Behind the creation of the Game of Thrones finale with Miguel Sapochnik, Michele Clapton and Ramin Djawadi

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Director Miguel Sapochnik discusses his work on the Game of Thrones season finale this week. Speaking with Vulture, he acknowledges major influences on the incredible King’s Landing opener:

The Godfather definitely had a hand in the conception of this sequence, but I also looked at various James Bond sequences for the explosions of the villain’s lairs. We wanted to make sure that it didn’t feel like a cheap trick to blow up the Sept of Baelor, and at the same time embrace the fact that it was something that people probably saw coming. How could we make it still feel like a shock?


Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Sapochnik notes:

The first step was looking for a way to achieve it within the constraints of a television budget and schedule. First, the explosion was only seen from outside the Sept but I really wanted to see the High Sparrow get it so I story boarded a sequence that included this and David and Dan liked it so we put it in.

As for Septa Unella’s fate possibly being worse originally than what we saw, he tells EW, “I don’t know the details of that,” he replied. “Although I suspect it wasn’t pretty. I think everyone pretty much got what they deserved in pretty much the way it was written. And anyway, who says Septa Unella’s dead?”

Sapochnik says to Vulture that the most difficult shot to get was the final one, of Daenerys’ armada setting sail. The cold climate caused problems for their leading lady.

Emilia [Clarke] got so cold, her jaw started shaking uncontrollably and she totally lost her thread as far as what she was meant to be thinking in that moment (the cold will do that). She asked me to help, so I suggested that she just hum the theme to Game of Thrones in her head while we were rolling the cameras, and apparently that worked because it’s the take we used in the final cut!


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Costume designer Michele Clapton spoke with Vulture about her intentions behind her design for Cersei’s new crown, unveiled in the finale. As with all Game of Thrones clothing and jewelry, a great deal of thought went into its creation.

I chose to make it in silver with just wisps of gold to try to show her isolation, her mental disentangling from her family. There is no reference to [her late husband, Robert] Baratheon; there is no need anymore. She doesn’t have to try and prove a link. The center of the crown is the lion sigil abstracted — its mane represents the Iron Throne, her desire. She has made it her own — she is reborn.


Composer Ramin Djawadi speaks with The Hollywood Reporter about his work on this season’s music and particularly “Light of the Seven,” the track that scored the King’s Landing sequence in the season finale. He gets into the nitty-gritty of his work, explaining the thought processes behind certain choices. For instance, he explains the origins of the eerie child vocals that play in the music, beginning with Pycelle’s murder. He tells THR:

This comes back to when we started talking about it conceptually. “What about the piano? What about the organ?” I said, “Well, what about these kids? We have these kids running around. What about solo vocals? Boys’ vocals?” So when these vocals come in, that’s when you see the knife. We thought the voices added another level of this haunting experience. It’s two boys, that’s it. Not a big choir. It’s two solo boys singing. […] It’s two boys and they sing in unison, which might be why it sounds bigger. And every once in a while, they hit a note where they don’t sing the same note, and it creates this tension. That’s also intentional. You want this jarring feeling, that there’s this unison line, but then it kind of departs, and then comes back together. That was the idea behind that, to enhance that tension.

66 responses

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    1. And I hope Miguel has been removed from the director list for Season 7 because they’re saving him to do ALL of Season 8. The last two episodes this season were absolute masterpieces. 10/10 for both, with Winds of Winter as the best episode of the series.

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    2. Cersei’s crown is a work of art and the music was amazing. I’m still blown away at this season, and especially the last two episodes. Just brilliant. ♡

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    3. At least bring back Miguel for the series finale, even if that’s all he does. Figuring they can stretch that one to at least 90 minutes.

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    4. Adam:
      At least bring back Miguel for the series finale, even if that’s all he does. Figuring they can stretch that one to at least 90 minutes.

      Completely agree. I wish he could direct the rest of the series.

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    5. Joey,

      Sapochnik is shooting the Iron Fist series for Netflix this summer, followed by a feature film (his first since 2010). His absence has nothing to do with GoT and everything to do with prior commitments .

        Quote  Reply

    6. Hmm Miguel must hate HS like many of us do ..

      If we watch game revealed video we can see Nathalie and Emilia shivering and jumping in the cold. Hope they do well in winter of westeros .luckily they have dragons for heat .

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    7. I’m still having a hard time seeing a lion in Cersei’s crown, especially the center. I can see the mane being an abstracted mane reminiscent of the Iron Throne, though, and Laura called the Iron Throne bit.

      I’m paused in the middle of my third watch, just after the end of the first visit to King’s Landing. And man, I almost appreciate the Light of the Seven more than anything else in that entire sequence – so freaking exquisite and perfect for these scenes.

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    8. Ravyn,

      Thanks for these!

      When the show is finally done it’s gonna be really hard to narrow down what were the most iconic images. Lots of great ones from this season but I’m thinking Jon facing down the cavalry charge will be at the top of many lists.

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    9. Was the clip from the trailer where Tyrion is climbing down stairs towards the Masters in the Great Pyramid and saying “You’re in the great game now…” in the season?

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    10. Jack Bauer 24:
      Was the clip from the trailer where Tyrion is climbing down stairs towards the Masters in the Great Pyramid and saying “You’re in the great game now…” in the season?

      The finale, right? When he was cheering her up after leaving Daario.

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    11. Jack Bauer 24,

      Well yes, But he didn’t say that line during the shot. The trailer just edited to have him say that while that scene plays. He says that to Dany in episode 10. The walking down scene happened in one of the earlier episodes and it wasn’t master it was freed slaves

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    12. What did Qyburn first say to Pycelle? It sounded weird. I’ve watched like four times now, sounds like qyburn was breathing helium from a balloon. Did anyone else notice?

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    13. Ginevra:

      I’m paused in the middle of my third watch, just after the end of the first visit to King’s Landing.And man, I almost appreciate the Light of the Seven more than anything else in that entire sequence – so freaking exquisite and perfect for these scenes.

      I agree. That entire sequence is one of the most haunting and powerful scenes of the entire series for me, and most likely so because of that haunting and beautiful and intense music. And honestly, as much as I loved Battle of the Bastards and it’s action packed sequences, this finale might just be my favorite episode ever. So many amazing moments in addition to the septsplosion (wish I could take credit for that but read it in an article): Tower of Joy (tears), Dany appointing Tyrion her hand (tears), Arya ripping that face off (fist pump), Dany setting sail for Westeros, Lyanna Mormont and King in the North…just epic. I am a happy fan!

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    14. ash,

      On a Mac, you just right+click on the picture and save it to your desktop, throw them into a folder and then go into your system preferences and navigate your screen saver settings to that folder. I do it all the time when I get tired of the computer photographs. But the quality might depend on the resolution that BuzzFeed posted those pics in. But they are definitely screen saver worthy.

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    15. Of all the key components in episode 10, the music for me was the most successful. It was a bold move to make such a departure from what we’ve become used to on the series, but it was perfect for this KL sequence and I don’t know about everybody else but made me sit thinking ‘something big has shifted now – GoT has moved to a new place and left the old behind..’. Credit to the composer.

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    16. Hello, folks!

      I have been a lurker ever since this wonderful site started and enjoy reading all the insightful, sometimes heated discussions. But now that the series finale is vastly approaching I feel the need to finally join the fun.

      I am a sucker for details and behind-the-scenes, so these interviews are very interesting. While I am writing this, I am listening vo ‘Light of the Seven’ on repeat – again. Djawadi has really outdone himself this season and if this is supposed to be his last time on the show, he really went out with a bang – pun intended.

      I am also very happy that Michele Clapton is back, although the circumstances of her absence are still a bit puzzling to me. It says a lot about Cercei when she abandons her Lannister gold and instead goes for cold silver. Speaking of gold: That pesky seven-pointed star on the Kings– Queensguard uniform needs to go – or did she already change the symbol again? I could not make that out.

      Speaking of Sapochnik, it’s no wonder he’s got projects galore after his outstanding work on GoT. Though I really hope they can get him for S8! He was a breath of fresh air in the most awesome way, but I am very curious what the directors of S7 can do with the bigger budget. (Ghost, ANYONE? No White Wolf without a white wolf!) Not a huge fan of Mark Mylod, at least not for action scenes.

      Anyway, I’m looking forward to spending the off-season with you! 🙂

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    17. Everything is great, except that dress… I thought it looked really bad. Black leather, really?? And it’s not like it’s for mourning, she was wearing it from the start. That meme comparing her with a Romulan was perfect :). I also have some doubts about the crown, wouldn’t someone as powerhungry and after this episode, as crazy as Cersei want something really big?? As big as Robert’s?? They went with a modest crown and IMO it doesn’t fit.

      Ramin Djawadi is brilliant.

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    18. We knew it was coming but it was still spectacular.
      I loved the music and the build up, what really made it good was the suspense built up by Queen Marge wanting to leave. Not that it mattered. They were toast even if they made it outside.

      Excellent visual effects, particularly liked the bell flying off. The farther away view was good as well and to top it off Cersei’s evil smug look. Excellent work all around.

      GoT- the best thing in the history of film. imho

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    19. Ginevra,

      Well: trying to cheer her up!

      I can empathize with Clarke not being able to think straight when freezing: I have had that happen a couple of times, and it is not fun. I always himmed Ride of the Valkyries, though…..

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    20. Ross:
      Have you seen this? Apparently Jon’s real name may be Jaehaerys

      http://www.ew.com/article/2016/06/26/game-thrones-jon-snow-mother

      He’s a bastard no more! Game of Thrones confirmed a major fan theory Sunday night, finally revealing (at least half of) Jon Snow’s real parentage.

      But that’s so frustrating when they go on to say:

      So Jon Snow is the son of a Stark and likely a Targaryen too. He was born out of wedlock, presumably, since Rhaegar was already married, but nobility still (one could argue, as some do below, that he’s still a bastard, but if he can claim the surname Targaryen, then I think it’s a debatable point).

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    21. Ravyn:

      This is also fun to scroll through: https://www.buzzfeed.com/marietelling/57-photos-that-prove-game-of-thrones-is-the-most-visually-st?utm_term=.eaovm9KqAZ#.onKqvMNw2Y

      Really liked the picture of Septa Mordane with Sansa running away in the background, and the one of Ned and Cat beneath the WF tree.

      The last two episodes together were the closest to what a GoT feature film would be like.

      Oh, just give Ramin that Emmy already.

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    22. When Watchersonthewall.com did a fan art contest before season 6 began, I submitted THIS PICTURE and it is quite similar to the one at the top of this article! I was not far from the truth! 😀

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    23. Tira:
      Hello, folks!

      I have been a lurker ever since this wonderful site started and enjoy reading all the insightful, sometimes heated discussions. But now that the series finale is vastly approaching I feel the need to finally join the fun.

      I am a sucker for details and behind-the-scenes, so these interviews are very interesting. While I am writing this, I am listening vo ‘Light of the Seven’ on repeat – again. Djawadi has really outdone himself this season and if this is supposed to be his last time on the show, he really went out with a bang – pun intended.

      I am also very happy that Michele Clapton is back, although the circumstances of her absence are still a bit puzzling to me. It says a lot about Cercei when she abandons her Lannister gold and instead goes for cold silver. Speaking of gold: That pesky seven-pointed star on the Kings– Queensguard uniform needs to go – or did she already change the symbol again? I could not make that out.

      Speaking of Sapochnik, it’s no wonder he’s got projects galore after his outstanding work on GoT. Though I really hope they can get him for S8! He was a breath of fresh air in the most awesome way, but I am very curious what the directors of S7 can do with the bigger budget. (Ghost, ANYONE? No White Wolf without a white wolf!) Not a huge fan of Mark Mylod, at least not for action scenes.

      Anyway, I’m looking forward to spending the off-season with you!

      Welcome Tira to Watchers on the Wall, the very best place to spend the down time, but also the UP time. Things can get feisty, but mostly it is all good. I hope you will post often so we can get to know you a bit better. Cheers.

        Quote  Reply

    24. Vlad:
      Everything is great, except that dress… I thought it looked really bad. Black leather, really?? And it’s not like it’s for mourning, she was wearing it from the start. That meme comparing her with a Romulan was perfect :). I also have some doubts about the crown, wouldn’t someone as powerhungry and after this episode, as crazy as Cersei want something really big?? As big as Robert’s?? They went with a modest crown and IMO it doesn’t fit.

      Ramin Djawadi is brilliant.

      I loved the black dress…it was seriously rockin’. And once they put the chains on it, she looked positively evil to me. The Black Queen. LOVED it.

      For the crown, it is simple, yet elegant and probably easier to wear over a long period of time.

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    25. Theon’s Third Leg:
      What did Qyburn first say to Pycelle? It sounded weird. I’ve watched like four times now, sounds like qyburn was breathing helium from a balloon. Did anyone else notice?

      Are you talking about this:

      “Sometimes, before we can usher in the new, the old must be put to rest.”

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    26. Theon’s Third Leg:
      What did Qyburn first say to Pycelle? It sounded weird. I’ve watched like four times now, sounds like qyburn was breathing helium from a balloon. Did anyone else notice?

      He says, “Elsewhere, I’m afraid,” in answer to “Where’s the king?”
      Then after some Pycelle rambling he says, “Please Grand Maester, I bare you no ill will. Please forgive me if you can.”

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    27. OT: Any chance Cersei doesn’t win the Beautiful Death poster this week?

      Also, Wyman Manderly is the Northern version of Proximo from Gladiator.

        Quote  Reply

    28. Great, now I won’t ever be able to watch that last shot of Dani without imagining her furiously humming the GoT theme… and I’m ok with that!

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    29. JCDavis,

      Thank you for your kind welcome. The atmosphere of this fine site is one of the reasons why I hang out here all the time. Some other places tend to get really nasty.

      This week’s beautiful death poster is going to have a lot of green, I presume. Sooo many curtain calls… At least WotW won’t be lacking content for quite a while. Even without news and spoilers.

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    30. Blanche Holstein,

      Probably not premeditated in the sense that she wanted Tommen to die right then, but probably premeditated in the sense that she knows he’s doomed because of the prophesy. Given what happened to Joff and Myrcella, she had to be prepared for him to die heir-less.

      Maybe that’s part of why she killed Pycelle on his own, since he would probably be the only one who could challenge her when Tommen dies without an heir.

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    31. Durrandon's Fool,

      Even if Tommen hadn’t been prophesied to die, I think you have to think about who the next heir is when there isn’t one. You have to have a contingency plan in place for the throne should the worst happen. So I’m betting that Cersei has planned for a long time that she would take the reins and reign should Tommen die.

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    32. Clob: He says, “Elsewhere, I’m afraid,” in answer to “Where’s the king?”
      Then after some Pycelle rambling he says, “Please Grand Maester, I bare you no ill will.Please forgive me if you can.”

      I’ll rewatch tonight. “Elsewhere I’m afraid” would make sense. It really sounded weird each time I heard it.

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    33. Tira,

      Welcome to the Wall! 🙂

      I’d had the following thought, then watched Inside the Episode (I usually watch that after my second viewing of an episode, but I’m stretching things out this week in an attempt to ease my withdrawals) and the show-runners said something similar: Tommen didn’t have to die, at least not when he did and how he did. With everything that had just happened, Cersei left him alone. Had she put off her torture of Unella, even if only for a bit, and gone to her son, he may well not have chosen to take his life.

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    34. batfan,

      Yes! After reading that I rewatched that scene and I am convinced I can actually see her humming it! Also noticed that Varys seems to be near shivering himself and poor Missandei in her skimpy outfit must be freezing.

        Quote  Reply

    35. Ross:
      Have you seen this? Apparently Jon’s real name may be Jaehaerys

      http://www.ew.com/article/2016/06/26/game-thrones-jon-snow-mother

      I watched the scene twice, and both times I thought she said, “Aerys,” which would be awful. I’m glad someone else heard “JAHaerys” which is better–especially paired with “Danaerys.” 😉

      Tira,

      Welcome! Glad you’re here! The more the merrier during The Long Wait.

      Edit: Apologies for bad spelling…

        Quote  Reply

    36. Ravyn:
      Joey,

      Sapochnik is shooting the Iron Fist series for Netflix this summer, followed by a feature film (his first since 2010). His absence has nothing to do with GoT and everything to do with prior commitments .

      Yeah I was wondering about that,

      Hopefully they have to foresight to snap him up for some extensive work in Season 8 or 7.5 or whatever it is

        Quote  Reply

    37. Also a shout out to Bella Ramsay, aka Lyanna Mormont…my favourite person and the bad ass lady of Bear Island!

        Quote  Reply

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