Interview with David Benioff and Dan Weiss about next week’s episode, specifically about the big battle scene. The episode is directed by Neil Marshall:
Benioff: We were scrambling. We were like going over the list of who is available. And most of it was really terrifying. And then on that list Neil Marshall’s name pops out. He did Centurion and Dog Soldiers, movies where the guy’s doing an incredible amount of really intensive, impressive action on a thin budget. He had never seen [Thrones] before. We had to give him a crash course. But he’s such a fast learner and so enthusiastic and just fell in love with it and ended up being a great choice.
On the inevitable comparison with the battle for Helms Deep in Lord of the Rings:
Weiss: On the resources we have, you’re never gonna be able to compete with that level of spectacle. It really has to become more about pulling into the characters and making it more about their personal experience of this event rather than giving us the giant bird’s eye view. Benioff: One great advantage we have over the movies is that when one of our characters wades into battle, we’ve spent almost 19 hours with these characters. You know them so well and hopefully you’re worried for them. And some of them are gonna die. There is a way of shooting a battle where you see an army of a hundred thousand attacking an army of two hundred thousand. There’s also the ground’s eye view where you’re an infantryman and you’re running out there with an axe or a sword or something, you’re not seeing the grand scale of it. You’re just kind of seeing what’s directly in front of you. And that can be a really visceral way of shooting a battle.
On convincing HBO to give them extra udget to shoot the battle scene. I understand the point about the season building towards the battle for King’s Landing, like last season everything was building up towards Ned’s beheading.
Benioff: We went down on bended knee [to HBO]: “Just this once. Please.” We were genuinely nervous about it for the whole time until we finally wrapped it. The impressive thing about the conversation where we went in asking for more money, a considerable sum, in order to shoot the Blackwater battle — we didn’t get everything we wanted — but [executives did not ask]: “Will this attract more viewers? Is this something that’s gonna pump ratings?” It’s all about why this story needs this big battle. “You guys were able to do the first season successfully without major, big scale battles, [so] why does this one need to have one?” And so it was really a long conversation about how the second season all builds towards Blackwater. You know it’s coming from quite a ways off and for us to all that build up and then have someone running in and saying, “The ships are in the bay!” Certainly other shows have gotten away with it. But it felt like it was gonna be cheap if we did that.