‘Game of Thrones’ Director Neil Marshall Completes Filming S4’s Penultimate Episode, Talks Battle At The Wall Larger Scaled Than Blackwater, Highlight Hollywood News

With production based at Paint Hall Studio and Magheramorne quarry in Belfast, Marshall assembled an army of stuntmen for sword fights, explosions and high falls from the Wall – against the cinematic canvas of the largest painted backdrop in Europe.   Turning it all into the continent of Westeros, Marshall honed his craft directing such films as “The Descent.” 

 
More recently he shot two episodes of Michael Bay’s new pirate drama “Black Sails” in South Africa and will next head to Scandinavia for the English language adaptation of the much-loved Norwegian folklore horror “Trollhunter.” And no one will ever forget Marshall’s helming of the ninth episode in season two of “Game of Thrones,” “Blackwater!”

 

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Marshall spoke this week about all that he’s done preparing us for this episode when the Wildlings attack The Wall.  “What I can say is that it’s a huge episode – a huge production. As far as I know the episode hasn’t been named yet but someone online suggested it might be called ‘Castle Black’ but all I know is that it’s called episode nine! It’s kind of the same as ‘Blackwater’, in a sense, in that these episodes are bigger than most of my films! They’re on the same scale as something like ‘Centurion’, if not bigger. We have huge sets that they build – in the case of ‘Blackwater’ it was a section of King’s Landing. For this episode we didn’t have to build Castle Black, we already had it. But it’s an amazing set. They built another inside the Paint Hall for the top of the Wall, and that was so big it took up the entire studio. We got a special backdrop made for it and one of the things about Paint Hall that makes it quite unique is that it’s much taller than most film studios. The backdrop went around almost 360 degrees and it turned out that it’s the biggest backdrop in Europe. The outside stuff for the battle was shot at the Castle Black set, which is built on the side of a huge quarry North of Belfast. We had about 200 hundred or so extras. We also had a very large team of stuntmen including this amazing bunch of Hungarian stunt guys, and they were absolutely fantastic! Really great. This episode is loaded with stunts, effects gags and visual effects. It’s a very, very action-packed episode,” said Marshall.
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We got lucky that Neil Marshall directed season two’s “Blackwater,” because he took it on short notice, when the main director had to pull out for an emergency, not leaving Marshall very much time, but he awed the audience, with death, grand battle scenes, special effects, fire, and even the permanent butchering of fan favorite Tyrion Lannister.  “In a weird way, ‘Blackwater’, despite its scale, was kind of simpler than my fourth season episode. It was kind of linear in that we started on the ships and then we went to the beach landing, the battle on the beach and the castle assault. It was like moving the army from place to place, but the Castle Black episode has three different battles going on at the same time in different places. So it’s a bit more complex from that point of view. But ‘Blackwater’ was a challenge in many respects. Some of the prep was in place already, so I wasn’t starting from scratch a week before the shoot. Obviously the sets were already well on the way. When I came in, I restructured the battle more than anything and made logical sense of that and the strategy of it all. I brought in things like siege ladders and designed this kind of boat that turns upside down and becomes like a shell for the men storming the castle. That wasn’t included in the script but I brought that to the table. And I certainly think that my coming in late did give it an impetus. It gave it a certain speed, even with only a week’s prep. By the end of that week, myself and the director of photography were itching to start shooting it! Whereas with the Castle Black episode, there are a lot more visual effects involved which take a lot more time to prepare. We had a good four weeks to prep for this one, which is like feature film time. My DOP this time was a fantastic guy named David Franco, who worked on a lot of episodes of ‘Boardwalk Empire’. He was a real pleasure to work with.”
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So, here’s a fun reminder of what excitement we have to look forward to.  Winter is Coming!  Jon Snow will become Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and if he thought the battle with a Warg and kidnapped by the Wildlings was unbelievable, he hasn’t seen anything yet. Below is a scene from last season, when Jon and the Warg faced off. Warg’s can transport their minds into the bodies of animals. Luckily for Jon, his handicapped baby-half-brother Bran Stark is a more powerful Warg than any Westeros has ever seen. Bran manages to save his big brother Jon by going into his pet Dire Wolf’s body.  Check it out.
He’s a CROW, KILL HIM!
CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW:  Game of Thrones 3×09: Jon Snow’s loyalty is tested

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Helen Sloan/HBO
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