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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.)

GRRM on Game of Thrones

Thanks to LordMountainGoat, we now have video of George R.R. Martin’s Worldcon panel in which he discusses the series. As previously reported, George had wanted to show some of his personal materials and to go into more depth, but at that time HBO was very closed-mouth. Therefore, his discussion of the series is fairly general. Still, makes for interesting listening as he discusses the genesis of the series. Note that there are spoilers:



 

New Gallery Images

We’ve added screencaps fromHBO’s Fall/Winter 2010 preview video, featuring Sean Bean as Eddard Stark and Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy, to the gallery. These shots are interesting in that they probably give us our best idea of how the series will look when it hits the air, as the teaser footage makes use of a very dark filter and the behind the scenes is straight-up documtenary footage.

Game of Thrones Screencap Gallery

We’ve collected screen captures from HBO’s latest video releases (missing just a couple of Ned shots from the 2010-2011 preview) and have posted them at our gallery. If you’ve seen our dissection of the videos, you’ll have seen all of these, but if you click through you’ll find that each image has additional commentary from us. Much of it pertains to comparisons to the novels, especially in regards to thematic details such as armor, clothing, and the like.

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts on the images. We plan to add the original teaser screencaps to the gallery in time.

For those concerned about spoilers, there are none which are not already self-evident from the trailer and behind the scenes video.

Brief Clips of Sean Bean as Ned

One other thing that HBO has released is their overall 2010/2011 preview, featuring a number of the productions they’re readying to knock the socks off of subscribers. At the very beginning and towards the very end, we get glimpses of Sean Bean as Eddard Stark, the Lord of Winterfell and one of the central characters of Game of Thrones. These clips are not part of the promo teaser or behind-the-scenes material, so are worth a look!

This two brief clips are from the very first scene where we see Ned, executing a deserter from the Night’s Watch.

NEW UPDATE: Dissecting the New Teaser (more images!)

Images coming later (sorry, folks, it’s quite late!). First, the teaser:

9 seconds: Jon Snow (Kit Harington) on the Wall.

10 seconds: Ser Hugh of the Vale jousting at the Hand’s Tourney.

10-11 seconds: Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and someone we can’t identify.

14 seconds: Arryn men-at-arms, presumably in the Vale.

15 seconds: Tyrion in the Vale held prisoner by a unknown man-at-arms (possibly Bronn’s fellow sellsword, Chiggen, who may be unnamed)

16 seconds: Sandor Clegane fighting his brother, Ser Gregor Clegane. The Mountain that Rides looks MASSIVE. His armor is a hauberk of steel plates, rather than plate armor as with some other knights glimpsed earlier on.

17 Seconds. Eddard Stark, King Robert, Varys, and Grand Maester Pycelle at the small council table. Robert and Eddard are arguing. Big tapestry in the background.

19 seconds: What we believe is the final Game of Thrones logo, or near enough.

And now the behind the scenes promo:

8 seconds: Shot of the tourney ground. Baratheon banner notable.

9 seconds: Targaryen banner… where would that be hanging? Hmm. Alas, the dragon has four legs—this may be our fault! It’s supposed to be two, in fact, but perhaps it’s a creative change.

9-10 seconds: A youth fighting with a stick. We guess this is Prince Joffrey, heir to the Iron Throne.

11 seconds: What we guess is a wildling fighting someone. Don’t want to spoil. ;)

11-12 seconds: Catelyn Stark. Michelle Fairley looks amazing.

19-21 seconds: Jon Snow sparring. We suspect this is Grenn, played by Mark Stranley. A lack of helmets noted, tut-tut.

29 seconds: A bunch of Baratheon guards and what we intially believed to be a blurry glimpse of Jaime Lannister with a positively leonine mane of blond hair. The red cloak is certainly suggestive. However, now we think that he is in armor in this scene. Another set of arms are glimpsed here as well, which is nice: a rooster on red. Perhaps one of the hedge knights attaching themselves to the king’s train?

29 seconds: On the monitor, Ned Stark cleaning Ice, from the start of the novel.

32 seconds: A brief glimpse of someone we don’t recognize. We are told by HBO that this is in fact an extra.

32 seconds: We’re told these men in the foreground are Lannister guardsmen.  A distictly Asian flair to their armor, but still recognizably plate armor. The helmets are the most striking pieces, seeming quite like samurai helmets, but it’s hard to say what they look like when the visors are down. Behind them is a gold cloak.

32 seconds: Some sort of Northern lord or Stark servant? Not an identifiable actor.

37-38 seconds: Viserys Targaryen, played by Harry Lloyd, using a single-edged sword which we initially thought might be an arakh. However, the Dothraki in the background, who may be Jhogo (Elysa Gabel), seems to have a long-hafted, sickle-like weapon hanging from his horse. He also seems to be wearing some sort of vest or lamellar armor. A bit of a change from the novels, in which the Dothraki disdain armor.

43 seconds: Dothraki travelling through willows. This would be the material that was shot in Ballymoney.

45 seconds: Ser Jorah Mormont, played by Iain Glen. Part of the same travelling sequence.

56 seconds: George! With Richard Madden. Shortly after, David Benioff dates the interview: a couple of weeks after George visited the set for the pilot.

1:00 minute: The Stark direwolf on the Wall.

1:01: Ser Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) and who we believe to be Rast (Luke McEwan), possibly attacking poor Samwell.

1:03: Very padded Bran fighting against Prince Tommen.

1:04: Catelyn Tully hiding from danger, and Tyrion Lannister enters the scene from behind the camera.

1:07: The massive Conan Stevens practicing his fight choreography.

1:08: The lovely Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and a very brief glimpse of Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) sitting next to her. I’ll bet the fastening of his doublet is a mockingbird. On Sansa’s other side, Arya. Jeyne Poole seems to have fallen by the wayside, which I believe has been previously confirmed.

1:09: Kit Harington practicing with Mark Stanley.

1:10: Sean Bean as Eddard Stark in ... well, King’s Landing certainly.

1:10-1:11: Peter Dinklage as Tyrion, hair dyed, and a great crimson-and-gold leather jerkin.

1:11: Mark Addy as King Robert (looking very relaxed with a styrofoam cup and a bar of chocolate! Obviously between takes) and Lena Headey looking marvelous as Queen Cersei. Their children, Prince Tommen and Princess Myrcella,  can be glimpsed just at the end. Just off camera is Sandor Clegane.

1:12: Arya (Maisie Williams) and Bran (Isaac Hempestead Wright) having fun. Wonderful!

1:17: A knight in armor. Ser Hugh of the Vale? Hard to tell.

1:19: Two direwolf pups. Awww!

1:25: Daenerys Targaryen among the Dothraki. We beleve that’s Jhogo behind her, and his armor seems more like woven leather than lamellar or scale.

1:26: A better glimpse of Princess Myrcella and Prince Tommen. Followed by some direwolf emboridery, and then a shot of Kingsguard in ceremonial armor. Alas, it lacks the white cloaks, or any nod to it (even their armor is white in the books), but it’s an interesting look at least. Of all the things we’ve seen so far, we’d call this the most “stereotypically” fantasy. But hey, at least they have the “intricate suit of scales” thing going. Then they’re followed by some Lannister men, if the red that predominates reveals anything. Finally, that character from earlier. He and the other individual are extras, HBO tells us.

1:27: Michelle Fairley as Catelyn. Love the look, love the blue with her hair. Behind her, some of the sellswords who accompany her. And then the black-helmeted Ser Gregor Clegane followed by Ser Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers, is a truly magnificent helmet that evokes flowers and plant life. Marvellous!

HBO Launches Making Of Site

HBO’s listened to what you wanted to hear, folks! Visit Making Game of Thrones, a new site where the producers will be blogging a bit about the process behind making the series, sharing unique details and information with all the fans.

New Game of Thrones Promo

Watch the new Game of Thrones promotional video below!

And here is the In Production preview!

Brilliant, isn’t it? More in a bit as we provide our preliminary dissection of what we’ve all just seen courtesy of HBO.

Game of Thrones Sneak Peek Details

After digging around a bit, we’ve learned that the preview of Game of Thrones that’s part of the True Blood pre-show will feature both new footage as well as an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the production. And on top of that, as previously reported, media sites such as Westeros will be receiving a new still to share with everyone on the web.

HBO Announces New Game of Thrones Material

Via e-mail, HBO has informed media sites that the True Blood pre-show starting at 8:40 EST will feature “previews of upcoming HBO Original Programming including Game of ThronesBoardwalk EmpireMildred Pierce, In Treatment, Big Love, Eastbound & Down, Bored to Death, Enlightened and Curb Your Enthusiasm.” A little bird has whispered to us that there’s some sort of long trailer already floating around in the labyrinths of HBO, but whether the pre-show preview will be that or another short teaser like the first teaser remains a question.

HBO promises to have the video up on the web—probably at the official Game of Thrones sub-site—within minutes of its airing, which is good news for those of us overseas (*ahem*). Also, a new still from the production will be sent to media sites to post online. Suffice it to say, Linda and I will be getting to bed late…

Notice how Game of Thrones leads the list of shows? Could be coincidence… or it could be a sign that HBO is aware of just how massive the interest is in the series on-line. A little bird has also whispered that some eyebrows were raised at how many hits that first little teaser earned…

Any odds that this time around, Daenerys Targaryen will be featured? Emilia Clarke has some gorgeous new portrait photos posted, taken by renowned celebrity photographer Lorenzo Aguis. Could be sheer coincidence, of course, but… one never knows.