Miguel Sapochnik directing two Season 8 episodes, DP Fabian Wagner confirms

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Months ago, we learned the eighth season would see the return of veteran directors Miguel Sapochnik (“Hardhome,” “Battle of the Bastards,” “The Winds of Winter”) and David Nutter (“The Rains of Castamere,” “The Dance of Dragons,” “Mother’s Mercy”), as well as the showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who are directing the finale. What we never got to find out is how Sapochnik and Nutter would divvy up the first five episodes. Now, thanks to Miguel’s director of photography Fabian Wagner, we know Sapochnik is the one directing two episodes — and we know exactly which two!

At Collider, Wagner didn’t just talk about his work with Zack Snyder for the DC Universe; he also discussed his past Game of Thrones work with Sapochnik (particularly in “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Winds of Winter”), before moving on to what lies ahead:

“[‘The Winds of Winter’] is my favorite episode,” the DP admits. “Obviously ‘Battle of the Bastards’ became the big episode everyone talks about. But yeah, I personally really love ‘The Winds of Winter’ … Everything comes together from beginning to end. We put a lot of prep work into that and trying to work with all the characters and visually bring it all together for that season … so that was really great fun. I just loved the montages and the music, which I thought gave a new level to the music in Game of Thrones.”

“I’m actually back on Game of Thrones right now for the last season,” Wagner says, though we already knew that — in fact, that’s how we first found out Sapochnik would return for the last season. “I can’t really say much about it, but we’ve been prepping and we started shooting. It’s a very exciting season. I’m shooting again with Miguel, so we’re back together as a team and we’ve got a couple of very exciting episodes ahead of us.”

That’s about what we could expect — it was likely one of the directors would take two episodes while the other handled three. But which two episodes is Miguel directing? Now, the answer may be more telling than it appears; as I see it, whichever episodes he helms are bound to include the big battle sequences, which gives us a clue about the general layout of the season. If you consider that a spoiler, do not read ahead!

Knights of the Vale Battle of the Bastards Season 6

Wagner certainly doesn’t consider it a spoiler, as he sees no issue in revealing they are “shooting Episode 3 and Episode 5.” Granted, the show could be using Sapochnik’s skills differently than expected; after all, he was also responsible for ‘The Winds of Winter’, which is perhaps the best episode in the show’s history but had no battle sequences. But let’s be honest: if someone is directing battle sequences, it’s probably going to be him. The notion of two big battle episodes lines up with the two big sets specifically built (or rebuilt) for that kind of action setpiece — the new Winterfell and King’s Landing sets.

As disclosed all the way back in March, episodes three and five were written by Benioff and Weiss, so Sapochnik will exclusively work on the showunners’ scripts. Nutter, in turn, is directing Dave Hill’s season premiere, Bryan Cogman’s second episode, and the showunners’ fourth, while Benioff and Weiss are directing their own series finale script.

48 responses

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    1. No one does white walker action better then sapo, he also gave us the brilliant winds of winter.
      Great news, looking forward to see how this all comes together.

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    2. jonathan:
      The battle of WF (3) and the battle of KL (5). I’m so happy!

      Yeah, I think you’re right.
      However, let’s not sell Sapo short. He’s great at big battles; yet, he’s also done a fantastic job with the “quieter” scenes, and those that build up the tension to the big battles.

      The non-stop Zombiepalooza in “Hardhome” (S5e8) lasted around twenty minutes. The forty or so minutes that preceded it were quite good too.

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    3. I literally don’t see how this season could be anything less than wonderful with the directors they’ve chosen to helm the last few episodes. Hopefully we get a delicate balance of humanistic drama and high fantasy. Here’s hoping the scripts are good too because that’s a huge chunk of what will make or break the season regardless of how great the directors are. But given that it’s the last season, with presumably everyone wanting to end on their A game, I’m going to give D&D, Hill, and Cogman the benefit of the doubt and believe in their skills. Despite the pitfalls, they’ve all done a great job overall adapting the series.

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    4. Sapochnik is overrated. Sue knows it, Mau knows it, Bears knows it, Dee knows it. Everyone knows it.

      Should’ve brought back Alex Graves grrrrrrr.

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    5. mau:
      Fans often forget but “The Gift” was also a great episode he did.

      Great episode.

      Does this definetly mean Sapo is just doing two or could this guy just be doing two?

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    6. Note I said he was overrated, not bad. Not great either mind you. And I am being called a troll. Hrmph.

      I haven’t really liked any of Sapochnik’s episodes, he’s had the good fortune of directing the biggest battles in the series. I will never forgive him for recommending what instrument to use to Ramin and having him create that monstrosity Light of the Seven (which is a good piece in its own right, but a horrible fit for GoT).

      Nutter kicks his ass though. So does Graves and Alan Taylor and Tim Van Patten and others.

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    7. H.Stark,

      Are you kidding? Nutter directed the huge scene in Dance of Dragons. That imo, is far better than anything Sapochnik has done. Watch that scene again, you never lose perspective of what’s going on. And that scene is arguably harder to do than a big battle since there are so many moving pieces, plus there was a dragon.

      Nutter won an Emmy for directing battle scenes in Band of Brothers. Sapochnik has done nothing else of note besides GoT.

      Watch Sapochnik’s episode of True Detective S2. It’s awful and has a similar sequence in a brothel with a similar musical piece as Light of the Seven that also doesn’t work at all. Dude keeps trying to channel Bryan DePalma and keeps failing.

      I probably could’ve directed BoB and Hardhome and knocked it out of the park since GoT is such a well oiled machine.

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    8. Actually Nutter’s been nominated for 5 Emmys and won 2. You guys have truly gone off your rockers with this Sapochnik guy.

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    9. 8×03 and 8×05 all but confirmed glories. Seriously, I usually hate typing the words “all but confirmed” about anything; y’never really know ’til y’know. But damn. Miguel Sapochnik’s track record might well be the finest of them all. I’ve loved each of his episodes so very much and I’d have been really bummed if he didn’t make it back for the final battles.

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    10. Always a pleasure to hear about upcoming Sapochnik/Wagner activity with GoT. Great creative combo, much like the awesome Iñárritu/Lubezki combo of Birdman/Revenant fame. I’m lukewarm to Nutter directing the majority of episodes in S8 but not worried.

      I agree with others out there who are speculating that GRRM will release TWoW after S8 out of respect for GoT’s success and that the novel will pursue a different agenda for many of the key arcs. It also fits with his slow and distracted pace since 2011.

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    11. Hodors Bastard:

      I agree with others out there who are speculating that GRRM will release TWoW after S8out of respect for GoT’s success

      LOL

      The book is not finished. That’s the only reason why it won’t be out before S8.

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    12. Hodors Bastard,

      “It also fits with his slow and distracted pace since 2011.”
      ———-

      How weird. I heard Tyrion’s voice in my head saying, “I’m not questioning his pace. I’m denying its existence.”

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    13. Ten Bears: “I’m not questioning his pace. I’m denying its existence.”

      Lol! Now that was a great response. Thx! I can’t argue that it’s glacial but folks are wondering (out of boredom I suppose) if there are other factors in play.

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    14. David,

      I said Light of the Seven was a monstrosity because it didn’t fit in with GoT and that it was otherwise a good piece of music. Claiming someone has a lower IQ than you for having a different opinion on art, and then wishing them to leave…well that says more about you than anything.

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    15. LatrineDiggerBrian,

      Look.Nutter is a great director and yes,he directed some of the best GOT episodes,but when I watch a Sapochnik episode,I can see the difference.It just looks better,just epic and big,the music (Light of the seven) in the opening scene in the episode was phenomenal.It was so different from the other pieces,but it was so good and fitted so well with a scene with almost no dialog.The music spoke,instead of the actors and this makes it genius.

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    16. LatrineDiggerBrian,

      Except that it DID fit with GoT. Most fans consider that whole scene one of the best of the entire damn show and the music is a big part of that. How exactly does it not fit??? That’s just such a moronic thing to say, what am I supposed to think?

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    17. Martin,

      Yes, to you the music spoke. To me, I immediately knew I hated it, it felt forced and just didn’t fit in for me. Just like his True Detective S2 episode. To each their own.

      Sapo has done a good job on the battles, but so has everyone else: Matt Shakman, Neil Marshall, Alan Taylor. And then Alex Graves, David Nutter have done big scenes that weren’t huge battles, but were just as nuanced and complex. So I don’t get why Sapo is held on such a pedestal and someone like Graves is never even mentioned anymore.

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    18. David,

      Art is subjective. It’s irrelevant what “everyone else thinks”. You can ask people their 10 favorite movies or songs and from one person to the next, it’ll vary greatly. Every single beloved and classic movie / TV show / band has detractors. Everyone has different experiences in their life and thus art impacts everyone differently. No one is an “idiot” for having a differing opinion on whether or not a musical piece worked for them.

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    19. LatrineDiggerBrian:
      “Sapochnik is overrated. Sue knows it, Mau knows it, Bears knows it, Dee knows it. Everyone knows it.”

      Come on, LDB! Now you’re implying, if not outright stating, that I have been disingenuous. And why would you bring in Sue and Dee? They have not even weighed in here about Sapochnik. (And appending “everyone knows it” – like “people are saying” – does not add credence to an assertion.)

      Just three days ago [12/14/17 at 7:05 am] you boasted:

      “… I shall continue my run of excellent behavior, arguably the greatest stretch of behavior this site has ever seen, if I’m being frank.”

      What happened?

      As you know, I have sought to keep the discourse civil and courteous when you continually condemn the show and showrunners in harsh language and present consistently contrarian views. As long as you make some effort to back up what you say, I have even disagreed with those who’ve understandably dismissed you as a malignancy or a troll.

      I recognize you are not a “Peace, Love and Frisbees” kind of guy. Still, can I impose on you to at least try to phrase what you write so it doesn’t come off like you’re deliberately trying to alienate people?

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    20. Ten Bears,

      I was not implying that you were disingenuous. That was just teasing. I clearly know that you do not feel that way. I was assuming they do not feel that way either. I know Dee, Mau, and you definitely don’t. Not sure about Sue actually.

      I don’t usually use harsh language when condemning D & D. It is strong language sometimes, especially when it relates to S6 and S7. But I also acknowledge that I have a very conflicted relationship with them. On one hand, I’m highly appreciative of the job they’ve done on the series and the first five seasons. But I have a hard time remedying how those same guys, who did such an otherworldly job on those first 5 seasons, could do such a poor job (imo) on the last two seasons. It’s easy to take GRRM’s plotting, and the 5 or so years he usually spends developing such plots, for granted I guess.

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    21. LatrineDiggerBrian,

      Point taken, but given that… Don’t assume that when it comes to Sapochnik, “[he’s] overrated. Sue knows it, Mau knows it, Bears knows it, Dee knows it. Everyone knows it.” You’ve just contradicted yourself by both being peeved at someone for calling you an “idiot” and assuming that four other moderators/regular commenters are simply hiding their feelings. The enjoyment of art is deeply subjective, and we can all disagree about it.

      I do understand that you were sorely disappointed with S7; in some respects I was as well. But if you see nothing of value left to salvage, why bother at all with the conversation we’re having? I’m not being combative, because I do appreciate some of your commentary. But sometimes you’re a real downer, and for that I can, you know, look at my Facebook feed and the f****** mess the Mangled Apricot Hellbeast has made of the “real world.”

      /end rant

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    22. Wolfish,

      I promise that was just light teasing, there is nothing to be read into that.

      Sorry I don’t like fun, smiling, laughing, friends, music or other such things and am pretty negative. I’ll try to be more cheery though.

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    23. Great news. His directing in his episodes were one of the best of the show. For me 3 of the 4 were the best of the show to date. And the gift was one of the best too.

      And can’t wait for the the episodes of Marshall. Im wondering if every episode this season will have some sort of big battle with these 2 directors.

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    24. I always have a chuckle when reading these articles re directors and which one will be directing such and such an episode. I get the impression many posters think the sun shines out of Sapo’s ass, but TBH, I don’t give two shits as to which director is chosen for a particular episode 😀

      Can’t say I’ve seen any episode which I thought was below par – Well, perhaps just the Dorne stuff when the SS take on Jaime and Bronn. The fight choreography was pretty piss poor compared to other fights involving just a few people. All the large battle scenes have been epic and bettering many block buster movies.

      Anyhow, as S8 will be the last installment and only of six episodes, I have no doubt we will be treated to top class entertainment no matter who directs the final episodes.

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    25. Black Raven,

      Trust me, the work a director does is very important. Look for instance at the Lord of the Rings a masterpiece, why? Because Jackson put his heart and soul in his work, every scene was perfect. Look at why his work with the Hobbit failed, he explained himself, he didn’t have the time to prepare his work.

      A director has a specific feeling that he brings to a table, look at Harry Potter and the different directors, the one of the first 2 movies had a more childish magical feeling. The one of the fourth movie had a more dramatic thriller feeling etc.

      Same with GoT. Sapnovik’s episode feels a lot different than that for instance Graves or Taylor or David Nutter.

      One director can do a lot with a low budget, another can do shit with a big budget. If you look at the big shows of this decenia which are praised, some few like Breaking Bad or Leftovers are praised because of their writers. But even those needed brilliant directors. As for the other shows, most of the time the directors part is much much more important for the outcome than good writers, especially when it comes to GoT, sometimes the writing is a little shacky but the directing makes it perfect.

      Few shows are perfect because of the cast. Writing can make a movie or show a good or bad show, A good written show will get at least a 7,0. A mediocre 5-7 and a bad movie <5. But the director can change a 7 into a 8 or a 9 or a 10 (WoW, RoC, BotB, hardhome etc)

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    26. kevin1989: the work a director does is very important.

      I would tend to agree. For example, see the movie “Get Out”. With a different director, the movie just wouldn’t be anywhere near the same thing. Such an awesome movie.

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    27. jonathan,

      EXACTLY. Nobody believes me on that, but without question, if people pay attention, there is NO way this final deal doesn’t end up as the battle to protect KL. When Jon came down the specific question was, “how many people live there.” A million Tyrion said. I think WW will get to, right outside KL, and Jon’s battle will be to stop him from taking KL. It’s always been the set up. How he does it, well that’s gonna be what we look for. 🙂

      I like the idea of while it’s happening it kinda is Jon doing that, and and Jaime is in Red Keep trying stop Cersei from whatever shiz she’ll be eviling lol.

      Like the idea that both men will — it wil all kind of come together to a climax.

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    28. Wow so logically the battle with the White Walkers will be in Episode 3 at Winterfell? If so, that just seems so early. Surely there cannot be a battle in Kings landing in Episode 3??

      I’m confused now…

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    29. LatrineDiggerBrian:
      Wolfish,

      Sorry I don’t like fun, smiling, laughing, friends, music or other such things and am pretty negative. I’ll try to be more cheery though.

      So I guess it’s safe to say you don’t like dancing in the meadow with dolls and kittens.

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