Game of Thrones

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What the Dispatches Tell Us

Okay, still processing Bryan Cogman’s Dispatches from the Seven Kingdoms. By now, the majority of episodes IV and V have been completed, as has a large part of episode III. Going through it post by post:

  • July 23rd: A new scene between Ned and Cersei, not from the novels and not in episode IV. From episode IV—written by Cogman—is a tender scene between Ned and Arya. At a guess, this scene is the one that leads up to her dancing master being employed. At this time, the first week or two of filming are largely in the Red Keep sets in the Paint Hall studio.

  • July 29: Ned speaking with Grand Maester Pycelle, also from episode 4. This corresponds with Ned’s fifth chapter, his second after reaching King’s Landing. Still at the Paint Hall at this point, it looks like.

  • July 30: Big small council scene, which we’re told is one of three fatured across three episodes in the first season. Now, the list of people attending this scene is interesting: Mark Addy as Robert, Aidan Gillen as Littlefinger, Julian Glover as Pycelle, Sean Bean as Eddard Stark. Is this an entirely new scene, or one significantly changed up? There are, to my recollection, only three small council scenes in A Game of Thrones, only one of which has Robert present. But in that scene, Barristan Selmy (played by Ian McElhinney) is also present, and yet he isn’t mentioned. This may suggest that Robert has been inserted into one of the two earlier small council scenes—featured in Eddard’s first and third Kign’s Landing chapters—while for some reason (probably simply streamlining the cast to focus on fewer characters) Barristan the Bold has been left out.

    Of course, we do know that the last of Ned’s small council scene has already been shot, in part or in full, because we saw it in the teaser—here’s a frame. Given what Bryan has said, we think we can now place that scene from the teaser (which may not be the same scene as he’s watching) as being in episode V, directed by Brian Kirk. Very compressed storytelling, as episode V then encompasses both the tourney chapter from Ned and his following chapter. Things are moving pretty fast, all considered, if that’s the case. At a guess, the three small council scenes he mentions may be in episodes III, IV, and V respectively… or IV and V, and then one scene down the road that’s a bit different.

  • August 3: The first day on location, at Leslie Hill as we previously reported (here’s a Ballymoney Times article about this. We can see from the Behind the Scenes featurette that footage was also shot there on the next day if we read that slate right, and that it would all have been for episode III, directed by Brian Kirk. A new name is mentioned, Paul Jennings, as stunt coordinator. Jennings has some significant credits, including Batman Begins (where Buster Reeves, the series’ fight arranger, was the lead stunt double for Christian Bale). Post-production digital effects will be used to expand the Leslie Hill area to represent the Dothraki sea.

  • August 5: Filming at Leslie Hill is done and we go to the “opposite end” of Northern Ireland. This was a bit confusing, but Leslie Hill’s to the north of Belfast, whereas we believe Sandy Brae is in the Mourne Mountains region in the southeast corner of the country. If that’s right, Vaes Dothrak is well-situated in a region that has some mountains, as the Dothraki city is situated next to the holy Mother of Mountains. The usual cast you expect will be there is there.

Now, to the present. Bryan mentions scenes with Bran and Tyrion’s stand-in. Hrm… Tyrion’s stand-in? Scenes from Bran’s bedchamber? This leads us to some speculation, to say the least, about the content of episode IV. But, equally possible, it’s general shooting of scenes from the first episode. The original pilot is in the process of reshoots, due to recasting and various other tweaks. We know from recent reports that Castle Ward has been used for filming for the last several days.

A final comment: if large parts of episodes III, IV, and V have been shot… might it make sense that Brian Kirk is in charge of four of the total episodes of the series? Certainly, III and V are definitely Kirk episodes, and it seems difficult to imagine so much of IV having been done if they were constantly switching directors from shoot to shoot during the day. We’ve also previously reported the possibility that Kirk is in charge of the reshoots for the pilot episode, which may be what’s presently being shot.

(Oh, and as a bit of trivia, the scrolls can be partially read if you reverse the image. “Aegon Targaryen, the Fourth of his Reign, King of the Andals and the First Men” can be clearly read. Nice! We’re going to guess that the scroll is one among many on Grand Maester Pycelle’s table. Of course… there’s a lack of reference to the Rhoynar. There’s a couple possible reasons for this, perfectly consistent with the setting—and, in particular, with that particular Targaryen king—and we hope one of those reasons are relevant.)

New Making Of Post

There’s a new post at HBO’s official Making Game of Thrones production blog, written by writer and producers’ assistant Bryan Cogman. In it, he describes being at the location which represents Winterfell—probably Castle Ward—and watching Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Bran.

And then… there’s more, as they link to backdated entries from earlier in the shoot. Fascinating material, stretching over many weeks! For example, in this post from the first day of shooting (July 23rd), he says that Cersei and Ned are having a juicy scene which is not from the books. I suspect this would be a scene in King’s Landing from other things we have heard about the early part of the production. And then after that, a scene from his own episode, episode 4. He notes that most filming in the first weeks was at the Paint Hall and the Red Keep sets there.

There’s really too much to digest right off, so go ahead and read it yourself. The dispatches run through August 5th. Our thoughts on what it says about the production schedule will come later.

Call for Extras on Malta

Discussion about the urgent call for extras led @DocFourFour to note that open calls for extras are often advertised in newspapers. One thing led to another, and the magic of the Internet led me to this call for extras from the 19th. Is this for HBO’s Game of Thrones? If so, it reveals some interesting things about production plans.

First, we can’t absolutely confirm the “international television production” in question isGame of Thrones. However, looking at the Malta Film Commission’s list of productions, we’ve been able to rule out most of these. Kammerspiel, The Medium, and Valleta Living History have all already filmed. 247 Tage is a modern piece, rather than period, as is Tailor-Made Murder and Christmas, Lent Easter. Adrift

sounds similar, though we can’t find anything

appears to be a US-Italy co-production about Robinson Crusoe. This leaves the question of just what The Last Roman is, and whether it’s filmed already or not; we’ve been unable to find any information in this regards, but we’re going to suppose it’s unlikely. It seems likely that the list is done in chronological order of filming, in which case, The Last Roman—whatever it is—filmed earlier in the year. Finally, Sky is due to film a Sinbad TV series in Malta ... but not until February of next year.

So, lets assume it’s Game of Thrones. This casting call was originally published in August, and clearly is basically the same: men and women with medium to long hair, men willing to grow beards, horsemen, and drummers (an interesting detail, actually, but we suspect this may relate to the use of drums at the wedding scene). The newest call from the 19th gets rather more specific, which suggests they are trying to fill particular areas where they’re lacking.

So, now it’s fair or blonde men and women specified, as well as Gozitan men and women of Mediterranean appearance. If this is for the TV show, that reveals that the Malta scenes are going to include a significant amount of non-Dothraki. These could be extras for Pentos, or to represent the Western Market in Vaes Dothrak, or they could even be a radical change to the ethnicity of the Lhazreen people. There’s also the possibility that some scenes meant to be set in King’s Landing will be filmed there, as per our earlier report.

The Gozitan men and women, on the other hand, clearly indicates that the island of Gozo is also being used for filming. Gozo, part of the Maltese archipelago, is known for its scenic hills and natural beauty, and we can’t help but notice that they have terraced hills that put us in mind of the description of the Free City of Norvos that Drogo’s khalasar travel past. The island could be intended for the bulk of scenes and scenery set on the Dothraki Sea that are shot in the Maltese archipelago.

We’ll update if we’re able to gain any confirmation regarding the casting call being related to Game of Thrones.

Muscular Dothraki Warriors Wanted

Extras NI has put out a fresh, urgent call for extras to be Dothraki Warriors. The specific brief is for “dark, swarthy skinned, muscly men that are at least 5 ft 10 to 6 ft 6 in height”. Contact information is provided in the above link.

It’s been noted to us that second unit filming in Malta was already supposed to have begun, and principal filming was set to start in October. Could the urgency of this call for extras be a suggestion that there’s a problem with obtaining sufficient extras at the Malta end?  It’s interesting to wonder whether any of these extras will find themselves offered a trip to Malta for the several weeks of shooting there.

GRRM on Game of Thrones

Thanks to LordMountainGoat, we now have video of George R.R. Martin’s Worldcon panel in which he discusses the series. As previously reported, George had wanted to show some of his personal materials and to go into more depth, but at that time HBO was very closed-mouth. Therefore, his discussion of the series is fairly general. Still, makes for interesting listening as he discusses the genesis of the series. Note that there are spoilers:



 

New Gallery Images

We’ve added screencaps fromHBO’s Fall/Winter 2010 preview video, featuring Sean Bean as Eddard Stark and Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy, to the gallery. These shots are interesting in that they probably give us our best idea of how the series will look when it hits the air, as the teaser footage makes use of a very dark filter and the behind the scenes is straight-up documtenary footage.

Directorial Minutae

One of the details to come out of the new material from HBO is a hint of what directors are doing. We’ve previously reported on the fact that Northern Irish director Brian Kirk was confirmed to be filming two of the episodes of the series. The behind-the-scenes twice show slates bearing Kirk’s name as director of the depicted scenes, with episodes #3 apparently featuring the Dothraki and Viserys sequences seen in the preview, and with episode #5 featuring Lady Catelyn in the Vale.

However, a recent report reveals that Kirk was involved in reshooting at least one scene from the pilot, originally directed by noted actor and director, Thomas McCarthy. Given the loss of the Doune Castle location as well as the recasting Catelyn Stark, it seems likely a very large portion of the scenes set in Winterfell will need to be reshot (much as the recasting of Daenerys and the move to Malta for filming Dothraki scenes likely means heavy reshooting there as well).

If Kirk is handling the reshoots in their entirety, rather than filling in for McCarthy for certain scenes, that would suggest he’s a lynchpin in determining the shooting style of the 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.

Roger Allam Joins Game of Thrones

HBO has informed us that the character of Magister Illyrio Mopatis, scheming benefactor to Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, has been recast. Roger Allam, a well-known actor of stage and screen, has been cast in the role after Ian McNeice had to withdraw from the part. McNeice had filmed the role for the pilot, butthe recasting of Daenerys and the consequent necessary reshoots led to a scheduling conflict that could not be sorted out.

Among notable roles played by Allam are Inspector Javert in the first London staging of Les Misérables, two Laurence Oliver Award-winning theatrical roles in 2000 and 2001, sleazy television presenter Lewis Prothero in the film adaption of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, and a leading role in the new film Tamara Drewe. Below is an interview with actor from September 8 during the U.K. premiere of the film:

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.

Game of Thrones Screencap Gallery

We’ve collected screen captures from HBO’s latest video releases (missing just a couple of Ned shots from the 2010-2011 preview) and have posted them at our gallery. If you’ve seen our dissection of the videos, you’ll have seen all of these, but if you click through you’ll find that each image has additional commentary from us. Much of it pertains to comparisons to the novels, especially in regards to thematic details such as armor, clothing, and the like.

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts on the images. We plan to add the original teaser screencaps to the gallery in time.

For those concerned about spoilers, there are none which are not already self-evident from the trailer and behind the scenes video.

Brief Clips of Sean Bean as Ned

One other thing that HBO has released is their overall 2010/2011 preview, featuring a number of the productions they’re readying to knock the socks off of subscribers. At the very beginning and towards the very end, we get glimpses of Sean Bean as Eddard Stark, the Lord of Winterfell and one of the central characters of Game of Thrones. These clips are not part of the promo teaser or behind-the-scenes material, so are worth a look!

This two brief clips are from the very first scene where we see Ned, executing a deserter from the Night’s Watch.

NEW UPDATE: Dissecting the New Teaser (more images!)

Images coming later (sorry, folks, it’s quite late!). First, the teaser:

9 seconds: Jon Snow (Kit Harington) on the Wall.

10 seconds: Ser Hugh of the Vale jousting at the Hand’s Tourney.

10-11 seconds: Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and someone we can’t identify.

14 seconds: Arryn men-at-arms, presumably in the Vale.

15 seconds: Tyrion in the Vale held prisoner by a unknown man-at-arms (possibly Bronn’s fellow sellsword, Chiggen, who may be unnamed)

16 seconds: Sandor Clegane fighting his brother, Ser Gregor Clegane. The Mountain that Rides looks MASSIVE. His armor is a hauberk of steel plates, rather than plate armor as with some other knights glimpsed earlier on.

17 Seconds. Eddard Stark, King Robert, Varys, and Grand Maester Pycelle at the small council table. Robert and Eddard are arguing. Big tapestry in the background.

19 seconds: What we believe is the final Game of Thrones logo, or near enough.

And now the behind the scenes promo:

8 seconds: Shot of the tourney ground. Baratheon banner notable.

9 seconds: Targaryen banner… where would that be hanging? Hmm. Alas, the dragon has four legs—this may be our fault! It’s supposed to be two, in fact, but perhaps it’s a creative change.

9-10 seconds: A youth fighting with a stick. We guess this is Prince Joffrey, heir to the Iron Throne.

11 seconds: What we guess is a wildling fighting someone. Don’t want to spoil. ;)

11-12 seconds: Catelyn Stark. Michelle Fairley looks amazing.

19-21 seconds: Jon Snow sparring. We suspect this is Grenn, played by Mark Stranley. A lack of helmets noted, tut-tut.

29 seconds: A bunch of Baratheon guards and what we intially believed to be a blurry glimpse of Jaime Lannister with a positively leonine mane of blond hair. The red cloak is certainly suggestive. However, now we think that he is in armor in this scene. Another set of arms are glimpsed here as well, which is nice: a rooster on red. Perhaps one of the hedge knights attaching themselves to the king’s train?

29 seconds: On the monitor, Ned Stark cleaning Ice, from the start of the novel.

32 seconds: A brief glimpse of someone we don’t recognize. We are told by HBO that this is in fact an extra.

32 seconds: We’re told these men in the foreground are Lannister guardsmen.  A distictly Asian flair to their armor, but still recognizably plate armor. The helmets are the most striking pieces, seeming quite like samurai helmets, but it’s hard to say what they look like when the visors are down. Behind them is a gold cloak.

32 seconds: Some sort of Northern lord or Stark servant? Not an identifiable actor.

37-38 seconds: Viserys Targaryen, played by Harry Lloyd, using a single-edged sword which we initially thought might be an arakh. However, the Dothraki in the background, who may be Jhogo (Elysa Gabel), seems to have a long-hafted, sickle-like weapon hanging from his horse. He also seems to be wearing some sort of vest or lamellar armor. A bit of a change from the novels, in which the Dothraki disdain armor.

43 seconds: Dothraki travelling through willows. This would be the material that was shot in Ballymoney.

45 seconds: Ser Jorah Mormont, played by Iain Glen. Part of the same travelling sequence.

56 seconds: George! With Richard Madden. Shortly after, David Benioff dates the interview: a couple of weeks after George visited the set for the pilot.

1:00 minute: The Stark direwolf on the Wall.

1:01: Ser Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) and who we believe to be Rast (Luke McEwan), possibly attacking poor Samwell.

1:03: Very padded Bran fighting against Prince Tommen.

1:04: Catelyn Tully hiding from danger, and Tyrion Lannister enters the scene from behind the camera.

1:07: The massive Conan Stevens practicing his fight choreography.

1:08: The lovely Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and a very brief glimpse of Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) sitting next to her. I’ll bet the fastening of his doublet is a mockingbird. On Sansa’s other side, Arya. Jeyne Poole seems to have fallen by the wayside, which I believe has been previously confirmed.

1:09: Kit Harington practicing with Mark Stanley.

1:10: Sean Bean as Eddard Stark in ... well, King’s Landing certainly.

1:10-1:11: Peter Dinklage as Tyrion, hair dyed, and a great crimson-and-gold leather jerkin.

1:11: Mark Addy as King Robert (looking very relaxed with a styrofoam cup and a bar of chocolate! Obviously between takes) and Lena Headey looking marvelous as Queen Cersei. Their children, Prince Tommen and Princess Myrcella,  can be glimpsed just at the end. Just off camera is Sandor Clegane.

1:12: Arya (Maisie Williams) and Bran (Isaac Hempestead Wright) having fun. Wonderful!

1:17: A knight in armor. Ser Hugh of the Vale? Hard to tell.

1:19: Two direwolf pups. Awww!

1:25: Daenerys Targaryen among the Dothraki. We beleve that’s Jhogo behind her, and his armor seems more like woven leather than lamellar or scale.

1:26: A better glimpse of Princess Myrcella and Prince Tommen. Followed by some direwolf emboridery, and then a shot of Kingsguard in ceremonial armor. Alas, it lacks the white cloaks, or any nod to it (even their armor is white in the books), but it’s an interesting look at least. Of all the things we’ve seen so far, we’d call this the most “stereotypically” fantasy. But hey, at least they have the “intricate suit of scales” thing going. Then they’re followed by some Lannister men, if the red that predominates reveals anything. Finally, that character from earlier. He and the other individual are extras, HBO tells us.

1:27: Michelle Fairley as Catelyn. Love the look, love the blue with her hair. Behind her, some of the sellswords who accompany her. And then the black-helmeted Ser Gregor Clegane followed by Ser Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers, is a truly magnificent helmet that evokes flowers and plant life. Marvellous!

Daenerys Targaryen Still

And to wrap up the initial burst of new media from HBO for Game of Thrones, here’s their new still of Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke. Gorgeous!

Third Game of Thrones Promotional Image

Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO. Used with permission.

HBO Launches Making Of Site

HBO’s listened to what you wanted to hear, folks! Visit Making Game of Thrones, a new site where the producers will be blogging a bit about the process behind making the series, sharing unique details and information with all the fans.