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.
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.