Inside the LA Season 7 Premiere & the Sets of Game of Thrones with Tom Martin

Jaime and Bronn

A few days ago we reported on the LA Premiere for Game of Thrones season seven, as well as the many, many interviews that came as a result, but aside from the Blue Carpet and a few snapshots of the after party, we didn’t get to see much. That changes today with a video by Kjersti Flaa showing the entire event in much greater detail.

Also, construction manager Tom Martin brings us an inside look into the sets of Game of Thrones, from the Battle of Blackwater Bay to the Siege of Riverrun, and more.

This is a surprisingly good look inside the premiere, from the theater to the after-party, so do watch it, if only for Gwendoline Christie’s famously uninhibited laugh:


Yesterday, TIME continued their Game of Thrones Season 7 coverage with a talk to construction manager Tom Martin, who looked back on his years of work on the show. He focused on three iconic setpieces —Castle Black, Blackwater, and Riverrun:

“The siege at Riverrun [is] described as ‘a drawbridge comes down over the river,'” Tom Martin began. “It just came to me in the meeting, to be honest: Why don’t we do it down at our Banbridge studios … Why don’t we do it for real? We’ll dam part of the river and we’ll do the drawbridge and do it all for real and build the castle in the car park and crane it over and drop it into the river.” It was easier said than done, however:

“There’s two main parts to it,” Martin explained. “The damming of the river and building an actual drawbridge that worked. It all had to be done with steel and clad in thousands of tons of huge old timber, salvage timber where we could. Where the drawbridge came down, it then had to meet a bridge at the other part of the river which then led down into the field to make it comfortable for the horses to ride up onto it. So while that was happening, we were building a complete courtyard up in Riverrun on the riverbank. While those two elements were happening, we built a huge scaffold in the car park and built the facade of the castle 50 foot high onto a steel frame. So we plastered it there, painted it there, did all the aging on it, and literally lifted it over and craned it in position. It takes about 18 weeks in total from the first drawing to completion. We average around 70 to 80 sets a season. And none of them are small.”

Riverrun Gate 6x07 Header

“The battle of Blackwater Bay, that was a substantial build,” the construction manager recalled. “For that scene, the director came up with an idea of how to attack the doors with a battering ram. We’ve got a skiff, a boat that can take about 16 men and in that boat are these big ribs that come up they look a bit like whales ribs and hanging from the whale ribs is a huge battering ram with a lion in front of it. The idea is that they row up to the shore, they pull the boat onto the shore, they flip it over and hang the battering ram underneath it, so when they’re at the front door and the oil’s been thrown down on top of them, they can hit the door without being hit by the oil or the arrows.

“So we came up with this idea and then we had three and a half weeks to build a boat from scratch that would float and was light enough that a number of guys could flip upside down and run with. And we had no time to test it. The first time we went in the water was the day before the shoot. Like any boat, it goes into the water and goes dunk, da-dunk, and comes back up again. And it worked! So that was a fantastic moment.”

King's Landing Red Keep (South) 2x09 (2)

Finally, Martin went all the way back to one of his earliest constructions, in season one — the impressive set of Castle Black, which can be filmed in 360º with no special effects:

“In the story, there’s obviously a lift that goes 800 foot up the height of the wall. We’re all talking about how we’re going to do this, and the first thought is, obviously that’s going to be a visual effect. And I said at the meeting, well, maybe not,” he revealed —so now we know who’s responsible! “Maybe we could do it for real! We’ll buy a building site lift. A hoist. Go up the outside of a building. We’ll completely take the base apart, and rebuild it in timber and forged metal. And we’ll put the rails going up the 100 foot, the levels of the quarry. We built Castle Black at one plateau of the quarry.”

“We bolted [the rails] to the quarry face, built the lift for real and went up the 90 foot and at the top of that plateau, built the exit onto the top of the ice wall,” he continued. “So the whole thing was done for real and visual effects for the wide shot added in the missing piece. It was great, absolutely fantastic. We were like little kids, so excited to actually get in it and get it working.”

You can read many more about the constructions of these sets and Martin’s thesis on when to use special effects and when to use real sets in the interview at TIME.

26 responses

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    1. Gwendoline is a ray of sunshine. The party seemed really fun. Loved the dancers.

      Slightly OT, but HBO Latino posted this recap in anticipation for the premiere. The choice of scenes is interesting.

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    2. Flayed Potatoes – Thank you for posting that HBO Latino recap. I encourage others to watch it. I like it because it follows the characters more, not simply the major battles. And I love the inclusion of the Hound and Arya, gives me hope of their reunion. I wish I knew Spanish because I bet some of the voice overs add to the whole presentation. Thanks again!

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    3. Jenny,

      Yeah they’re going to go heavy on the Targ lore this season to establish Dany’s family history and Jon’s alleged Targ name. They also need to establish Rhaegar to clear up any confusion about Jon’s parentage.

      They also showed the poor farmer and his daughter 🙁 That’s going to be such a sad scene.

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    4. onefromaway,

      You’re welcome. The voiceover is actually dubbing, so you’re just getting the lines on the show translated into Spanish. I feel like I recognize the voice of the actor who does the dubbing for Jon, but I can’t remember from where.

      Jenny,

      I’m starting to think this might be the previously on for ep 1 :O

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    5. Dutch Maester,

      Yeah. I initially just read the title of the video itself “Resumen de la Sexta Temporada” and completely ignored what was on the screen before the scenes lol.

      Hype!

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    6. Flayed Potatoes,

      Thanks for the link!

      The inclusion of the farmer and his daughter is further proof that the episode 1 leak was real?

      Jenny,

      Aegon the sixth of his name! Meltdown is coming lol.

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    7. ghost of winterfell,

      The ep 1 leak was totally real,not to mention lads even mentioned the scene.I like the sound of episode 1,nothing crazy just to get things on track.Two and onwards are what I’m dying to see though.I can’t wait for the meltdown lol.I always believed it was Aegon cause it fits with the logic of how the show does things.The true meltdown would be if they pull a when George told us the name in inside the episode haha.

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    8. a.fray,

      It was confirmed those were placeholder credits. Liikely due to the fact that the live orchestra played along with it (and the initial credits have a certain runtime in accordance with the orchestral score). I mean, we might get a new location or a new order (closing of with The Wall?), but that’s hardly more spoilery than the actual episode, I’d think.

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    9. Jenny,

      Yeah episode 1 seems to be pretty solid. It’s 6 and 7 that I am most worried about. It’ll make or break the season for me.
      Unfortunately I don’t see D&D pulling that anymore. They will not want to spoil the books on this, I think.

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    10. There was a video on youtube,didn’t open it but the title totally spoiled me:

      it said the opening scene was Arya, and we know what that means (Frey massacre) ,I was honestly hoping to let some things unspoiled but it seems impossible now,the only way is to shut down Instagram and not visiting websites

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    11. ghost of winterfell,

      I think episode 6 is gonna be great.Honestly the story sounds massive I’m also resigned to the ending.7 I’m worried about one thing but in general it sounds good.You know I’ll just go along for the ride.Otherwise I’ll make myself sick lol.This is the story we can’t change it.There are some things I am meh about but in general I am fine with most of it.I don’t want to ruin it for myself.Jon is still my fave character by a mile so what happens doesn’t change things for me.Not to mention this isn’t the end of the tale.With the revelations that come at the end of the season I doubt things will stay the same.Who knows how it ends.Well at least for a couple of months until somebody spoils it on reddit lmao.

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    12. Am I totally out of touch, or did anyone else have no clue who the after party blonde people were?

      Normally I can’t stand loud people, but Gwen always gets a total pass from me. 😄

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    13. “They” didn’t make the wine; it’s commercially available. A friend bought a bottle of it in a Safeway in the Bay Area the other day!

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    14. onefromaway,

      For what it’s worth, I figure the odds of a Hound-Arya reunion at > 85%.
      Why else would there have been those callbacks to Sandor during Arya’s S5 scene with Jaqen 2.0? [A: “I hated him!”; J: “A girl lies to me, to the Many-Faced God…to herself”] and again in S6 with the Waif admitting she de-listed Sandor [W:”Didn’t she (Arya Stark) want him dead anymore?”, A: “She did…and she did not”; W: “She sounds confused”; A: “Yes. She was.”] ?

      Both times, the subject of her unresolved emotions for the Hound came up out of nowhere. (The second time at the tail end of a narrative about “Arya Stark’s family.”)

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    15. Has nobody got anything to say about the set design and construction?
      Far more interesting and impressive than a party or an o/t recap video.

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    16. Grandmaester Flash:
      Has nobody got anything to say about the set design and construction?
      Far more interesting and impressive than a party or an o/t recap video.

      You start! I found the interview quite interesting 🙂

        Quote  Reply

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