With the recent publication of Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones, fans got their first-look at 192 pages of set photos, production and costume designs and insider stories. And, for those who you haven’t purchased it yet, we have a special treat — an exclusive peek inside the book later in this post.
The man responsible for coordinating this detailed look behind the curtain of Game of Thrones is Bryan Cogman. Recently, we had a chance to chat with Bryan about the creation of Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones. Head after the break for our interview, and the four-page sample from the book.
Winter Is Coming: Hey Bryan! Thanks for the chance to talk with you about the companion book. Tell us about the genesis of this project. How was it conceived and at what point were you brought on board?
Bryan Cogman: I was standing on the beach of Dragonstone watching the Seven burn. David Benioff turned to me and said, “Guess what? We’re doing a Making of Book” I said, “Oh, great!” And David said, “And guess what? You’re writing it.” That’s pretty much how things go around here. Following that, I was put in touch with the people at Chronicle Books and HBO and we conceived the basic format — part visual companion, part making of book. But the challenge was the timeline — had to turn it around pretty fast. And I had to do it while we were shooting Season 2. So I didn’t sleep much last year — especially when you take the new baby into account.
Winter: Great. That leads into my next question… How much free rein were you given to determine the content and structure of the book?
Bryan: It was pretty much wide open. I was told I had a page/word limit (both of which I ended up exceeding) and was told the dimensions of the book and release date. That was pretty much it. They wanted it to be visually pleasing, informative, but user friendly. Obviously it couldn’t be a 100% comprehensive “Making of” book. That would take a ton of time, and those kinds of books are better when there’s a bit of perspective — like the recent making of Star Wars books…
So I proceeded with the “companion” idea. And as I was conducting the dozens and dozens of interviews I realized that an oral history was the best way to go about it — there was so much interview content… I wanted to let the voices tell the story, along with the visuals. I think the folks at Chronicle suggested organizing it by “world” or “region” and I liked that idea, so we went with that.
Then I worked with Helen Sloan, our amazing unit photographer (who took 87 PERCENT of the photos, by the way) and we went through hundreds and hundreds of photographs. And, of course, the concept art and costume sketches from the various depts… My only regret is that there’s stuff that had to be left out! About 20 pages worth of material, but I’d already exceeded my limit by alot. So we’ll have to cover that stuff in future books…
Winter: I like the sound of that! You said you worked on it throughout season 2 filming. About how many interviews did you conduct?
Bryan: Oy… lemme think… fifty maybe? And for some idiotic reason I transcribed them myself… didn’t occur to me that they should have hired someone to help me until I was finished.
Winter: Yikes. No wonder your sleep schedule was disrupted.
Bryan: Oh, aye.
Winter: These interviews took place throughout filming season 2. Did the season 1 actors/directors come in specifically for you to get interviews?
Bryan: That’s one thing that was reinforced as I attempted to write a cohesive book — this show is so damn huge. The cast interviews alone took hours and hours… so many characters, storylines, etc… A lot to cram into 192 pages… But it was a lot of fun — I enjoyed connecting with everyone and was gratified by their enthusiasm and love for the show.
Winter: One thing I was impressed by was the amount of new info that came out of the interviews in this book. Was that something that you made a priority?
Bryan: Well, yes, you want people to have a reason to buy it. If I came across an anecdote or bit of info that had already appeared in DVD commentary or the making of docs, I tried not to use it. And since you don’t want to get bogged down in technical stuff, I tried to focus most on personal experiences — how the actors connected with their characters and/or certain moments, why a particular sequence or memory of shooting was important to a director, what inspired the various designers, etc…
Admittedly, the book leans a bit heavier on Season One, simply because we were in the middle of S2 and had less access to images. But I think it covers both pretty well. Any loose ends can be picked up in future volumes, should there be any. Though I’m bummed The Hound doesn’t have a character profile. That’s on me, I let it slip through the cracks — had trouble nailing down an interview with Rory, since he was neck-deep into filming BLACKWATER at the time. My fault. We’ll give him his due next time.
Winter: Was there any instance where they held back something from the making of stuff so you could reveal it in this book? Or was it more a case of you “filling in the cracks”?
Bryan: Well… I think some of the concept art, costume sketches and such had been held back. And, of course, the storyboards, but that’s a whole other thing! As an Amazon exclusive, there will be a COLLECTOR’S EDITION of the book… It comes in a beautiful box, includes maps of Westeros/Essos, has gold-lined pages… but the best feature, by far, is a bonus book… GAME OF THRONES: THE STORYBOARDS which features selected storyboards from our amazing storyboard artist Will Simpson, for both seasons, organized by episode.
Winter: Wow! That sounds awesome.
Bryan: Not sure on release date yet — I think it comes out a month later, but I’m told if you pre-ordered the first one, you can upgrade to the new one in time…
[Ed. note: At the time of this interview, there was an understanding that the Collector's Edition would be announced ahead of the release of the regular edition and the fans would be able to transfer their pre-order, if they wished. Obviously, that didn't happen.]
Winter: As a big fan of concept art and storyboards, I will definitely be picking that one up.
Bryan: I’m really thrilled about the book. Originally, the storyboards were supposed to be part of the main book, but we didn’t have room for them. We really didn’t want to leave them out entirely, so we came up with this solution. You can see some of the most famous scenes from the show in their infancy. And it’s the closest fans will get to deleted scenes — as there are boards for a few sequences that didn’t make the show. Also boards for early versions of scenes that changed a lot once cameras rolled. Anyway, keep an eye out on Amazon for that…
Winter: A good compromise. The fans will be pleased, no doubt!
Bryan: I hope so. Having said that, I noticed, to my horror, that I use the word “iconic” twice in one paragraph in the introduction. I apologize.
Winter: Haha! You’re forgiven. OK, any final words you want to say about the book?Bryan: I had a great time working on it and I hope fans enjoy it. Nothing too profound there… but there you go!
Winter: Sounds good! Having had a chance to read through the book already I can safely say the fans will love it. Thanks for all your hard work!
Bryan: Thank you!
Check out an exclusive sample of the book below, or click here to download it for yourself.