Game of Thrones Showrunners Discuss Epic Scope and Scale of Season 7
HBO has been giving us a lot of really great behind-the-scenes intel on Game of Thrones lately. We've met Ramin Djawadi, the man behind the show's music, we've spent time with the special effects team and learned a bit about how they set fire to people (responsibly!), and we've unpacked the latest trailer for season seven, which hinted at an action-packed, quicker-than-usual pace. As this is the penultimate season of the show and, as they’ve teased, winter truly is finally here, GOT’s production started last fall, rather than their usual start date in July, to be able to mimic winter conditions. Who better to give you a glimpse of what’s to come than the two most significant creative forces behind the show, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The creators/showrunners spoke with Entertainment Weekly and gave up a few details.
One of those details is season seven's pace. There have been numerous reports about how season seven is going to move much quicker than we've become acustomed to. Considering how much is stake, and how many players are finally converging, you can expect the action to pick up almost immediately. Here’s what Weiss had to say about the increased tempo:
“The scope of the story naturally has increased season to season. That also probably feeds in a little bit into the pacing, that things are coming to a head and the war is here. It’s this urgency from within the story that drives the pace rather than any external decision. Things are moving faster because in the world of these characters the war that they’ve been waiting for is upon them, the conflicts that have been building the past six years are upon them and those facts give them a sense of urgency that makes them move faster.”
This wasn’t necessarily what they expected, however. In fact, Benioff figured that season seven would be more conversational, setting up the breathless action of the final season, but once they started writing they realized that wasn’t the case. In fact, season seven was so intense, it marked the first time in GOT history that two battles were filmed at the same time. Here’s Benioff:
Season seven not only required two battles to be filmed at once, but also includes the longest episode in the show’s history. Benioff again:
“One will be our longest episode ever; the current cut is significantly longer. It always amazed me when I watched Breaking Bad and they could get every episode so perfect and they would all be like 42 minutes and 40 seconds or something. Which is its own separate skill amongst everything else that went into making a show that [creator] Vince Gilligan and his team were able to do. One of the things we’re lucky about is we don’t have the same pressure. We have one episode that’s coming in around 90 minutes and another that’s going to be our shortest episode at 50 minutes. Those episodes are better at those lengths but I’m glad we didn’t have the additional pressure Vince had.”
“When we thought about this penultimate season we thought it would be ramp into the final season with less action and more conversations. And I think we told [executive producer Bernie Caulfield] that and then we started planning the actual season and started realizing all the conflicts that were about to occur. It’s the first time we shot two battles at the same time in different countries [Spain and Northern Ireland]. It was really hard in terms of a strain on resources and manpower. That was a difficult month but we managed to get through it.”
Finally, if you’re going into season seven hoping for some reunions between beloved characters (we’re looking at you, Jon and Arya), Weiss confirms we’ll be seeing something to that affect:
“To me what’s most exciting is being able to play interactions between various characters that for years we haven’t been able to play. There’s a whole bunch of reunions and first time meetings that people have been waiting for for a long time and when you put it on paper you just want to do justice to the work that these guys have done building these characters over so many years. You want to give them as much as you can.”
Game of Thrones season 7 premieres on July 16th.
Featured image: Season 7 (2017): Nathalie Emmanuel, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage. Photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO.