Tim Palen may be a name you recognize: He’s Lionsgate’s chief marketing officer, and has been quoted and discussed in tons of media articles around The Hunger Games successful marketing strategy. He was the person behind the decision not to show any arena scenes in promotional material, and Suzanne Collins called his work “so exceptionally good.” (Luckily, Tim retained his job through the Summit/Lionsgate merger.)
A new interview with Tim focuses on his successful career, including his work on The Hunger Games franchise (and this great new portrait of Peeta from Catching Fire, similar to his Capitol Portrait!).
JM: HOW CHALLENGING WAS IT TO APPEAL TO A WIDE AUDIENCE IN A MOVIE LIKE THE HUNGER GAMES?
There were a lot of challenges in marketing a beloved book especially knowing that it was the first of four films a series. The best decision we made was to take our queues from the book – and we consider the words of Suzanne Collins to be our bible in marketing the film.
The Hunger Games is a story about a reluctant hero who is forced into a world of violence and how institutionalized violence (i.e. war) changes everyone. One of the biggest challenges fundamentally was how to handle the notion of kids killing kids. The books do not glorify violence and Katniss is not a killer. Sensationalizing that aspect of the story would be contrary to the core message of the books and we believed that it would be alienating to a huge part of the audience that love the books and that would love the movie.
JM: WHAT WAS THE FIRST CAMPAIGN YOU SHOT? CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A RECENT SHOOT AND HOW YOUR PROCESS WORKS?
… Most recently I shot the campaign for HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE. Because I also shot the campaign for the first HUNGER GAMES I have gotten to know the talent and there’s a certain level of trust and familiarity that has added a level of magic to the campaigns. As a general rule, a photographer has a short window of time to connect with an actor and make them feel comfortable and safe and taken care of – most times it’s a matter of hours from the time they show up at the studio for hair/makeup before you have to dive right in. I think that’s one of the advantages of my job – I get to connect with the people I’m working with on a more intimate level than most marketing executives. It’s something I’m grateful for and something I never take for granted.
JM: WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC QUALIFIERS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WITH YOUR NEXT MARKETING CAMPAIGN…YOU JUST RELEASED THE FIRST TEASER FOR CATCHING FIRE(WHICH GOT OVER 28M VIEWS IN A LITTLE OVER A WEEK) BUT I’M SURE THERE WERE MANY CHALLENGES.
The launch of the teaser trailer for CATCHING FIRE was a hugely pivotal moment in the ongoing HUNGER GAMES campaign. Because we have a franchise across four films, each piece is just part of the larger puzzle, and this step was even more crucial because we had such great success on the first film. At the same time we have a new director (Francis Lawrence), a new editor,a new cinematographer and a new costume designer. So I really needed this first glimpse of the second film to work hard to reassure the fan base that the characters they know and love are back and that the integrity we showed with the first movie is still intact. But almost equally important for me was to show that the stakes are higher, the drama will be greater and that CATCHING FIRE will be taking the story of our reluctant hero Katniss Everdeen to a whole other level. I’m grateful that Francis Lawrence has delivered a gigantic movie that has so many rich and amazing pieces for me to play with. He’s really made my job a fun and easy one.
Probably the most satisfying thing I saw after the release of the teaser was a fan comment on one of the blogs that posted the trailer. I tend to be overly obsessive about reading and monitoring real fan reaction to the materials. This one comment did the most to reassure me that we had hit the mark with the new teaser trailer: “Shit’s getting real.” It doesn’t get better than that.
still not over seeing ONTD salivate over J.Hutch's diq last night