After a season of buildup, the Battle of the Bastards finally went down on this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, and it did not disappoint. What we saw on the screen was as intense a battle scene as was ever filmed for television, and undoubtedly set a new watermark for medieval war depictions the same way Saving Private Ryan did for cinematic WWII battles.
Yet it didn’t happen effortlessly. Even with a ton of special effects, the battle took more than 500 crew members 25 days to film, and between the weather and all the horses, it sounds like a logistical nightmare. Entertainment Weekly talked to the episode’s director, Miguel Sapochnik, about the obvious and surprising challenges he faced while capturing everything on film.
“One of the hardest scenes to shoot was the parlay between the different factions prior to the actual battle,” said Sapochnik. “Getting a bunch of horses to just stand there all day and do nothing is much harder than getting them to run around. They would fart and pee a lot, often in the middle of [star Kit Harington’s] lines.”
With weather getting worse and the battlefield turning into “a bog 9 inches deep,” Miguel realized they were going to have to get creative in order to complete filming on time, and that meant straying from the script — something producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss are notoriously resistant to.
“They said it sucked not to be able to finish as scripted but they also understood the crunch we were in and that they trusted me and to have at it,” he admitted. “I think that this section of the fight — in which Jon is almost buried alive by a stampede of panicking wildings — turned out as one of my favorite little moments in the sequence. No VFX, no fighting, just Kit giving a stellar performance and a crazy top shot as he pushes his way back out — we affectionately called it the ‘rebirthing’ shot.”
“The other reason I liked it is because of what it meant to be allowed to follow my gut and go for it. That kind of trust you can’t buy and it felt like a privilege to have been given that kind of support to go into uncharted territory by the producers in such a high stakes game.”
The entire article from Entertainment Weekly is a great read into the massive undertaking that was the Battle of the Bastards, and how much work went into that 30-minute sequence from start to finish. Make sure to check it out.
(Via Entertainment Weekly)