Emmys: ‘Game of Thrones’ Faced Massive Undertaking With Globetrotting Shoots, More

Expansive crew a challenge for showrunners

After an intense season that required shooting in five countries, with two units running simultaneously, it’s maybe not all that surprising that an Emmy victory for best drama would mean a well-deserved drink (or five) for the showrunners of “Game of Thrones.”

“That would be a night to remember. Or probably not remember,” joke David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, adding that it would be “validation for the hundreds of people who work their asses off in the Northern Irish rain and the Icelandic snow and the deserts of Morocco.”

Assembling the 10 episodes for season three of the HBO epic was nothing short of a circus act — and not just in terms of logistics.

“In terms of storytelling challenges, the trick with ‘Game of Thrones’ has always been juggling a dozen different storylines without letting the various plots and counter-plots impede the momentum,” Benioff and Weiss say via email. “Season three was the most difficult so far because the world of the series has grown so large. We had to integrate a dozen new characters into a show that already has a gargantuan cast.”

But as season four starts production, there is relief in sight, at least on one front. “From this point forward, the ‘GoT’ cast will cease expanding and begin to contract, as the death rate begins to exceed the birth rate,” the showrunners say.

For the creators of the series, the season’s greatest return on investment came as a result of successfully executing “The Red Wedding,” which fans of the books had anxiously been anticipating since the beginning of the show.

“Writing those scenes and later shooting them were nerve-jangling experiences,” admit Weiss and Benioff. “We’d waited six years for the chance to deliver that blood-soaked episode to people’s homes. Thousands of emails and phone calls and meetings, all focused on how to make it work. If, after all that time, we didn’t get it right …

“Luckily, David Nutter directed the living hell out of it. Michelle Fairley, Richard Madden and the rest of the cast acted the living hell out of it. And we ended up with an episode that exceeded our high expectations.”

All due to exceptional teamwork, assure the creators.

“A miraculous team of people work themselves to the bone to make this high fantasy a reality,” they say. “The most obvious ones to mention are Bernie Caulfield and Chris Newman, who are responsible for (among other things) making sure everyone and everything is in the right place at the right time. Every one of our department heads floors us on a weekly basis with their creativity and drive. Making a television show is a team sport, and we get to work with the ’27 Yankees.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Masters of the Universe: Revelation

    Kevin Smith Announces Anime 'He-Man' Series for Netflix

    Kevin Smith surprised audiences at Sunday’s annual Power-Con convention by announcing a new anime “He-Man” series for Netflix. The new series, titled “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” will take place in the Mattel toy inspired world and will focus on some of the unresolved storylines of the classic ‘80s show. Smith will serve as showrunner [...]

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content