Game of Thrones: News

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Production

Castle Black Rising

As we recently learned, Castle Black was set to be built at Magheramorne Quarry. Now, a fellow fan by the handle of silverjaime has shared the first photos of the site, taken about a mile away from the building site (the nearest the public can get to it). The first picture is here, while a zoomed and cropped version can be found here. It looks like the quarry wall will serve as the Wall, either colored to look more like ice in CG, or perhaps used as a base on which to lay greenscreen.

Silverjaime also visited the Paint Hall area, and fell into discussion with the dialect coach for the production, Brendan Gunn. Gunn informed her that while the production would us “UK accents”, he did not provide details of whether there’d be regional variations other than to confirm that Aidan Gillen (cast as Littlefinger) would not use his native, Dubin accent. Gunn has previously worked on a very large number of films, including Michael Collins, The Butcher Boy, Meet Joe Black, and Snatch (where he helped Brad Pitt develop his Tinker accent). He also happens to have served as the dialogue coach for A Shine of Rainbows, a film which featured Jack Gleeson, cast as Joffrey Baratheon.

A video of Gunn discussing the dialects of A Shine of Rainbows is embedded below:

Selecting a Composer

Over at “Not a Blog”, George R.R. Martin responds to a query regarding a potential composer for the HBO adaption of Game of Thrones. What GRRM indicates is that the production team has already narrowed down the list of candidates for the job and have interviewed the leading contenders, and that no new names are going to be looked at. Which suggests to us that the decision is probably quite imminent, presumably with an eye towards having the composer start his or her work as soon as possible.

George says he has his own favorite among the leading candidates, but we shall see what develops.

Highlights from the Fact Sheet

The fact sheet has quite a lot to absorb, so here’s the highlights in terms of new actors and crew that we’ve not heard of before today.

Lets start with new crew. First up, two new directors of photography have been named. Marco Pontecorvo and Alik Sakharov are both veterans of past HBO productions, particularly Rome. Pontecorvo recently made a mark as a director for the film Pa-ra-da, which garnered him several awards as well, while the Russian-born Sakharov received an Emmy for his cinemtaography on during the Rome episode titled “Passover”.

Joining them on the production side are a few new directors. For us, the most notable is Alan Taylor, an HBO go-to guy with many HBO productions under his belt, as well episodes of shows as diverse as Lost, Mad Men, and Nurse Jackie; he won an Emmy for his direction of a Sopranos episode, and has several other noms from the Director’s Guild Awards. The other new director named is Daniel Minahan, another go-to guy who’s directed episodes of Deadwood, Big Love, and a notable five episodes on True Blood.

Production designer Gemma Jackson and costume designer Michele Clapton remain on board with the production, which is very good to see. Though we’ve known this for a good while, I’ll note that the fact sheet confirms that the writing breakdown remains the same: executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will write seven of the episodes, while Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson (of Buffy and BSG fame), and George R.R. Martin will write one episode each.

Of note for the production? Morocco is out—something George hinted may be a possibility a long while ago—and instead it looks like the second location for shooting will be Malta. Malta, rich in scenery—especially medieval castles, walls, ports, and so on—and a spare beauty will doubtless serve for shots of Pentos and the like, and will be an excellent locale if the series goes forward to a second or third season
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And following the production teams and notes? The actors. Oh, boy, the actors. There’s so many of them!

The most significant additions to the list must be James Cosmo as the Old Bear, Jeor Mormont, a casting George revealed which is not yet on the fact sheet (see here for two other roles GRRM has confirmed). After that, it sure looks like Jerome Flynn as Bronn (Official Site) is the most noteworthy casting choice.

After that are the guest cast, which makes up the bulk of new additions to the casting rolls. I’m just going to paste them all below:

More Casting and Swarthy Horsemen

GRRM has been confirming a number of the casting reports which we’ve already made, such as Jamie Sives as Jory and Ian McElhinney as Barristan the Bold. He has just mentioned, however, that we’re sure to have more casting announcements soon. This falls in line with everything we’ve heard, and of course, with shooting set to begin in a week and a half, it makes sense.

In other news, North Ireland Screen has sent out an urgent request for swarthy, experienced horsemen for the Game of Thrones production. These are obviously extras for the Dothraki, and it seems like they’re not quite finding as many suitable riders as they’d like in Northern Ireland. If you or anyone you know fits the bill, this is a ripe opportunity for getting involved in the production.

Castle Black

After sending a query GRRM’s way, he has posted that the Magheramorne Quarry in Northern Ireland, which was reported to be the site of a “massive castle” set, will be where the exterior set for Castle Black will be made. As GRRM notes, much of the castle will be done through CGI (including the Wall, of course), though there will be an operational winch and other such things at the site.

Finally, George asks fans not to visit the site, noting that the set will look very little like what will appear on screen, and that quarries can be dangerous.

New Call for Extras

Extras NI, a casting agency in Northern Ireland, has put out a fresh call for extras for HBO’s Game of Thrones. Some excellent details here about the production and what they’re looking for in terms of extras. They list shooting as taking place from August to December (which more or less fits the late July to December dates we’ve been provided before), We’ll paste the salient bits below the cut, but it looks like there’s an opening casting call on June 26th, between 2pm and 6pm, at the Holiday Inn on Ormeau Avenue in Belfast.

Casting Shae

According to George R.R. Martin’s latest “Not a Blog” post, the role of Shae’s still being cast for. He’s reviewed twelve audition tapes so far—perhaps the top choices to come out of casting?—and according to his stated reaction, it seems likely that they’re all quite capable of playing of the saucy, vixenish prostitute who’ll become well acquainted with Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage). He notes that auditions are continuing in Belfast, Dublin, and London for many parts, both minor and major.

Dinklage and the Knights of Badassdom

An interview with True Blood‘s Ryan Kwanten brought to our attention that Peter Dinklage, (perfectly) cast as Tyrion Lannister in HBO’s adaption of Game of Thrones, is starring in a comedic fantasy adventure film titled Knights of Badassdom. Kwanten will be co-starring.

The most interesting detail, however, is that this project is filming in the first part of the summer, by the sounds of it. Director Joe Lynch has begun to post the first of a promised series of photos taken from the production, though it’s not clear that filming has actually yet begun. When I dug further, I discovered that the film was originally set to film in April.

Could the delay in this project have contributed to Game of Thrones‘s pilot being pushed back to late July, to accommodate Dinklage’s commitment to the film? Anything’s possible, though the extra lead time for casting and pre-production certainly seems to have been a bigger factor.

Principal Photography Pushed Back

According to a comment from GRRM, principal photography has been pushed back to late July for HBO’s Game of Thrones. Nothing really bad about this, as bringing in so many disparate logistical things together can be difficult, but there’s always the possibility that there’s interesting reasons for it, like having to wait on a newly-cast lead (ala Daenerys) to be free to work, or a director, or other things of this sort.

GRRM also notes that he’s unlikely to spend any time in Northern Ireland to watch the filming, except possibly when his own episode (episode 8) is filmed, and doubtless when he’s in the area for Octocon in October.

Parts both Big and Small

George R.R. Martin mentions that he’s come back from a convention to some hundred new auditions tapes. He notes some of the roles actors are seeking in the tapes: Rast (one of the recruits on the Wall), Mord (brutish jailer at the Eyrie), Jhogo (one of the Dothraki warriors assigned as personal guard to Daenerys) are among the smaller parts, while Lord Tywin Lannister, Ser Barristan Selmy, and Lysa Arryn are among the larger parts.

We expect that the first casting announcements are likely to come by the end of the month, or early next month, with production set to begin in earnest right around the end of June or start of July.

Auditions in Dublin

A tweet from ickle_tayto suggests that some sort of auditioning for HBO’s Game of Thrones has been taking place in Dublin’s Central Hotel today, with many nervous actors about. Very interesting, indeed.

As Adam Whitehead of the Wertzone (who brought this to our attention at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum) notes, ickle_tayto is one of the organizers/ of this year’s Octocon science fiction and fantasy convention, at which GRRM will be a Guest of Honor.

Update: A response to a query suggests that the auditioning is for small parts, and possibly extras. A cursory search shows that some extras casting agencies, such as MovieExtras.ie, make use of the Central Hotel’s facilities for this purpose.

The Pointy End

The first draft of episode 8’s script is now in to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, according to GRRM, who says it’s “too long and too expensive” but that’s the case with all the first drafts of screenplays and teleplays he’s ever written. He notes that it is tentatively titled “The Pointy End”—a familiar phrase to A Song of Ice and Fire fans—but that it’s not been decided whether they’ll even use titles.

He finishes with a quote from King Kong, in reference to A Dance with Dragons: “He was a king in his world, but we’ll teach him fear…”

Moroccan Budgeting

I’m not quite sure how she does it, but PDF-hunting wunderkind raijap has tracked down an interesting tidbit: an official document from the Center for Cinematography in Morocco, listing the productions spends of all significant projects filmed in Morocco in 2009. Of interest, of course, is the listing for Game of Thrones, which gives the spend as 2.7 million dirham (approxmately $320,000 USD). Of course, one supposes this figure relates purely to the hire of crew, extras, lots, and so on incurred in Morocco specifically, and may not cover the budget for foreign actors such as Jason Momoa, Tamzin Merchant, Iain Glen, or Ian McNeice.

This figure is—to my admittedly-amateur knowledge of such things—surprisingly lower than one would have expected, but may help to explain part of the reason filming will once more take place in Morocco (the other being, doubtless, the need to reshoot many of the Daenerys scenes following recasting of the role.)

Another noticeable piece, the naming of Dune Films as the local production company contracted to facilitate shooting. Dune Films has extensive credits, including having participated in the production of Kingdom of Heaven, Prince of Persia, and the soon to be released Inception.

Camera Test Images

A very brief shot of a camera test for HBO’s Game of Thrones can be found in this PDF document from Mediazoo, a Belfast-based green screen facility. In the pictures, you can see what looks to be an ARRICAM Lite, one of the camera systems we’ve previously reported on. From the images, you can see that color swatches and lighting are a part of the tests, presumably as part of an evaluation as to whether the system would be suitable for the production’s needs or perhaps to see what adjustments would be needed to get the look director Thomas MacCarthy wanted.

The most notable of them, of course, is the torch-lit scene in front of a wall. In all probability, this is our first glimpse at the sort of look and lighting we can expect for the scene in Winterfell’s crypt, when Eddard takes King Robert down to pay his respects to Lyanna.

Thanks to raijap for digging this one up.

Morocco Filming Confirmation?

There’s a production listing for HBO’s Game of Thrones, posted March 16th and last revised April 14th, which gives the filming locations of the production as Northern Ireland and Morocco, with a “late June” start. From what I can gather, this website accepts submissions from productions to list relevant information concerning their productions for those who may what to inquire about employment, hiring of equipment, and so on. The sample listings suggest that among the things they list behind their subscription wall are production office addresses and phone numbers.

The main point of interest here is the mention of Morocco. On March 5th, GRRM indicated that a return to Morocco (and Scotland) were possibilities that were yet to be decided on. While we can’t say for certain that this listing is 100% official, if it is official, it seems that the production has decided to go ahead with filming in Morocco after all. Further, again if it’s taken to be 100% official, it seems the production has decided to skip further filming in Scotland, perhaps due to expense or due to the difficulty of keeping shooting locations closed to the public, an issue which we were told bothered the production.

Going back to Morocco, to what degree was the decision to go back motivated by the ongoing casting for Daenerys? While we continue to caution against assuming that Tamzin Merchant, who played the role in the pilot, is definitely out, with each passing day it seems likelier and likelier—they’ll need to be certain of Daenerys by late May at the latest, we think, to give an actress and production time to start readying for her part. If Merchant is replaced, reshooting will have to be extensive since she’s present in every single scene in Pentos according to reports, and hence ... Morocco.

Or maybe not. Maybe they’ve decided Morocco offers too many useful locations for Daenerys’s part of the story, and we’ll be seeing Tamzin Merchant riding the silver across the arid Moroccan landscape, such as in episode 8, written by George R.R. Martin, where he’s confirmed that there’ll be at least one scene featuring the character.

We’ll report further when we have more information. Hat tip to The Rabbit01 for the pointer to My Entertainment World’s listing.