Game of Thrones: News

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Production

Filming at Castle Ward

As reported last night, Castle Ward is once again being used to film Winterfell scenes. Being open to the public on a number of occasions, some fans of the series have been able to drop by and take a look at the constructed sets there, getting a glimpse of a number of interesting features. We have new pictures taken today, courtesy of silverjaime, while filming was actually in progress on a scene featuring Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Bran Stark. In fact, in one of them, you can just glimpse his lower body behind some sort of screen:

Isaac's scene

Word has it that many different locations will be used throughout Northern Ireland. Among those we know of that have or will be used are Magheramorne Quarry, Shane’s Castle, Castle Ward, Tollymore Forest Park, sites in Ballymoney and Ballycarry, and doubtless quite a few more.

UPDATE: HBO Looking to a 2nd Season

Update: HBO has been in contact with us regarding Minister McCausland’s blog post, clarifying that the meeting in question was more of a formal meet-and-greet, where “the Ministers acknowledged the positive impact that filming Game of Thrones has had on the local creative industries and regional economy and encouraged HBO to continue filming here if a second series is commissioned”. That quote being from our source at HBO, though the emphasis on if is ours. In fact, we’re told Mr. Roewe was there primarily to check-in on the current production.

Our take on all this is that the Northern Ireland ministers are naturally very keen on a second season, and so this colored the minister’s description of the meeting. From HBO’s perspective, any references to a second season were purely hypothetical. That said, our original report can be found below.

The first clear hint of this was Winter is Coming receiving a report via Samantha Hirst that the role of Lommy Greenhands was being cast for the end of the season (suggesting he’ll be glimpsed in the final episode), when that character is primarily to be found in the second novel (and season). Now we know that the talk for a second season is going on at high levels, thanks to Northern Ireland Minister of Culture, Nelson McCausland.

On his blog, he writes that he and Arlene Foster, another government minister, has met with Senior Vice President for Production, Jay Roewe, this last week to discuss the production. To quote Mr. McCausland:

“Like all large scale film/television production it is very challenging but all of the creative executives involved in the project are very happy and there is enormous optimism that the series will be a great success.  Most of the series is being filmed at locations in northern Ireland with some extra filming in Malta for the desert sequences.  The series will involve a spend of more than £20m in Northern Ireland and that is good for the local economy.  Planning is now shifting to arrangements for the second series and Jay Roewe’s visit was primarily focused on the planning for that second series.

Emphasis ours. For those who are unaware, the U.K. uses the term series for what we call seasons in the U.S.

This is not to say that the series is already a go for a second season. If they want to be able to have a second season, they must start planning efforts now, but it’s a good sign to see HBO sending their Senior Vice President for Production to start hammering out details with the local authorities.

As a side note, we noticed that Samantha provided more details of the casting call for Lommy, with rehearsals in October and filming ... in Malta. If that’s accurate, we’re guessing that not only is Malta being used for scenes in the East, one of its medieval towns or cities could well be used to represent areas of King’s Landing such as the quarter called Flea Bottom.

A Few Brief Production Notes

Just some quick details that have come out since the Ballycarry filming. We’ve already identified one of the chapters the filming represents—Eddard Stark’s third chapter—but it seems more was filmed than just that scene over these three days. It appears that scenes from Sansa’s first chapter were also filmed there, including the introduction of Ser Ilyn Payne (played by musician Wilko Johnson). The weather’s said to have taken a bit of a turn for the worse, especially compared to the very fortunate clear weather for the tourney scenes. Shooting on Friday may have run very late if this article is to be believed, claiming as it does that Sean Bean was not able to attend a Handsworth football match due to “a midnight film-shoot”.

For those closely following the production schedule, there’s an interesting report in comments from DrNick, posted over at Winter is Coming. He notes via a friend involved in the production that 2nd unit work has begun this week that will shift over to Malta on the 20th and become the main unit at some point. Filming in Malta is expected to last six weeks or more. As we’ve previously reported, Malta will be the key location for scenes set on the eastern continent, particularly the Dothraki scenes but we also expect that at least some part of the Pentos scenes will be filmed there.

Jason Momoa at Dragon*Con

We’ve had a few reports from Dragon*Con, where Jason Momoa has been hanging out this weekend, signing autographs and participating in panels. We’ve had a couple of reports from fans who’ve had a chance to chat with him. First, Sidney reports that Drogo’s braid reaches to Jason’s knees (if you’re wondering, yes, that’s somewhat longer than Drogo’s braid is described in A Game of Thrones, but that’s quite a minor detail!)

And some interesting details from 10zlaine. First and foremost, Jason unequivocally indicated that the Twitter account using his name is a fake. See the photographic proof, a very fierce Momoa holding up a signed paper in which he wrote, “It’s a fake twitter account. Kill that motherfucker. I am Jason Momoa.” Remember, folks, if a celebrity account isn’t verified, be wary.

Now, as to HBO’s Game of Thrones, 10zlaine notes that Jason indicated he was going to go back to filming very soon after Dragon*Con; we’re guessing this will be shooting interiors and some exteriors in Northern Ireland before filming shifts to Malta in October. Jason also remarked that he’s working hard at learning some lengthier chunks of dialogue for Drogo, made difficult by the fact that it’s all in David J. Peterson’s Dothraki language created for the series.

Some Photos from Ballycarry

The intrepid silverjaime has shared a few photos she took when she decided to take a trip over to Ballycarry to see what the filming was like at the Redhall Estate.

According to her report, the locals provided some interesting information. Shooting there was scheduled to go on for 12-13 hours, and they’d be shooting tomorrow as well. A barn was a primary location, and Sean Bean was indeed on site. Monday will see a last day of filming on site, and then the Paint Hall seems to be due to see some more filming on Tuesday.

Filming Past and Present

This is not an exhaustive rundown of everything that has been shot so far, but it’s a quick review of some of the highlights that we know of from the past month of shooting, and wrapping up with where we are today. We’ll update when and as we’re reminded of shooting details we’ve previously reported on.

  • Filming began on July 24th. The rain mentioned there did soon lead to the production moving indoors into the Paint Hall studio. The first week saw a scene or scenes involving at least Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger), Sean Bean, and possibly Jamie Sives (Jory Cassel) or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister)—possibly something to do with Ned’s arrival in King’s Landing? It also seems to have seen a training sequence or sequences involving Miltos Yerolemou (Syrio Forel) and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark).
  • The second week featured location shoots. Among them, a Dothraki travel scene shot in Ballymoney, probably corresponding to Daenerys’s third chapter. Possibly other Dothraki scenes may well have been shot, but the bulk of that filming would take place in Malta.
  • Castle Black footage shot at Magheramorne, probably corresponding to Jon Snow’s third chapter and/or leads us to speculate that some part of the Vale footage, such as the climb up the Giant’s Lance to the Eyrie, may also have been shot there.
  • A major five day shoot for the Hand’s tourney, covering Sansa’s second chapter and Eddard Stark’s seventh chapter. This involved most of the primary cast based in King’s Landing. Most of the filming took place on the Shane’s Castle estate, although we’ve learned at least one scene was filmed elsewhere. It’s unclear to us if the feast scene after the first day of jousting has been filmed.

This takes us to the present. Earlier this week, footage seemed confined to the Paint Hall, with reports that some of these scenes involved Sean Bean and extras cast as guards. We also knew that late last week, some preparations were going on in an undisclosed location for Winterfell filming. We know Kristian Nairn (Hodor) was set to start filming around now (thanks to Nymeria_WiC for sorting me out on some details here). We’ve now learned via Northern Irish artist known as Anarkitty, that filming is going on in a field located somewhere between the towns of Carrickfergus and Larne, on the grounds of the Redhall Estate in Ballycarry. Given the image above, we believe this means today’s filming

is part of the Winterfell shooting

.

Or is it? We’ve now been told that the scene being filmed there today (and possibly on Friday and Monday as well) correspond to Eddard’s third chapter, although with a change: instead of taking place at Darry, it’s now taking place at an inn. At a guess? The inn at the crossing of the Trident, run by Masha Heddle (a role recently cast), is going to appear rather earlier on the show than it did in the series. Previously, it was the setting of two significant scenes—now it’s gained a third. This is actually a very interesting change, allowing them to cut out a location barely touched upon again until the fourth novel and instead focusing on one that shows up more than once as is (and, in fact, shows up again in A Feast for Crow).

Castle Black Set (and a Waycastle?)

Thanks to Zanthia2, we now have an image of the Castle Black film set at Magheramorne Quarry after filming has commenced there. As you can see, part of the quarry wall has been painted white, which fits reports we’ve had from extras. The picture was taken from a nearby island:

One detail that leaps to mind is the structure on the quarry tier immediately above the white-washed section of wall. It looks like an arch and a low wall around it. We’re not 100% sure, but we think this could explain word that actor Brendan McCormack was starting filming in the middle of this month. Could it be that McCormack, in the role of Ser Vardis Egan, will be shooting scenes set of the climb up to the Eyrie at the quarry? If so, that structure we see there could very well be one of the way castles, perhaps Snow or Sky.

Alternatively, the structure—if it does have anything at all to do with the production—might be used to show one of the gates and tunnels that lead through the Wall.

Thanks to Zanthia2for the photo, and Winter is Coming for the retweet.

More from the Mountain

Conan Stevens has a terrific update on what he’s been doing, besides putting on more muscle (by his estimation, he’s gained 7kg—about 15 lbs.—since he arrived in Belfast). He identifies the riding trainers, The Devil’s Horsemen (who have an extremely long list of prior credits), and comments that his extra bulk has led to some alterations to his costume. He’s coy about the details of the costume, but his remark that, “Ser Gregor Clegane will be the centurion tank of Westeros,” and, ” the weight is spread over my entire body rather than having all that weight just hanging off my shoulders,” certainly suggests that he’s in a suit of plate armor, just as the character is described in the novels.

Other details of note? Just as was reported from the pilot film set, it seems a documentary crew is on hand preparing extras for DVD/Blu-Ray and (Stevens speculates) pre-airing promotion. The crew caught Stevens and Rory McCann, cast as Sandor Clegane, rehearsing their big fight scene. Conan wraps up by noting that since joining in the production, his career has been making great advances, with a number of productions showing interest in his involvement once he gets back to Thailand.

Below, you can find a video of The Devil’s Horsemen company performing at a medieval faire:

Game of Thrones Production Notes

Just a quick mid-week recap of the news that we’ve had from the production so far, as there have been a few relevant tweets, articles, and blog posts of note.

  • First off, catching up on a story from two weeks ago, it seems the Ballymoney Times has now reported on the shooting in Ballymoney. It seems one part of the shooting was in this field of willows (thanks to Jackie for the link). At a guess, the scene shot here would have been part of Joffrey’s and Sansa’s excursion to the ruby ford.
  • Actor Luke McEwan, cast as the Night’s Watch recruit Rast, has provided a couple of interesting tweets. On the 16th he tweted that he was looking forward to filming with Peter Dinklage the next day, which fits with prior news that there would be filming at Magheramorne Quarry, site of the Castle Black exterior set. The evening of the 17th, his tweet seemed to suggest that things went very well.
  • McEwan’s other tweet of note came today, when he reported that he was watching the Mountain that Rides (Conan Stevens) and the Hound (Rory McCann) fighting, and that he had never seen such big men before. This could mean that McEwan was visiting the filming of the Hand’s tourney ... but much likelier, he was dropping by the stunt team’s offices where the two actors were going over their fight scene, perhaps to rehearse his own fight sequence(s). From what Stevens has blogged, it seems likely his filming will be done by the end of the month, though it seems likely he’ll be back from Thailand to film further scenes.
  • From series extra Rimshot, it sounds like the Hand’s tourney proper will in fact begin filming later this week (or perhaps even next week). Before that, though, it looks like he’ll be doing something quite different at another location he had not expected to be involved in, according to these tweets. We’ve previously reported that the tourney itself seems set to be filmed in the area of Shane’s Castle.
  • We’ll soon have some things to report regarding Welsh actor Owen Teale, who was recently revealed to be joining in the production. A little bird has whispered to us that he is in fact taking over a role from a previously-announced cast member…
  • Via SweetSigma, we learn that actor Jamie Sives, cast as Winterfell’s captain of guards Jory Cassel, is due to be involved in filming through the end of October.
NI Report Heavily Features Game of Thrones

Northern Ireland Screen has posted the 2009-2010 Annual Report (PDF) on their website, which reviews the various productions, goals, and funding they were involved in over the previous year. We’ve previously reported on early reports regarding the publication, but this is the first time the public will have been able to see it.

Most notable? HBO’s Game of Thrones is very heavily featured. The cover pages make use of the first official still from the pilot, and there are references to the production through out the whole thing. There’s almost no new information to speak of that’s specific to the show, except for the fact that NI Screen gave their maximum grant of £1.6 million (roughly US $2.5 million) to the production not once, but twice: once to help fund the pilot, and once again for the first season. This was nearly 60% of NI Screen’s total grants made in the 2009-2010 period. You can read more regarding the budget of the series, and NI Screen’s funding of it, in our article, A Budget to be Reckoned With.

One last tidbit, a quote from the report which made us chuckle (and which is, we think, our first mention in a governmental publication):

‘Activity on the web was frantic, with the two main blogs "Winter is Coming" and "Westeros" vying with each other to be the first to publish hitherto unknown facts and information about the cast, locations and budget and to announce whether it would go to series.’

Sean Bean Update

This weekend we shared an ITN report regarding Sean Bean filming in London for the spy thriller Cleanskin. In the article, ITN notes that the production is a six week shoot, which led us to speculate that most of Bean’s scenes in HBO’s Game of Thrones will have to wait until October. However, as a poster notes, Cleanskin actually started filming in late February.

The filming that ITN was covering was a brief, one day reshoot, and not a sign that Bean will be occupied for weeks with that production.

Filming the Vale

We know that filming is presently going on for scenes set in Castle Black, as actor Luke McEwan (cast as Rast) tweeted he had finished his first day of work this past Friday, and we know that the Hand’s tourney is set to film starting around this coming Friday. But it seems something else is up for mid-August: shooting scenes set at the Eyrie and/or Vale of Arryn.

Or, at least, that’s what Brendan McCormack’s agents report on his profile page, indicating that he begins filming in mid-August. McCormack, cast as Ser Vardis Egan, will have a somewhat expanded role compared to the novel according to author George R.R. Martin, who indicated that he’ll be taking some of Ser Brynden Tully’s role.

At a guess, they’re either going to be able to make use of some of the exterior sets (such as the area of the tourney ground, or perhaps even Magheramorne quarry) to represent parts of the Vale of Arryn and the Mountains of the Moon, thereby minimizing amount of travel the crew has to do, or they’ll be doing some interior shoots at Paint Hall to represent the Eyrie.

Sean Bean Filming in London

But not for HBO’s Game of Thrones. In fact, Sean Bean is the lead in a new action/thriller film Cleanskin, which is filming in London as we type this. According to ITN, which provides a photo & brief video interview of the actor in his current look, the film will be shooting for the next six week.

(Note: See our update which, thanks to a commenter at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum, shows that this was a single day reshoot for a film that was completed in the spring.)

This fits with the news that much of the Winterfell footage is waiting until September to be filmed. Given that we had reports of Bean being available the first week or two of shooting, we suppose that they’ve done some work with him, but not a lot. The bulk of his scenes as Eddard Stark—both in Winterfell and King’s Landing—will have to be filmed at the end of September and right through to December, when filming is scheduled to end.

Some Production Notes

Just a few bits and bobs of information regarding HBO’s Game of Thrones production, for those who’re interested in the nuts-and-bolts.

  • Via silverjaime and Rimshot (commenting over at Winter is Coming, we learn that Shane’s Castle is once again being used as a shooting location; in this case, a part of the extensive property is being set up as the tourney ground for the Hand’s Tourney. From information we’ve received, it seems likely that this location will be used for filming in late August. We also learn that Magheramorne Quarry, site of the Castle Black exterior set, will see (or perhaps has already seen) filming there this week, or next week.
  • In related news, the local Norwegian newspaper Tromso.no has an interview with Amrita Acharya, cast as Irri. It turns out that, though the actress resides in London, she spent much of her early life in Tromso, Norway. She reveals the following about Game of Thrones (translated from the Norwegian):

    I’ve only been and filmed a single episode so far, and I haven’t met Sean Bean. He’s in another part of the storyline than the one I’m in. He’s mostly filming in Ireland, while the storyline I’m part of is filming in Malta. There’s a lot of established as well as fresh actors involved, and the sets are really huge.

    Given that she says she’s filmed, it seems fair to say that the majority of her scenes will be in Malta, but there are some things (interiors, primarily, we expect) that are being or will be filmed in Northern Ireland.

  • According to David J. Peterson, creator of the Dothraki language for HBO, the Dothraki lexicon has grown to encompass over 2,300 words.
  • Finally, on a lighter note, here’s Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell) and Conan Stevens (Gregor Clegane) on a horse two horses (photo courtesy of Finn Jones). Look out, Isiah Mustafa! The two are currently being put through an intensive crash course in horsemanship in the U.K., according to what Jones and Stevens have previously stated.

Malta Filming Update

There is an interesting note for followers of progress on HBO’s Game of Thrones series in his post announcing his cancelling an appearance at New York Comic Con.

Besides noting he plans to visit Belfast (main location for shooting of the series) after attending Octocon in Dublin, he notes the possibility that he’ll also visit Malta (site of location shoots for many of the scenes set in Pentos and regions east). As Octocon takes place in mid-October, it seems like the Malta location shooting will cover the bulk of that month and a good part of September as well. As we’ve previously reported, the Malta shoot has been stated to take six weeks. Mid-September through the end of October seems likely now.