Game of Thrones: Features

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Belfast Set Visit: Part 4

[You can read Part 3 here.]

Now, you’ll have to travel back, back, back… to when I was in the production office the first time. Because there’s something I didn’t really mention: I had a tour of it, too, before we went on into the Paint Hall.

Bryan Cogman conducted me into the art department’s offices, where I saw a gentleman—I’m afraid I did not catch his name—with some absolutely gorgeous maps on his desk that were done in a period sort of style. I know one of them featured the region in which the westerlands and the riverlands border one another, and another was more of a map of the whole realm. Truly beautiful, and I hope HBO considers turning these into posters if maps are within their licenses (as an aside, among the many things I saw on the walls was this fan map by Tear, which it turned out had been something George had sent to the production and which they said had been very useful in understanding where things were). Bryan also introduced me to two young women whom he informed me were responsible for much of the art work for the series. Around them were things like beautiful renderings of the heraldry of most of the Great Houses (it seems the Martells may have to wait for another season or two for us to get a glimpse), and one thing Bryan noted to me was that he pointed to the gorgeous Targaryen dragon and said, yeah, they knew the legs wrong and that they would be correcting that.

For those that don’t know what that means, the Targaryen dragon should—as with actual dragons—have two back legs and then wings, but no additional limbs. A confusion on our part at Westeros.org led our own Targaryen dragon (the very one gracing George’s website) to have small forelimbs .... which George never noticed until I pointed it out to him one day. Oops. Unfortunately, our depiction, and that of Virginia Norey in A Game of Thrones, set the standard for—err—the standard. But now they know it isn’t quite right, and as we’ve seen with the recent t-shirt release, they have corrected it. Yay!

Some other things I saw in this office were sorts of Styrofoam models of certain sets and locations, I suppose as a way to mock-up how something may look. One of them was of that great roof of Vaes Dothrak, under which all the members of every khalasar was said to be able to gather at one time. I can’t wait to see it on screen.

Later, when George and Parris were watching the screener, I had a drink in the kitchen while Bryan returned to his office to deal with some urgent script editing work. I admit, I decided to stare at things awhile longer, getting my fill. It was quite amazing to be able to get such a close look at so much concept art, and to see just how many actors and roles we’re going to be introduced to. Eventually I joined Bryan and the script coordinators in his office, taking a free desk as we waited for George. I got to hear Bryan talking with David and Dan about a small continuity problem that had inadvertently developed from a scene they filmed, and how they quickly resolved it. It really made me realize how much loving attention has gone into trying to get everything right, on what in the end is a huge production that’s employing something like 600 people and there’s a lot of balls to keep in the air (or, as director Daniel Minahan later said in relation to his job, it was like keeping plates spinning).

I had missed seeing it in the armor shop, but at the production office I finally saw a photo of the whole of Loras Tyrell’s tourney armor, and even saw a picture of its source inspiration, which is a fairly famous suit of royal armor (no, not Henry VIII’s). It’s a magnificent example of the armorer’s work, and I can’t wait to see it on screen.

When George and Parris left the screening room, the first thing George said is that he loved the 20 minutes he saw, and wished they had another 20 hours to show him. He and Parris were very enthusiastic. In particular, they cited just how amazing Maisie Williams was as Arya, and later George would enthuse that she was well and truly a proper young actress. Bryan shared an anecdote which Miltos also later shared at the Moot. When Maisie came in to begin her training with fight coordinator Buster Reeves, he set a practice weapon in her right hand ... and she stopped him and noted to him that Arya was left handed and this was very important. Everyone was amazed this young girl would have researched her character well enough to realize this, and to know how important it was to maintain fidelity with Martin’s work.

After some more discussion in Bryan’s office—where I noticed a script on his desk labelled EPISODE X and with a phrase in big type (I’m paraphrasing, as I don’t recall the exact words), “Do Not Discuss This Script With Anyone Not Employed by Fire and Ice Productions”—it was time for us to head out. While we waited for our ride to Magheramorne, we had a chance to discuss a few more things. Bryan was regaling George with the fact that Harry Lloyd (Prince Visyers) had become a big fan of the novels, and was _really_ into the mythos of the setting, which was wonderful to hear. Bryan mentioned some of the little things he had written for the show, including pages for Grand Maester Malleon’s The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms, With Descriptions of Many High Lords and Noble Ladies and Their Children, which were about as dry as you’d expect after that ponderous title. Do these things have a name, I wonder? Set dressing? Fan service?

Bryan chuckled about that and mentioned that Sean Bean did not have to do much acting to get across Ned Stark’s boredom when flipping through it.

We also discussed the scroll photo that appeared on the Making Of site, where fans had been able to decipher some of the text. Bryan said that the artist behind it had probably written the text according to his own research, so the bit about Aegon IV and Sunspear was meaningless as far as content goes. I did note, however, that there’s a good reason Aegon IV may have had dealings with Dorne, and George seemed to agree.

Then our ride arrived, and off we went to Magheramorne, the primary set for filming at Castle Black.

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