Answer by Francis Lawrence, director, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire:
It’s a bit of a process. It starts early on when we talk about the script. I explain my approach to the script and story and how I’m going to adapt the book. Then I’ll typically start talking about any physical transformations that they might need to do so that we might deal with weight loss, weight gain, any training, anything to do with hair, etc.
Jennifer Lawrence had archery training and training to get in shape for some of the action. With some of the other tributes, they had to learn how to use their weapons and do tricks with their weapons.
For Sam Claflin (Finnik), who probably did the most amount of training, it was really learning how to use and fight with a trident. He had to get in physical shape because he had scenes without a shirt—he also needed to be able to tie a lot of different kind of knots very quickly. He probably had the most extensive amount of training.
With a cast this big, we didn’t have a normal rehearsal process. Instead, I had a series of meetings with each of the key actors, where we would go through the script, and I would tell them what I thought their emotional arc was and talk about the emotional beats of each of the scenes. We’d have discussions about that, and then it might actually lead into discussions about real dialogue and about the scenes themselves depending on who the actor was. Sometimes certain things or ideas about characters are not evident on the surface of the script because it is more about subtext, so we would talk a lot about that.
Once we start to work on set, it really becomes a moment-by-moment dialogue about what the scene is actually about, what the emotional beats of the scene are, and what the objectives and needs are.