Inside the creation of the Game of Thrones box set with Bryan Cogman
By Winter Is Coming on in Merchandise.

After reading about all the amazing content produced for Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season, you may be thinking to yourself, “Who’s job is it to write all these detailed histories?” The answer: Bryan Cogman, writer and “lore master” for Game of Thrones. Bryan wrote episode four of season one and was also charged with being “the reference guy” on set. For season two, Bryan penned episode three and again was a go-to guy when it came to encyclopedic knowledge of the world of Game of Thrones.

Recently, I had a chance to chat with Bryan about his experience in helping create the Season One box sets’ impressive wealth of special features.

Winter Is Coming: Hey Bryan! Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions. To start, tell us what your responsibilities were in regards to the DVD/Blu-Ray discs.

Bryan Cogman: I wrote the Blu Ray histories (the ones read by the actors) as well most of the text/family trees you find in the Complete Guide to Westeros on both the DVD and Blu Rays. I’m very excited about how the histories turned out — hopefully they can be enjoyed by fans of the books but also enhance the experience for fans who have only seen the show. It’s a great way to include a lot of mythological information we couldn’t work into the scripts.

WiC: I totally agree. The histories are very comprehensive. I even learned a thing or two! How long did the process of writing up all the histories and other info take?

BC: Hmmm… I’d say a month, maybe? I was working on my Season 2 episode at the same time, so it’s hard to say. And there were a fair amount of revisions, etc… we were figuring out how to best make them work for the feature. There were a few that we saved for next season — the Greyjoy stuff, for instance. Also, originally, the histories were in third person, but Herzog & HBO decided that a few of them (the viewpoints on the rebellion, for example) would be more effective if they were in first person. I resisted the idea at first, but they were absolutely right.

WiC: Were you present when the actors did their readings for the animated histories to provide direction? Or did they give it their own spin/flavor?

BC: No, I’d hoped to be, but I was too busy with Season 2. And they certainly didn’t need any help from me.

WiC: How involved were you in the creation of the menus and interactive features? Did you just supply the content and that was it? Or were you involved with the art team in getting everything built?

BC: Wasn’t involved at all. That incredible work comes courtesy of Adam Vadnais & his fantastic team at the Herzog Company and the good folks at HBO Home Entertainment. Just got my blu rays today, in fact, and I’m blown away by the attention to detail and the quality of the work. All I did was help choose the subjects for the histories and provide the text.

Bryan Cogman on the set of ThronesWiC: You had the opportunity to record commentary for your episode in season one, what was it like? How did you prepare for that?

BC: It was surreal for a couple of reasons: one, film/TV geek that I am, I’ve been watching commentary tracks for decades, both good and bad, often wondering how I’d fare if I had to do one myself. Two, my daughter had been born in Belfast less than 48 hours before I recorded it, so I was going on very little sleep. Didn’t really prepare at all… which is probably evident in the commentary. I think I say “absolutely”, like 157 times. But, luckily, Kit Harington was there to prop me up — well, not literally there — he was in London, so I heard his voice in my ear. But it was really fun. I look forward to doing another one for Season 2 on more sleep.

WiC: You mentioned something in the commentary that blew my mind. You actually wrote out lineages for the Lineage of the Great Houses book that appears in the show. How many pages of lineages did you end up writing? And did you try to make the lineages accurate to what we know in the books or did you just make it all up? And how many times did the phrase “black of hair” appear in the Baratheon section?

BC: Yeah, that was nuts. Took me a few hours. I wish I could find the text to share it with you, but the hard drive I had it on died, so I guess it’s lost forever unless I happen to find it in an email somewhere… Yeah, I kept it accurate to the books as much as I could — used the books and a Wiki of Ice and Fire for reference, but I made up a whole lot of stuff in between. I did two pages worth of text for four houses: Umber (due to the passage Ned reads in 104), Royce (because in the original draft there was a bit from House Royce as well), Targaryen (for yet another scene in 104 that didn’t make the cut), and Baratheon (for the pivotal scene in 106). There were a few in-jokes in each — I used a few WiC message board screennames as I recall. The place where I had a lot of fun was figuring out the various ways people died… And, yes, “black of hair” was in every entry…

WiC: Haha! That’s great! I’ll need to do a freeze-frame on the book and see if I can’t pick out any familiar screennames. Last question, have you started work on the season two Blu-Rays?

BC: Work has begun on Season 2′s blu ray set but I’ve handed over most of my duties this year. I’m too busy with my responsibilities on the show and another exciting “GoT”-related project which I hope I can talk about soon. I helped the team choose which subjects would be covered in the S2 histories and will vet any and everything written for it (as I do for the HBO.com and HBOGo stuff) but a terrific writer named Dave Hill will be writing the histories/complete guide stuff this time. He’s David & Dan’s current assistant in LA.

WiC: Awesome. I’m already looking forward to what we will get in the season two set! My hats off to you, HBO and the team at Herzog for all your hard work.

BC: Very proud of the end result — I think HBO has outdone itself and fans both new and old will have lots to savor.

Winter Is Coming: They have indeed! Thanks to Bryan for chatting with us about his part in creating the season one set. For more info on the box set, read my break down of Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season.


35 Comments

  1. Dogleap
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    First…..woohoooo!

    Getting really stoked as the season approaches. Can’t wait. Will just have to pour over the DVD to fill the void!!

  2. Constance
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I love prop and lore masters (I married a prop maker, so I’m biased) who take the time and effort to make it ‘real’. And I’m unsurprised he hid in-jokes to the text. It’s a reward for the fans and a way to amuse themselves.

  3. Umber
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    “another exciting “GoT”-related project which I hope I can talk about soon”- very interesting. Dunk and Egg perhaps??? Any other ideas what he may be referring to?

  4. dizzy_34
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I can’t help but wonder if the day ever comes when D&D want to move on from being the show runners on this thing that they should pass the torch to Bryan Cogman.

  5. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    So excited for this! I’m looking forward to taping my family to their seats and forcing them to watch. They have already been informed that we will be watching GoT every night until we’ve finished the season (and then several more times to watch the commentary, etc).

  6. Nick Larter
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Nice interview!

  7. Ours is the Fury
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Great interview. Really looking forward to the commentaries on the Blu-Ray.

  8. charles
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    wonder was this other GOT related project is. Any idea WIC?

  9. userj
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I was wondering where he went to get all the info he needed for the histories? Did he use the books as the sole source, or did he have access to additional information from GRRM and D&D to fill in “gaps”?

  10. mratfink
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Hey some advice,
    I am going to buy the season 1 dvds but i have a dilemma. personally i’d buy the bluray since there are more features and such. But i like to lend my dvds out to people who havent seen the show yet and the person in mind doesnt have a bluray player. so i need advice, regular dvd or bluray?

  11. Matthias Hinkelmann
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    mratfink,

    Both… org better buy the bluray and lend your bluray player with the blurays :)

    I’m too busy with my responsibilities on the show and another exciting “GoT”-related project which I hope I can talk about soon.

    Only thing i can imagin is Duncan & Egg

  12. Lina
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Bryan always comes off as a really dedicated, passionate, professional member of the GOT team. I enjoy reading anything he has to say. Thanks Winter for the interview – these exclusives are the best part of the site. :)

  13. Owen Parker
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the interview Winter is Coming. Interesting stuff. Wish I could afford a Blu Ray player.

    Umber: Any other ideas what he may be referring to?

    Junior writers are sometimes tasked with writing behind the scenes guides – see Rafael Alvarez and The Truth Be Told guide book for The Wire. I would guess it will be something in the realm of the printed word.

    dizzy_34: I can’t help but wonder if the day ever comes when D&D want to move on from being the show runners on this thing that they should pass the torch to Bryan Cogman.

    I think one of the great strengths of American cable drama is the prominence of the writer / producer as show runner. However, Cogman would be a slight worry as a show runner because he lacks experience outside of this specific project. His grasp of the source material and enthusiasm for the story are both pluses. I think HBO would need to pair him with another senior producer with a background as a Unit Production Manager to ensure they have someone who knows how to work with directors and editors. Of course neither Benioff nor Weiss had much television experience before this gig and they are doing well so I might be overly cautious in my assessment.

  14. R K
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Bryan rocks! What talent!

  15. Winter Is Coming
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    userj:
    I was wondering where he went to get all the info he needed for the histories?Did he use the books as the sole source, or did he have access to additional information from GRRM and D&D to fill in “gaps”?

    I was able to get in touch with Bryan and he kindly offered an answer to your question:

    Good question — I used the books, primarily, but also a wiki of ice and fire. I also skyped Elio Garcia with the occasional question.

  16. LanTheClever
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Great deal today at Best Buy for the Blu-Ray set. $34.99 free shipping and you get a free keychain. Cheapest I’ve seen. I already pre-orderd elsewhere but I am getting another set as a gift.

    Hmmm, Stark or Targaryen?

    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Game+Of+Thrones+(Targaryen)+-+Blu-ray+Disc/4566422.p?id=2370299&skuId=4566422

  17. Direhound
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    LanTheClever,

    Targaryen as they are more rare. The way I hear it there’s only a few left in the world. Although whispers are sometimes heard that more are appearing throughout the land but I fear it’s some mummer’s trick.

  18. G_Lee
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the interview winter!
    Can’t wait for news on the “other” project. As much as I would love something big like a Dunk&Egg short movie I guess it’s more like Owen Parker says. Something like a book/guide for the show or even a magazine.
    ##edit: Oh and congratulations Winter for being linked on facebook by the official Game of Thrones account!! More than 400 likes already!

  19. LanTheClever
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I chose Targaryen. Looks like Amazon price matched best buy (but no keychain if that matters). I doubt this will get any cheaper.

    Just judging from threads from various forums it seems that word-of-mouth is extremely strong. Lots of “one of the best shows I’ve ever seen” even from newbies. I wouldn’t be surprised if Season 2 Episode 1 has a large bump in the ratings.

  20. waaimasjien
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting interview. I’m looking forward to the release!

    FYI: Blu-ray is spelled with a score and a lowercase r. So not Blu Ray but Blu-ray. Short version is BD (for Blu-ray Disc).

  21. Dan
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    This doesn’t have anything to with this post, but I came across an interview with Kristian Nairn here (it’s about his MMO gaming):

    http://massively.joystiq.com/2012/02/21/massively-speaking-episode-187-hodor-hodor/

  22. ASoIaF Fan
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Very good interview and i’m intrigued by the other got-related project too.
    Found an interview with Carice Van Houten where she talks briefly about GoT (at the end).
    http://lepasseurcritique.blogspot.com/2012/02/interview-carice-van-houten.html#!/2012/02/interview-carice-van-houten.html
    Sounds like another confirmation of a third season.

  23. Stannis
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    ASoIaF Fan,

    Wooowww, isn’t Carice beautiful… I mean she’s twice my age but I’d go there any day! That gives me hope for Jon in later series. That’s interesting that she appears in episodes 1, 2, 4 and 10. This must mean that Stannis would be in (presumably) 1, 2, 4, 8, 9, and 10. And awesome that she pretty much confirmed that season three is filming!!!

  24. Jordan Healey
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Should have asked about the deleted scenes :P

  25. Handmaiden of Dany
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant interview! I have not read the Dunk and Egg book, but have heard rumors about a possible production of it on these boards. I think I may hold off on reading it because I look forward to the surprise!

  26. userj
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Winter Is Coming: I was able to get in touch with Bryan and he kindly offered an answer to your question:

    Good question — I used the books, primarily, but also a wiki of ice and fire. I also skyped Elio Garcia with the occasional question.

    Thanks Bryan, and Winter!

  27. Owen Parker
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    ASoIaF Fan:
    Very good interview and i’m intrigued by the other got-related project too.
    Found an interview with Carice Van Houten where she talks briefly about GoT (at the end).
    http://lepasseurcritique.blogspot.com/2012/02/interview-carice-van-houten.html#!/2012/02/interview-carice-van-houten.html
    Sounds like another confirmation of a third season.

    Great news. I put a summary of the interview on the game of thrones wiki so thought other readers here might want the highlights:

    Van Houten discussed her role in an interview with Cyril Falisse from the Ferryman Critical on February 22, 2012. She said “I think I am only in episodes 1, 2, 4 and 10 or something. You are not going to see me that much but in season 3 that we are going to shoot this summer I’ll come back with avengeance.” Regarding her role she said “I’m [Stannis'] right hand. I manipulate him. I take the decisions for him almost. I wouldn’t say I’m a very sympathetic character. I have a great wig, great red hair. I hope I did it right.”

  28. goober
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 3:12 am | Permalink

    top drawer,what.

  29. Valyrian
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I don’t now if that’s just wishful thinking on my part, but it does sound to me that this new GOT-related project could very well be D&D
    *___*

  30. Justin James Dixon
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Jordan Healey,

    I believe Benniof and Weiss have said they used all the footage they shot (other than the flashback to Aerys burning people), it was either at the Comic-Con panel or in an interview elsewhere, so there aren’t any deleted scenes :(

  31. Thiago Slash
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    “another exciting “GoT”-related project which I hope I can talk about soon”
    I hope it’s Dunk&Egg, but even if it’s something else, I’m already excited hahaha

    nice interview, btw ^^

  1. [...] of the content here, and you can read more about his role in creating the histories and lore in our exclusive interview with [...]

  2. [...] be sure to check out our interview with Bryan Cogman for the inside scoop on the making of many of the amazing special [...]

  3. [...] Thrones. The book is authored by Bryan Cogman (I’m guessing this is the project he teased in our recent interview with him) and promises to provide fans with “behind-the-scenes stories and details about transforming [...]

  4. [...] DVD/Blu-Ray izdanje uz obilje dodatnog sadržaja ponukalo je sedam lica istog božanstva da nam osigura i [...]

  • Recent Comments

  • More from FanSided

  • Archives

    • 2014 (339)
    • 2013 (679)
    • 2012 (550)
    • 2011 (512)
    • 2010 (309)
    • 2009 (174)
    • 2008 (47)
  •