What do you do when you've just wrapped up spending years of your life working on one of the most beloved and successful film franchises in cinematic history? Do you instantly sign on for some Oscar-bait, to put all of that running through burning forest stuff behind you? Do you -- gasp -- dare to take a much-needed vacation? Or do you take option C like Josh Hutcherson did, by agreeing to help a young filmmaker's vision come to fruition from start to finish, via his partnership with Canon's Project Imagination?
Of course, many people wouldn't quite have the patience to sit through dozens of regular folk-submitted movie trailers, choose one, book a director, and produce the whole thing into a fifteen-minute short film -- "The Rusted" -- but many people also don't have the chance to partner with Ron Howard to do it.
"Ron Howard was a huge draw, obviously," Hutcerson told MTV News on the rooftop of the Standard Hotel, at a press event before the film's October 23 release. "I’ve always admired him, even when I was a kid he was one of my idols, because I want to direct, and he started as a child actor and grew to become one of the most prolific filmmakers. So that was a huge draw, and I just liked the overall concept of inspiring everyday people to pick up a camera and tell their story, or create something. It was exciting, not knowing what it was going to be. When I signed on, I just signed on to make whatever movie we ended up coming up with, so it was cool, I didn’t know the character or genre or anything. I didn’t even know the director was going to do it. It was a leap of blind faith. I’m excited by that kind of thing, and to be involved producing, creatively shaping how it was going to turn out, was something that was very attractive as well."
Once Hutcherson and Howard did choose "The Rusted," (adapted from a trailer titled "Tainted Water") a psychological thriller that tells a dark tale of two siblings who return to the home of their recently deceased, abusive mother to turn it into a recording studio, it was time to select the crew. Director Kat Candler jumped on board to helm the final project, while Hutcherson was thrilled to reunited with his "Hunger Games" costar Jena Malone, in order to make the sibling dynamic seem more natural.
"When you’re in a project this size, you have three days to shoot it," Hutcherson explained. "It wasn’t a big budget by any means, it’s like run and gun. You kind of have to get it all and get it quick, and I like that energy a lot. On sets like ‘Hunger Games,’ you have a lot of days, a lot of time, so it’s a lot of sitting around and moving locations. This one was literally all day every day, as much as we could shoot we did. I love them both, they both have their ups and downs, positives and negatives. It was great working with Jena, having someone that you’ve already had this relationship with for years was really important, because we only had three days to shoot it, and you only have fifteen minutes to tell the story and believe that these people are brother and sister, and they have this real past together. So to actually have someone you have a past with makes it easier to jump in."
Hutcherson and Malone do have great chemistry in the short, which can be viewed below or on the project's website. And for what it's worth, Hutcherson said "The Rusted" has inspired him in two major ways -- both to pursue more "intense, heavy and dark" films post-"Hunger Games," and to "push forward" on eight projects that his production company has acquired. But in the meantime there's still the upcoming premiere of "Mockingjay - Part 2," which Hutcherson admits doesn't quite feel real.
"It’s more weird than sad, because we all still hang out and we’re all still real friends outside of ‘Hunger Games,'" he explained. "All of us -- me, Jen [Lawrence], Liam [Hemsworth], Woody [Harrelson], Francis [Lawrence], Francis’ assistant, producers. Everybody is still really close. But it’s weird that it’s really finishing; it doesn’t really compute. It’s going to be surreal when that final premiere happens, the final one in L.A., it’s like the finish of it all. It’s kind of crazy. But it’s going to be with me for the rest of my life, I’m going to be talking about it for years and years to come, so it’s not going anywhere."