'The Hunger Games' filming in Hildebran, N.C. Is this District 12?

On the website for the town of Hildebran, N.C., an area about an hour outside of Charlotte, there’s a slogan that reads, “We brag a little… it’s our town.” Soon, Hildebran’s citizens might have something more to boast about: According to local officials, the small town (its population is less than 2,000) is being transformed into the country of Panem for the big-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

While Lionsgate won’t confirm that Hildebran is, in fact, one of the locations for Hunger Games, there does appear to be evidence (including a casting call sent to residents) that production is getting underway there (see a map of the location below). Ella Caudle, Hildebran’s town clerk, tells EW that the town had been scouted as a filming location for the movie earlier this month and that a portion of Henry River Road, a main artery in the area, was scheduled to be closed down from May 18 until May 26 for shooting. Sharon McBrayer, a writer who penned an article about the movie coming to her town for Hildebran’s local paper, the Hickory Daily Record, tells EW that shooting of Hunger Games is supposedly taking place in an abandoned village in the area called Henry Mill River Village. While McBrayer notes that no one from the cast or crew has yet been spotted, she did say that security guards are at the site. Not a bad idea, considering that residents have already showed up to see if they could catch a glimpse of Hunger Games stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, and Liam Hemsworth. (EW contacted the Burke County Sheriff’s office, who said they were not at liberty to speak to speak about Hunger Games filming in the area).

But what exactly are fans of the Hunger Games books looking at in Hildebran? Could Henry River Mill Village be the location for District 12? From images found on the web of the abandoned area (including on the Facebook fan page for Henry River Mill Village), the small ghost town — which had its own general store (a possible site for The Hob or even the bakery?) — could transform effortlessly to the ravaged, poor district that inhabits, among other major Hunger Games characters, Katniss, Gale, and Peeta. As McBrayer told EW, “People are saying it seems to be a perfect site for District 12.” In fact, on the HRMV Facebook page, fans have also said that a “pastry sign” was seen on a village storefront, where a tree was also placed. (Mr. Mellark’s shop, perhaps?)

All these details have Hildebran’s proud citizens buzzing. Debbie Hildebran, a town resident who married into the Hildebran family and is currently enjoying The Hunger Games on her Kindle, tells EW, “I have been riding by the area often to see all the preparations they are doing for the movie and each time I [see it I] get more excited.”

Helen Harmon Ismail, another Hildebran resident, will have even closer ties to the movie — she was cast as an extra in the film. While Islmail wasn’t sure who she’ll be playing, she said a fitting has been scheduled for Saturday in Shelby N.C. “I’ll know my filming location and more about my character then,” she said. “I’m looking forward to see how the story is brought to life.”

Of course, not everyone in the region is thrilled with the prospect of a big production filming in a small town. On the HRMV Facebook page, someone posted that the reported three-mile road detour on the scheduled-to-be-closed Henry River Road will “be a hassle of epic proportions for some of us.” Another worried resident wrote, “I’m actually really scared that the town’s integrity is going to be compromised,” adding, “It’s always been my favorite road, and I’m scared it’ll be permanently altered after all this.”

Still, most residents and members of Town Hall in Hildebran seem to be looking forward to the affiliation with Hunger Games and how it could benefit the area. Donna Teasley, a consumer horticultural agent working with the Hildebran Farmer’s Market (which will be open during Hunger Games filming) said, “People will put up with a closed road if it means increased spending in the area.”

In fact, the effect is already starting to be felt: Sunny O’Connell, a manager at the Barnes & Noble in Hickory, N.C. (a town about five miles outside of Hildebran), said she’s noticed “a steady increase” in sales of the dystopian series. And while Teasley notes that the area hasn’t completely turned into a busy Hollywood hub just yet (“It’s been low key so far… nobody knows what to expect”), most residents are “curious and excited” about the movie. Join the club.


More ‘Hunger Games':
See Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss!
Meet the cast of the ‘Hunger Games’ movie

‘Hunger Games': Meet Prim!

Comments (81 total) Add your comment
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  • Cygnus

    I expect the Capitol will be all soundstages and special effects, no location shooting. Even the arena is likely to be all soundstaged and CGI.

    • Cygnus

      BTW, J.Law looks awesome in that airbrushed cover. Hope she looks like that in the movie. RAWR!

      • DavidJ

        Agreed. I’m only about halfway through the first book, but she seems to embody the tough, world-weary character I’m reading about PERFECTLY.

  • mawhi

    Yup, they’ve been casting all around that area and they’ll be filming there, up towards Asheville, and over in Wilmington from what I’ve heard.

    • mawhi

      *over towards Asheville, I guess.

      • AM

        I always pictured District 12 as my homestate of Kentucky…but the coal country side. But, the area around Asheville is very similar demographically, so I guess I can get on board with that. I just would have liked to see some shooting in KY

      • Idana

        If your arctiels are always this helpful, “I’ll be back.”

    • katie

      Supposedly Wilmington is out, but they might be filming in Charlotte and Shelby. I could see them kinda using Charlotte as the Capitol and CGI-ing some buildings in.

      • Say Whate?

        I read in the Fort Mill Times newspaper (a suburb of Charlotte across the state line in SC) that they were having a casting call at Carowinds (a Six-Flag amusement park) recently. Looking for extras.

  • Ms. Chanandler Bong

    Why so afraid to open the comment forum on the Katniss story EW?

    She looks ok.

    • lefty

      They haven’t opened the comments on their last several covers.

    • Madison

      They have not opened comments on the covers since the whole Arnold/Elizabeth Taylor incident, I believe.

      • In retrospect…

        The Arnold cover was a very bad idea. So is a cover for a movie that hasn’t even started shooting yet.

  • js

    When will they cast Cinna?

    • Stacie

      Adam Lambert. And I am serious.

      • Gabs

        What about Cinna???
        Cillian Murphy will be perfect

      • Snsetblaze

        Gabs – I’ve been suggesting Cillian Murphy for months on these boards.

    • elcamino

      I think they have but still waiting for all the casting to finish. My thoughts with cutting Madge and most likely adding Johanna and Finnick into the first movie some will balk at the book change. Nothing new on any book to movie deal.I think they just need Finnick and Snow. I saw Joel Edgerton going to the Gatsby movie. I didn’t think he was a Cinna anyway. More a Boggs. Stephanie Hunt is my guess as Johanna.

    • natalie

      Lenny Kravitz is cast as Cinna…announced this week.

    • carrie

      Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. I don’t fully understand that, tho I am stoked about Woody Harrelson playing Haymitch. That was a good call…

      • Rebekah Stillwell

        Yes Harrelson is perfect for Haymitch. CAN’T WAIT TO SEE MORE OF THIS MOVIE!!!!

  • crispy

    The one time I was going to compliment EW’s cover, and they still have the damned comments closed! That cover looks spectacular, and she’s perfect as Katniss. I hope all the doubters are eating freshly killed crow.

    • elcamino

      She does look great. One of my favorites in the casted so far.

    • Laura

      I know…she looks amazing!

    • Melokesm

      She does look awesome. I am confident she will do the role justice.

      • Kate

        She looks perfect (if slightly over airbrushed). All that training is giving her the emaciated cheekbone/collarbone thing (necessary for the role but she was so nice and normal looking before).

    • Korri

      Still too old

  • AC

    The whole premise of Hunger Games is a rip off of Battle Royale.

    • Becky

      i can see how you think its similar..but really have you read the book because other wise you would have realized that the characters and most of the plot are completely different

    • Sarah El

      Gladitorial fights to the death have been around for millenia; Battle Royale didn’t do it first either.

    • Kevin

      If you think Battle Royale was an original idea, you need to read more, watch more movies, and study history.

  • Jesse

    When are we going to get casting news on Cinna??

  • jk

    Why no comment section for the lawrence as katniss picture?????? HORRIBLE CASTING!

    • Meadow

      Lol, you’re funny.

  • frank

    i have not read this book, but i must admit, my interest in it is starting to peak. I live in NC and it would be great to have another place to add some fame to this area. I lived in Wilmington for years and we had all kinds of movies made there.

    • Ravvie

      Read it ASAP! It’s one of the best young adult novels this decade.

      • Michelle

        ITA!!! I downloaded a sample of it on my Kindle and wound up buying it and reading it in a few days…then read the remaining two books. Loved this trilogy!

    • Sara

      i live in North Carolina too, an hour from Asheville and i am so excited they are filming in NC. we need more movies here!!!

    • Anya

      I live near Asheville as well, and it is pretty exciting to have such a big movie being filmed around here.

    • carrie


  • Tri

    reported three-mile road detour on the scheduled-to-be-closed Henry River Road will “be a hassle of epic proportions for some of us.” LOL, you want to talk hassle of epic proportions, they’re closing the 405 freeway for a weekend in Los Angeles! That’s a hassle!

  • Judith

    You should have also mentioned that Helen Harmon Ismail (who is actually from Charlotte not Hildebran) was Ima Dean in “Where the Lilies Bloom” when she was little.

  • Carolyn Jones

    I am excited about the film taking place in the area. We need something to help boost the moral of the town’s people since the economy has struck hard here. We need something to put our focus on and what a great way to do it and hopefully it may boost our economy in this area. Thanks to all who made a wise chice by chooseing our great town.

  • Kim

    Is it bad that I envisioned District 12 as Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”‘s village except instead of the warm brown tones, just grey? Very medevil (sp?) and primitive? It was like the anti-Capitol, which was all high tech….

  • LisaMama

    I lived near that area in NC for a year – the people there are wonderful and the area is beautiful. It’s a great place to shoot the movie!

  • Laurie

    District 12 is in the heart of Coal country in the books. The coal theme is used in previous District Hunger Games participants and was where Katniss’s dad was killed… So in my mind District 12 is in the heart of the Appalachian coal fields… West Virginia, Kentucky, southwestern Virginia, & Southern PA. If they are fliming in NC I think it may be more for the close-ups of the games….wooded area…trees… But they can make any area look like a run down coal town… Becuase I live in the WV coal fiels and most of my family has worked in the mines, in my mind District 12 was in a deep valley surrounded by mountains and covered in coal dust!

    • Tracy

      Agreed. The pictures of Henry River Mill Village are beautiful, but I always pictured everything gray and concrete.

      • Nee Nee

        Gray and concrete is exactly how I picture it.

    • AM

      Preach on. Except, as a Kentucky girl, I saw District 12 on my side of the boarder.

      • Mals86

        I’m with Laurie – District 12 is coal country. Which is KY, WV, southwestern VA, so the mountains of NC is a pretty good match with my mental picture of the place.

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