Game of Thrones: News

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The Weaponry of Game of Thrones

This is one I’ve been asking for for awhile, and boy, am I happy to see it. HBO’s Making Game of Thrones has posted a brand new Artisans video, this one featuring weaponsmaster Tommy Dunne as he discusses—and shows—a number of weapons made for the series. Among them, one can see Ser Gregor Clegane’s greatsword standing next to Eddard Stark’s Ice, Ser Waymar Royce’s amber-encrusted sword, and more:

Look particularly closely at the weapons behind Dunne at the opening. There’s one balde that looks as if it has ring guards on it, and it’s quite slender and long… is that Arya’s sword, Needle? I am suspicious!

Edited: My speculation is confirmed by a little bird—it is, indeed, Needle.

Bryan Cogman Discusses Malta

Although filming in Malta has already wrapped, the latest “Dispatches from the Seven Kingdoms” post by Bryan Cogman is from nearer the start of shooting. He discusses an important showdown in Episode V that features some impressive swordsmanship. The walled medieval town of Mdina serves as the locale for a number of King’s Landing exterior shots, and is one of many locations to be used by the production on Malta and the neighboring island of Gozo.

One notable part is his description of what the various directors were doing at that time. While we already have the precise breakdown of which director is directing which episode, getting a sense of when the blocks were overlapping at various stages is interesting:

I’ll be here for about three weeks for the first block - Episodes III through VIII (Brian Kirk and Dan Minahan directing).  Filming on Episodes I & II continues in Belfast (Tim Van Patten at the helm) and Alan Taylor has begun prep on Episodes IX and X.  Needless to say, it’s a lot to keep straight.

It’s amusing that he’s re-read A Clash of Kings five times so far (as of that post)—quite a lot of cramming involved in his role as the keeper of the mythos.

For the Cinephiles

A tweet from Jonathan Chang, Digital Media Coordinator as HBO’s Studio West, mentioned some interesting details regarding HBO’s Game of Thrones.

While tweeting back and forth, he offered this interesting detail for those who really want technical details on the production: the production is being shot digitally, using something like nine on-location Arri Alexa cameras. This is a change from the original pilot filming, where we reported that ARRICAM Lite and Arriflex 235 cameras were in use. As Chang noted (and as we’ve previously reported), much of the pilot has been reshot using this new system. Looking around, it seems like the Arri Alexa system went into production in late 2009. The Alexa is described as a system aimed at competing with the RED ONE system, shooting greater than 1080p resolution and aimed squarely at major theatrical and television productions.

By way of comparison, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire—with its first episode directed by executive producer Martin Scorsese—uses 35mm film with Panaflex cameras.

New Game of Thrones Tidbits

Some various tidbits from around the web:

  • As of the 12th, filming in Malta seems to have wrapped, given this tweet indicating that much of the cast and crew had departed.

  • GRRM has confirmed that the planned wrap date of filming is December 18th. Which is what I heard while in Belfast, but didn’t feel free to say. This means that we’re just a little over a month away to seeing the last scene filmed for the season!

  • Reports from the Days of Ice and Fire, some of them touching on the HBO production, can be found at the So Spake Martin collection, and more have been shared over at Winter is Coming. Some notable details: we can confirm George told us that his cameo—shot in Morocco (IIRC, it was in the manse scene where Daenerys meets Drogo, not the wedding as others have been reporting)—was cut with all the rest of the Morocco footage, and has not been reshot; we can also confirm that the cast is huge, the biggest HBO has ever done ... and very possibly the biggest ever assembled for a regular hour-long series in the U.S. (bigger than Boardwalk Empire‘s 200 speaking parts? Yes.); don’t expect huge battle scenes ala Peter Jackson’s LotR (David Benioff mentioned much the same to a group of reporters I was tagging along with at Magheramorne), but do expect what they do show to be very well done (and not so light as Rome‘s first episode); and much more.

  • Actor David Scott revealed via tweet that he played the role of Lord Beric Dondarrion in recent filming. It’s a small role this time around, but who knows what future seasons will bring.

For those wondering where the rest of my Belfast set visit reports have gotten to, there’s been a bit of a delay. This is, however, a potentially very cool delay, as it involves whether I might in fact be able to share some photos from my visit. But naturally, this takes time to get sorted out, so ... they’ll start up again as soon as things are worked out. Keep an eye out. :)

The Cuisine of Game of Thrones

Set decorator Richard Roberts provides a look into a particular sort of cuisine: prop cuisine, sometimes real food, often not. This new video at Making Game of Thrones is particularly rich in visual details, featuring images from the feasting tent at the tourney grounds outside King’s Landing, the Red Keep, Winterfell, and Castle Black. Having had a chance to visit the Castle Black set two weeks past, I have to say these shots of the mess hall and the courtyard outside capture spot-on the flavor of the locale. Particularly noteworthy for us is the description of King’s Landing as being towards a Mediterranean climate and cuisine, which while not strictly in keeping with the novels is certainly not very far off the mark. We’ll just imagine that couscous dish is a Dornish speciality that someone at court has a liking for (paging Ser Aron Santagar…)

For those interested in a look at food as described in the novels, check out this section of our Concordance, a project of ours that attempts to catalog every factual thematic detail revealed in the published books and stories so far.

GRRM on Malta

George R.R. Martin has a “Not a Blog” post discussing the filming in Malta. It is a bit spoilerish for those who’ve not read the first book! He discusses where he’s watched filming set in King’s Landing involving Maisie Williams’s Arya Stark, as well as a scene featuring Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen “at the edge of the Dothraki sea”.

Not all has gone well. GRRM confirms reports we’ve had that a unexpected, massive rainstorm washed away a Dothraki encampment set. Also, a little tongue-in-cheek, he claims two actors have taken a “dislike” to one another and one was left bloodied after a fight ... which we’re guessing may be a reference to a fight scene mishap rather than any genuine hard feelings (we hope!)

Production Addresses Environmental Concerns

Recently, reports in the Maltese press have been concerned with possible environmental damage caused by the production of HBO’s Game of Thrones at a protected site in Dwerja, which is where the famous Azure Window can be found and where a major Dothraki scene has been filmed (as previously reported). The location has certain fossil beds which were to be carefully protected by the use of tarps on which sand was poured, and that sand was then to be removed by manual equipment (spades and brooms). However, recent heavy rains hardened the sand and led a sub-contractor to bring in heavy equipment to remove it, which was contrary to the permit and could potentially damage the site.

When Fire & Blood Productions learned of this, they immediately called a halt to the use of heavy equipment. They have since issued an apology for the error, taking full responsibility for the sub-contractor’s error, and they intend to rectify matters. They also emphasize their “positive experience of filming in Malta” and their intention to continue to adhere to all the requirements placed on them for the benefit of the cultural and natural heritage of Malta.

Maltese Filming Locations

Via the Rabbit, there’s a list out there of some of the sites where filming for HBO’s Game of Thrones will have taken place in Malta. We’ve already previously reported on the Azure Window location, which is also known as Dwerja.

Besides this, other sites include the medieval town of Mdina, Fort Ricasoli (which we’re told has a famous gate which has been used for the entrance into the Red Keep, or possibly into Maegor’s Holdfast), Fort Saint Elmo, the San Anton Palace and Gardens, the Verdala Palace, Fort Saint Angelo in Birgu (as an aside, this was also the location of a significant part of Dorothy Dunnet’s third novel in the Lymond series of historical novels, Disorderly Knights; we heartily recommend this series to fans of A Song of Ice and Fire), Fort Manoel, and the medieval walled city of Cittadella on Gozo in the Maltese archipelago,

The area of Rdum id-Delli was also considered, but then the production appears to have sought permission to film in Mtahleb instead, although that is still pending.

Making the Costumes

A wonderful new addition to the Artisian video series from the Making Game of Thrones site, this time featuring Michele Clapton, the costume designer. It’s great timing, as yesterday I was able to see at first hand some of the costuming and armor that is featured in this video. Clapton makes particularly mention of a cape for Jaime, which is interesting because I did spot a very handsome red, fur-lined cloak labelled “Jaime Lannister” on a rack among other “hero” costumes (including several Ned items, Tyrion’s leather jerkin, Catelyn’s gown(s), and more). I hope to be able to write some more soon, but suffice it to say, I was very impressed with what I saw at first hand.

That embroidered direwolf we briefly see near the beginning? It adorns the sleeve of the rain jackets David and Dan (and maybe some others of the production team) were wearing.

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.

New VFX Company

A tweet led us to take a look at the Game of Thrones IMDB page, to see if there had been any changes in the visual effects lineup ... and it looks like there is. Once the pilot was shot, the search for a long-term arrangement in terms of visual effects started, and it appears that a newer, London-based VFX company by the name of BlueBolt will be in charge of coordinating the visual effects work for the production.

Though new, BlueBolt has some very impressive credits via its founders, with their showreel featuring visual effects scenes from Troy, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Poseidon, The Quantum of Solace, and many more. Their new company is credited with providing special effects for Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Sherlock Holmes.

The new VFX producer specifically for the production seems to be Paddy Kelly, whose credits include Avatar, The Golden Compass, and several of the Harry Potter films. It looks like Kelly himself may be based at BlueBolt’s Dublin facility. BlueBolt co-founder Angela Barson appears to be the VFX supervisor for at least one episode.

Overheard on Set

The Making Game of Thrones site has a new post which provides some obscure quotes from recent work on the production. Some of the remarks make us think of Wyvernwood’s Tollymore photos, where a number of different scenes were recently filmed, at least one of which would have involved dead bodies (and possibly fighting leading up to them).

Message Decoded

Via WICnet, it seems someone named tek has already decoded Lysa’s coded message. Wow! Full details behind the extended text:

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.

Gemma Jackson on the Wall

The Making Game of Thrones site from HBO has a brand new entry in the Artisans series, revisiting production designer Gemma Jackson as she discusses the functional winch built for scenes shot in Castle Black. This makes a nice companion piece to Bryan Cogman’s earlier post. You can watch the video below:

It’s interesting that the lift is basically a repurposed industrial building site lift, with much of the machinery tucked away and some work done to make it seem like a primitive medieval contraption of wood and iron.