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Hollywood shopped Vale for props

Fence among many pieces purchased for ‘Hunger Games’

Breanne Church places an antique barrel on display at Splinters and Rags store in Vale, which provided numerous props for “The Hunger Games”.

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer
If the fence on the movie screen this weekend looks familiar, there could be a good reason.
One Lincoln County business played a role in the production of “The Hunger Games,” the much-anticipated movie version of a popular book, set to debut Friday in theaters nationwide.
Splinters and Rags, a family-owned primitive craft and antique store on N.C. 27 in Vale, supplied props for film crews shooting on location last summer in various parts of western North Carolina, including Shelby, Hildebran, Charlotte and Asheville.
“We had no clue how big it was supposed to be,” store owner Diana Gaines said of the movie adaptation, based on the first book in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling young-adult trilogy that is set in a dystopian North America.
She has since caught on to the craze. Nonetheless, when visited in late March of last year by Hollywood set decorators — who she said were obviously not from around here — she had never heard of the books. Gaines noted that the crew members used the production code name “Artemis” when they first arrived at her store to scout props.
However, as neither she nor her employees seemed aware of the movie, they revealed before departing that they were, in fact, with “The Hunger Games.” Gaines said she then looked the film up online and realized it was a big deal, especially locally since it was being filmed in the area.
Surprisingly, crew members placed no restrictions regarding secrecy on her or her employees.
They came to Splinters and Rags after seeing the business in a brochure of antique stores throughout the state. At first, Gaines noted that they were friendly but hesitant, however they warmed up quickly. And, she added, they knew exactly what they were looking for and stayed for quite a while.
The set decorators initially took various pictures of items to show studio executives back in Hollywood. The production company then continued to email lists of very specific requested items, with Gaines even helping to find ones her store didn’t have in inventory, checking into nearby venues such as at the Metrolina Tradeshow Expo in Charlotte. They also visited Country Heart in Shelby, she noted.
When the list was finalized, she prepared an invoice, noting that the studio was not worried about the price. About a month later, a lift truck came to pick up all the pieces.
“They had quite the selection of inventory in that truck, including the antique decorative fence we originally had around the outside of the store,” Gaines said.
In addition to the fence, crew members requested several display items that weren’t actually for sale. Gaines assigned them fair prices, adding that they didn’t jack the prices up just because they were for a movie.
Other items purchased included antique cabinets, cupboards, Mason jars, old metal washtubs, wooden crates and padlocks.
Splinters and Rags has been in business for about five years. Gaines acquires much of its inventory from farmers in Pennsylvania Amish country. And, she believes the movie production’s interest in her store may help spark new visitors and customers.
“We’re anxiously awaiting the opening of the movie, and also keeping our fingers crossed that they will return to the area to film the expected sequels,” she said.
However, she admits that when she does finally get to see “The Hunger Games,” she may be more preoccupied with the props in the background than the story itself.

Image courtesy of Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News

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