The Guardian is reporting that Sky—who recently secured exclusive broadcast rights to HBO’s original programming—is launching a new high definition channel, Sky Atlantic, to feature HBO’s programs as well as Mad Men, which they recently scooped up from the BBC. The channel will cost £19 a month as part of the Sky Variety Pack, and will launch early in 2011.
Most interestingly, Sky reports that Game of Thrones is set to begin airing in April. This likely means the show will be airing no more than a month after it premieres in the United States.
While getting back into the swing of things after his trip to Australia, George R.R. Martin has provided some interesting updates on casting.
The role of the youngest Stark child, Rickon, has finally been filled with the a Belfast-native child actor, Art Parkinson. He very briefly appears in the 2008 Northern Irish horror film Red Mist (produced by Mark Huffam, a key member of the Game of Thrones production):
He seems about 5-7 years old here, so we suppose he’s in the 7-9 range, a good deal older than the 3-year-old described in the books.
More notably, the role of the maegi Mirri Maz Duur—a character who appears late in the first novel, and plays an important role in the narrative—has been given to Mia Soteriou (George writes Sotiriou, but the production confirms that Soteriou is correct). A vocal coach and theatre composer as well as an actress, she appeared in the international hit Mamma Mia!, and has a number of theatrical and television credits in the U.K. Looking at her photos, she certainly looks the part.
Finally, there’s been a minor change in the role Elyes Gabel is playing. Originally cast as the Dothraki warrior Jhogo, he has been redubbed Rakharo, another of Daenerys’s personal guards. The reason given was that it was felt Jhogo sounded too similar to Drogo. We discuss the differences between the two characters, such as they are, on our characters page.
Vicinanza, along with Hollywood-based partner Vince Gerardis (who also shared a co-executive producer credit), ran the Created By management and production company which represents the film and television rights for most of the notable names in science fiction and fantasy, both past and present (among them are Stephen King, Larry Niven, Robin Hobb, Joe Haldeman, Isaac Asimov, and of course George R.R. Martin). It seems clear from the co-executive producer credit that Created By had a direct hand in bringing Game of Thrones to television. They are specifically mentioned by Martin when he first announced the HBO option on the series way back at the start of 2007.
Vicinanza had recently expanded his involvement from simply representing to having a more direct hand in developing projects, with his most notable other credit being one of the executive producers of FlashForward, which was based on Robert J. Sawyer’s novel of the same name. However, our understanding of Vicinanza’s co-executive producer status on Game of Throneswas that it was more a notional than a working position, and that his day-to-day involvement in the series was substantially less than GRRM’s.
Our condolences go out to his friends and family. A memorial service is planned on October 1st.
There’s been a new update on HBO’s official Making Game of Thrones site, this time a video—the first in an Artisans series of videos (yes!) from award-winning production designer Gemma Jackson. Here it is:
Notable details we spotted right off: a rendition of the 7-pointed star of the Faith, a closer look at the direwolf on the Stark banners, and the king’s feasting pavilion at the tourney fields.
We’ve found some interesting information that has some indirect relevance to HBO’s Game of Thrones, concerning Starz’s Camelot. This Arthurian drama which may well be called a direct competitor to Game of Thrones, and may have been so even when both were just ideas floating around the networks. As we’ve speculated in the past, Camelot may have been the Arthurian project that was being considered by HBO as an alternative to Game of Thrones at the time when Chris Albrecht still ran the Warner Brothers subsidiary, and if so it doesn’t seem like much of a coincidence that it ended up with Starz now that Albrecht runs that cable company.
In any case, back in July the Wall Street Journal reported that the per episode budget was around $7 million, an extraordinary sum more than half again the speculated budget for Game of Thrones: So extraordinary, in fact, that we cast doubts on it in our report. As it happens, we were right to. In a press conference at the end of August, executive producer Morgan O’Sullivan apparently confirmed that the budget was 34.7 million Euros. This comes out to about $46 million for the 10 episode series, which is exactly the same as what we believe Game of Thrones to be at.
The $7 million per episode budget may have been nothing but hype ... or it may be a hint of the fact that the purchasing power of Starz’s money in Ireland means the show has a budget equivalent to $7 million compared to a similar show filmed in the United States. The interesting thing, of course, is that the Irish and Northern Irish tax incentives and other advantages for film and television productions are pretty similar. That would then fit our own speculation that Game of Thrones stands nearer a $6.5-$7 million per episode budget when compared to a similar production in the U.S., when these incentives and other benefits are factored in.
One last thing for Game of Thrones fans. Executive Producer Morgan O’Sullivan had this to say about the future of Camelot, and the words certainly apply to HBO’s epic fantasy drama:
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:
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.)
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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:
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.