How Game of Thrones Shot That Amazing Battle at Hardhome

By  · Published on June 4th, 2015

Last week’s Game of Thrones episode, “Hardhome,” gave Westeros its Alamo. The battle sequence was fantastic, with director Miguel Sapochnik and his team crafting a war sequence through a horror film lens. It was also enough (maybe) to redeem the rest of the season’s stunning lack of momentum – a reminder that the show can still deliver the goods in the largest, most cinematic way possible.

It’s more than a little crazy that this was something we got to watch on television.

Luckily, Sapochnik and showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have shared how they shot the scene from conception (and scaling back that conception) to forcing people into freezing cold water.

“What if you don’t see the monster?” is always a great question when it’s followed by, “What if you then get to see the monster and he’s awful and there’s ten-thousand of him?”

Sidenote: “Super Fresh” is probably the best name for recently dead zombies possible.

Speaking with Vulture, Sapochnik echoed his praise for the extras, a filmmaking crew that typically goes unsung:

I think that being a Wildling is essentially about surviving the cold, and in that department, the extras on our shoot excelled and needed no help from us. They showed up day in, day out, got drenched to the bone by torrential rain in heavy costumes that retain water, and still managed to run around like crazy whenever called for.

The director also mentions a shot that got cut from the final episode featuring Jon and Edd, black cloaks, high tempers and blood-spattered snow, which only makes me want to see an extended cut of the battle.

As a fan, it’s always encouraging to see this level of complex thought given to an action sequence. It’s also mind-boggling (in a great way) to hear them discuss one of the largest sequences in the show’s history by bringing up how they scaled it down. It was a smart idea. Doing the groundwork to place us into the battle, fearing the clamor behind the gate, prepared for the onslaught, made the moment all hell broke loose that much more powerful.

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