×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

How ‘Game of Thrones” Locations Have Expanded With the Series

When the eighth and final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” debuts on April 14, the show’s millions of followers will once again be transported to the exotic lands and sweeping landscapes where the saga is set. From King’s Landing to The Wall, stunning locations have been woven into the fabric of “Thrones” since its first shoot in 2010 (for a 2011 air date), before “the whole show developed into something that nobody knew yet,” recalls producer Christopher Newman.

Newman, who started as a line producer before becoming co-producer and producer on the show, was in those days just “the guy planning it all in terms of locations — [where] you could afford to go.” Even then, there was always an expectation of doing King’s Landing exteriors in a real medieval city. In Season 1, that was the walled city of Mdina, in Malta. In Season 2, which required a bigger King’s Landing, it became Dubrovnick, in Croatia.

“By Season 3 [the show had] turned into an absolute juggernaut,” notes the series’ Northern Ireland location manager Robert Boake. “And we grew with it. We’re talking huge lighting rigs: big cranes on sites in muddy fields. We got involved in civil engineering questions — building bridges over lagoons, laying road and trackway.” 

For Season 3, production to represent the cities Astapor and Yunkai in Slaver’s Bay moved to Morocco. By Season 5, those locations moved to Spain, filming in Seville’s Alcázar Palace. By then the production was shooting in four countries simultaneously: Northern Ireland, Croatia, Iceland and Spain. 

Northern Ireland, or course, has always been the home base for “Game of Thrones,” chosen for the stages in Belfast’s Paint Hall (now Titanic Studios), which “had tremendous height for the scale of our show,” says HBO senior VP of physical production Janet Graham-Borba, who adds that the location offers unspoiled landscapes and the cooperation of film agency Northern Ireland Screen. 

Game of Thrones Season 8 BTS

In Season 2, producer Bernadette Caulfield came on board, and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss gave Newman free rein to go to Iceland. Weiss sent back photos and told them: “North of The Wall is in Iceland, because it’s just unlike anything you’ve seen before.” By Season 6, “the ambition for both Bernie [Caulfield] and myself was never to say that’s impossible,” Newman adds.

Iceland, along with Northern Ireland, has remained a location for the series ever since. Lavish helicopter shots off the nation’s coast were used for the heart-pounding Season 7 finale when the Ice Wall comes down. 

In Season 8, by virtue of the way things went in 7, says Newman, viewers already know how battlegrounds and landscapes will be drawn up as the Army of the Dead marches south. King’s Landing will be playing a major part again, but this time, he reveals, “we knew that no historical city could agree for us to shoot in it with what the script would call for.” So the show built replicas of Dubrovnik in Belfast. 

Due to the massive scale of the set-pieces in Season 8, “only Northern Ireland and a little bit of Iceland were physically trodden on by a camera crew,” explains Newman. He and Caulfield said to themselves, “OK, what’s the best way to do this. We’re not going to take the set to Iceland, so we’re going to have to bring Iceland to [Belfast].” 

In the end, Newman says, the most important thing when you have 400 to 500 people and 60 horses every night is to have a “robust location that you can maintain.” 

More Artisans

  • Chaz Ebert DePaul CHA Documentary Filmmaking

    Chicago Program Gives High School Girls Lessons in Documentary Filmmaking

    At the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, three of the projects screening in the Short Film Corner — “Birthday,” “Phenomenally Me” and “Without Dying” — will be products of the DePaul/CHA Documentary Filmmaking Program, a six-week course co-sponsored by the Chicago Housing Authority in which high school girls learn filmmaking from graduate students and faculty of [...]

  • Steven Spielberg55th Annual CAS Awards, Inside,

    Cinema Audio Society Sets 2020 Awards Show Three Weeks Earlier

    The Cinema Audio Society has moved its 2020 awards show ahead by three weeks to Jan. 25 due to the compression of the season. It will be held at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown. The CAS Awards recognize sound mixing in film and television, outstanding products for production and post-production, as well as the recipient [...]

  • Rocketman Elton John Biopic

    'Rocketman' Production Team Took the Fantasy Route With the Elton John Biopic

    Paramount has high hopes for “Rocketman,” the Elton John biopic starring Taron Egerton as the legendary performer. Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival on May 16, the film comes on the heels of Fox’s massively successful Freddie Mercury movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” and could capitalize on audiences’ newly discovered interest in rock star stories that transport [...]

  • Burbank-based Barnstorm VFX Studio Expands to

    Barnstorm VFX, Creator of Visuals for Amazon’s ‘The Man in the High Castle’ and Other Shows, Expands to Vancouver

    Barnstorm VFX, the company behind the visual effects on Amazon Studios’ “The Man in the High Castle” (pictured above), “HBO’s Silicon Valley” and CBS’ “Strange Angel,” has opened a new facility in Vancouver, British Columbia. The move positions the boutique digital effects, design and production shop to take advantage of expanding work north of the [...]

  • Maryland Production Incentives Include 25%-27% Refundable

    Maryland Lures Producers With a Tax Credit of Up to 27%

    With its close proximity to the nation’s capital and a wide diversity of filming locations, Maryland offers producers many enticements. The physical attractions range from the historic and picturesque Chesapeake Bay, scenic Appalachian Mountain landscapes, the U.S. Naval Academy with its marching cadets, the gritty yet gentrifying cityscapes of Baltimore, and the leafy suburbs around [...]

  • Women Rule in Front of, Behind

    Women Reign in Front of and Behind the Camera on 'The Spanish Princess'

    “The Spanish Princess,” which premiered May 5, rounds out the Starz miniseries triptych that began in 2013 with “The White Queen” and continued four years later with “The White Princess.” The latest seven episodes revolve around Spain’s Catherine of Aragon, played by Charlotte Hope, in line to receive the highly contested throne of England in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content