Just have word in from HBO that the focus groups, which were scheduled to assemble next week, is now postponed. Everyone who has been scheduled to participate will be on the top of the list to be contacted to see if they’re available on the new date. So, if you’ve been selected, hang tight and wait to hear back from the market research group.
This is a detour from my set visit reports. You can get to the last segment before this by going here to Part 3.
I had made grand plans to go out for dinner at a well-reviewed restaurant after getting back from Magheramorne ... but after witnessing the traffic and realizing just how much I wanted to share with Linda (including uploading some photos for Linda to oogle over), I grabbed a quick bite at the Subway near my hotel instead. A couple of hours later, refreshed and ready, I took the short walk to Robinsons Bar where the Brotherhood without Banners had taken over the basement bar, dubbed BT1 (after the street code for the City Centre). Outside, I saw HBO’s representative with a reporter and cameraman from UTV who were waiting for George. A slight miscommunication led to a little delay prior to his arrival, and I soon joined Parris and some of the other BwB members to collect decorations and prizes for the charity raffle which the BwB was holding.
We got things set up just in time for George’s arrival, with many cheers and applause from the crowd. There were many extras present, many fans, and one very noticeable actor: Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor. I ended up meeting some of the fellow GoT-watching fans, who were all very hospitable and pleasant! Among them was Joe Campo, an American actor/filmmaker and Belfast resident who’s made a quest of getting cast on the show, and it sounded to be like he was getting closer thanks to advice from GRRM. At some point in the evening, a number of actors started to arrive, and after this point I sort of start to get fuzzy on the conversations I had and their order. So what I’m going to do is just try to run through the actors I spoke to, and my impressions of them, as well as anything interesting regarding the production they mentioned. This will be in very rough order:
Continued from Part 2.
Before we headed off to Paint Hall, though, we dropped by Fire and Blood production office. There, I finally got to meet Bryan Cogman, script editor for the series and right-hand man to the executive producers, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. I’ve sort of seen him as a kindred spirit, as he’s basically of keeper of the lore of the setting for the production, and is responsible for envisioning many of the little details that show up in the nooks and crannies (like a certain hefty book with a rather dry text). Bryan was very warm and welcoming, and didn’t seem to notice that I was looking past his desk at the concept art on his wall featuring things such as designs for Winterfell as well as a part of a storyboard of a very important scene (Bryan would later tell me that in many cases these were very early concepts and were no longer what was envisioned, but he kept them around because he liked how they looked).
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!)
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.
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,
Continuing my Belfast trip report. Here’s Part 1.
At breakfast, we met none other than Isaac Hempstead-Wright, the younger actor playing Bran Stark. It seemed he had just wrapped filming at Castle Ward and was to head back home, though his mother, Helen—who was absolutely lovely to speak with—said she thought he had two or three scenes left to do for the series. Isaac was incredibly sweet and polite, making a point of getting my name exactly right and using it. They left us to get ready to go, and not long after Parris departed to layer up for the Paint Hall and Magheramorne visits. George and I discussed the world book (during which I learned something about one of the characters who’ll appear in the three Dornish chapters he’s moved to The Winds of Winter) for a few more minutes before moving on ourselves, and I went downstairs to wait for them and our transportation. Fortunately, Isaac and his mother were also in the lobby, waiting for their pick-up, and I had a great conversation with them.
I was off in Belfast when this report came in from a Russian fan who happened to be in Malta when filming of Dothraki scenes were taking place. 7kingdoms.ru shares the report, with Westeros.ru providing Westeros.ru the English translation. It’s a terrific piece of reporting as they paid close attention to some of the details we’re all eager to know about, such as weapons and clothing. Regarding their description of the arakh, I believe we’ve glimpsed one previously.
Funnily enough, Linda sent me a text message about this report while I was visiting with Bryan Cogman, and I told him about it. He confirmed that they had been filming the wedding scene around that time, though on that particular day (Thursday) they had moved on to something else.
One last detail I should note is I have a separate report in from someone who was at the Azure Window who confirmed that they were, indeed, shooting right down by the shore.
I had originally planned to write this rather backwards, starting with the Moot and then going back, but as I sat down to write all of this, it just seemed easier to start from the beginning. I hope to get parts out every few days, depending on whether I need to run it by HBO to make sure any details I post are okay to share or not. But this first post is, I think, unobjectionable since it covers the time from my arrival in Belfast to my time prior to reaching Paint Hall.
Many, many terrific photos from the Moot that happened last night. None taken by me, alas, as my phone camera lacked a flash, but here’s a few examples and links to the galleries where they’ve been posted:
Wyvernwoodhas some of the best shots I’ve seen so far. Here’s one with myself and George chatting with Finn Jones, and Mark Addy’s in the shot:
DrNickVC has posted several terrific pictures. I particularly like this one, featuring (from left to right) Gethin Anthony (Lord Renly), Eugene Simon (Lancel), Joseph Altin (Pypar), DrNick himself, Luke McEwan (Rast), Mark Addy (King Robert), and Finn Jones (Ser Loras):
I’m sure there are more out there, but these are a great start. Hope to have my own Moot report, with some details I picked up from the actors, later in the evening. Still recovering from the whirlwind trip!
The focus group announced last week is now closed. Here’s the message from the market research company running this focus group:
Hi A Song of Ice and Fire Fans,
Thank you so much for your interest in our upcoming focus groups. As a result of a massive and enthusiastic response to our post, recruitment is now closed. We apologize if you did not have a chance to apply. If you have already been in contact with one of our representatives, you will receive a follow-up call soon. Thanks again for your support. Your passion for the series is inspiring!
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.
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.
HBO’s production has added an additional director of photography going into the final months of filming for the first season of Game of Thrones. According to Variety, cinematographer Matt Jensen has joined the team. Jensen is a veteran of HBO’s original programming, having acted as director of photography on a number of True Blood episodes.
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.