Sound Designer Paula Fairfield discusses creating Drogon’s voice and teases a thrilling season 7 at Con of Thrones

Paula

One of the major highlights of Con of Thrones was Zack Luye and Hannah Panek’s interview with sound designer, Paula Fairfield. Over the course of their hour-long conversation, they discussed the ins and outs of the oft-underappreciated art of sound design, the need for representation behind the camera and Fairfield’s thoughts on seasons 7 and 8.

It may come as little surprise that one of the most challenging aspects of Fairfield’s job on Game of Thrones is designing the voices of the dragons. On the one hand, Fairfield believes strongly in using real animal noises to create the sounds of mythical creatures, for fear that they won’t have “a soul” otherwise. On the other hand, dragons need to sound unlike any other animal we’ve ever heard before. Fairfield described her process of combining several animal noises to create the dragons’ roar but said that in more intimate moments, less is more. One task she found particularly challenging was coming up with the sound that Drogon makes during his brief reunion with his mother in the season 5 episode, “The House of Black and White.” She eventually took inspiration from dog, Angel (as she often did before Angel passed away last year) and used the faint nasal whistle that Angel would make during their cuddliest moments together to emphasize the intimacy of that bittersweet meeting.

Daenerys Drogon

Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion helped Fairfield get through a very difficult time in her personal life, as her start on Game of Thrones coincided with the deaths of her father and sister. In the midst of that darkness, she found catharsis in dragons. So perhaps it’s easy to understand how Fairfield can empathize with Game of Thrones‘ most devoted fans.

She spoke about the upcoming two seasons with the enthusiasm of an avid viewer and speculated that, though we’ll be getting fewer episodes in the final season, each individual episode may be longer – possibly even feature length – to compensate. Though it’s difficult not to be excited by the prospect of a final Game of Thrones season that is essentially comprised of six movies, Fairfield’s words were by no means a confirmation. Fairfield didn’t cite a source for her statement and, regardless of what D.B Weiss and David Benioff are currently planning, an awful lot can happen between now and production for season 8. Would elongating each episode to a 90-ish minute run time be amazing? Of course. Would it make sense? Maybe. Will it happen? We’ll have to wait and see.

What’s more concrete to go on is Fairfield’s palpable excitement for the imminent new season. She admitted to Zack and Hannah that she had several “heart attacks” watching the early footage for season 7 … partly because of the mountain of sound design work that she knew lay ahead of her but also because, apparently, season 7 really is that thrilling.

According to Fairfield, there is going to be a lot of dragon action.

Fairfield also addressed the sticky gender politics of sound design. When asked for advice by an aspiring sound designer in the audience (whom she offered she speak to privately afterwards), Fairfield was upfront about the obstacles she’s faced as a woman in such a male-dominated field. She stressed the need for greater female representation in the industry, not because women are inherently better at sound design than men, but because men and women hear things differently and, consequently, approach sound design differently.

In light of all the hardships women continue face both in front of and behind the camera, Fairfield is making great strides for women in sound design. The fact that a hit television show like Game of Thrones has had a female sound designer since season 3 will, hopefully, make it that much easier for young women to break into the industry.

Thank you to David Rosenblatt aka SirSquinty for his assistance compiling Paula Fairfield’s talking points and making edits for this article.

38 responses

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    1. Sorry to hear about her dog passing away. It’s always sad when you lose a pet 🙁

      Looking forward to her work in season 7.

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    2. The interview was just pure hype!!!!!

      Scenes with WolfS

      Lot of dragon action

      The action scenes of s7 make even hardhome look kids play.

      A possibilit for really longer episodes on s8.

      The people who produce the show in any área are really hyping US.

      Thats what i wanted to hear from the cast and DD.

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    3. Sister and father as well – thats an awfully hard road to go down.

      I often forget about sounds, because I’m listening to the music or characters. I notice tho if something sounds off. Can’t think of when that happened, so I assume its all been done well. Wonder what other sounds she has to invent versus sounds that come naturally (sword vs sword) that would just be picked up on taping.

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    4. Aguero,

      I remember last year while promoting season six, d&d said the season had no weak episode. Each was like a feature film. No sure fanfare this year so far.

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    5. That is so precious about using her dog’s cuddling sounds for Drogon.
      It’s said about losing her dog, losing a furry companion is always devastating

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    6. I now have an image of Drogon crashing around a field after Dany, going “ARF ARF ARF!!!….whiiiine…” like my dogs used to do. 😂

      Gosh, what an amazing woman. I can’t imagine such a monumental job when you’ve just lost 2 people so close to you. I guess some people find catharsis in their work – I tend to shut down.

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    7. Pigeon,

      Omg
      That image is now stuck in my head too … I’m replacing my huskies Rhaegar and Lyanna with Drogon and Rhaegal smashing everything in my yard … (it’s what Rhaegar and Lyanna do anyways)

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    8. Jack Bauer 24,

      are you insane, she hyped a lot S7.
      Scenes with WolfS

      Lot of dragon action

      The action scenes of s7 make even hardhome look kids play.

      hows that not absurdly hype????

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    9. Jack Bauer 24,

      And other…, the persons that work in production are hyping s7 a lot, and some actors did it as well, Emilia ,Aidan, gwendoline, maise and ian. and maybe kit saying that was the season where he must had things to do, but the else of the cast just say is an interesting season, a lot of meetings, no one is safe, and etc. that is really boring and meh to hear.

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    10. Aguero:
      Jack Bauer 24,

      And other…, the persons that work in production are hyping s7 a lot, and some actors did it as well, Emilia ,Aidan, gwendoline, maise and ian. and maybe kit saying that was the season where he must had things to do, but the else of the cast just say is an interesting season, a lot of meetings, no one is safe, and etc. that is really boring and meh to hear.

      I haven’t seen Maisie say anything. She’s been non existent this off season.

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    11. Jack Bauer 24,

      I find these things interesting as well. I feel like many actors are just repeating themselves but I have a good feeling that it actually means it will be the best season yet.

      Sorry you’re getting bullied by the regulars on here btw.
      I don’t know what their problem is, everyone should be able to express their opinion. It’s dull when it’s just 5 people talking to eachother and being rude or refusing to respond to anybody else who shows up to post

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    12. Gina:
      Jack Bauer 24,

      I find these things interesting as well. I feel like many actors are just repeating themselves but I have a good feeling that it actually means it will be the best season yet.

      Sorry you’re getting bullied by the regulars on here btw.
      I don’t know what their problem is, everyone should be able to express their opinion. It’s dull when it’s just 5 people talking to eachother and being rude or refusing to respond to anybody else who shows up to post

      Thank you for the kind words Gina.

        Quote  Reply

    13. Jack Bauer 24,

      she was the first actually on her twitter, kit is defintly with the others that hyped us, some os his interviews were hype. so Kit, emilia, aindan, ian, maisie and gwendoline. Nikolaj and liam did a little bit as well.

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    14. Gina I don’t think anyone is bullying here but it’s pretty tiresome when every single post contains comments from two particular posters saying they’re not looking forward to the season because basically the actors / directors aren’t screaming from the rooftops that it’s amazing.

      People really need to stop overthinking it and just enjoy it for what it is, when it does come back and stop being paranoid about what the cast and crew are doing from a marketing point of view. They don’t even need to market it anymore, it’s GoT for crying out loud!

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    15. Gina:
      Jack Bauer 24,

      Sorry you’re getting bullied by the regulars on here btw.
      I don’t know what their problem is, everyone should be able to express their opinion. It’s dull when it’s just 5 people talking to eachother and being rude or refusing to respond to anybody else who shows up to post

      Bullied??? Come on! He’s been posting the same negative comments in just about every thread for a couple weeks. People have tried to nicely reason with him and reassure him but he keeps right on with the negativity. It’s understandable that some are getting frustrated to the point of telling him to just drop it.

      To call that ‘bullying’ is making a mockery of what true bullying is.

        Quote  Reply

    16. Daeryssa,

      This long wait is driving people insane HAHAHA

      WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN BEFORE SEASON 8???

      Anyway, thanks ms. Paula FOR HYPING ME UP MORE WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

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    17. Bufferzone,

      This interview was done in March!! Im excited to read it though!

      Its summer time and everyone is too busy… we don’t even have late night show appearances. Its really just bad timing! So everyone needs to relax. GOT sells itself. Their promos are being done on social media (remotely) and through the MLB games (which is huge). People who have never watched are likely attending these games and sparking interest!

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    18. SPOILERRRRRRRR: hahaha!

      “Have you been told where Arya will end up?

      We just finished [season] 7, so I know marginally more than viewers at home. But in terms of the next season and the final season, we don’t find out anything until they release the scripts, and they usually don’t release the scripts until about a month before shooting, so I won’t know the end until the very end, really. People are quite surprised by that, but spoilers are so sought-after by fans and trolls alike that they try and send the script to the least amount of people possible, so as not to leak anything. It’s the way it has to go for this show. It’s quite nice, really: If I knew the ending right now, it’d be really difficult to keep it a secret! ”

        Quote  Reply

    19. I love how the article says that Arya is a role model. Every little girl should dream of growing up to be a badass faceless assassin.

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    20. Gina:
      Jack Bauer 24,

      I find these things interesting as well. I feel like many actors are just repeating themselves but I have a good feeling that it actually means it will be the best season yet.

      Sorry you’re getting bullied by the regulars on here btw.
      I don’t know what their problem is, everyone should be able to express their opinion. It’s dull when it’s just 5 people talking to eachother and being rude or refusing to respond to anybody else who shows up to post

      “Bullied” ? The guy has been basically having a mental breakdown over the last ten days or so. Of course people are free top post their opinion, but frantically posting paranoid comments about Season 7 being delayed or being shit is silly and getting on most people’s nerves.

      That’s why he’s being criticized. Maybe if he were to behave like the normal community member he used to be, he wouldn’t have any issue.

        Quote  Reply

    21. Ginevra,

      Who cooks people and serves them to their father! perfect role model 🙂 .

      But I think they meant Maisie as the role model, not Arya? Which is right.

        Quote  Reply

    22. Ginevra:
      I love how the article says that Arya is a role model.Every little girl should dream of growing up to be a badass faceless assassin.

      I must say I find it disturbing that the traumatized child who has gone down a dark path of vengeance and sadism is being viewed as simply being a badass. To call her a role model makes a mockery of the tragedy of what has happened to her. Yeah, it’s great to see her take care of herself and eliminate pedophiles and psychopaths, but she herself has become a psychopath.

      Fundamentally, she’s a completely broken and traumatized child who has become obsessed with murder. Not a role model.

        Quote  Reply

    23. ghost of winterfell:
      Ginevra,

      Who cooks people and serves them to their father! perfect role model 🙂 .

      But I think they meant Maisie as the role model, not Arya? Which is right.

      We might hope they meant Maisie, but that’s definitely not what they said.

      Not only have you been through all your teenage years in the public eye, but you also play a character who’s a role model of sorts.

        Quote  Reply

    24. Bufferzone,

      The article says the interview was conducted in March, but who cares! A gift from the Many-Faced Goddess… and from you. Thanks for the link, Bufferzone!

      PS Spoiler?

      I interpret her statements about the timetable for receiving scripts as proof Arya survives S7. Not that that’s surprising: if they kill off Arya, viewership plummets by 90% and syndication value of GoT drops to $1.50.

        Quote  Reply

    25. Ten Bears,

      She is one of the Big Five, so not too spoilery. What I found particularly spoilery was the implication that Season 7 didn’t reunite her with her family.

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    26. Ginevra,

      Well, it could have been her saying what she hopes for Arya for after season 6, and trying to throw us off?

      UGGGh I thought we would have a Stark reunion. All of them lol

        Quote  Reply

    27. Ginevra,

      Ah okay. I replied after reading this part:

      “Maisie William’s performance as Arya Stark on Game of Thrones has helped make her a role model for girls everywhere – both an opportunity and a challenge”

        Quote  Reply

    28. Aguero,

      Yes – Unfortunately neither of us recorded it, so we couldn’t pull any exact quotes. But it was fascinating and truly one of my favorite panels of the entire Con. I hope it will eventually end up online, but who knows?

        Quote  Reply

    29. Dee Stark:
      SPOILERRRRRRRR: hahaha!

      “Have you been told where Arya will end up?

      We just finished [season] 7, so I know marginally more than viewers at home. But in terms of the next season and the final season, we don’t find out anything until they release the scripts, and they usually don’t release the scripts until about a month before shooting, so I won’t know the end until the very end, really. People are quite surprised by that, but spoilers are so sought-after by fans and trolls alike that they try and send the script to the least amount of people possible, so as not to leak anything. It’s the way it has to go for this show. It’s quite nice, really: If I knew the ending right now, it’d be really difficult to keep it a secret! ”

      In terms of next season and the final season? Next season is the final season.

        Quote  Reply

    30. Dee Stark,

      I’m hoping she’s just leaving out the bit that these hopes have already come true. T’would be nice. Otherwise, that makes her the “lone wolf” that dies from the saying that Sansa quoted at the end of the most recent trailer.

      ghost of winterfell,

      Yeah, that one is ambiguous.

        Quote  Reply

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