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David Benioff on Shooting Locations

Variety’s Emmy Central blog has an article that speaks to the showrunners of various series nominated for “Best Drama” at this year’s award, including HBO’s Game of Thrones (see the full list of Emmy nominations for the show). One common refrain is the envy some showrunners have towards the big-budget HBO programs such as Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones. But when David Benioff is quoted, he’s discussing how the budget has gone towards allowing the production to film in two countries last season… and now three this season:

“We shot in two countries for the first season,” Benioff says. “We’ll shoot in three for the second season: in old-growth forests, on rocky beaches, by seaside cliffs, in an ancient walled city, on a glacier just below the Arctic Circle. We inherited a huge world from George Martin, and we never could have done that world justice shooting in Burbank.”

Northern Ireland is of course the main base of operations for the show, with exterior locations representing most of the Seven Kingdoms from the North to, we’re supposing, the Reach.. The glacier near the Arctic Circle must be in Iceland, as revealed by Kit Harington after we fit heard rumors about Iceland being on the slate for season 2 when season 1 wrapped. We’re going to take a stab in the dark and guess that this glacier is going to be used for scenes in the Frostfangs, the forbidding, snow-clad mountains beyond the Wall.

There are thirteen major glaciers in Iceland, according to Wikipedia, and there are two glaciers that seem to have featured at different times in films: Iceland’s largest glacier Vatnajökull was used for exteriors of Ra’s al Ghul’s temple sanctuary in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, and may well have some infrastructure still present from that filming that could make it a convenient location, and Iceland’s smallest glacier Snæfellsjökull which has been used in the Roger Moore Bond film A View to a Kill, is relatively near to Reykjavik, and is considered one of the most beautiful of the glaciers.

As to the third location? Well, rumors have been running strong that Croatia is going to be a filming location, after we first learned that production designer Gemma Jackson had been scouting locations and then we learned from David Benioff that Turkey, Spain, and Croatia were being looked at as possible locations. It sure seems like Malta has fallen by the wayside after serving as the location for King’s Landing exteriors, Illyrio’s manse, the Dothraki sea, the Lhazreen village, and the red waste. So far, we don’t believe there has been solid confirmation that Croatia is in fact a shooting location, but it’s the only one we’ve heard of so far ... and given the intense “A Song of Ice and Fire” fandom in Spain, we’d have to guess that if filming were in the offing there, it’d be known by now.

So… Croatia or Turkey, which is it? Both have their share of walled cities.

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