MGoT: Filming in Iceland
By Winter Is Coming on in Filming.
Photo: Helen Sloan

Photo: Helen Sloan

A new post from Cat Taylor over at Making Game of Thrones details the start of the filming in Iceland that occurred back in December. Filming in Iceland during the winter makes for some gorgeous, frosty scenery, but it comes with its challenges.

It was not the most auspicious of starts on our first Monday in Reykjavik – a storm had been coming in from the ocean and all domestic flights were grounded from early in the morning – a worry because all our directors, ADs and producers were scheduled to do a two-day recce of all the locations for the shoot, beginning the next day.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, a recce is a chance for the director, DOP and the crew to reconnoitre the location and finalize the details of how that scene will work – in what direction the camera will shoot, where the actors will walk, where the best light angles will be and so on, down to the best place for base (close, but out of sight and far enough away that the generator can’t be heard, is the ideal).

Finally, at 3 pm in the afternoon we received word that the airport in Akureyi was open and those who needed to fly out raced to the airport – some people were driving and had hit the road hours before – to catch the first plane. After a short flight over the stunning mountains and glaciers, we arrived only slightly windswept at our hotels and practiced in our snow boots again.

We may only be shooting for eight days, but within that we will work with 3 directors/directing teams: Alex Graves, David Benioff and Dan Weiss and Dan Minahan covering scenes from five of the 10 episodes in Season 3. We’ve got a lot to do, and baby, it’s cold outside.

Winter Is Coming: A good and informative post. That last bit gives us a clue as to when we will see scenes from beyond the Wall (Hint: take a look at the director line-up).


43 Comments

  1. Grijnwaald
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    First!
    Those are some serious vehicles! Must have been an experience for both cast and crew alike!

  2. GeekFurious
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    “Akureyi” has another R in it.

    Akureyri.

    Yeah, this was a fun winter in Iceland.

  3. serum
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Winter,

    Nothing in the post suggests its only the first five episodes that we’ll get scenes from beyond the wall, do you have information suggesting otherwise?

    Great post, getting closer by the day! I wonder if its as cold there as it has been in New England this week, brrrrrrr!

  4. Tyrion Pimpslap
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Do we know for sure that they didn’t shoot some of the beyond the Wall stuff in Belfast? Some of the scenes that I’ve seen of Jon and the wildlings have looked to have more wooded areas with some green mixed in. Last year it was all snow and glaciers.

  5. Rhaegar
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think only the first 5 episodes will have scenes beyond the wall, probably there are some episodes in between where Jon’s story does not come up OR possibly some inside scenes only (I recall a very interesting cave scene…)

  6. blatz
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Man. I wanna visit Iceland.

  7. GeekFurious
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    It definitely doesn’t say “first five episodes”. Just five of ten.

  8. Gared Hall
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Soooooo, given the environment, maybe it would’ve been wiser if the vehicles weren’t painted white? Red or yellow might stand out a little better in a blizzard. Just sayin’. Also, Season 3 looks bad-A.

  9. Nick_Scryer
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s pretty obvious that WiC alluded to Beyond the wall scenes (using Iceland scenes) being in the first 5 episodes because the MGoT post refers only to the directors of the first 5 episodes.

  10. Winter Is Coming
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Nick_Scryer:
    I think it’s pretty obvious that WiC alluded to Beyond the wall scenes (using Iceland scenes) being in the first 5 episodes because the MGoT post refers only to the directors of the first 5 episodes.

    This. Although I guess it is possible they could shoot some beyond the Wall stuff in the Paint Hall or somewhere else in Northern Ireland.

  11. NewJeffCT
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t they wrap shooting a lot earlier for Season 2, or am I not remembering correctly? They’ve only got 2 months until the premiere of Season 3, and they still need to do all the post-production work for these scenes, too, I would imagine.

    And, I think the post from Cat Taylor means five of the ten episodes, not the first five, right?

  12. Valdred Dethstorm
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I thought they had already finished with filming, wtf?

  13. Winter Is Coming
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    NewJeffCT,
    Valdred Dethstorm,

    “A new post from Cat Taylor over at Making Game of Thrones details the start of the filming in Iceland that occurred back in December.”

  14. Andrej
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I visited northern Iceland while GoT was filming there – actually stayed in the same hotel as some of the crew…

    It wasn’t actually that cold – just about -3°C. However, as it’s common in Iceland during the this time of year it certainly was windy, and when you factor in windchill…

    @Tyrion: Last season GoT filmed in southern Iceland on the Vatnajökull glacier – no woods there. Actually, most of Iceland doesn’t have too many trees. However where they where filming last November (Myvatn Area, Kalfaströnd and Dimmuborgir to be precise) there actually are quite a lot of trees. No green however in November…

    Really looking forward to seeing how they used the Icelandic scenery – and to the rest of the season as well…

  15. Dornishman
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    It means the first five episodes:

    http://winteriscoming.net/2013/01/hbo-confirms-season-three-directors-and-writers/

    Have a look at the directors.

    Think about the book too. Queenscrown and the Wall appear in the latter half of the book, so most likely will feature in the second half of the season. These scenes do not need to be filmed in ireland.

  16. Arkash
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Makes sens we shall see Iceland in only the first episodes… all the “under tents” scene are shot in Belfast, Craster’s Keep is shot in Belfast and then, the climbing of the Wall should be in episode 5 (or 6, cause it may be shot in Blefast, at least partially too)… so it remains that outside scenes Beyond the Wall are only for first 5 episodes.

  17. mags giantsbabe
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Looks awesome :) There are some photos doing the rounds on the internet as well, some behind the scenes shots of filming in Iceland, I don’t know if they are part of another promotional video, but it is of Jon in black and then in fur with Ygritte and Tormund. They don’t give much away, but you get a look at Tormund’s full costume ;)

  18. zob
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    mags giantsbabe,

    That’s probably from the “Invitation to the set” video.

  19. Matt
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    makes sense, guessing it’ll pan out like this:

    Episode 1- Samwell being saved by the White Walkers by the Night’s watch and retreat to the Fist, Jon meeting Mance Rayder
    Episode 2- Jon is shown Mance’s host, the battle rages at the Fist
    Episode 3- Jon is brought before Mance, Mance believing him to be disloyal, Ygritte saves him and tells him they’re lovers, Jon and Ygritte’s romance starts to spark up
    Episode 4- Samwell kills a White Walker in the forest while they escape to Craster’s keep
    Episode 5- Sam and the others arrive at Craster’s keep, Jon has the romantic scene with Ygritte in the cave, probably a scene between Jon and Tormund Giantsbane too. The magnar’s host start to scale the Wall.
    Episode 6- Jon and the magnar’s host reach the top of the wall, absail down, talk about the horn of joramun, mutiny at Craster’s keep. Sam escapes with Gilly.
    Episode 7- Scenes at Queenscrown
    Episode 8- Jon arriving at Mole’s town and telling everyone to evacuate, Sam and Gilly arriving at Whitetree and being attacked by Wights
    Episode 9- Sam and Gilly are saved by the Wights by ravens, then Coldhands. Jon arrives at Castle Black, Maester Aemon tends to his wound while Jon warns him of imminent attack by the Magnar’s host.
    Episode 10- Battle at Castle Black, Samwell meets Bran at the Nightfort.

  20. Mrs. H'ghar
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    A woman is not a fan of the cold, but loves how it looks onscreen! They are so brave to film there, and the payoff is great for us viewers, our gratitude for your brave work cast & crew!

  21. HugeFloppyGut
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    the article says they are shooting scenes from “5 of the 10″ episodes. No where does it say its scenes from the 1st 5 episodes

  22. WildSeed
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Are those the new replacement vehicles for the Night’s Watch ? No more
    sleds or snow shoes ?

  23. WildSeed
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    blatz:
    Man.I wanna visit Iceland.

    Iceland Air awaits your call :D

  24. Tyrion Pimpslap
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    HugeFloppyGut,

    If you’d read WIC’s explanation you would know that the directors present for the filming are only scheduled to direct the first 5 episodes of the season.

  25. Winter Is Coming
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    HugeFloppyGut:
    the article says they are shooting scenes from “5 of the 10″ episodes. No where does it say its scenes from the 1st 5 episodes

    I updated the post to make my “hint” more of a hint and hopefully make it more clear why I arrived at the conclusion I did.

  26. JamesD
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    HugeFloppyGut:
    the article says they are shooting scenes from “5 of the 10″ episodes. No where does it say its scenes from the 1st 5 episodes

    … This is just embarrassing. Try reading a few posts before commenting and you might project at least a semblance of intelligence.

  27. zob
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    HugeFloppyGut: the article says they are shooting scenes from “5 of the 10″ episodes. No where does it say its scenes from the 1st 5 episodes

    Please read the comments.

    WildSeed: Are those the new replacement vehicles for the Night’s Watch ? No more
    sleds or snow shoes ?

    Haha. :D

  28. oierem
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Since we “knew” that Queenscrown would be in episode 7, it’s only logical. They will climb the Wall in episode 6, which gives us 5 episodes with Jon and the Wildlings, which is just right, IMO. The second half of Jon’s season should be more eventful.
    The question is, of course, what after Queenscrown? What’s in store for the last 3 episodes? It seems obvious that there will be some sort of battle and Ygritte should definitely die in this season.

  29. razha
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    oierem,

    I don’t think there will have Jon’s story in every episode
    so I guess epp. 8 might jave no scenes with Jon.
    Then epp. 9 Jon’s return to the wall (or alternatively they can spread return of Jon to the wall over 2 epps)
    epp.10 wildling attack and death of Ygritte as a finale
    more of wall defence, arrest of Jon, meeting mance again, staniss, and elections – all this coul make a perfect arch for next season

  30. AdrianAegon
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Matt,

    I don’t believe we will have Jon in every episode. Plus there are 3 directors with 5 ep. meaning that Jon will appear in at least 3 in the first half (3 out of 5) beyond the Wall (Iceland shoots). The rest – the Wall scenes, Queenscrown – were shot as usual in NIreland

    This is my view:
    ep 1: Jon is brought to Mance – scenes between them, Tormund, Ygritte;
    ep 2: Jon sees Mance’s army. (mammoths included)
    ep 3: Jon and Mance arrive at the Fist. Jon and Ygritte sleep together.
    ep 4: -
    ep 5: Jon&Ygritte cave scene. Mance tells Jon he is to climb the Wall.
    ep 6:Jon and Mance part. Jon and co. climb the Wall. Ygritte tells him about the horn.
    ep 7: Queenscrown. Jon escapes.
    ep 8: Jon arrives at Castle Black. Prepares for battle.e
    p 9: -
    ep 10: Ygritte and co. attack. Ygritte dies in Jon’s arms. Jon watches as the host of Mance Rayder approaches.

  31. Tyrion Pimpslap
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    razha,

    I think you are assuming that there will be a battle at Castle Black. The actor who plays Pyp only had one day of filming. If there was a battle I think he would have had more days of filming.

  32. Tyrion Pimpslap
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    oierem,

    There is zero confirmation that Queenscrown will happen in episode 7. People just assumed that because GRRM was writing the episode and it was originally titled ‘Autumn Storms’ that it would involve that scene.

  33. Darquemode
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    For Stephen Dillane fans…
    he has been tapped to star in “The Tunnel“. That’s the Sky Atlantic/ Canal+ remake of the Danish/ Swedish ” Crime DramaThe Bridge” (Bron/ Broen).

    http://www.tvwise.co.uk/2013/01/stephen-dillane-clemence-poesy-cast-as-co-leads-in-sky-atlanticcanal-series-the-tunnel/

  34. oierem
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Tyrion Pimpslap,

    Yeah, I know, but it was generaly assumed, and this new information (Iceland scenes in episodes 1-5) seems to confirm that.
    The fact that Pyp only shot for one day seems to suggest that Jon doesn’t get back to CB until episode 10, but I still cannot imagine what will they do in episodes 8-9. Even if one of those episodes doesn’t feature Jon, it would be a huge letdown if his promising story wouldn’t have any important material in the last part of the season.

  35. Darquemode
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Tyrion Pimpslap,

    Agreed.
    Plus, like previous seasons we may have a penultimate episode that focuses on one arc and ignores some. I can see the RW taking most of Episode 9 and not having much if any Jon or Dany. Then having those two arcs highlighted in the finale.

  36. tweedie
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    I was in Iceland for a week in 2011. I loved it but there’s a distinct lack of trees. I really hope they strike a balance with filming the scenes beyond the wall with northern ireland because one thing northern ireland does have is an abundance of trees. Don’t get me wrong I loved the iceland scenes last season but the lack of trees hindered the look and atmosphere somewhat. There is supposed to be a great big haunted forest out there beyond the wall after all!

  37. Lavignac
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Go ye all view the Not-a-Blog… Seems like it’s the return of the casting clues! Very brief this time though… There’s froggy, two cryptic phrases, and an HBO tag to point us in the right direction. We need a post for the WIC team to beat the clock this year again!

    However, weird timing… Could this be about casting season 4 in January? Or someone yet to be revealed in 3…

  38. paylor
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    I came up with Alan Stenson who played Telemachus, son of Oddesseus in the 1997 TV movie “The Oddessey.” I don’t know who he”d play though.

  39. Lavignac
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure we’ll get lots of people wishing the “Pits” is about a miniature vest-sporting fat man…

    VAGUE S3 SPOILERS
    (And since the appearance of his associate has been kept under wraps until now… well, this might just be a late season-3 casting! However, there have been pictures from others surrounding Daenerys, and one would have expected him to appear there…)

  40. Zul
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I know in the books it was shown as flashbacks, but I really hope they do a good job on the Battle of the Fist of the First Men, especially with the undead bear. =/

  41. Lavignac
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    WildSeed:
    Are those the new replacement vehicles for the Night’s Watch ? No more
    sleds or snow shoes ?

    Tsk, Tsk: They’re painted white. None but a deserter would ride a vehicle liveried thus!

  42. WildSeed
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    The brothers of the Night Watch deserve all the best, I hope the seats are heated
    too :D This may come in handy in outrunning those pesky Wildlings and
    Wights too ! Samwell must have dreamt them up !

  43. WildSeed
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    tweedie:
    I was in Iceland for a week in 2011. I loved it but there’s a distinct lack of trees. I really hope they strike a balance with filming the scenes beyond the wall with northern ireland because one thing northern ireland does have is an abundance of trees. Don’t get me wrong I loved the iceland scenes last season but the lack of trees hindered the look and atmosphere somewhat. There is supposed to be a great big haunted forest out there beyond the wall after all!

    I especially miss the Frostfangs and forest thickets containing Weirwoods…..


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