More reasons “The Long Night” was so dark, and other behind-the-scenes Game of Thrones tidbits

Image: Helen Sloan
Image: Helen Sloan /

Game of Thrones has delighted viewers around the globe, but it’s also supercharged the tourism industries of several of the countries where it’s shot, including Iceland and Croatia. Last year, I even had the pleasure of visiting Iceland and taking a tour of some of filming locations, including places where they shot scenes from episodes like “Beyond the Wall.” I found that sometimes I didn’t even recognize a location until the tour guide pulled out a picture of the scene that was filmed there.

Perhaps no country has benefited from this kind of exposure more than Northern Ireland, where Game of Thrones did the bulk of its filming. In fact, Game of Thrones tourism brings in around $36 million a year there! Where am I getting that number? Well, recently, Buzzfeed reporter Farrah Penn took a filming location tour throughout the country. The tour guide was an extra, who was happy to reveal some fascinating behind-the-scenes tidbits!

For example, Penn learned that, when filming, the Game of Thrones crew had a “leave no trace” policy, which meant that everything had to look just as it did when they first got there. So for the scene where Loras and Brienne fought in season 2, the crew brought a bunch of sand to provide a cushion for the actors should they fall. Once filming was over, all of that sand had to be taken away.

On the flip side, sometimes natural elements such as sand or snow are brought in, but Mother Nature has other plans and ends up unexpectedly providing them anyway. Such was the case for the very first scene of the show, when the crew blanketed Tollymore Forest with fake snow only for the stuff to fall from the sky.

This also happened with rain, which Northern Ireland is known to have a lot of. Even if it was raining, filming would continue, because you can take rain out of a shot with CGI. Putting rain in, however, was harder.

My favorite thing I learned from this article is that if extras wanted to come back for another season, they had to make sure that they died face down during any battle scenes. Otherwise, people might notice that the dead man from another season was still walking around. It’s the kind of measure that makes perfect sense but you don’t think of while just watching at home.

Also, if you were a shorter extra, you had a better chance of getting onscreen, because the production placed shorted people next to the main actors so they’d look heroic by comparison. I think we all know what 5’8” actor this applied to.

Another interesting bit involved the Battle of Winterfell in “The Long Night.” That episode was criticized for being too dark to see. According to the tour guide, there were enormous lighting rigs on set, but using them too much made the battle look like it was set during the day, which would have been a whole different problem. Also, there was actual snow falling during the shoot, which furthered dimmed things down.

This tour sounds like a blast. And who better to learn Game of Thrones trivia from then the extras who spent time on the set? If they were involved in battle scenes, they had to go through a boot camp to learn to fight convincingly on film. For “Battle of the Bastards,” there were so many extras that the producers rented out a theater so they could all watch the episode on the big screen.


Arizona Diamondbacks Game Of Thrones Direwolf Bobblehead
Arizona Diamondbacks Game Of Thrones Direwolf Bobblehead /

Arizona Diamondbacks Game Of Thrones Direwolf Bobblehead

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