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Some significant further reports have come out from the Northern Ireland press visit the other day.
First up, UTV has video as well as quotes from executive producer Frank Doelger regarding the shoot. He’s quoted as remarking on the difficulty the production has had with weather, not only in Northern Ireland, but in all their shooting locations. He also notes that a part of him hopes that they won’t have to fight other productions to use the location and crew resources they have available right now, but so far it seems like Game of Thrones has fairly free rein.
Next up, the BBC has some similar footage of Gwendoline Christie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on the bridge at Shane’s Castle… and, most intringuingly, a last line that states:
And for those fans you will be glad to hear there will be a fourth series of Game of Thrones.
As far as we know, no season 4 has been decided on, and I would have taken this to mean that a fourth season is planned (after all, it doesn’t end in just two and a half books). But then this extensive, very meaty report came in from ITFN. Lots of interesting quotes from Doelger and location manager Naomi Liston, which revealed that Daniel Minahan was directing the first two episodes of the season (we already knew he was directing episode 1, and we know David Nutter is handling the last two episodes), that first season director Brian Kirk had a standing invitation to return to direct for future seasons, and that:
season three will move production to Redhall Estate next week, a privately-owned country house located in Carrickfergus in Antrim. Production will then move to the Quoile Pondage Nature Reserve in Downpatrick which is situated on either side of the River Quoile. The set designers are currently building a jetty for these scenes, which has been described as “quite tricky and hard-going”, as a boat of light will be used for the scenes.
Boat of light? Hrm!
All six counties of Northern Ireland will be used this season, apparently… but the notable part comes further down:
Doelger said production will begin on season four in April 2013, and he is hopeful HBO will return to Northern Irish shores again, despite the media giants requesting a financially-friendlier location.
“Every year HBO ask us to examine all the various options out there because there are places with more generous tax credits [than Northern Ireland] and I think that as the show gets more expensive that pressure will mount. But if in fact the [UK] tax credit does pass, I think our future here will be assured,” said Doelger.
April 2013 for season 4 production? Sounds like this may be the same remark that lead the BBC to report season 4 was happening. However, that date seemed so particular, and I’ve heard a number of things regarding filming in Northern Ireland that has suggested that July is generally as early as the production can start, to offer a possible clarification: Doelger meant that, since HBO would likely decide the future of the show on April 2013, that would be when they’d start work on preparing the 4th season. It seems very unlikely that, with the amount of work they have to do that, that they can really start cameras rolling in April.
As to the prospect of the production leaving Northern Ireland? I think chances are quite slim, at least for the prospective season four, regardless of what happens with the UK tax credit proposal.