Michael Slovis on creating Dorne and Braavos on Game of Thrones, and Ramin Djawadi takes us through his process


Game of Thrones director Michael Slovis talks to The Hollywood Reporter about the first two episodes of season 5, focusing on his work bringing Dorne and Braavos to life onscreen and his experience with Breaking Bad.

Slovis joined the Thrones directing roster this season after a string of successful stints as a director on other television shows, most notably Breaking Bad, similar to Thrones vet Michelle MacLaren.

According to THR, Slovis says MacLaren prepped him “for all the Breaking Bad questions he would receive,” because the Game of Thrones crew and actress Carice van Houten in particular are huge BB fans.

“All anyone talked about on Breaking Bad was Game of Thrones. And everybody on Game of Thrones wanted to hear about Breaking Bad,” Slovis tells THR.”It was really funny.”

On the subject on creating Dorne and Braavos this season, the director says “If you were able to see the drawings that [production designer Deborah Riley] did of what Braavos should look like ahead of time and then you see the finished product, it’s identical. […] It’s extraordinary what she did with fishing nets and little groups of people.”

Braavos was seen briefly in season 4 when Davos and Stannis visited the Free City to request a loan from the Iron Bank and sailed beneath the massive Titan of Braavos. This year we see the city in much more detail.

“There’s a whole fishing, seaside tie to the water,” Slovis says of the site, which was filmed largely on location in Kastel Gomilica, Croatia, last fall.

The last tidbit from the Hollywood Reports article: Slovis hints that “the early setup in Dorne has big implications for the rest of the season.” Dorne is making a huge splash this year, and it’ll be fascinating to finally see the scenes of the Martell clan make their debut.

Tyrion Lannister in episode 501

Vulture checks in with Slovis this week as well, finding out which fives scenes from last week’s season premiere the director loves best.

One of Slovis’ favored scenes brings up the Breaking Bad connection again, in a cinematic homage that many viewers noticed. But was it deliberate?

The director discussed the Tyrion introductory scene, with the unique perspective shots that some thought looked very much like BB. Slovis explains:

It’s funny that you say that [it resembles Breaking Bad]. I never even thought of that before. The POV shots were actually in the script. The idea of using the transitions between the shots was something that we came up with after a little bit of experimentation. We literally just carried around a wall with those holes in it, and everywhere we went, we shot a little bit of Tyrion’s POV so we were able to capture the idea of traveling from one land to another.

There you have it. Check out Vulture for the rest of Slovis’ list.

Ramin DjawadiWhat are the ground rules when it comes to making that epic Game of Thrones soundtrack?

Well for starters, NO FLUTE.

That’s the deal, according to Ramin Djawadi in his interview with Vanity Fair.

“I always like to ask, which instruments do you like and which do you not like, because any sort of restriction that they give to me helps me make decisions on what I write,” the composer says in his VF interview. With the flute outlawed, he chose to utilize the cello, “which has such a wide range that sometimes he can just use it solo.”

“It can be so moody, which is so perfect for the show,” he says to Vanity Fair.

As for the process of creating the soundtrack, Djawadi is apparently still mired in it.  The shooting schedule is so involved and there’s lengthy post-production of top of that; Djawadi gets the episodes after that and was at the time of his interview still working on music for episode eight.

When it comes to seeing episodes in advance, he takes the responsibility of keeping spoilers private very seriously.

“I feel like a doctor with doctor-patient privilege,” he says, even refusing to share details with his wife. “I’m like, ‘You can’t get it out of me. You gotta watch it’”

For the full interview, check out Vanity Fair.

Sue the Fury
Susan Miller, Editor in Chief of WatchersOnTheWall.com


  1. I have to say, the House of B&W looks nothing like how I pictured it in my mind (the exterior).

  2. I personally didn’t notice any new music pieces in the first episode.

    And aside from a little Arabian jingle introducing Doran, I still haven’t picked up anything new in the leaked episodes.
  3. Pigeon,

    The exterior of the building itself looks much like it did in my imagination, but I pictured it surrounded by lots of other buildings.

  4. Gotta say, as someone who tries to avoid most previews/trailers/photos, this image was a pretty unwelcome spoiler.

  5. Pigeon,

    GRRM’s imagination is incredible
    Real life can’t keep up, lol =D

    But I think the actual building looks EXACTLY how I imagined

  6. Lex,

    To be fair, it was shown in the preview at the end of episode 1 and is the building after which episode 2 is named, so, while I did see you say you try to avoid previews, it would be tough to consider the picture posted with this article a real spoiler, imo.


    Your description is exactly how the surrounding area looks in my imagination.

  7. Lex,

    If you consider a photo of a new building with no context to be a spoiler, your definition is very loose indeed and I would think you’d be more worried than to hang around fansites where spoilers tend to slip.

    That said, Lex, you were commenting last fall in several post threads about the making of the show in Croatia that contained photos of the sets and actors in costumes, so it’s not like you’re that unspoiled.

  8. Pigeon:
    Nymeria Warrior Queen,

    Yes, that’s it! I pictured a busy, densely populated canal with more of a medieval Venice type of look, the House in the midst of smaller structures and a busy waterway.

    Yeah, I pictured something like a cathedral in Venice as well

  9. Pigeon,

    Ironically, this looks more like the House of the Undying, which is described as a big square building out in the middle of nowhere.

    Didn’t they try filming outside an actual church at one point but were turned away? Maybe this ended up being the backup plan?

  10. I haven’t read the book description of the BW house for a while, but in my memory I too would have said something like in the comments. The building in the image works but I also pictured it in a building dense area amongst canals. I mean… “Cat of the Canals” anyone? To be clear, I’m not complaining as this looks to be cool and all, just different than the mind’s eye.

  11. Renly’s Peach,

    Ah, try listening during the first scene and credits roll. Ramin is great! Still loved his badass Pacific Rim main theme.

    The soundtrack while Arya is on the boat in Braavos sounded a bit like a happy version of “The Children” and the music with Dany and Drogon, which also featured during credit roll was heart-rending for me…
  12. Sue the Fury,

    I find your response a little dismissive, to be honest. I think it’s a little unfair, especially since you’re usually so strict about spoilers in the comments.

    I’m not devastated by this spoiler, but I am definitely annoyed. In my opinion, there’s a huge difference between amateur set photos/spy reports during the off-season, and shiny, official first-glimpses of new locations. I don’t watch the weekly previews, and would much rather have seen this for the first time during the episode. I personally consider something a spoiler if it was not released in the pre-season trailers. It’s fine if you disagree, but I don’t think I’m being all that “loose” with my definition.

    Obviously minor spoilers are a risk you take when visiting a site like this. I’ve been doing so for many years, I understand that. I can deal with it. But I thought the way the photo is featured so prominently, before the jump, where people can’t avoid seeing it and can never unsee it, seemed like something worth considering. Maybe I’ll have to reconsider how often I visit here between episodes.

  13. Lex: I personally consider something a spoiler if it was not released in the pre-season trailers.

    It was in the first trailer.

  14. Lex,

    You didn’t see the whole building, but you saw much of the facade, both of the doors very clearly, and the character who goes there walking up the steps in front. I think the trailer made it even more clear what the building was than the picture with this article does.

  15. HoB&W a bit more monolithic than I expected but Arya’s first sight of it in the book is

    ” On their left appeared a rocky knoll with a windowless temple of dark grey stone at its top. A flight of stone steps led from its doors down to a covered dock.”

    Doesn’t really sound like it’s surrounded by other buildings, but they’ve chosen not to have the covered dock for whatever reason.

  16. Lex,

    Exactly what i was thinking. No more spoilers or pics from previews of future episodes please! I try my best to avoid them like the plague.

    It is bad enough that the TWOW sample chapters on Martin’s website already count as canon on westeros.org, can’t go there anymore after they spoiled me on what would happen at Storm’s End.

  17. The House looks nothing like what I pictured, but for me that’s actually part of the enjoyment of the show, I love to see what they’re going to come up with, as it’s sometimes better, sometimes different-but-good, than my imaginings.

    I think in that instance what I got from the book description was a much more innocuous looking building, a bit derelict and even abandoned. Made me think of the magicked up places in Harry Potter, of all bloody comparisons, because they’re made to look uninteresting so as not to attract attention, but then once inside it’s a different story.
    That huge, monolithic version of it plays up a different vibe, it’s definitely out to strike the fear of God(s) into the onlooker. Can’t wait to peek inside.

  18. Totally agreed with Lex and BlackTallon. That picture on the post (which I only saw in the corner of my eye before I covered it), is not comparable with what we saw in the first trailer. We pretty much just saw the opening doors. Not having seen the second trailer or any of the previews, it would be nice if WotW didn’t post the pictures so openly, before the actual episode. Same thing with Daenerys and Drogon on the FB page, that made me unfollow you for a second time. I had no idea that’s in ep2. Now it won’t be a surprise. And I feel like if the episodes hadn’t leaked, there would be more upset people here.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love you guys 🙂 Much of the reason I visit this site is because you’ve handled the leak well and because you’re strict on spoilers in general. Sue might be right, that we should be more worried about visiting fansites in general. However, it’s clear that pictures like this spoils scenes and experiences for an episode that is coming out in 1 day, at least for people who don’t watch previews.

  19. The House of Black and White looks more mysterious. I caught a glimpse of its front during a sneak peak on Thronecast, and it looked amazing then.

  20. I have seen the ep. 2 preview so was not surprised about the picture but I can totally see why people are upset about it. 😉

    Alas I noticed a different thing that seems to be really odd about the picture above:
    It might be my only deficient knowledge in physics but that shadow on the building looks wrong. I’m talking about the big shadow left of the doors that looks way too big for that a) time of day and b) the pillars which are not protruding enough to cast a shadow that large.

    To anyone who has seen the leaks, does it look like that in the actual episode as well? In the ep. 2 preview, the shadow is on the right side of the pillars for example but maybe this still here is from a different episode after all or it’s just a promo shot?
  21. minty,

    Yeah, I was staring at the shadows for a while and trying to figure out the position of a light source (i.e. The sun) that would cast that, and it really doesn’t work. I can work it out for (almost) each individual aspect of the shadow, including size and (mostly) position, even with how the pillars protrude, but all the pieces together don’t make sense. I realize it’s concept art and I was being nitpicky, so I was wasn’t going to comment, but I saw your post so: Yes, there are places on there in shadow that shouldn’t be, and places the shadow doesn’t fall that it should, and it just generally doesn’t make any sense, no matter how you angle the building toward the sun or what position in the sky it is at.

  22. Lex,

    You are an *******. The fact you find a picture of a building to be a spoiler means you already know what that building is. And who cares? Man, you must find every building shown in every trailer to be a spoiler too. It must be a real drag being you, huh? Here is a spoiler. Arya made it across the sea. Ho ho ho!

    You are calling a mod dismissive for trying to be civil with you? Grow up.

  23. I think it’s a bit unreasonable to expect WotW to be completely spoiler-free, posting official stills can’t really be considered spoiling, unless you don’t want to know anything at all about the episodes. In that case I really think people like that shouldn’t visit sites like this one.

    That being said, the moment I’ve been waiting for the most on s5 was spoiled to me on tumblr last Sunday (I didn’t know about the leaks and in the three seconds it took me to understand what I was looking at, the damage was already done), so I can relate to being angry about spoilers.

  24. Maelina,

    For such a morally righteous place, tumblr was fast not only to pirate all those episodes, but also to post stills and gifs from them.

  25. asfastasican:

    You are an *******. The fact you find a picture of a building to be a spoiler means you already know what that building is. And who cares? Man, you must find every building shown in every trailer to be a spoiler too. It must be a real drag being you, huh? Here is a spoiler. Arya made it across the sea. Ho ho ho!

    You are calling a mod dismissive for trying to be civil with you? Grow up.

    No need to be so aggressive. If you took a look at the other comments, he’s not alone. For us it’s obviously a spoiler. For example, the big establishing shot of Braavos in S4 ep6 was amazing, and while it was shown in one of the trailers, if you hadn’t seen that trailer, and saw that shot on a site a day before the episodes aired, you’d be a bit bummed. I realize this is not an establishing shot of Braavos, but it’s one of the big things book-readers have been looking forward to seeing this season.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t post this stuff, just saying it could be below the cut, and maybe a small sentence saying that there’s stuff from the preview or something.

  26. asfastasican:

    You are an *******. The fact you find a picture of a building to be a spoiler means you already know what that building is. And who cares? Man, you must find every building shown in every trailer to be a spoiler too. It must be a real drag being you, huh? Here is a spoiler. Arya made it across the sea. Ho ho ho!

    You are calling a mod dismissive for trying to be civil with you? Grow up.

    LOL! Yeah, I should “grow up” and be more like you. Swearing at strangers on the internet is clearly so much more mature than being mildly annoyed by a spoilery image.

    Yes, I know what the building is. I read the book when it was released 10 years ago. That is completely irrelevant, as the spoiler I’m referring to is the way the building looks. The revelation of the building, on the show. Sorry if that’s too difficult for you to understand.

    And yes, I have no problem calling out a mod if I think they’re being dismissive or unfair. This isn’t westeros.org where the mods act like omnipotent gods. Sue is a great mod overall, and works very hard for the fandom, but I do disagree with her occasionally and have no problem saying so. I didn’t use personal attacks (like you did). Looks like you’re the one who has to grow up. In fact, are you sure you’re old enough to be watching this show? I think it’s on past your bedtime.

  27. What matters to me is what the interior sets are like, because that’s where Arya will send much of her time and interaction with other members and from watching and reading interviews of people who saw the episodes, the interior sets will blow everyone’s collective minds.
    Perhaps some here who have seen them can confirm this, it isn’t a spoiler really.

  28. I have not seen any leaked episode gif’s on the WotW Tumblr and for that I thank you.

    All of this squabbling is unfortunate.

  29. Renly’s Peach,

    I think that church thing was about another scene set in KL. It involved nudity and it would have been shot right outside that church/cathedral, in Dubrovnik (Croatia). Because of the whole partial/full nudity thing, the church did not allow them to shoot there (but changed their minds after all, if I recall correctly)…
    I guess you know what scene I’m talking about….

  30. I suppose different people just have different definitions of what qualifies as a spoiler. I’ve become sensitive about spoilers because of the leaked episodes. I don’t want to know anything which has not been officially released. However, when something was not only shown in the pre-season trailer (I know, it’s a different angle of the building, but as I said before, what the building is is much, much more obvious in the pre-season trailer…http://40.media.tumblr.com/ea59bee597d136bfdd0341927e7bcb2e/tumblr_nmrflxRWsA1u6td5io1_500.png), but shown at the end of last week’s aired episode, I just don’t see that as a spoiler in any way, especially when one takes into consideration the name of the episode.

    Like I said, I guess different people have different definitions.

  31. Anyway, spoiler squabbles aside, the building looks awesome. And Djawadi continues to impress. Pretty pumped about the new season so far. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s episode.

  32. Nymeria Warrior Queen,

    I didn’t see anything like that after last week’s episode. HBO Nordic doesn’t have that. Sure, there’s different definitions on what spoils the experience for people, but mainly, it’s what’s showed to you in your country, or what you end up watching. You’re right, the title gives away that the building will be in the episode, but it does in no way show what it looks like, neither does two doors and some pillars. Could’ve been a giant parthenon (from the peek I got and from the comments I assume it’s not), or something entirely different. Of course, previews or trailers should be openly discussed on the site, I just think we could’ve gotten a heads up, instead of a giant picture covering such a big portion of the WotW front page (it was in three places too).

  33. TorbofThrones,

    I see what you’re saying, but we’ll just have to disagree regarding “two doors and some pillars,” especially given how the doors look, being markedly different in terms of being spoilery, or not, versus the picture this site posted.

    As far as what’s shown in your country, I honestly didn’t know what was shown varies from country to country. I thought, given the source is HBO, it would be shown the same everywhere. I understand if you choose not to watch it, but here is what was shown at the end of the first episode, at least in the US.

  34. Nymeria Warrior Queen,

    I’ll watch it on Monday 😉 Anyway, can’t wait to see the interior! 🙂 And looking forward to finding out where Brienne and Pod end up. I’m still hoping for

  35. TorbofThrones,

    Fair enough. I can’t wait to see the interior, either. As for

    Gendry, I’ll be dancing a jig if we get to see him. Not only must to poor guy’s arms be tired, I’m really interested to see how he’s going to fit into the rest of the story!
  36. The House looks beautiful ~ so serene and mysterious ~ just like you-know-who 🙂
    Can’t wait to hear the music of Braavos and Dorne.
    Maybe like this for Braavos? ……… “Between Fire & Water” ~ Estas Tonne
    and maybe like this for Dorne? …….”The Song of the Golden Dragon” ? ~ Estas Tonne
    Although, TBH, Ramin’s music is already perfection. Have been playing my GoT CDs night and day!

  37. Renly’s Peach,

    There was a new, haunting motif that played when Lancel was alone with Cersei, a new ‘Sons of the Harpy’ motif [creepy chanting] when White Rat is murdered, and the music throughout Mance’s execution was a nice new twist on several old themes.

  38. A few of us have pointed this out before when The Sight teasers trickled out: You would think that with all of the effort that goes into making the show, that they would get the doors right: Black and white sides should be reversed. Ah, well, given the pace of production, they don’t have time to pay attention to every detail. Bygones.

    On the bright side, we have Ser Meryn Trant and Mance’s field trip to the Iron Bank of Braavos to look forward to…

    I hope Ser Meryn gets a chance to take in the sights of Braavos. Dun dun dun! Though from the set photos that leaked out, he’s more likely to meet the Cat of the Canals à la Dareon, rather than Mercy. Drink your milk, Arya Stark.
  39. Nymeria Warrior Queen,

    Well said. For me, a true “spoiler” negatively impacts the viewer’s subsequent viewing enjoyment. This photo of the building’s exterior, however, has only intensified my interest in what Arya is to experience within its walls.

    To all of the WotW Community: As of this afternoon, I am now 100% Sullied. Any recommendations on what one does with all those hours previously devoted to ASOIAF reading? (Answers suitable for possible High Septon viewing only, please).

  40. Tereeza777:
    The House looks beautiful ~ so serene and mysterious ~ just like you-know-who

    Yep! Can’t wait! 😀

    I hope Ramin uses the Jaqen/Arya/Valar Morghulis theme a lot in the Braavos scenes, it’s one of my favourites. It would be really nice to hear new versions of it.

    It’ll be interesting to hear what kind of sound Dorne has. I’m sure it’ll be great, Ramin is a genius.

  41. All the arguing is unfortunate indeed. Grim, inflexible attitudes such as these unfortunately tend to cause such grave medical issues as heart attacks. I wish people would just lighten up. I love my deceased father’s personal life motto, which was ‘laissez-faire’ or ‘live and let live’. Quibbling over minutiae like a building in a program such as Game of Thrones is ridiculous.

  42. Keltia:
    Nymeria Warrior Queen,

    Well said.For me, a true “spoiler” negatively impacts the viewer’s subsequent viewing enjoyment.This photo of the building’s exterior, however, has only intensified my interest in what Arya is to experience within its walls.

    To all of the WotW Community:As of this afternoon, I am now 100% Sullied.Any recommendations on what one does with all those hours previously devoted to ASOIAF reading? (Answers suitable for possible High Septon viewing only, please).

    Yes, exactly, and for me and those who have not seen the preview, this takes away the “Wow!” when we see it in the ep. Anyway, congratz! 😀 I have found that ASoIaF reddit is excellent. And they focus mainly on the books, so no potential TV spoilers (at least I haven’t gotten any).

  43. JennyofOldstones,

    Have you ever visited this place (or the old site) before? This “argument” is NOTHING. There have been real arguments hundreds of comments long over things like the shape of an actor’s nose, or their skin colour, etc. As far as internet scuffles go, this is about as mild as they come.

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