‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1′: Why You Shouldn’t Expect ‘Flamboyant’ Costumes

Christian Cordella, a costume illustrator for the franchise, gives MTV News the inside scoop about the looks for the upcoming sequels.

The final book in the “Hunger Games” trilogy, “Mockingjay,” is a much bleaker affair than the previous two. Considering it’s the only one without a government-sponsored, televised fight to the death for entertainment purposes, that’s quite a feat. While the first two movies alternated between the run-down districts, the flamboyant Capitol, and the uniformed Hunger Games, the third movie in the series — which will encompass the first half of “Mockingjay” — will take place in the secret underground city of District 13.

Christian Cordella, a costume illustrator who worked on the first “Hunger Games” movie, is currently hard at work sketching the outfits you’ll see on Katniss and the rest of the rebels who escaped to the underground refuge in “Mockingjay.” He told MTV News that the look of the third movie’s costumes will be much tamer than the first two.

“It’s underground, so it’s not going to be too much of the flamboyant dresses,” he said. The District 13 clothes are more subdued, more military in nature than the Capitol finery.

While Cordella didn’t work on the now-in-theaters “Catching Fire,” he had a hand in bringing Suzanne Collins’ descriptions of each character to life in the first movie.

“On the first one I worked on pretty much everything from the fire dress to the Hunger Games suit,” he explained. “Hopefully they matched the expectations of the viewers. That’s the hope when you approach one of these kinds of movies.”

A costume illustrator works in tandem with the costume designer, director, and producers of a film to shape the look of each character’s costume. “It’s a tool; we are able to help make an idea clear for the director, the producers,” he said. “A lot of these people need to see where they’re going to invest their money, what’s going to be done with it. Costume illustration helps them have a better understanding of what’s really happening — what kind of fabric, what kind of design.”

With a project like “The Hunger Games,” the costume designer and illustrator are tasked with the seemingly impossible job of translating the fantastic elements from the written word to reality, something that was especially hard with the first film.

“With a movie like the first ’Hunger Games,’ you start from scratch,” Cordella told us. “In the book it says things that really don’t make any sense realistically, because with the fantasy of writing, the mind can go [anywhere]. Then when you try to make it real you start to understand what works and what doesn’t.”

Translating a look from the page to the screen does give the designers some amount of freedom, but there are other considerations too. “You have more freedom to experiment with the characters in the situations,” he said, “but you’re also taking into account how many people are involved in the process, the budget, what you can do. So whatever you see on the movie screen at the end is the best that could have been done in that situation.”