Regrettably, this year none of the WinterIsComing.net writers were able to attend TitanCon, the annual Game of Thrones convention in Belfast. However, a couple WiCnet regulars, The Rabbit and Thremnir, were there and provided the following report…
It’s easy to forget that TitanCon is about more than just Game of Thrones. Festivities kicked off in earnest on the Friday evening with the Culture Night event in McHugh’s basement, with readings by Ian McDonald, R.F. Long, Peadar Ó Guilín and Leigh Bardugo from their works. Thrones was never far away, however: Art Parkinson (Rickon Stark) dropped in later in the evening and said a few words to everyone, which was good since he was going to be unavailable the next day due to filming.
Saturday came and after the Opening Ceremony we were straight into the Game of Thrones S2 Review, with a depleted panel, at least compared with last year’s riches, comprising Ron Donachie, Miltos Yerolemou and Emma Andrews (from HBO’s Drapes Department), with Peadar gamely moderating. Ron (who played Ser Rodrik Cassel of course) was a former miner turned actor and in between had a stint with a capella crooners The Flying Pickets, leaving the group just before they found fame and fortune with Only You. He told the gorgeous story of being forever pointed out on the street afterwards as ‘the bloke who left the Pickets.’ As far as Thrones was concerned he was really happy to get an on-screen death in the series as it enabled a deeper exploration of the relationship between Ser Rodrik and Theon. Emma told us that she spent most of S2 fabricating tents, which if nothing else was symbolic of all the hard work that goes in to delivering the stunning end product. Her big moment later in the day was going to be running the Dothraki jewellery workshops – an innovation for TitanCon 2012 and truly an excellent idea.
One of the nice innovations for TitanCon 2012 was the addition of round tables with the Game of Thrones cast members who were attending. Ih his round table, Ser Barristan (Ian McElhinney) arrived sporting a beard, but was quick to point out that he had grown it for another job and didn’t know if it would be required for S3 yet, having not so far shot any of his scenes, although he had read his scripts.
Obviously there were few specifics talked about as to what was coming, thanks to the double-whammy of an HBO minder in attendance (a thankless job, done with silent good humour this day by Ryan Marshall, for those who follow him on Twitter) plus the TitanCon spoiler policy of no discussion beyond A Clash of Kings. However we talked about where Ser Barristan might end up at the end of it all and Ian expressed a preference for him surviving and having his niche in the ‘new world order’ whatever that might turn out to be. He said he had met GRRM a couple of years ago, but didn’t know what was lined up for Barristan. Ian said he had some sword combat experience from his work in the Hornblower series.
In terms of how Ian is interpreting the character, we discussed loyalty. Ian reckoned Barristan’s dilemma was whether or not the demands of being a Kingsguard had meant that he had had to be loyal to the wrong people during his life – a madman then a drunk. A good insight was his observation that had Barristan not been sacked, he would certainly have remained loyal to Joffrey. He reckoned that as things stood now Barristan certainly couldn’t wait for the day when someone did away with Cersei.
As far as other characters were concerned, he said he was most interested as to where Tyrion might end up.
Away from the Game of Thrones plot, Ian noted the hugely beneficial impact that the series was having on the growth of the Northern Ireland film and TV industry and gave us the sobering story of doing TV work back in the 1980’s. He noted that as a younger actor he often played police officers; most of the time back then, Northern English cities like Manchester or Sheffield stood in for Belfast, but when filming was done in Belfast itself, anyone playing a police officer role was kept out of sight until as close as possible to the take and was covered up again immediately afterwards.
The thirty minutes of the round table flew by. It’s no exaggeration to suggest we could have gone on for three or four times that.
The thought provoking ‘Foreshadowing in the Internet Age’ panel was not about Game of Thrones but was definitely inspired by one of the issues arising – namely what do you do as a writer in this day and age when, in the several years between books, the sizeable hive mind that is the Internet is going to be dissecting your every word, analysing every twist and general publishing the resulting theories everywhere. The conclusion was that writers have to write ‘differently’ now, though there was less of a consensus on what that means exactly.
Game of Thrones Spoilers Discussion
The Game of Thrones Spoiler Discussion in the evening was excellent fun. Everyone was invited to throw in a crackpot theory – so (writes Thremnir) my old standby of The Wall being built by those to north of it to keep out men got its usual airing. Another great question was who are going to be the next big characters to die. Tyrion seemed to get a lot of votes on this for some reason, but the rationale for this was hazy.
..Rabbit jumps in for the brief moment…
We tried to cover for you as many events as possible but how (still) we are not able to clone ourselves – we could not be present at all.
There are two events which must be mentioned because they are very exciting and funny and also they are becoming the traditional thing for Titancon: The water dancing with Syrio Forel (Miltos Yerolemou respectively) and the masquerade with GOT jury – this year represented by Aimee Richardson (Princess Myrcella Baratheon), Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark) and Art Parkinson (Rickon Stark). The winners were the fierce Asha (Yara) and Balon Grejoy.
I am sure the Titancon site will have the photos of both events posted soon – so you would be able to see both Syrio’s dance and the magic of the costumes on the Masquarade.
..Rabbit goes hiding again…
Titancon CoachTour 2012
A lot of the coach tour on the Sunday focused on coastal locations this year. Fortunately it was sunny this time. The first stop was nothing to do with Game of Thrones (yet) but nobody disagreed that it would be silly to visit the Antrim coast without seeing the Giant’s Causeway. Speculation as to what future scene(s) could be shot there led to the overwhelming consensus that it would be a fantastic place to stage the Kingsmoot.
…then suddenly the style of writing changes. The Rabbit is in for the rest of the Tour covering..
Nothing to add to Thremnir’s report even with the consensus mentioned above because I only shared my opinion with Sporrej (known to Titancon audiences as Swedish Johan), which apparently was in accordance with the consensus – Kingsmoot!
Well, nothing to add more but some photos of beautiful and magical nature.
After the visit to the famous Giant’s Causeway we walked back to our buses, ready to visit the locations of filming. First on our way was Ballintoy Harbour – where the most of the Grejoy’s exterior scenes took place – Theon arriving and leaving Pyke and, most probably (I am not sure on that one), Theon’s baptism.
Ballintoy Harbour is a small harbour on the Northern Irish coast with the little cottage serving as a shop and a bar and the line of benches where tired tourists can rest and admire the sea.
Our next stop was a parking lot near the other attraction on the Northern Irish coast aka Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Sadly, I did not have enough time to visit the bridge, and the stop resumed at the parking lot which served as Renly’s camp in season 2 and the place where he was killed.
In the vicinity there’s a hill where the infamous (peach-less) Stannis and Renly’s negotiations were filmed. That was our last coastal location and it was time to say goodbye to it and to head to the shores of Lough Neagh, in other words: Shane’s Castle. That would be our final destination of the tour.
This time the drive in the bus took a bit longer, because we were heading back south – and finally we reached our destination at the very large piece of land – which in its entity is called Shane’s Castle.
First stop was the bridge, one of the main and regular location stars on the show. The bridge was shown in the first season after Ser Hugh’s death, when Ned and Ser Barristan were crossing it. Then in the second season the bridge was again in – in the background of Jaime and Brienne in the boat (I think, though..) and obviously, according to a little report by ITV – it’s gonna be used again in season 3.
Next stop was meant to be the Tourney ground. But due to some misunderstanding our visit was, let’s say, a bit delayed by walking for about 20 minutes in the wrong direction. Same time lap was needed to come back and realize that the trees which can be seen on the right upper corner of the above photo are the Tourney ground trees.
By arriving onto the Tourney ground I suddenly remembered all those folks complaining about the small scale of the site on screen. Me, Rabbit, the first of mine name, is completely aware of the fact that the site on the screen – was, in fact, large!
Because, the real site at the Shane’s castle is SMALL. I mean, very small. Still, I do not get how the wizards of the cameras and their filming angles managed to produce the Tourney we saw on screen.
Instead, of the real Tourney, I’ll show you a bit of the fake Tourney we had at the same Tourney ground. See the photos below.
The horses, the riders and the audience who was screaming for blood all the time – were tired at last.
It was time to join Jo & her sword company at the site of the real Shane’s Castle, at the beautiful site at the shore of Lough Naegh. After their impressive show-down, which was as fabulous as it was last year, the hog was waiting at the marquee to be eaten and the bottles of red and white wine to be opened…
During the medieval feast we were entertained by Jo and her band, and at the end we helped the staff to clean the tables.
It was another great Titancon Coach Tour!
Thremnir and I, we tried to write down a report for WiC.net and all of commenters and lurkers, we sure know that we can not surpass last year’s Fabio (and HmR)’s gigantic report of the event (or should I say the reports), but we wanted to say a word on two on something that, slowly but surely, is becoming a must do for every ASOIAF/GOT, books or show fan.
If you can afford it, please do come next year, it is a show convention, you can take the photos of the actors, chat with them, go sightseeing all over Northern Ireland and most of all you can meet, talk to, sing with and share a great time with all others fans from all over the world.
So, for the next year I promised to Ser MountainGoat of Westeros forums and member of Titancon committee to bring, by mercy or by blood, the staff of WiC.net which we missed a lot this year.
At the end I wish to thank to Thremnir who was enough stubborn to make me write this report, to JacMac and her highland-company, to Sam, to Pebble, to both Johans (Swedish and French), to the inevitable Qthulhu with his boxes full of mead and the other tasty stuff. To Kevin and Ross. To the Con committee: Doreen, Iain, Bruce and Phil.
To staff and the fellow volunteers and all the fans who came over to Belfast to have another great Titancon!
See you next year!