Game Of Thrones season 8, the final run of HBO’s fantasy behemoth, will have a tough task when it comes to topping previous battles. To provide the show’s final sword-and-shield showdown, it took an “unprecedentedly brutal” shoot.
Entertainment Weekly reports that Miguel Sapochnik, who shot both Hardhome and The Battle Of The Bastards, has filmed an episode for the new season that involves a “great battle of Winterfell, pitting an uneasy collection of allies against the Night King and his army.”
“The episode required 11 weeks of grueling night shoots”, EW explains. “Imagine up to 750 people working all night long for nearly three months in the middle of open rural countryside: The temperatures are freezing in the low 30s; they’re laboring in icy rain and piercing wind, thick, ankle-deep mud; reeking horse manure and choking smoke.
Liam Cunningham, who plays Ser Davos Seaworth, said this: “I heard the crew was getting 40,000 steps a day on their pedometers. They’re the f—king heroes.”
“It’s like seeing Nosferatu coming in,” says co-showrunner David Benioff, referring to the sight of the battle episode crewmembers that EW describes as “gaunt” and “gray-faced”.
EW states that “if you spend even a brief time on set you realize staging the battle was unprecedentedly brutal…”
Director Sapochnik offered this quote, on the subject of how exactly this battle was shot:
“We built this massive new part of Winterfell and originally thought, ‘We’ll film this part here and this part there,’ and basically broke it down into so many pieces it would be shot like a Marvel movie, with never any flow or improvisation. Even on Star Wars, they build certain parts of the set and then add huge elements of green screen. And that makes sense. There’s an efficiency to that. But I turned to the producers and said, ‘I don’t want to do 11 weeks of night shoots and no one else does. But if we don’t we’re going to lose what makes Game of Thrones cool and that is that it feels real.’”
And so, rather than relying on green screens and fake sets to create an easier schedule with less realism, Sapochnik and the cast committed to eleven weeks of night shoots in very cold conditions to create something cool and real-feeling. Hopefully, the result will be the show’s best battle yet.
Game Of Thrones season 8 will premiere on April 14th.