Miguel Sapochnik directed many of the best episodes of Game of Thrones, including “Hardhome” and “Battle of the Bastards,” but his stint working on the series got off to a rough start. While filming season five’s “The Gift,” he shot a scene of Cersei and Tommen through bars to symbolize being imprisoned; he also matched a cut of Maester Aemon on his death bed to him on a funeral pyre with his pillow still present. This greatly annoyed the showrunners.
“[David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] said [it was] ‘so self-conscience and we hate it basically,'” Sapochnik told the Filmmaker Toolkit podcast (this was before he learned that they “liked a classic, unified, David Lean style and frowned on a director imposing his own specific cinematic flair to their show,” as IndieWire put it). “I was visually policed for the first three months of my shoot and it made the creation of ‘Hardhome’ really difficult because I pissed them off.”
“The style that evolved from ‘Hardhome,’ that then was used subsequently as we went through the rest of Game of Thrones was born in part out of weird necessity to find a functional and efficient way of shooting. And at the same time to do it without shaking things up, because that’s what Dan and David did not want.” (Via)
Even Benioff and Weiss had to admit “Hardhome” looked incredible, though, and Sapochnik was given more freedom in subsequent episodes (including “The Long Night” in the final season). And yet, “Dan and David don’t want to be told you can’t do something,” he said. “You need to offer a solution as well.”
The horses are the showrunners; Jon is the solution.