"As a fan I thought, 'Wow.' As a DP I thought, '...fuck.'" The Battle for Winterfell is the most epic battle scene ever filmed. How did they do it?
Look, by now you're used to Game of Thrones defying anything we've ever seen on television before. They've had battles in Castle Black, in Hardhome, at Slaver's Bay, and certainly in King's Landing. But the Battle of Winterfell had to be different. In an episode titled "The Long Night," after some events that happened thousands of years prior with the White Walkers, director Miguel Sapochnik delivered a battle so massive that it took the longest extended shoot to capture it in all its glory.
Clocking in at 1:22, the episode is non-stop action. There's an incredible library scene that's an homage to Jurassic Park, a ton of tips of the cap to Helm's Deep, and even some Saving Private Ryan slow-mo as fire rained down from both the living and dead dragons.
So how did they film that epic battle? By a lot of sword-light!
SPOILERS FOR THE EPISODE BELOW
Game of Thrones is expansive and they know it
So this battle was shot over an 11-week period. They did it mostly at night, and it was so cold out that it couldn't snow...so the crew was miserable. But pep talks from both the writers and each department head inspired shooting and everyone pushed through. Actors noted that the deeper they got into the shooting the more everyone looked dead. Which sort of worked for the episode anyway?
I mean FIFTY-FIVE CONSECUTIVE NIGHT SHOOTS!!! This crew should be immensely proud of what they achieved.
I loved it.
One of the coolest things I learned is that the flaming trench around Winterfell is actually comprised of 900 steel logs, which were constantly lit and doused for continuity. 16 troughs were filled with propane to provide enough flame to shoot the characters but also be a believable force against the Whites.
I love the Game of Thrones Behind the Scenes stuff because it links story and execution in a seamless manner. The writers have been building to these moments since the beginning. We've seen everything set up for seasons. Especially Arya.
But even aside from that, the White Walkers were in the pilot. So this episode is truly the culmination of emotion and how far we have come with the special effects. We saw dragons in clouds, swords on fire, dead people falling through roofs, and even just the actual Night King marching toward Bran.
We talked a bit about the darkness of the episode, but if you had a properly calibrated TV it should have been a true viewing pleasure.
And what about that amazing work by the zombie giant? RIP Lyanna Mormont. Truly maybe the greatest GoT b-character ever. Check out the FORTY MINUTE featurette from HBO below.
What's next? Is your favorite GoT character still alive?
We all know the biggest question in Game Of Thrones is who will end up on the Iron Throne. Now, BetOnline has released a list of who they think the odds on favorites are to sit on the Iron Throne at the end of Season Eight. The odds are favoring the usual suspects, but you can place your bets on lots of longshots too.
Click the link to read every character's odds.