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Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik on the hardest parts of filming Battle of the Bastards



Game of Thrones is a massive phenomenon across the world today, and with the brilliant writing and production comes an equally good direction of each episode. After season 6 gave us some of the most epic episodes in the history of television, Game of Thrones reached an entirely different level when it comes to direction. One of the major episodes of season 6 was the 9th, Battle of the Bastards, which took up maximum effort from the cast and crew of the show. With this glaring challenge ahead of director Miguel Sapochnik, he worked hard and delivered to the world a splendid battle sequence that left many of us wide-eyed.

The director spoke about the challenges of filming and the toughest parts of it, with the New York Times, explaining how much effort it took to film 70 horses in Battle of the Bastards to look like 3000. He also discussed filming dragons and how it gets the cast and crew excited.

When asked about Jon Snow’s scene of being trapped under dead bodies and how the challenge made it such a poignant part, he said,“At least 50 percent of the time, they make it better. The example I keep coming back to is the sequence where Jon Snow gets crushed by all his fellow troops, and has that dying and rebirthing moment. Which really came as a result of the fact that it rained, and the pitch got completely waterlogged — there was nine inches of mud, and it slowed everything down. So I consulted with David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss, the creators and showrunners] and said, “I think I can complete the sequence if I can go off script and shoot this idea instead, because it’s more containable and it’s not dependent on the weather.” And they said yes, and it ended up being a very personal moment for Jon Snow in the midst of all of that chaos.

On what the toughest thing to film was, Sapochnik said,“Having 3,000 horses running at each other, especially after we discovered that horses cannot touch each other. It’s illegal — it’s a very valid rule about protecting the horses. So the very thing we were trying to do was not allowed. And we only had 70 horses.”

On how filming dragons gets people excited even though its nothing but a green pole, he said, “Luckily, the dragons aren’t there. (Laughs.) The dragon on set is essentially a 14­foot green pole with a little green ball on the top of it. More often than not, it was me swinging it around and shouting cues for people to know the dragon was passing over them; the ball was there for an eye line. Amazingly, somehow when the dragon’s on set — which, again, is literally a pole — people get excited. Most of the people who work on the show, and even the extras in whatever country you go to, they tend to be massive fans of the show. They all know what the dragon looks like, so it’s not hard to get the excitement level up. Everyone loves horses, but we’ve seen them before, so they’re not as thrilling.”

These tough challenges faced by the cast and crew while filming such a great show really make us appreciate all of the effort that went behind it.

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Founder at Wiki of Thrones and a full-time Game of Thrones fan who does other work when he has finished reading and writing about Game of Thrones and also dreams about playing a role in the show.