The BBC has a new report examining why the anticipation level for Game of Thrones has been so high, interviewing fans and booksellers.
Of particular interest are producer Mark Huffam’s comments, reiterating that the natural, unspoiled beauty of Northern Ireland played a part in convincing HBO to set the fantasy drama there. He cites several locations as examples: “There’s the Mournes, Tollymore, the Antrim Coast and Shane’s Castle to name but a few.”
And from the article, just because it’s amusing: “The demand for suitably hairy extras was so great that some had to be recruited from local heavy metal message boards.”
This has been the busiest week for news about HBO’s Game of Thrones since the filming of the pilot, with a host of new information. To help gather all in one place, here’s our weekend recap of all the notable tidbits:
There are a couple of new, interesting details in his update: besides confirming that the plan remains for him to write one episode per season, and indicating he believes the show would air starting April or May 2011, Martin notes that a “return to Morocco is also possible, and other locations may be used as well.” It had previously been assumed that Morocco was going to be definitely be used to film the rest of the scenes on the eastern continent featuring Tamzin Merchant’s character, Daenerys Targaryen, but it appears that that assumption is wrong. The reference to “other locations” could mean that sites in Scotland such as the previously-used Doune Castle—where the fact that the site was open to the public led to certain leaks which were said to have annoyed HBO and the production team—have just as uncertain a future, doubtless for budgetary reasons.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the Danish actor cast as Jaime Lannister, provides some of the first actor reactions to the media following the announcement of HBO’s pick up of Game of Thrones. The two articles are in Danish, but in summary he notes that he’s to start filming somewhere around July 1st, that it seems Tom McCarthy will be reprising his directorial roll for the first episode to film (which is something we’ll look into), and that though his character is “bad guy #1” to start with, as with other HBO dramas, things are rarely so black-and-white.
Our rough translation follows:
BBC North Ireland has this report discussing HBO’s Game of Thrones, including an interview with local producer Mark Huffam (who reveals that Shane’s Castle was used in the pilot—a detail we never knew before, I believe).
One interesting detail? The Northern Ireland government provided a £1.6 million (roughly $2.4 million) incentive for the production, and promises more cash incentives for continuing production. As we have previously discussed, this would be in addition to the cut-rate price given for leasing the Paint Hall, and the tax credit that could equal as much as $6 million.
For those wondering about some of the footage shown in the video, the fantasy cottage/building featured at one point is from Your Highness, and is not something that would be used for the Game of Thrones pilot.
It again note the importance of Mark Huffam, a local producer, in helping to land the project in Northern Ireland. More interestingly, an approximate shooting schedule is given—June through to December, which fits pretty nicely with the rumored 30 weeks of filming a source has provided in the past—and then a list of shooting locations beside the Paint Hall.
Most of them are familiar to those who followed the production closely: Tollymore Forest Park (where the opening scene, featured in the first official publicity still, was shot) and Castle Ward (where scenes of Winterfell’s courtyard and gate appear to have been filmed). However, a new name enters the picture: Shane’s Castle in County Antrim. The castle proper has been ruined for almost 200 years, but from the description it sounds like the estate itself may be ideal for filming of exteriors in wide-open spaces.
Showtime has posted up a new, lengthy trailer promoting the final season of The Tudors, and it features quite a lot (and quite a lot) of Tamzin Merchant, the actress cast as Daenerys Targaryen in HBO’s Game of Thrones. She plays the ill-fated Katherine Howard, a young woman thrust into the arms of the mercurial Henry VIII. It’s this role that brought her to the attention of George R.R. Martin, according to previous remarks he has made.
Thanks to About Yea High at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum for pointing it out.
Now that Game of Thrones is greenlit, it’s time for fans to pile into the Casting Polls sub-forum. Forum member Smouldering Hound has started a fresh series of threads for suggesting actors to fill the many, many roles that may need filling as the nine additional episodes of the series start shooting in June.
If you’re new to Westeros.org and its forum, it should be noted that David Benioff and Dan Weiss—the executive producers of the series—are members of the forum, and while the pilot was rolling into production they specifically asked fans to pitch suggestions for roles. Our suggestion threads then seemed to have an effect as a number of roles cast were pretty much spot-on to names fans put forward, and hopefully this chance for fans to express their further ideas is going to help them to choose some more, great actors.
Some caveats: if you’re just signing up for the forum, please be patient, I manually approve the queue a couple of times a day (manual approval helps cut down on spam bots quite a bit). Also, when posting, try to focus on British actors—95% of the roles are going to go with actors who are part of the British actors association, as special exemptions are needed for non-Brits.
HBO is covering more ground than I realized. Thanks to a tip from raijap, we have this trademark filing with the U.K.‘s Intellectual Property Office. Very similar, for the most part, to the various U.S. trademark filings covered in previous posts, but presented in a much more readable package.
At a guess, with E.U. harmonization, this probably means these marks are good throughout the E.U. Interestingly, the representative legal firm is Spanish, and the second language of the filing was Spanish. This highlights how increasingly international HBO’s business is becoming.
Continuing the trademarking saga, HBO’s submitted documents on February 22nd for a International Class 009 trademark coverage for Game of Thrones To quote the text, that covers: “games; discs, cartridges and cassettes; downloadable virtual goods for use in online social networking sites; amusement gaming apparatus adapted for use with an external display screen, television receiver or monitor; sunglasses; all the aforementioned goods relating to an ongoing television series”
This doesn’t mean, of course, that HBO is getting into the gaming business (or sunglasses, for that matter, which is really “one of these things does not belong with the others” territory). But it does mean that they’re continuing to cover their bases. Speculatively, this may be opening a way for creating a promotional Flash game, such as Starz!‘s recent Spartacus: Blood and Sand and a number of other shows have had.
Those Northern Ireland ministers are a talkative bunch, to say the least! After recently being quoted discussing the boost the Game of Thrones production can provide to the local economy, the minister Nelson McCausland offers this tidbit:
“...it is expected that each series [British term used for season] will be one year in production, with an overall budget for each series of around £30m.”
That’s about $45 million U.S., or roughly $4.5 million an episode. This is slightly less than the $5 million per episode rumored for Deadwood, and significantly less than the $9 million or so per episode of Rome in the first season (but it was a significant outlier as one of the most expensive television programs, filming in one of the most expensive locations in the world). However, it’s also significantly higher than the budget of many hour-long dramas on network television, and seems to make it more expensive than Showtime’s The Tudors. It should be remembered, however, that certain significant tax breaks, matching funds, and other support were offered to the production if they based themselves in Belfast.
A 1:1 comparison may not work very well, in that light, since the $4.5 million an episode in Belfast may easily equal $5 million or more spent in the U.S. Given that still image, and given the highly talented crew (especially in terms of visual effects), I suspect this is more than sufficient to set some jaw droppings when the show airs.
At the Irish Times, an article discusses HBO’s order of a season of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, and includes comments from Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. The Northern Irish government estimates that the project could generate as much as £20 million ($30 million) for the local economy.
This was George R.R. Martin’s initial response to the news, the “happy dance” he promised to perform if the news from HBO was good. And it was. He’s since followed up with thanks for the outpouring of congratulations. He does note that for the most part, David Benioff and Dan Weiss—executive producers of the show—will be closer to any news, as they’ll be working on it on a regular basis while GRRM will stay in Santa Fe.
And in other news? He notes A Dance with Dragons has hit 1311 manuscript pages, which is up another 50 or 60 pages from his last page count, showing good progress. “No, not done yet,” he adds.
This is straight from HBO, and recaps all the terrific actors cast… and yes, includes an amazing picture—our first official still—featuring a brother of the Night’s Watch (played by Bronson Webb as Will) in a snowy forest:
Photo caption: Opening scene, Game of Thrones pilot. Shot on location in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Just got in a direct mailing from HBO on this, with the first official still from the show which, well, you can find elsewhere now. But we’ll have it up shortly once we sort out the uploading issues are sorted out. This is, suffice it to say, brilliant news.
Shooting will commence in June. The most notable detail after the pick up, though? Ten episodes, not twelve as originally planned; if I’m not mistaken, GRRM himself at one point was certain it was twelve that was under discussion, but it seems in the intervening time the plan has changed. Whether it’s for budget purposes or they believe it better suits the pacing of the first novel—or both—is up to speculation. This should set fans to reassessing their fannish breakdowns of the first season of this show.