FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions on Game of Thrones. We will keep this updated as more info comes out.

Project status: Season four is in postproduction and will start airing on April 6 [See below for details.]

General

OVERVIEW

What is Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones is HBO’s drama series based on the A Song of Ice and Fire book series written by George R.R. Martin (GRRM).

What is A Song of Ice and Fire?

A Song of Ice and Fire (ASoIaF) is a medieval fantasy book series. The story is scheduled to span 7 books (five of which are currently published). The first book of the series bears the title A Game of Thrones, which gave name to the tv series.

What is it about?

Without getting into too many details, it is basically about a realm called the Seven Kingdoms which is going through a period of upheaval as different families and factions all attempt to gain control of the throne. The tone is dark, gritty and realistic with characters that are neither inherently good or evil. Although it is classified as a fantasy series, it is almost more historical in nature with the fantastical elements few and far between (although they seem to be growing with each book).

Is there an official website for the series?

Indeed there is. HBO has launched an official Game of Thrones website as part of their portal. They have also launched a production diary blog with sporadic updates. You can follow the official Twitter account @GameOfThrones.

PRODUCTION

Who are the show runners for this series?

David Benioff and Dan (D. B.) Weiss are handling the show running duties, they are collaborating on writing most of the episodes and are involved in all of the decision making on the show. HBO is financing the series in full.

What about other people involved in the production of Game of Thrones?

The overview of the creative team, including the show runners, directors, art directors, and production designers, together with their background and credits can be found at our Crew page.

All this sounds expensive. How can we know Game of Thrones won’t be canceled prematurely as some previous HBO series?

We cannot, but it has been indicated that HBO regrets canceling some of their shows. More specifically, they have not taken DVD and other sales (which created profit in the long run) into account when calculating the bottom line. This means HBO is willing to give the new series more time to justify the investment.

I really want to get a part in this show! What do I need to do?

If you are a working actor with an agent, have your agent submit your info to the casting directors (Nina Gold is the series casting director) and hope they call you in for an audition. In rare cases, there are open auditions for a role. If you don’t have an agent you will have to try for an extra. Extras NI is the agency that will be supplying the extras, you can sign up with them and hope to get on. You have to live in Northern Ireland to join, however.

What if I just want to work as a PA or intern or guy-who-runs-out-to-get-coffee?

Most likely they will be hiring these folks locally. If you live in the Belfast area you might want to contact the local production office (set in the Paint Hall) and see if they are hiring any on-set PA’s or interns.

ADAPTATION

How does HBO plan to adapt the series?

HBO plans to tell the entire saga as Martin wrote it. Seasons one and two largely corresponded to the story in books one and two, respectively, but those lines will by necessity get more blurry in the future. Each season will contain 10 episodes, and the showrunners have stated they are adapting the story as a whole, and not individual volumes.

Is George R. R. Martin involved in the making of the television adaptation?

Martin is executive producer on the project but he is not involved with the day-to-day production of the show. He is, however, reviewing audition tapes, and he plans on writing one episode each season. In addition, he gets consulted on certain crucial plot issues.

How do we know this series won’t stray far from the books and end up like Legend of the Seeker?

First off, Martin is involved with the television adaptation, whereas Goodkind is not. Also, the show runners have stated they want to stay true to the original story and the first season confirmed that. Furthermore, Martin has always said his series would only really work on television and only on a pay network such as HBO as they can get away with showing the darker aspects of his books (violence and sex/nudity) much more than your average US cable or broadcast network. All of these factors leads one to believe this TV adaption will continue to remain faithful to the source material.

Since A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons are basically two parts to one book, will they film those books as one season?

It is assumed that they would merge those two books and tell the story contained within them chronologically over two seasons. It stands to reason the producers would not want to suspend half the plotlines and thus half the characters for an entire season.

Does the adaptation follow the point-of-view structure of the books?

No, the show does not stick to that structure and its limitations. We get to see scenes that did not appear in the book due to there not being any POV characters present.

Do the ages of the characters remain consistent with the ages of the characters in the books?

No, many of the younger characters were aged up a few years. This was done for a couple of reasons. One was to make some of the scenes more believable and palatable to a general audience. Indeed, Martin himself has stated he wished he could go back and make many of the children older at the start of the series. The other reason for this decision was a logistical one. Actors that are minors are restricted in the number of hours they can work on set. Not to mention, finding good child actors can be difficult.

Are we going to see flashbacks of the events taking place before the beginning of the first book?

The show steers clear from the use of this device, and prefers to present the back story by means of different characters serving as narrators, giving us their own take on the history, much like in the books.

Is the budget big enough to film the battles and other epic elements properly?

There are several factors contributing to HBO getting more for their money because the filming locations chosen (see below) came with certain financial incentives. Read some details of budgetary issues here and here. This contributed to the appropriate epic feel of the show. The two battles in season one (the Green Fork and the Whispering Woods), however, were not shown on screen, even though they are depicted from a limited perspective in the books. In contrast, the Battle of Blackwater was the centrepiece of season two.

How are they handling the direwolves?

Dogs of the Nothern Inuit breed have been used to stand for young direwolves at different ages. These dogs have been bred to resemble wolves in appearance and trace their ancestry to Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamuts, and German Shepherds, among others. Also, a prop of a female direwolf carcass was used in the scene where the direwolf pups are found. The producers turned to CGI-enhanced wolves to depict adult direwolves in future seasons.

What about the different languages in the world of ASoIaF?

British English (with some of its dialectal varieties) represents the common tongue of Westeros. The Dothraki language was created for the series by David J. Peterson of the Language Creation Society, fully developing the Dothraki fragments from the books. The production will follow suit with other invented languages appearing in the series.

 

Season One

SCRIPTING

How long is the first season?

It consists of 10 one-hour episodes.

Who wrote the scripts for the series?

The pilot episode (and the eventual first episode as adapted and reshot later) was written by David Benioff and Dan (D. B.) Weiss. Bryan Cogman wrote episode four, Jane Espenson episode six, while GRRM is the author of episode eight. The rest of the episodes were covered by Benioff and Weiss.

What part of the story does the show premiere encompass?

The first episode opens with the prologue of A Game of Thrones and ends with the infamous line “the things I do for love”. It also encompasses the scene of the wedding, which in the book comes later.

What about the other nine episodes?

The remaining episodes, of course, cover the remainder of the first book. A scene from the beginning of the second book has been included, namely the one introducing the characters of Hot Pie and Lommy Greenhands. See our Season One episode guide for details.

CASTING

Who have they cast?

You can see the full cast list of season one here. Among the established names cast in the series are Sean Bean (as Eddard Stark), Peter Dinklage (as Tyrion Lannister), Charles Dance (as Tywin Lannister), Lena Headey (as Cersei Lannister), Aidan Gillen (as Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish), Peter Vaughan (as Maester Aemon), Mark Addy (as Robert Baratheon), and Jason Momoa (as Khal Drogo).

Were there recasts following the pilot episode shoot?

Two major roles were recast. Michelle Fairley replaced Jennifer Ehle in the role of Catelyn Stark, and Emilia Clarke replaced Tamzin Merchant as Daenerys Targaryen. This necessitated substantial reshoots of the pilot material. In addition, they decided to reshoot the prologue, and due to scheduling conflicts, two of the three brothers of the Night’s Watch (originally played by Jamie Campbell Bower and Richard Ridings) were recast. Several minor roles (in terms of the pilot) that were filled by extras were also properly cast once the series was commissioned. Roy Dotrice was announced to play the role of Grand Maester Pycelle before the first season started shooting, but soon after the role was recast with Julian Glover as Dotrice had to withdraw due to medical reasons. In a similar fashion Owen Teale replaced the previously announced Derek Halligan in the role of Alliser Thorne.

Does my favourite minor character appear in the series?

The chances are good. While there were necessarily cuts done in the process of adaptation, these were limited to the more obscure characters. Some minor roles were backgrounded/demoted to featured extras. Others were shuffled to first appear on screen in future seasons.

FILMING

When did they film the first season Game of Thrones?

The filming of the pilot started on October 24, 2009 and concluded on November 18, 2009. The filming of the first season started on July 23, 2010, and lasted until December 16, 2010 (about 21 weeks / 5 months in total).

Where was it filmed?

They filmed the pilot in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Morocco. Morocco, where they shot the Daenerys scenes for the pilot, was replaced by Malta (King’s Landing exteriors were also shot there), and the location in Scotland (Castle Doune) was dropped. Sets were built in the Paint Hall studios in Belfast, where Game of Thrones is using all of the available facilities at the moment. A Castle Black set was built in the abandoned Magheramorne quarry in Northern Ireland, and the production used several other locations around Northern Ireland. We have created a map of filming locations with all the known details.

Who directed it?

Five directors were involved with the first season. The pilot was directed by Thomas McCarthy. The ten episodes of the season (i.e. including the pilot reshoot) were helmed by Brian Kirk, Alan Taylor, Daniel Minahan, and Timothy Van Patten, all HBO veterans. This post gives the division of labor between the four of them.

VIEWER EXPERIENCE

When did the first season air?

The first season of the show originally ran on HBO between April 17 and June 19, 2011.

Is there a teaser or a trailer to watch?

Several teasers, trailers, behind-the-scene videos, as well as character introduction featurettes were released prior to the premiere. You can find all official Game of Thrones videos in our media library. Two weeks before the premiere, HBO aired a preview of the first 14 minutes of the show.

Is there a soundtrack of the show available?

Yes, you can either get hold of Ramin Djawadi’s score on iTunes or buy the CD edition.

Will I be able to buy episodes of Game on Thrones through any on-demand online service like iTunes without subscribing to HBO?

Unfortunately, no. Deals with broadcasting partners abroad prevent HBO from implementing any such arrangement. HBO’s new subscriber service HBO GO allows you to watch all the episodes of their shows on demand. HBO makes episodes of their shows available on iTunes for download, but not before they had been released on DVD/BluRay.

So when are we getting the DVD/BluRay boxset of the first season?

The boxset released on March 5, 2012, in the UK and a day later in the States.

 

Season Two

SCRIPTING

How long is the second season going to be?

The second season will be 10 episodes long, same as the opening one.

Is GRRM writing another episode this season?

He took on the writing of episode nine, entitled Blackwater.

What about other writers for season two?

David Benioff and Dan Weiss will be handling most of the writing duties again. Bryan Cogman will also be writing an episode (203), and Vanessa Taylor joined the writing team for two episodes in season two (204 and 206).

Is the show changing its name to Clash of Kings for season two?

No way, that is not how it works, what with everything HBO invested into branding and name recognition. The show remains to be called Game of Thrones.

CASTING

Who have they cast?

The season two cast includes Carice van Houten (as Melisandre), Stephen Dillane (as Stannis Baratheon), Liam Cunningham (as Davos Seaworth), Natalie Dormer (as Margaery Tyrell), and Gwendoline Christie (as Brienne). Check the full list of confirmed season two new cast and characters here.

FILMING

When was the second season filmed?

Principal photography started on July 25, 2011, and concluded on December 11, 2011 (about 20 weeks / 4 and a half months in total).

Where did they film it?

They filmed the second season in three countries. Northern Ireland remained the principal location. Croatia, specifically Dubrovnik and the area, was a new location for season two. The filming there concluded in mid-October. The third location, also new, was Iceland, and the filming there took place at the end of November and in the beginning of December. The production will not be returning to Malta. Check out our map of filming locations for details.

Who directed it?

Alan Taylor has been signed on to helm four more episodes this season. Neil Marshall is going to direct Blackwater, the GRRM-penned episode nine. There are three more directors this year, bringing the total to five: David Nutter, David Petrarca, and Alik Sakharov (who was a cinematographer on season one). You can find the full director breakdown for Season 2 here.

VIEWER EXPERIENCE

When did the second season air?

Season two premiered on HBO on April 1, 2012, and concluded on June 3, 2012.

Is there a soundtrack of the show available?

Yes, the soundtrack by Ramin Djawadi has been available since June 2012.

When are the DVD/BluRay boxsets coming?

The boxset release date has been set for February 19, 2013 in the US. In the UK, the release date is March 4. However, you can buy a digital copy of season two via the media service blinkbox in the UK already now.

 

Season Three

SCRIPTING

Who are the writers for season three?

The writing team for the 10-episode season three has remained unchanged from season two: David Benioff and Dan Weiss, George R.R. Martin, Bryan Cogman, and Vanessa Taylor. Here you can find the lineup by episode.

Which episode is George writing in season three?

This year, GRRM is writing episode seven. The working title of the episode was Autumn Storms, which eventually changed to Chains.

CASTING

Who have they cast?

The cast of season three includes Diana Rigg (as Olenna Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns), Iwan Rheon (as Boy, probably Ramsay Snow), and Ciáran Hinds (as Mance Rayder). Check out the full list of new season three cast and characters here.

FILMING

When did the third season filming take place?

Principal photograpy started on July 9, 2012, and wrapped on November 24, 2012 (that is a total of 20 weeks/4 and a half months).

Where were they filming?

The list of locations is expanding again this year. Morocco was added to Northern Ireland, Iceland, and Croatia; the show returned there for the first time after the pilot shoot. Two additional days were shot later in January 2013 in LA, making the US the 5th country S3 was filmed in. Visit our filming map for more details.

Who directed the episodes this year?

David & Dan are stepping into director shoes for the first time this season. Dan Minahan, David Nutter, and Alik Sakharov return to direct more episodes. Two new directors joining the team are Alex Graves and Michelle MacLaren. Here you can find the full S3 lineup broken down by episode.


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