Game of Thrones has turned out to be a impressive TV show. The amount of effort that goes into producing it is incredible. Because Game of Thrones focuses on imaginary lands, creatures and weird scenes, every detail has to be thought out carefully.
Both the cast and crew are made up of hundreds of people and there are countless stuntmen working on set every single day. The costume department is huge and every small detail of a character’s outfit is thought out properly, even if very few viewers appreciate the effort.
As the show has progressed, more and more effort has been put into the props that appear on Game of Thrones. The dragons appear to be unbelievably life-like, as do the White Walkers. Of course, it takes hours and even days to get the dragons and the Army of the Dead to look just right.
Shooting a scene takes a long time but preparing for a scene takes even longer. With every new Game of Thrones season, fans expect more and more. And of course the team behind Game of Thrones do not want to disappoint them!
15. A Green-Painted Head That Represents A Dragon Is Used During Shooting
Before the visual effect team went ahead and designed the dragons for Game of Thrones, they first studied the movements of real animals such as lizards and bats. The visual effects supervisor of the visual effects company Pixomondo said that the hardest part was capturing the emotion of these animals.
Pixomondo has been working on Game of Thrones since season two. However, because there are so many dragon scenes in season seven, other visual effects companies were also hired to help out. One such company is called Rhythm & Hues. 71 employees of this company worked on the dragons, including over 10 animators, one rigger (responsible for building the skeleton of the dragon), three lighters, 10 compositors (responsible for assembling all elements for the screen), producers and coordinators.
When the dragons were still babies, the actress Emilia Clarke shot her scenes with a life-size puppet. However, now that the dragons have grown, a tennis ball on a stick has to be used. Visual effects supervisor Sven Martin also said – “Sometimes we used a slightly smaller green painted head representation in scenes where Drogon is resting on Daenerys’ lap or when the other dragons get chained in the dungeons.”
14. Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) Eats Fake Meat
The talented actor Peter Dinklage plays the self-indulgent character Tyrion Lannister. We all know that Tyrion loves to drink (although not as much as he used to), eat and talk. But did you know that in real life Dinklage is an animal lover and a vegetarian?
In 2014, Dinklage actually starred in a PETA TV advert during which he said – “By buying meat, eggs, and dairy products, you’re paying for cruelty.”
So what about all those scenes where Tyrion eats meat? Well, he’s not actually eating meat on screen! The meat he eats during various feasts on the show is actually made from non-flesh products such as tofu.
13. Stunt Scenes Take Forever To Film So Stuntmen Like To Play Pranks On Each Other
Stuntmen have it tough on Game of Thrones. A lot of the time they work 16-hour days and their appearance on screen usually lasts only a few seconds. Can you imagine putting in all that work for such little onscreen appearance time?
One of Game of Thrones stuntmen, Bobby Holland Hanton, has said – “There [will be] a clip [lasting] three or four seconds, and then it’s taken us six weeks to prep it, and get it ready for that. One whole day of filming might actually be only three seconds of actual camera time.”
However, the stuntmen keep themselves entertained by playing pranks on each other – “Sometimes just before a take they’ll knock a weapon out of someone’s hand, so they’ve got to quickly pick it up before they call action.”
12. The Terrifying Moon Door Is In Actual Fact Only About A Meter Deep
Remember the terrifying moon door that is located in the Eyrie? The moon door is a small opening in the floor through which people can fall to their death. In fact, pushing someone through the moon door is the preferred execution method of the Eyrie.
The moon door appears terrifying but it isn’t really. Apparently, it’s about a meter deep. Sophie Turner, the actress who plays Sansa, has said in a commentary on the HBO season four that the moon door “is like a meter deep. Just like green screen floor and then you put a crash mat on top of it.”
11. The Team Spent Too Much Money On Candles
Westeros obviously has no electricity so to make the lighting appear believable the production team used lots of candles. The candles looked nice on screen and they certainly added to the dark and moody atmosphere that Game of Thrones is known for. However, eventually the production team got into trouble because they were spending too much money on candles!
The producers warned the team that they had to stop spending so much on candles and find an alternative solution. As a result, the team began making use of natural window light for day scenes in Game of Thrones. Candles were left for night-time scenes only!
10. The Throne Room Is Actually Used To Shoot Various Locations
You might have thought that the famous Throne Room deserves its own room that is never changed around. However, that is not actually the case. The Throne Room is used for shooting many different interior location shoots.
The Throne Room is often turned into King’s Landing or the Wall. This is made possible by the director of photography who can change the lighting of the set. So if the Throne Room is turned into King’s Landing which is located in warm climate, softer lighting is used. And if the Throne Room is turned into the Wall, which is located in cold climate, harsher lighting is used.
9. The Dragon Battle Required Effort From Every Department
Remember the dragon battle scene from season seven? It was probably the most intense scene in the series. The scene was shot at the Los Barruecos National Monument in Caceres, Spain. Every department of Game of Thrones has put in an enormous amount of effort in creating the scene.
The painters sprayed scorched objects with fake ash, cameramen rolled-up as many as eight cameras in one go to capture the intense action, stuntmen were present both on Lannister and Dothraki sides, and visual effects people integrated one of the dragons – Drogon – into the fight by using high-speed drone photography.
Plus, the whole thing had to be filmed just right. Thankfully, the director Matt Shakman did a good job – “I chose to focus on Jaime. It was about being on the other side of the dragon attack, trying to hold on to his troops as he watches the world change forever.”
8. A Team Is Employed To Make The Costumes Look Worn
Only a few Game of Thrones characters have managed to remain looking chic and neatly arranged throughout the series. Almost all characters, at one point or another, wore clothes that looked shabby and tattered.
Believe it or not, but people are actually employed to make the clothes look worn and torn! The costume designer Michele Clapton has said that she actually employs a “breakdown team, consisting of painters and textile artists whose job is to destroy and repair the costumes in order to make them appear to be old and worn, giving them a more realistic feel.”
7. White Walkers Are Created Using Prosthetics And Makeup
There is no denying that the White Walkers in Game of Thrones are terrifying. We have to thank the designer team for that! They are the ones responsible for designing the prosthetics worn by the actors as well as for applying the actual makeup.
The prosthetic designer Barrie Gower has revealed that the creation of a White Walker begins with a life cast which is basically a mold of the actor’s head. Duplicate heads can then be made and sculpted. Then the team makes moulds of modelling clay on the actors.
Most masks and appliances are made of rubber which can be stuck onto the actors’ faces. It usually takes two to three hours to glue on the prosthetics. At the end of the day the prosthetics have to be peeled off carefully with a brush and mineral oils so as not to harm the actors’ skin!
6. The Beautiful Capes Worn By Sansa, Jon Snow And Other Characters Are Actually IKEA Rugs
Both Jon and Sansa often wear beautiful, heavy capes. It makes sense – they live in a cold climate. But their purpose is not solely to keep them warm. Both Jon and Sansa wear the capes as a tribute to their father, Ned Stark.
The capes seem luxurious and expensive, so you’d think that the costume department spent a lot of money on them. However, believe it or not, the capes were actually made from IKEA rugs! The costume designer Michele Clapton said – “[The capes] are actually IKEA rugs. We take anything we can; we cut and we shave them and then we added strong leather straps.”
5. The Dragon Flight Scene Was Filmed On A Green Device Shaped Like A Dragon
You have to admit that the scene from season seven of Game of Thrones where Daenerys escaped on the back of one of her dragons was truly impressive. The scene was incredibly realistic but of course we expected nothing less from HBO. As Kit Harington, the actor who plays Jon Snow, has said – “I think [HBO] realized [that] to keep people engaged with this show, the big set pieces have to be bigger than the ones before.”
So how was the dragon flight scene filmed? The actress Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys, revealed that the great dragon escape scene was filmed in a studio, with her sitting on top of a “green [device] shaped like a dragon’s back on hydraulics.”
4. The Giant In Game Of Thrones Is Just An Ordinary Man
Do you remember when there was a giant fighting on the side of the Night’s Watch and the Free Folk? Then later the giant got turned into a wight and now he fights on the side of the undead.
Most of us probably thought that the giant was created using CGI effects. However, it turns out that the giant was real and that no special effects were necessary. In fact, the giant’s scenes were filmed on a miniature stage with all the props shrunk. This set-up made it possible for the actor to break out of a half-scale hut. The shot was then edited to make the ”giant” appear even bigger.
3. The Famous Lake Scene Was Shot Partly In Iceland And Partly In Belfast
The lake scene in season seven of Game of Thrones was another intense scene. The scene was filmed partly in Iceland and partly in Belfast. In Iceland, the terrain that the team was shooting in could only be reached by trucks and jeeps.
Iceland is full of glaciers, mountains and ice caps so the backdrop for the scene was already there. But the frozen lake is obviously not real and had to be made from scratch. At this point, the crew traveled to Belfast where they shot the remainder of the scenes in a quarry.
The frozen lake was made from concrete and 3000 bags of snow were brought in for the scene. The nearby rock surfaces were painted to make them look more winter-like. In addition, a fake floor above a tank of water was created for characters falling through ice into the water.
2. The Costume Department Is Very Large And The Costumes Reflect The Characters
As you can probably imagine, Game of Thrones costume department is huge. The costume department is largely led by the costume designer Michele Clapton who oversees the creation of 120 main costumes per season!
Clothing the cast of Game of Thrones is a lot of work and as a result Clapton has between 70 and 100 people working with her. These people include jewellers, embroiderers, leather workers, cutters, printers, armorers, dyers and metal workers.
The costumes are also constantly evolving to reflect the characters. Clapton has said – “The costumes are related to each character’s journey. So they’re a reaction to their situation, state of mind, or direction – whatever is happening to them, or whatever they are trying to make happen.”
1. Greyjoy Sea Battle Was Very Uncomfortable To Shoot
The Greyjoy sea battle that took place in second episode of season seven of Game of Thrones was another intense scene that sent shivers down our spines. Believe it or not, but the production team actually built Yara’s ship and the portion of Euron’s ship that rams the former from the side. Strange as it may sound, the whole scene was filmed in a car park in Northern Ireland!
Apparently, 40 stunt guys, six cast members and the crew were crammed into the boat stage where they had to suffer splashing water and controlled fires. As you can probably imagine, the shooting of this scene was extremely uncomfortable. One stuntman even said that the set became “comically crowded with everyone doing this dance.”
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