Northern Ireland Screen has posted the 2009-2010 Annual Report (PDF) on their website, which reviews the various productions, goals, and funding they were involved in over the previous year. We’ve previously reported on early reports regarding the publication, but this is the first time the public will have been able to see it.
Most notable? HBO’s Game of Thrones is very heavily featured. The cover pages make use of the first official still from the pilot, and there are references to the production through out the whole thing. There’s almost no new information to speak of that’s specific to the show, except for the fact that NI Screen gave their maximum grant of £1.6 million (roughly US $2.5 million) to the production not once, but twice: once to help fund the pilot, and once again for the first season. This was nearly 60% of NI Screen’s total grants made in the 2009-2010 period. You can read more regarding the budget of the series, and NI Screen’s funding of it, in our article, A Budget to be Reckoned With.
One last tidbit, a quote from the report which made us chuckle (and which is, we think, our first mention in a governmental publication):
‘Activity on the web was frantic, with the two main blogs "Winter is Coming" and "Westeros" vying with each other to be the first to publish hitherto unknown facts and information about the cast, locations and budget and to announce whether it would go to series.’
This weekend we shared an ITN report regarding Sean Bean filming in London for the spy thriller Cleanskin. In the article, ITN notes that the production is a six week shoot, which led us to speculate that most of Bean’s scenes in HBO’s Game of Thrones will have to wait until October. However, as a poster notes, Cleanskin actually started filming in late February.
The filming that ITN was covering was a brief, one day reshoot, and not a sign that Bean will be occupied for weeks with that production.
We know that filming is presently going on for scenes set in Castle Black, as actor Luke McEwan (cast as Rast) tweeted he had finished his first day of work this past Friday, and we know that the Hand’s tourney is set to film starting around this coming Friday. But it seems something else is up for mid-August: shooting scenes set at the Eyrie and/or Vale of Arryn.
Or, at least, that’s what Brendan McCormack’s agents report on his profile page, indicating that he begins filming in mid-August. McCormack, cast as Ser Vardis Egan, will have a somewhat expanded role compared to the novel according to author George R.R. Martin, who indicated that he’ll be taking some of Ser Brynden Tully’s role.
At a guess, they’re either going to be able to make use of some of the exterior sets (such as the area of the tourney ground, or perhaps even Magheramorne quarry) to represent parts of the Vale of Arryn and the Mountains of the Moon, thereby minimizing amount of travel the crew has to do, or they’ll be doing some interior shoots at Paint Hall to represent the Eyrie.
But not for HBO’s Game of Thrones. In fact, Sean Bean is the lead in a new action/thriller film Cleanskin, which is filming in London as we type this. According to ITN, which provides a photo & brief video interview of the actor in his current look,
the film will be shooting for the next six week.
This fits with the news that much of the Winterfell footage is waiting until September to be filmed. Given that we had reports of Bean being available the first week or two of shooting, we suppose that they’ve done some work with him, but not a lot. The bulk of his scenes as Eddard Stark—both in Winterfell and King’s Landing—will have to be filmed at the end of September and right through to December, when filming is scheduled to end.
Just a few bits and bobs of information regarding HBO’s Game of Thrones production, for those who’re interested in the nuts-and-bolts.
I’ve only been and filmed a single episode so far, and I haven’t met Sean Bean. He’s in another part of the storyline than the one I’m in. He’s mostly filming in Ireland, while the storyline I’m part of is filming in Malta. There’s a lot of established as well as fresh actors involved, and the sets are really huge.
Given that she says she’s filmed, it seems fair to say that the majority of her scenes will be in Malta, but there are some things (interiors, primarily, we expect) that are being or will be filmed in Northern Ireland.
After a couple of hours of sweating over the clues, GRRM confirmed his clues. First, he confirmed that Elyas Gabel—who’s been in Waterloo Road, Casualty, Apparitions, and was a zombie in Dead Set—has been cast in the role of Jhogo, one of Daenerys Targaryen’s kas, her personal guard of Dothraki warriors (the three other guards will be played by extras or featured extras, at least in this season). Then, as we guessed, actor Joe Dempsie has been cast in the role of Gendry, a young, stubborn blacksmith.
Below are two videos featuring the actors:
Just a quick note, amidst all the clue pondering. Source’s close to the production have confirmed something that was rumored earlier, based on an errant IMDB entry: Danish actor Dar Salim has indeed been cast in the role of Qotho, one of Drogo’s three bloodriders, his closest and most loyal bodyguards. Salim’s appeared in a number of Danish and Scandinavian productions, and is particularly noted for his role as the titualar character of Go In Peace, Jamil!, a Shiite Muslim in Denmark on the run after committing a murder to avenge his mother’s death years earlier:
This makes us wonder if the “bloody bowman” of the clue might not be another Dothraki, in this case Daenerys’s guard Aggo, who receives a bow from her…
Another set of clues for two characters at “Not a Blog”:
“The bloody lash knows what it’s like to be dead. He’s met his waterloo and been a casualty, and seen his share of apparitions too. The horny-headed hammerhand is older than you might have thought, but too young to need a pacemaker, though he might have ridden on the ferry with Gerry. Another friend of our kraken’s sister, he knows the doctor and the wizard too. Damned if he doesn’t play what he calls football (not the real kind).”
After correcting the initial clue from bowman to lash, it’s clear that the first clue is for Jhogo, one of Daenerys’s young Dothraki guards. The other must be for Gendry, and we’ve tenatively identified Joseph Dempsie as a candidate (he’s rather older than Gendry as described in the books, appeared on Lily Allen and Friends, has been both on Doctor Who and Merlin, has appeared as a footballer in The Damned United, and hails from Merseyside, inspiration for the Gerry & the Pacemakers song, “Ferry Cross to Mersey”).
We noticed that Time Warner (corporate parent of HBO) has a regular corporate newsletter. Digging into the latest edition, we see that Game of Thrones is mentioned as definitely airing on one of Sky’s channels, along with Boardwalk Empire (which will be the show that launches the new deal), Luck, and other current series such as Entourage once their current broadcast right agreements run out.
Conan Stevens (Twitter) has put up a new blog post regarding his experience as part of the Game of Thrones production. He starts by showing off Dark Sword Miniatures‘s Gregor Clegane figure, and the fact that George R.R. Martin congratulated him by e-mail and offered to send him one of the figures. He also notes he had to pass up a chance to take a drink with Sean Bean, and saw but was not introduced to Peter Dinklage.
In production news, Conan notes how much work he’s been putting into riding, having flown to the U.K. to receive his training. As we noticed yesterday on Twitter, he ran into actor Finn Jones (cast as Ser Loras Tyrell) while there. He’s had some riding experience in the past, and says he’s picking it up, with his goal being getting the horse up to a steady gallop by the end of the week. Of particular interest is his plan to slim down so he can get the full six-pack going, both for professional and personal reasons. But in the course of it he notes that he wants to do this “before I go home by the end of the month”. This lets us know that Conan’s first scenes will be filming in August.
At a guess, the rest of his scenes will be filmed in the Fall.
Having been busy with writing A Dance with Dragons, George has finally gotten around to writing a few words about several of the actors cast in roles. First, and most significantly, is Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister. As we exclusively revealed, Dance was always the #1 choice of the producers right from the time they got the greenlight, and George now confirms this. He also discusses Conan Stevens, cast as Gregor Clegane, noting that he first came to his attention when he auditioned first auditioned as Khal Drogo which Stevens revealed was a strategy for getting in front of the casting director in the hope that they’d keep him in mind for the Mountain that Rides.
Finally, GRRM discusses young actor Eugene Simon, cast in the role of Lancel Lannister. One of King Robert’s two squires in the novel, the other, his cousin Tyrek, will not be cast (at least not in this first season).
There is an interesting note for followers of progress on HBO’s Game of Thrones series in his post announcing his cancelling an appearance at New York Comic Con.
Besides noting he plans to visit Belfast (main location for shooting of the series) after attending Octocon in Dublin, he notes the possibility that he’ll also visit Malta (site of location shoots for many of the scenes set in Pentos and regions east). As Octocon takes place in mid-October, it seems like the Malta location shooting will cover the bulk of that month and a good part of September as well. As we’ve previously reported, the Malta shoot has been stated to take six weeks. Mid-September through the end of October seems likely now.
It’s been the date bandied about since the pilot shoot, but the reshoots have made it seem possible—and HBO has certainly indicated—that the premiere would slip to late Spring or even early Summer. Now, HBO has vanquished that possibility at the TCA Summer Press Tour, stating that the show is definitely set for Spring 2011. Via Matt Roush of TV Guide.com, one of the executives stated that early March was a possibility (March 3rd is stated elsehere), but the official line is that all they’ll commit to right now is Spring 2011. Roush and James Hibbard of the Live Feed provide more details, noting that there’s enormous pressure on the writers to match the expectations of the fans in the “blogosphere”.
In other news, it sounds like no new footage was shown from Game of Thrones at the press panel, although “a wisp” was shown. This was probably the teaser that we’ve all seen before (confirmed by HitFix).
There’s a terrific blog post from Conan Stevens (cast as Gregor Clegane, the Mountain that Rides) from Belfast, in which he recounts details such as his diet, his training regimen, and his run-ins with Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) and Rory McCann (Sandor Clegane, the Hound) at the training center, as well as bumping into executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. He mentions that he’s started work on a short, brutal fight sequence he’ll be taking part in, the choreography being handled by stunt coordinator Buster Reeves and his team.
Finally, after a question from us, he discusses seeing and trying on Gregor’s armor for the first time, and was very impressed by the work that was done. As he notes, having professionals making armor for you is a fair sight better than making it yourself (as he did when he was part of the SCA).
On Monday, he’ll be taking part in “intensive horse riding lessons” from a famous horse riding stunt team, and feels that with all this intense training and this film footage, he’ll be able to apply to be an accredited stuntman in his native Australia.
We’re most of the way through the second week of filming on Game of Thrones, and excellent weather this week has allowed the production to finally start location shooting around Belfast. Word from Northern Ireland (via comments at Winter is Coming) is that the location shoot was in Ballymoney. This region is noted for its lovely, rural farmsteads and the picturesque river Bann. It’s easy to speculate that the rural area might be used to represent the royal progress as it approaches King’s Landing, or perhaps that the river will be used for a scene involving Arya, Sansa, Joffrey, and Mycah the butcher’s boy.
In other news, the Times of Malta has a report on film and television production on the island. Though primarily touting their landing a new Sinbad adventure program for Sky1, HBO’s Game of Thrones is mentioned in passing as a major television production, one of the largest to ever be carried out in Europe. Of particular note? The Malta shoot is said to be about six weeks long. We know the shoot is set to start sometime in September, which is also when Winterfell exterior scenes may be shot. This makes it seem even likelier that there will be some production overlap, and at a guess a single director will be responsible for all scenes shot in Malta.