Game of Thrones

HBO's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' TV Show

News

November 2009

Update on HBO Greenlight Date

In a comment on George R.R. Martin’s Livejournal, his partner Parris says that what they’ve heard is that “HBO will make a decision sometime in the spring - perhaps by the end of March.” End of March is certainly a longer time period than many expected, and the possibility of the decision not coming until April or even May is sobering. A January 2011 premiere if there’s a greenlight seems almost impossible if there’s no decision until the latter part of spring.

Last Eason’s and Moots Report

Phillip Lowes (Ser Mountain Goat on the A Song of Ice and Fire forum) has provided an incredibly detailed report from his time attending the signings and moots in Belfast and Dublin. That report, and others, can be found here. He’s also proposing that plans begin to be made for a Game of Thrones event next year.

Among the interesting bits that seem new is his report of his discussion with Paul Hardwyck, who advised the production on medieval weaponry and played a role in choreographing the training fight of Bran Stark and Tommen Baratheon. Hardwyck, also a member of the forum as Knight of Redemption, notes that initially the producers wanted to differentiate the Lannisters from the Starks by giving them curving swords. He also feels that the weapons are “too showy” for his tastes, though his perspective is that of someone deeply immersed in the study of historical swordsmanship.

Coster-Waldau on Lena Headey’s Pregnancy and Game of Thrones

A brief but excellent interview (in Danish) with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the Danish actor who’s been building an international reputation, about HBO’s pilot for Game of Thrones which recently completed filming. Playing the role of the knight Jaime Lannister, a good part of the interview is devoted to questions about the filming. The most notable pieces to come out of it? Lena Headey is pregnant, not so far along that one can tell when she’s dressed, but which required her to have a stand-in for a nude scene; as far as we can tell, this is the first time this particular news has been made public. Coster-Waldau is also taking part in a Danish TV series after New Year.

It does seem rather probable that pre-production on the series can likely start right after HBO gives its approval, but it seems increasingly unlikely that filming will be able to take place as quickly, given that other actors (such as Jennifer Ehle) are known to have work commitments through March or April.

Below you’ll find our translation of the relevant parts of the article:

Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) in the U.K.

Jason Momoa, the actor cast as Khal Drogo who recently completed his filming in Morocco for HBO’s pilot of A Game of Thrones, will be in the U.K. for two events in coming days. First, he’ll appear at Nostalgia Comics in Birmingham on November 30th from 4 to 6 PM. Then, on December 3rd, he’ll be at the Forbidden Planet store in Belfast, Northern Ireland, from 6 to8 PM. There will be a charge for autographs.

It sounds like an excellent opportunity to ask the actor how he felt filming in Morocco went. Poster images with more information can be found at Forbidden Planet’s website. Hat-tip to AndyBelfast, a member of the A Song of Ice and Fire forum, for pointing this news out.

Reading for the Wait

While we’re all waiting the long months ahead to HBO’s expected decision in March, there’s not much fans of the series and the potential TV show can do but keep their eyes out for news. Maybe you’ll read some of GRRM’s latest works. Or perhaps you’ll want to read more about what goes into a production like Game of Thrones. We’re doing a bit of the latter ourselves, and came across a mention of Robert Stromberg in
Matte Painting (UK, US), part of the D’Artiste Digital Artists Master Class series.

Stromberg’s referred to as a mentor to another matte artist, having helped him understand that he needed to restrain his approach to painting. The book is filled with beautiful images from matte paintings throughout, and contains an amazing amount of detail regarding the technical aspects of creating matte paintings and integrating them into films. Makes for fascinating reading if you’re interested in the production side of film and television, and more so because it seems highly likely that matte paintings will be an important part of the production.

Visual Effects Feature

We’ve put together an informative and speculative article on the visual effects for HBO’s Game of Thrones pilot. This follows our previous feature article, an introduction for fans and casual onlookers alike. Whatever you do, make sure to watch the John Adams featurette to get an idea of just how impressive visual effects can be on the small screen these days.

It’s a Wrap: Game of Thrones Filming Ends

Filming on the Game of Thrones pilot has wrapped, according to VFX producer Julia Frey. So ends three weeks of shooting that took place in three different countries and involved a primary cast two dozen strong and more than a hundred extras. Cogratulations to the hard-working cast and crew, who pulled a number of all-nighters to get the job done!

Where to next? As we reported early last month, Modern VideoFilm will be carrying out some sort of post-production duties in February, with HBO expected to give its decision on a greenlight in around March. In the interim, we’ve really no idea what will be going on, though we hope to learn more soon.

Airlock Alpha on Game of Thrones

Bryant Griffin of Airlock Alpha, a media site covering genre works, writes a commentary on HBO’s proposed Game of Thrones series. It’s a great adjunct to articles such as our own introduction to the project, as Griffin covers similar ground but provides a bit more comparison to HBO’s past offerings (such as Deadwood) to make it apparent why Game of Thrones is simply a terrific fit for HBO’s storied original programming.

Jamie Campbell Bower Interview

In the wake of AMC’s The Prisoner miniseries and the premiere of Twilight: New Moon, Jamie Campbell Bower has been interviewed by Movieline. It’s a nice feature, and the second page of the article features a number of questions concerning HBO’s Game of Thrones pilot. One of the most notable pieces of this interview is when he says the following:

“It was a great experience. Very short shoot, but they threw a lot of money at it. Hopefully it’s going to be really good, and hopefully it’ll be greenlit and we’ll go ahead with it. It was great fun and a very strong, rich cast.”

Another Night Shoot

The production is in its final days, by the sounds of it. Last night was a long night shoot, according to a tweet from VFX producer Julia Frey, and it seems from another tweet this evening that there’s another night shoot. We know the scenes shot last night were for the wedding of Daenerys and Drogo. Given the large number of extras likely involved in the elaborate wedding sequence, it seems probable that more filming is being done of that scene.

Intro to Game of Thrones

We’ve written up our first article discussing HBO’s proposed Game of Thrones series. The article includes a rough timeline of development and when we can expect news on whether it’ll go to series, a look at the buzz surrounding the show in both fan and professional circles, some background on the author George R.R. Martin, and a discussion of what sets A Song of Ice and Fire apart from its predecessors in the epic fantasy genre.

We hope it’ll be useful for those who are curious about the proposed series and the books it’s based on, and perhaps as a quick cheat sheet for those who want to write about the buzz without digging through hundreds of posts and tweets across the Net. If there’s any comments or suggestions, please feel free to comment here, our Twitter page, or email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)!

GRRM in Morocco

GRRM has posted an update from Morocco. So far, he has watched the filming of the scene where Dany and Drogo first meet, a small part of Kingdom of Heaven’s Jerusalem set in Ourazazate (an image of the set can be foundhere) having been repainted and redressed to serve as part of Illyrio’s courtyard. Tonight, Dany and Drogo’s wedding will be filmed.

GRRM also shares some of his impressions of Morocco in his post, citing the many old film sets scattering the desert, despite struggling with an Arabic keyboard.

Jennifer Ehle News

An interesting article on a Jennifer Ehle fan blog notes that she’s leapt straight from Game of Thrones to a new film, The King’s Speech, with a star-studded cast including Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, and Helena Bonham Carter. Notably, the article the blog sources noted that Ehle missed the readthrough with the rest of the cast because she was still filming Game of Thrones, where she plays Catelyn Stark.

Filming in Morocco

GRRM, cast, and crew are now in Morocco to film for a few more days—a week at most, we believe, from what we’ve heard. There will almost certainly be very little news to share from there, however, so things will be quiet. The scenes there will be Daenerys’s scenes, with Tamzin Merchant as Daenerys Targaryen, Harry Lloyd as her older brother Viserys, Iain Glen as Ser Jorah Mormont, Ian McNeice as Illyrio Mopatis, and Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo.

We do know that filming will focus in and around Ouarzazate, the home of two major Moroccon film studios which have been heavily involved in Hollywood productions. Moreover, we know that one exterior location that will be used is the still-standing set for the exterior of Jerusalem from Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven. More recently, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time filled at Ouarzazate, as discussed by Jerry Bruckheimer and the creator of the game Jordan Mechner in this recent interview. Some excellent information about past productions there, as well as the history and appearance of the area, can be found in a travel article from the UK’s Daily Mail newspapwer.

Esme Bianco Chat Transcript

The full transcript of the Esmé Bianco chat at LiveCloud is now available. Esmé was wonderfully forthcoming on all sorts of details of her career and, yes, the filming of the pilot of Game of Thrones.

Some details of the latter sort: she filmed her scene at location, not at Paint Hall, with no evidence of CGI backgrounds or other such details being added in post.  Over the course of her three auditions the production her scene was constantly being rewritten so it was a bit different each time. She says Peter Dinklage was terrific to work with, kept her amused, and no, she wasn’t aware that he wore a wig. She has no idea whether her character will be seen again on the show, but would love it if HBO wanted her to be part of publicity for the production.

30 Weeks of Filming

Approximately 30 weeks of filming would be scheduled for producing the 11 episodes that would make up the rest of the season if HBO’s Game of Thrones series is given the go-ahead, according to a source peripherally involved in the production. This figure appears to have been the seed which started the rumor among extras that “30 episodes” would follow if the series was given a go ahead, which led to speculation that HBO was considering a 2 season initial order. Those speculations were further stoked by GRRM very briefly mentioning a 2 season order in Belfast when emphasizing that the show’s fate was still up in the air.

When we asked TV commentator and critic James Hibberd about that speculation, he said that his “in the know” sources (reported on here in relation to the greenlight prospects) made no mention of the possibility, and that he found it very dubious that HBO would take such a gamble without having a first season to look at in regards to ratings.

Hibberd Reports on HBO’s Game of Thrones

It seems the odds are moving in favor of a greenlight. Over at the Hollywood Report’s LiveFeed site, critic and commentator James Hibberd notes that he hears from sources “in the know” that it will take the producers “royally blowing the pilot” for HBO to not greenlight Game of Thrones. Hibberd goes on in comments to note that HBO is aware they’ve got a hold of something special, and is amazed at the online buzz among both TV critics and fans of the series at such an early stage.

He also shares Parris’s great image of GRRM with some of the cast, first published here with a number of others.

Jack Gleeson Article

One of the more elusive actors for HBO’s Game of Thrones pilot has been 17-year-old Jack Gleeson, cast as Prince Joffrey Baratheon; there’s no really recent photos of him on-line, and outside of his bit part in Batman Begins his film work has been limited to smaller, UK independent films. However, there’s an article from the Independent Theatre Workshop that runs through his theatrical education and experience.

In the course of the article, it notes that over 40 ITW students went before the U.K. casting directors for the pilot, but Gleeson was not only the only actor chosen from that group, he’s also the only Irish actor in a primary role.

Live Chat with Esme Bianco

Esmé Bianco—model, singer, dancer, and actress who plays a small but notable role in an introductory scene for Tyrion Lannister—will be participating in an on-line chat at LiveCloud. The event will be on November 12th (according to reports, this is the day after filming has wrapped) at 11:00 to 12:00 PM Pacific Time. Registered members of the site can post questions in advance of the chat, which the moderator will select from to pose to Ms. Bianco.

Inside Paint Hall

What’s almost certainly our first picture (and probably only)  we’ll get from the Paint Hall studio in Belfast has been posted by Julia Frey, visual effects producer on the project. Don’t get too excited, though—all it is is a vast green screen. It does tell us something, however: some significant digital compositing is planned for the scenes shot at Paint Hall.  Not a great surprise given the talent that has been collected in that regard.

We also have a bit of news regarding the filming at Castle Ward, from a fan who was there. Kinnygraham at Winter is Coming reported that one of the features that stood out for him was a wagon or cart covered in green material and red motion capture dots. It seems probable that this cart will be used as a basis on which to digitally create Queen Cersei’s gigantic wheelhouse as it trundles up to the gates of Winterfell. Another interesting detail he’s shared is that it seems as if the film Your Highness was also filmed there, leading him to speculate that fan theories that HBO was saving costs by working out an agreement to use some of the YH sets and props may have been correct.

Momoa Convention Video

We were reminded about this one on Twitter, and so decided to share here as today’s turning out to be another slow news day. Le Saboteur, a member of the A Song of Ice and Fire forum, posted this video on October 27th following the Armageddon convention in Auckland. This, in turn, followed just a week or so after Armaggedon in Australia where Momoa first revealed his being cast as Drogo, videos which we’ve shared previously via Twitter. Le Saboteur’s previous convention report with some more details can be found at the forum.

In this new video, Momoa gives a brief glimpse of the haka he performed as part of his audition, and describes his favorite scene in the novel.

UPDATE: Filming at Castle Ward

Yesterday’s filming appears to have taken place at Castle Ward, according to Nelson McCausland, MLA (a member of the Northern Ireland government) in this blog post from yesterday. He notes it was interesting to see how some of the buildings were turned into a “medieval castle”.

Interestingly, the main building of Castle Ward is a mid-18th century great house, and a unique one: it has both Gothic and Classical facades. However, on its grounds are two medieval-era structres. One of them, Old Castle Ward (thanks for JacMac30 for finding these), features several buildings as part of the complex which fits McCausland’s report.

Dublin Signing Report

Another long-time member of the forum provides a report from the signing in Dublin. He received clarification from GRRM regarding the dialogue coach item we reported on previously. There will be no particular effort to vary accents between different regions of the Seven Kingdoms, and the dialogue coaching and linguistic work is primarily to develop the sound and feel of the Dothraki language. Other reports note that it’s probable that while actors may mouth Dothraki in scenes, in all likelihood these will be dubbed in later to make sure everything is consistent and sounds natural.

GRRM on Belfast and Dublin

George R.R. Martin has a new Livejournal post describing his trip overseas to date, mentioning his signing in Belfast (some video footage from Jackie) and Dublin and then segueing into a discussion of the filming he’s scene. One interesting detail for us is that while he saw some of the crypt scene being filmed, it’s clear that that was not taking place at the Paint Hall as many had expected. According to GRRM, the Game of Thrones sets are going up now, while the Your Highness sets are still up at the moment (and look quite impressive, he notes). A brief excerpt follows:

“Wednesday’s location was amazing, so real I could hardly tell where the real castle ended and our fake castle began. I saw Bran and Tommen swatting at each other in the yard, Joffrey taunting Robb, the Hound growling at Ser Rodrik, while Arya displayed her wretched needlework to Jon above, and it all looked wonderful. Saw some of the footage from the crypts too, and that looked amazing as well. Yes, some things are not exactly as they were in the books, that’s inevitable with any adaptation… but these are my characters and this is my story, and it’s thrilling to see ‘em come to life.”

Set Report

We’ve a terrific report from Knight of Redemption, who has kept a close eye on the production and provides some information regarding what he’s seen. He’s very enthused by the care taken in casting, has been impressed by the daily rushes, and provides an anecdote regarding Tom McCarthy pointing out a visual homage to something that happens later in the series that has been placed in a scene. Cast and crew are quite happy, and Knight of Redemption personally believes HBO’ll order the show based on the quality of what he’s seen so far.

UPDATED: More Photos and Signing Reminder

First, Adam Whitehead pulls through with a bunch of new photos from the Belfast signing. Second, for those in the Republic of Ireland, GRRM will be signing at Eason’s in Dublin at 5 PM, and another post-signing moot is planned. For more information, visit the Brotherhood without Banners thread at the A Song of Ice and Fire Forum.

Adam’s full gallery of photos can be found here, though without the captions (he’s posted yet more photos in the thread as well). Jackie (JacMac30 on Twitter) has her photos here. Finally, a member of the Ice and Fire forum, Iylliana, has a great report from the event with some great personal touches, and Lady Jane of the Sean Bean Online forums has another great report with additional photos.

Game of Thrones Pilot Editor

A fan, Thoros of Myr, came across an article in Variety which mentions in passing that Tatiana S. Riegel is editing the pilot episode for HBO’s Game of Thrones. Her previous credits include several episodes of House, M.D., Showtime pilot United States of Tara, and the new George Clooney film, The Men Who Stare At Goats.

HBO Decision by March

According to Padraig, a long-time member of the A Song of Ice and Fire forum and the Brotherhood without Banners fan organization, at the Belfast event George R.R. Martin stated the it’s expected that HBO will decide on whether to go forward with a series by March. This fits information we’ve received previously.

Jackie also adds a note on the recent dialogue coach news. She indicated concern that the Starks would speak with bad Scottish accents, but has been assured she won’t be disappointed. She also remarks that Richard Madden, who plays Robb Stark, started the shoot with a brighter shade of auburn hair, but in the course of the shoot the producers decided to darken it down. We previously had reports that Jennifer Ehle as Catelyn Stark was also quite “ginger”, so it may be that she and the rest of her children have all gone through a similar hair coloring process.

Dialect and Languages in Game of Thrones

A neat little bit of extra news from the post-signing moot, again from Adam Whitehead. The production has hired a dialect coach and a linguistic expert to develop a working Dothraki vocabulary for use in the Pentos scenes (to be filmed in Morocco starting around the middle of the month), and to make sure that pronunciation of names, terms, and places unique to the setting are consistent across characters. Adam also promises quite a few pictures from the signing and the moot.

UPDATED: Post-Moot Reports

Silverstar reports about the post-signing moot starting here, and along the way cites the fact that Kit Harington (who was exhausted) and Alfie Allen didn’t attend the event, but that the rest of the cast who had been present at the signing did, as well Esmé Bianco and (briefly) Rory McCann (who plays Sandor Clegane). There was also a marriage proposal at the event, with a bit of assistance from GRRM himself!

We also have a lengthy report from Adam Whitehead, who maintains the excellent Wertzone SF/F review blog, which you can find here. Biggest piece of news there? While George cautions HBO could still pass on it, he also said that there’s the possibility of a two-season advanced order! It’s a remote possibility, but the fact that it’s even on the table is remarkable—HBO generally only commits to shows a season at a time, and it can take several seasons before they’re willing to go further than that.

UPDATE: Silverstar’s shared her terrific collection of photos from the signing and the moot. Many thanks! Some excellent shots of GRRM, Parris, and the cast.

Telegraph Article and More Photos

While we expect news to trickle in tomorrow morning from the results of the post-signing moot, we did learn bia Winter is Coming,that the Belfast Telegraph has a brief interview with George R.R. Martin as well as commentary on the turnout at Eason’s book signing. Of note is his mention of the execution scene being filmed at Cairncastle the previous day, and that he has yet to enter the Paint Hall studio.

Below are the other two images Parris sent us from the signing, showing the crowd lined up for the signing as well as a cool photo of Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), and Richard Madden (Robb Stark).

Eason’s Signing Reports & Photos

Today, George R.R. Martin held a signing at Eason’s bookstore in Belfast, and a large crowd of fans attended. Also attending were a number of the actors: Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Richard Madden (Robb Stark), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Ron Donachie (Ser Rodrik Cassel), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), and Maisie Willaims. We have a number of reports from fans over at the forum, one of the more detailed of which is from Adam Whithead and can be found here. A brief summary of details: several of the actors have been reading the series, and Donachie has finished all four and claims he’s hectoring George about the next. Kit Harington was exhausted from several very long days of shooting, and Richard Madden was very personable and took with good humor his recent acclaimation as Scotland’s most stylish man of the year.

Finally, via the incomparable Parris, we have several brilliant photos of George and various actor.

Filming Tomorrow

George R.R. Martin is now in Belfast, escaping the very wet Scotland of the last day or two for the equally wet North ireland, and he reports that HBO’s pilot for Game of Thrones is scheduled to shoot an execution scene tomorrow. This scene will involve most of the Starks men and boys, plus the character of Gared, played by actor Richard Ridings. Everything seems to be moving along on schedule.