In preparation for the season seven premiere, TIME magazine has unveiled their cover story for the week, a Game of Thrones affair starring Maisie Williams, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster Waldau, Lena Headey and Sophie Turner. Accompanied by this, TIME brings a report from the season seven set.
Spoiler-averse folks should be careful, as there are implied spoilers below the cut.
This extensive TIME report goes back quite deeply into well-trodden stories about the creation of the show, but then it’s all about its future, as the magazine visited the HBO production as its seventh season was being shot. Reporter Daniel D’Addario describes the strange sight of Emilia Clarke straddling the dragon ‘buck’ which will eventually become Drogon, as Game of Thrones mainstay Alan Taylor directs her under the watchful eyes of “several visual-effects supervisors.”
“Thirty seconds of screen time and she’s been here for 16 days,” Taylor revealed. Though it’s certainly an impressive sight, even showrunner D.B. Weiss must admit “it probably feels a bit less amazing to Emilia, who sits on it for eight hours a day, six weeks in a row, getting blasted with water and fake snow and whatever else they decide to chuck at her through the fans.” And yet, D’Addario reports Clarke was ever smiling and chatty on the buck, which certainly fits with what we know of her.
TIME got to witness another VFX-heavy scene, involving “the wights, zombie-like creatures with spookily pale faces and dressed in ragged furs,” though at that time they weren’t so impressive, as they waited “to grab breakfast burritos.” Outside the stage, VFX supervisor Joe Bauer commented on the ever-increasing size of the production: “At first we had a season with one big event, then we had a season with two big events, now we have a season where every episode is a big event.” In particular, this incoming battle with wights and White Walkers is described as dazzling and grand in its scope. Though TIME cleverly avoids spoilers, this is the battle filmed at Wolf Hill Quarry, which can be glimpsed in the second trailer if you know what you are looking for.
What we didn’t know, however, is how much effort went into converting this old quarry into a frozen lake beyond the Wall. The quarry was “drained, flattened out with 11,000 square meters of concrete and painted over with a camouflage effect — all of which took six months and required special ecological surveys.”
It all falls on the showrunners, David Benioff and Dan Weiss, whose job once they have written most of the scripts each season involves managing all the departments via numerous other producers. The TIME story describes a particular production incident that will be of great interest to the fans: numerous wolves were brought in for the show, but they reportedly looked too “fluffy and lustrous”, while the script described them as “skinny and mangy.” Book readers have been waiting years for the proverbial gun in the mantle to be shot in regards to a certain direwolf and its pack of wolves. If our reports during filming were correct, this could be the time at last.
Even more interesting than what’s coming in season seven is what may happen in the eighth and final season, which Benioff and Weiss are now writing. TIME reveals the showrunners have “full outlines of the final six episodes.”. They’ve been working on the series finale and Weiss claims they “know what happens in each scene.”
There is much more inside the TIME cover story, so go on ahead if you want to get into the nitty-gritty and the photoshoot in all its splendor. Also, later on the day, we will report on their many standalone interviews.