Earlier this month, the seemingly odd news broke that Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh was directing the second unit on Gary Ross‘ film The Hunger Games. At the time, Russ wrote:

This might seem strange at first, but Steven Soderbergh and Gary Ross have a friendship that goes back some years, and The Hunger Games production designer Phil Messina is also a frequent Soderbergh collaborator. Combine those factors with the fact that the film is shooting very quickly — the release date is only about seven months out — and for Gary Ross having someone in charge of the second unit who is both a long-time confidante and a notoriously fast worker probably seems like a tremendous gift.

Bingo. After the jump, read exactly what Soderbergh did, and how much of it, in his own words.

In an interview with Moviefone to promote Contagion, Soderbergh said the following, clearing up any confusion.

I show up in North Carolina, a crew member Tweets, “Steven Soderbergh’s here.” And immediately the fucking firestorm starts. “Why is he here? What’s going on? Is the movie in trouble? Is he directing footage from the second one?” All of this crazy-ass speculation. People just spinning off.

The story is really simple. Back in April, [director] Gary [Ross] — who is a close friend of mine I’ve exchanged creative favors with non-stop over the last 15 years — when he got the boards for the shoot in April called me and said, “Hey, first week of August, I got these two days of second unit. Is there any way you can come down and help me out? Because I’d rather have you do it than hire somebody who I don’t know.” I said, “Actually, that works out.” We’ll just be finishing ‘Contagion’ and prepping ‘Magic Mike’ and, yeah, it could be fun.

Cut to two months later, and I show up to do this thing. Of course the whole design of it and what’s fun about it, for me, is my job is to come in and duplicate exactly what Gary and Tom Stern, the [cinematographer], are doing. To mimic as closely as I can to their aesthetic. And that’s what I attempted to do. But if I’ve done my job properly, I hope I did, by design, you won’t be able to tell what I did. Because it’s supposed to cut seamlessly into what they’re doing. That’s the whole point. That’s why he asked me to come down, because he knew that I would be rigorous about matching what they were doing.

You know, he showed me stuff on either side of the area in which I was going to be shooting stuff and we talked at length. And I thought, OK, I see what you guys are doing. I know what the tool kit is. I know what the rules are. And it’s fun in a way. I found it much more nerve-wracking than when you’re shooting for yourself. Because I was constantly thinking, Oh, I hope that he likes this. I hope he likes that.

And that’s the story. He was on for two days, duplicated what Ross was doing, and left. It was a favor for a friend. He’s not directing the second film, he wasn’t called in to help with a troubled production, just a friend helping another friend out.

Head over to Moviefone to read more including what surprised Soderbergh on the set and what it was like for him to do something so different.

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