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Belfast Trip: Part 2

Continuing my Belfast trip report. Here’s Part 1.

At breakfast, we met none other than Isaac Hempstead-Wright, the younger actor playing Bran Stark. It seemed he had just wrapped filming at Castle Ward and was to head back home, though his mother, Helen—who was absolutely lovely to speak with—said she thought he had two or three scenes left to do for the series. Isaac was incredibly sweet and polite, making a point of getting my name exactly right and using it. They left us to get ready to go, and not long after Parris departed to layer up for the Paint Hall and Magheramorne visits. George and I discussed the world book (during which I learned something about one of the characters who’ll appear in the three Dornish chapters he’s moved to The Winds of Winter) for a few more minutes before moving on ourselves, and I went downstairs to wait for them and our transportation. Fortunately, Isaac and his mother were also in the lobby, waiting for their pick-up, and I had a great conversation with them.

Report from Malta

I was off in Belfast when this report came in from a Russian fan who happened to be in Malta when filming of Dothraki scenes were taking place. 7kingdoms.ru shares the report, with Westeros.ru providing Westeros.ru the English translation. It’s a terrific piece of reporting as they paid close attention to some of the details we’re all eager to know about, such as weapons and clothing. Regarding their description of the arakh, I believe we’ve glimpsed one previously.

Funnily enough, Linda sent me a text message about this report while I was visiting with Bryan Cogman, and I told him about it. He confirmed that they had been filming the wedding scene around that time, though on that particular day (Thursday) they had moved on to something else.

One last detail I should note is I have a separate report in from someone who was at the Azure Window who confirmed that they were, indeed, shooting right down by the shore.

Belfast Trip: Part 1

I had originally planned to write this rather backwards, starting with the Moot and then going back, but as I sat down to write all of this, it just seemed easier to start from the beginning. I hope to get parts out every few days, depending on whether I need to run it by HBO to make sure any details I post are okay to share or not. But this first post is, I think, unobjectionable since it covers the time from my arrival in Belfast to my time prior to reaching Paint Hall.

Belfast Moot Photos

Many, many terrific photos from the Moot that happened last night. None taken by me, alas, as my phone camera lacked a flash, but here’s a few examples and links to the galleries where they’ve been posted:

Wyvernwoodhas some of the best shots I’ve seen so far. Here’s one with myself and George chatting with Finn Jones, and Mark Addy’s in the shot:

BWB_Moot2_281010_014

DrNickVC has posted several terrific pictures. I particularly like this one, featuring (from left to right) Gethin Anthony (Lord Renly), Eugene Simon (Lancel), Joseph Altin (Pypar), DrNick himself, Luke McEwan (Rast), Mark Addy (King Robert), and Finn Jones (Ser Loras):

DocFourFour (aka Rimshot) has a great series of photos he took through the night, including many of the raffle drawings.

I’m sure there are more out there, but these are a great start. Hope to have my own Moot report, with some details I picked up from the actors, later in the evening. Still recovering from the whirlwind trip!

Focus Group Closed

The focus group announced last week is now closed. Here’s the message from the market research company running this focus group:

Hi A Song of Ice and Fire Fans,

Thank you so much for your interest in our upcoming focus groups.  As a result of a massive and enthusiastic response to our post, recruitment is now closed.  We apologize if you did not have a chance to apply. If you have already been in contact with one of our representatives, you will receive a follow-up call soon.  Thanks again for your support.  Your passion for the series is inspiring!

 

HBO Updates: Dinklage and the Moot on DVD

Some interesting HBO-related items today. First, word from GRRM and Parris is that HBO is considering sending the documentary team they have on-hand to prepare promotional and DVD extra material for Game of Thrones to the moot in Belfast on Thursday (note: registration to take part has now been closed, as the party has met the limit placed on them for the venue), to record the goings-on for a segment. It’s terrific that the production is embracing the fans even more clearly!

Also, the Making Game of Thrones site has been updated with a quote from Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) regarding his character’s relationship to his sister, Queen Cersei (played by Lena Headey). Noting that he and Headey are good friends, he notes his sadness that they have very few scenes this season, a lament I believe we’ve heard from Headey herself. Hopefully the second season (*knock on wood*) will more than amply address that concern!

We noticed that the item was posted in the name of Steve Marzolf, a journalist who also writes copy for HBO,producing “core site content (episode guides, character bios, etc.)” and also conducting interviews for Behind the Scenes features such as those we’ve been seeing in the Artisan series. It seems like he’s already been at work covering the production.

NYC Focus Group for Ice and Fire Fans

The following is from a market research organization to fans of A Song of Ice and Fire:

Today we have a very exciting opportunity for all our A Song of Ice and Fire fans living in the New York City and surrounding area.

We are currently recruiting fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series to participate in a focus group discussion happening on November 9th in New York City. This will be an exciting opportunity to share your thoughts, passion and ideas with fellow fans.

If you:
a) have read and enjoyed Game of Thrones and b) are able to attend a 2.5 hour discussion group on November 9th in New York City (all participants will be required to supply their own transport). Please, contact us either by email (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) or by phone (212-473-6000) and we¹ll give you more details.

Hodor on Hodor

Fans at Octocon in Dublin this past weekened recieved a pleasant surprise when Kristian Nairn, the actor cast as Hodor, appeared with George R.R. Martin to discuss HBO’s Game of Thrones. The Rabbit and LugaJetGirl, two fans who were present, have written up reports on the panel which can be found Here and here respectively.

Among the more notable bits? A composer for the series has been selected, but has yet to be announced, according to the report. Also, Kristian provides an intriguing piece of information regarding a change in the character’s appearance.

As an added bonus, the Rabbit took a few pictures of George and Kristian together. Here’s one of them:

Kristian Nairn and GRRM
Bronn in Action

After posing a quiz question (a rather spoilerish one at that, actually—naughty, naughty!), HBO has posted a new still from the Game of Thrones production that features Jerome Flynn as the sellsword Bronn. Flynn’s almost unrecognizable to my eye, and I suspect this photo will ease the concerns of some who know him best (or perhaps worst, depending on who you ask) from his Robson & Jerome days when his casting was announced. He really looks the part!

Making Game of Thrones: Fruit Ninjas and Secret Messages

Bryan Cogman provides a post written during the Shane’s Castle tourney filming for HBO’s Game of Thrones, filmed back in August, and it’s full of interesting details ... like the Fruit Ninja craze that has swept the crew. And that the tourney—depicted in two separate chapters of A Game of Thrones—is split across episodes IV and V. But one detail leapt out at us as just the sort of thing we love best, that graphic artist Jim Stanes was working on the production and that he had done a great design for House Royce (Bronze Yohn and his sons were at the tourney in the novels).

We quickly found his blog, where we noticed he worked on Kingdom of Heaven (David, Dan, if you’re reading this—we’ve always imagined the Dornish look much like that!) and then @straphe pointed out to us that Stanes had uploaded the Targaryen arms back in December. I did a little more digging and stumbled across this beauty, described as a coded message from the production.

Before the image loaded, I of course thought it was Lysa’s to Catelyn .... but the script is so radically different from our own (which is what is being used for Westerosi)

that I believe it represents a Valyrian script as used in the Free Cities

. Of course, the fact that he uploaded it back in December suggests it was from the pilot, where only Lysa’s message to Catelyn really makes any sense.

Bits and Bobs from Game of Thrones

Yesterday and this morning have seen a number of small items of note, many via Twitter (and some of those thanks to fellow fan Nymeria_Wic) which we tweeted about, plus a new item or two which leads this post off:

  • It seems like filming next week—likely in Malta—will involve scenes at the Western Market in Vaes Dothrak, according to this tweet from Simon Lowe, who was cast as the wineseller Dany meets. He mentions that he’s practicing his Dothraki.

  • Gary Lowry, horse wrangler for HBO’s Game of Thrones, is briefly interviewed about his work in providing horses for this and other productions. He mention’s that he’s working with the Devil’s Horsemen, who we’ve previously discussed. Lowry is mentioned as having been the demonstration horseman for the renowned horse trainer Monty Roberts during his Join Up demonstrations.

  • Scottish actor Emun Elliot, who plays Marillion, was also interviewed in connection to a new series he is part of. He briefly discusses Game of Thrones, talking up how large a production it is by noting the very large cast, which he numbers at 250.

  • Extras NI is in desperate search for a qualified butcher for filming on the 7th and possibly the 8th. Our expectation is that this butcher may be the one Mycah (a young friend of Arya’s) is apprenticed to. Why a genuine butcher would be needed, we’re uncertain but we’re supposing that it may have to do with health and safety regulations regarding the handling of raw meat products.

  • It sounds like Saintfield is host to more than one filming location, with a fan on Twitter indicating that she saw the production was filming at the Rowallane Garden. She noticed two men with birds of prey in the vicinity, making us wonder if she didn’t spot the production’s trained ravens? She also noted that the Rowallane grounds features the remains of an old ráth, an Irish ringfort. The Rowallane Garden location is not the same location, a private estate, which we previously reported on.

  • We’ve been told by HBO that the focus for promoting the series currently is on the Making Game of Thrones site. Specifically, this means that New York Comic Con—at which HBO’s corporate parent Time Warner has an exhibit—will feature little or even no new information, promotional materials, etc. in connection to the seres.

  • Actress Sibel Kekilli, cast as Shae, is the lead of Die Fremde, an award-winning, critically-praised film that is now Germany’s selection for consideration as a nominee for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Sixty countries have submitted entries this year, and only five will be selected, but Die Fremde is probably one of the most internationally known of the films and so stands a good chance.

  • Luke McEwan, cast as Rast, went horseriding for the production.

  • Finally, with word that the actor cast as Ser Meryn Trant will shortly be announced, it’s interesting to note that Miltos Yerolemou—the actor cast as the fan-favorite “dancing master” Syrio Forel—will be back to filming on the production around the end of the month. The two characters interact (to put it mildly) in the books, so it looks as if we have a sense as to what will be filming at that time.
Game of Thrones in Spain

Via Mundoplus.tv, we learn that Spain’s Canal+ has secured the rights to HBO’s Game of Thrones. This follows our previous reports that Canal+ Scandinavia (originally, but no longer, part of the same company) has secured similar rights in the Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. Mundoplus does not provide any information regarding an air date besides 2011. They do claim that the pilot episode cost 10 million Euros, but the source of this information is unclear.

Return of the Belfast Moot

Thanks to the efforts of LordMountainGoat, it looks like the Brotherhoods without Banners will be organizing a second moot in Belfast which George R.R. Martin and his partner Parris will attend, to hang out with fans while GRRM is in the area to drop by the production. The event is scheduled for October 28th, the only day in which GRRM would be available. For more details, check out this thread over at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum. Some excerpts:

Now before we go any further I have to make it clear that this is first and foremost a Brotherhood Without Banners meet up with George RR Martin and Parris. We cannot in any way guarantee that any of the cast and crew of the show will be there at all whatsoever.

The reason for this is that the filming schedule is not certain and we could not get any definite answers as to whether this would be a good day for it or not. We could not wait any longer to announce because everyone needs to book time off work, flights, hotels, etc. So if there is a big day of filming scheduled for Thursday, or a night shoot, or a 5 am start on Friday for most of the cast then unfortunately it will be tough luck. This really will be a bit of a lottery as to whether anyone will be available and willing to come out and meet us….

We do have some concerns about just how many people might show up and for that reason we will not be publicly announcing the location where the Moot will be held. Instead I will be sending PMs or emails with the details to everybody that signs up in this thread to attend. Also we will be using a guest list entry system so if your name is not down, you ain’t getting in.

Right now there is no limit on numbers but if hundreds of people post here in the next week that might be a problem but we’ll deal with that eventuality if it does arise.

LMG is referring to last year’s moot, in which actors Richard Madden, Kit Harrington, Alfie Allen, Ron Donachie, Sophie Turner, and Maisie Williams attended George’s signing (and some of them went on to the post-signing get together to hang out). As he says, this year it’s anyone’s guess as to who will be around, available, and willing to participate, but at the very least George and Parris will be there, and a good time will certainly be had.

(For those who sign up to the forum to post your interest in taking part, please allow up to 24 hours before being able to post. We use a manual validation system to weed out spammers, and sometimes we are overwhelmed a bit.)

UK Sees Game of Thrones in April

The Guardian is reporting that Sky—who recently secured exclusive broadcast rights to HBO’s original programming—is launching a new high definition channel, Sky Atlantic, to feature HBO’s programs as well as Mad Men, which they recently scooped up from the BBC. The channel will cost £19 a month as part of the Sky Variety Pack, and will launch early in 2011.

Most interestingly, Sky reports that Game of Thrones is set to begin airing in April. This likely means the show will be airing no more than a month after it premieres in the United States.

What the Dispatches Tell Us

Okay, still processing Bryan Cogman’s Dispatches from the Seven Kingdoms. By now, the majority of episodes IV and V have been completed, as has a large part of episode III. Going through it post by post:

  • July 23rd: A new scene between Ned and Cersei, not from the novels and not in episode IV. From episode IV—written by Cogman—is a tender scene between Ned and Arya. At a guess, this scene is the one that leads up to her dancing master being employed. At this time, the first week or two of filming are largely in the Red Keep sets in the Paint Hall studio.

  • July 29: Ned speaking with Grand Maester Pycelle, also from episode 4. This corresponds with Ned’s fifth chapter, his second after reaching King’s Landing. Still at the Paint Hall at this point, it looks like.

  • July 30: Big small council scene, which we’re told is one of three fatured across three episodes in the first season. Now, the list of people attending this scene is interesting: Mark Addy as Robert, Aidan Gillen as Littlefinger, Julian Glover as Pycelle, Sean Bean as Eddard Stark. Is this an entirely new scene, or one significantly changed up? There are, to my recollection, only three small council scenes in A Game of Thrones, only one of which has Robert present. But in that scene, Barristan Selmy (played by Ian McElhinney) is also present, and yet he isn’t mentioned. This may suggest that Robert has been inserted into one of the two earlier small council scenes—featured in Eddard’s first and third Kign’s Landing chapters—while for some reason (probably simply streamlining the cast to focus on fewer characters) Barristan the Bold has been left out.

    Of course, we do know that the last of Ned’s small council scene has already been shot, in part or in full, because we saw it in the teaser—here’s a frame. Given what Bryan has said, we think we can now place that scene from the teaser (which may not be the same scene as he’s watching) as being in episode V, directed by Brian Kirk. Very compressed storytelling, as episode V then encompasses both the tourney chapter from Ned and his following chapter. Things are moving pretty fast, all considered, if that’s the case. At a guess, the three small council scenes he mentions may be in episodes III, IV, and V respectively… or IV and V, and then one scene down the road that’s a bit different.

  • August 3: The first day on location, at Leslie Hill as we previously reported (here’s a Ballymoney Times article about this. We can see from the Behind the Scenes featurette that footage was also shot there on the next day if we read that slate right, and that it would all have been for episode III, directed by Brian Kirk. A new name is mentioned, Paul Jennings, as stunt coordinator. Jennings has some significant credits, including Batman Begins (where Buster Reeves, the series’ fight arranger, was the lead stunt double for Christian Bale). Post-production digital effects will be used to expand the Leslie Hill area to represent the Dothraki sea.

  • August 5: Filming at Leslie Hill is done and we go to the “opposite end” of Northern Ireland. This was a bit confusing, but Leslie Hill’s to the north of Belfast, whereas we believe Sandy Brae is in the Mourne Mountains region in the southeast corner of the country. If that’s right, Vaes Dothrak is well-situated in a region that has some mountains, as the Dothraki city is situated next to the holy Mother of Mountains. The usual cast you expect will be there is there.

Now, to the present. Bryan mentions scenes with Bran and Tyrion’s stand-in. Hrm… Tyrion’s stand-in? Scenes from Bran’s bedchamber? This leads us to some speculation, to say the least, about the content of episode IV. But, equally possible, it’s general shooting of scenes from the first episode. The original pilot is in the process of reshoots, due to recasting and various other tweaks. We know from recent reports that Castle Ward has been used for filming for the last several days.

A final comment: if large parts of episodes III, IV, and V have been shot… might it make sense that Brian Kirk is in charge of four of the total episodes of the series? Certainly, III and V are definitely Kirk episodes, and it seems difficult to imagine so much of IV having been done if they were constantly switching directors from shoot to shoot during the day. We’ve also previously reported the possibility that Kirk is in charge of the reshoots for the pilot episode, which may be what’s presently being shot.

(Oh, and as a bit of trivia, the scrolls can be partially read if you reverse the image. “Aegon Targaryen, the Fourth of his Reign, King of the Andals and the First Men” can be clearly read. Nice! We’re going to guess that the scroll is one among many on Grand Maester Pycelle’s table. Of course… there’s a lack of reference to the Rhoynar. There’s a couple possible reasons for this, perfectly consistent with the setting—and, in particular, with that particular Targaryen king—and we hope one of those reasons are relevant.)