Yesterday and this morning have seen a number of small items of note, many via Twitter (and some of those thanks to fellow fan Nymeria_Wic) which we tweeted about, plus a new item or two which leads this post off:
Via Mundoplus.tv, we learn that Spain’s Canal+ has secured the rights to HBO’s Game of Thrones. This follows our previous reports that Canal+ Scandinavia (originally, but no longer, part of the same company) has secured similar rights in the Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. Mundoplus does not provide any information regarding an air date besides 2011. They do claim that the pilot episode cost 10 million Euros, but the source of this information is unclear.
The Inish Times has a cute profile of young Art Parkinson, recently revealed to be cast in the role of Rickon Stark, the youngest of the Stark children. Art, 8 years old, was apparently chosen after a massive (and unsuccessful) effort across Ireland, England, and Scotland to find just the right actor for Rickon. According to his mother, actress and drama school teacher Movania Parkinson:
In his latest “Not a Blog” post, GRRM reveals two new members of the cast of HBO’s Game of Thrones: young actors Eros Vlahos in the role of Lommy Greenhands and Ben Hawkey, a newcomer to acting (at least on screen). As George is the first to point out, these characters don’t appear until the second book, but it seems the production has decided to bring them in a bit earlier. We previously reported on the news that Lommy was going to be cast, including the intriguing suggestion he’d be rehearsing scenes in Malta. From Eros’s tweet on September 30th, it sounds like he’ll actually be filming in Belfast (his reference to Dublin must be a slip) somewhere later in October, though it’s always possible he’ll be moving on from there to join filming in Malta where principal filming should be under way at the moment.
George shares some other interesting information about forthcoming casting: the roles of Stiv (a wildling) ad Ser Meryn Trant (one of the Kingsguard) are cast and will soon be announced, and (most notably) Ser Kevan Lannister (Lord Tywin’s brother and advisor) will very shortly be cast. It’s great to see that more of the Kingsguard will be played by actors rather than extras, and it’s certainly good news to know that Kevan—one of the more notable secondary characters who had previously gone unmentioned when it came to casting—is set to appear. Perhaps the most notable role as yet unannounced as being cast is Lord Walder Frey, but we suspect it’s not long before we’ll have word on him.
Finally, it looks like there’ll be filming happening on Malta in the first week of November, because GRRM indicates he’ll be flying there after his trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland for Octocon in Dublin and to visit the production in Belfast (as well as hang out with fans).
Eros Vlahos, who’s a talented young comedian, is briefly featured in this Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang trailer at the 1:40 mark:
Thanks to the efforts of LordMountainGoat, it looks like the Brotherhoods without Banners will be organizing a second moot in Belfast which George R.R. Martin and his partner Parris will attend, to hang out with fans while GRRM is in the area to drop by the production. The event is scheduled for October 28th, the only day in which GRRM would be available. For more details, check out this thread over at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum. Some excerpts:
Now before we go any further I have to make it clear that this is first and foremost a Brotherhood Without Banners meet up with George RR Martin and Parris. We cannot in any way guarantee that any of the cast and crew of the show will be there at all whatsoever.
The reason for this is that the filming schedule is not certain and we could not get any definite answers as to whether this would be a good day for it or not. We could not wait any longer to announce because everyone needs to book time off work, flights, hotels, etc. So if there is a big day of filming scheduled for Thursday, or a night shoot, or a 5 am start on Friday for most of the cast then unfortunately it will be tough luck. This really will be a bit of a lottery as to whether anyone will be available and willing to come out and meet us….
We do have some concerns about just how many people might show up and for that reason we will not be publicly announcing the location where the Moot will be held. Instead I will be sending PMs or emails with the details to everybody that signs up in this thread to attend. Also we will be using a guest list entry system so if your name is not down, you ain’t getting in.
Right now there is no limit on numbers but if hundreds of people post here in the next week that might be a problem but we’ll deal with that eventuality if it does arise.
LMG is referring to last year’s moot, in which actors Richard Madden, Kit Harrington, Alfie Allen, Ron Donachie, Sophie Turner, and Maisie Williams attended George’s signing (and some of them went on to the post-signing get together to hang out). As he says, this year it’s anyone’s guess as to who will be around, available, and willing to participate, but at the very least George and Parris will be there, and a good time will certainly be had.
(For those who sign up to the forum to post your interest in taking part, please allow up to 24 hours before being able to post. We use a manual validation system to weed out spammers, and sometimes we are overwhelmed a bit.)
The Irish Times has published a profile of Aidan Gillen, the Irish actor cast in the role of Lord Petyr Baelish, better known to fans as Littlefinger. Gillen was a popular fan choice for the role, after his stellar work in such series as the original Queer as Folk and The Wire. The interview is largely focused on another project, Love/Hate, but Game of Thrones is referred to when his current facial hair is brought to the reader’s attention:
The facial hair he is sporting is for a role in the upcoming HBO series Game of Thrones (billed as “ The Sopranos in Middle Earth”), currently shooting in Belfast.
His character, Petyr Baelish, is a shadowy, mercurial figure. “So I based this look on Peter Mandelson circa 1984,” he says.
For those not familiar with U.K. Politics, Peter Mandelson was a television producer who rose to prominence with his involvement in the Labour party. He was one of the first individuals described as a “spin doctor” in the U.K., and earned the sobriquet of “the Prince of Darkness.” He did indeed wear a mustache in the 80’s and early 90’s.
Gillen’s remark suggests that the specific look for Petyr is his interpretation, which is interesting.
Location shoots seem to have been a major focus of HBO’s Game of Thrones production over the last couple of weeks. Castle Ward has been used extensively to represent Winterfell, and a reader of Winter is Coming photographed an area of Tollymore Forest Park which was clearly prepared for use. Tollymore was the location of the prologue scene during the pilot, and due to recasting it was one of the scenes scheduled to be re-shot for the first episode.
We now have a brief report from a fan, Emma Galbraith, who indicates that she, too, came across the Tollymore filming location almost two weeks ago. Besides that, though, she reveals some information that’s new to us. She indicates that an estate on the outskirts of Saintfield has been used for filming, and that the production has also been sighted in Saul, both in County Down.
The Making Game of Thrones site has a new photo posted, featuring the Hand’s seat in the small council chamber. This chair was previously glimpsed in the “Raven” teaser, and drew some commentary from us in our screencapture gallery. Looking at it from this vantage point, we see we were well off the mark in suggesting it seemed inspired by the Rococo period.
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.