite flicks, is “the next step” in the industry.
In the “Harry Potter” tours, fans would find a wand on their pillow at the hotel.
They’d travel in a train like the Hogwarts Express and take classes like the trio of young student characters — on witchcraft, for instance.
For the Hunger Games Fan Tours, participants will learn survival skills and weekend adventurers will compete in a “Hunger Games” simulation time trial.
“What we really found was that kids loved it, and so did the adults,” she said. “The adults really became kids again. It’s like going to summer camp. You form intimate bonds with people who are like-minded and want to participate.”
Trapp witnessed first-hand the “big impact” the “Twilight” films had on Forks, Wash., where some of the trilogy was filmed, she said.
“It’s a big passion of mine to celebrate everything this county has to offer,” Trapp said, who’s been an advocate and marketer for Transylvania County tourism for more than a decade.
“Transylvania is really a magical place.”
The “Twilight Saga” movie series lends itself to Hunger Games comparisons: Both films are based on wildly popular young adult trilogies with a wide — and passionately committed — audience. The first three “Twilight” films have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide (the final book was split into two movies).
Bustling ticket sales
“The Hunger Games” broke the first-day advance ticket sales record on Fandango, an online movie ticket source, on Feb. 22, unseating the previous record held by “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.”
Five midnight showings have already sold out at the Regal Grande Stadium 15 in Biltmore Park.
Since the movie has only been seen by industry insiders at Los Angeles and London screenings earlier this week, Trapp and her fan tours co-creator Tammy Hopkins based the tours on the book content.
The duo researched the film production for about two months, interviewing people like MacDonald to find out the specific locations of filmed scenes that might make it to the final cut.
The fan tours combine Hopkins’ interests and two divergent career paths. She’s an actress, producer, filmmaker, executive director of the TC Arts Council, film liaison — but used to answer to the name Ranger Tammy.
As a former ranger at the Cradle of Forestry Historic Site, she’s “a big believer of enjoy the beauty of it and leave it as you find it.”
She focused the tour programming on education and safety, and hopes that some Hunger Games fans will leave the experience as fans of the forest.
“We want to also teach them to appreciate the forest … this is a positive way we can help our community,” Hopkins said.