13 things we learnt from the 'Game of Thrones: The Last Watch' documentary

2019-05-29 14:00
Kit Harington in a scene for Game of Thrones: The

Cape Town – The fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary, Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, follows some of the production crew and extras who worked on the fantasy drama series’ 8th and final season in Ireland, filled with some revealing facts you never knew. 

1.Devoted fan – and loyal Stark guard

Andrew McClay, who has been a Stark guard for several seasons on the show, is obsessed with the show and he features throughout the documentary as one of the hundreds of devoted extras who worked on it.

"Whenever a season starts up again you just see beards in black jackets walking around Belfast," he says at the beginning when he returns for a dress fitting for his guard uniform. At the end of season 8, Andrew and a few others were called back for another additional, final scene.

One of the other extras came over to an emotional Andrew after it was done and filming had wrapped, saying: "You did a great job there dude. Also for the extras, you know that right? You gave us all a bit of direction; you know that."

2. Emotional first table read – and redacted scripts shredded

At the first joint table read with the principal cast for the 8th season as they read their lines out loud, several were overcome by and showed strong emotional reactions like Kit Harington discovering Jon Snow stabs and kills Daenerys.

Conleth Hill (Varys) was very visibly emotionally distraught and upset, discovering that he gets executed by one of Danaerys’ dragons, dying a fiery death not seen on screen. He closed his script and threw it away.

The table read scripts were redacted in part for even the actors, and afterwards, all physical copies went to the shredder.

3. Impossible schedule

At one point Deborah Riley, the production designer, says to the camera: "I do certainly in the first year remember having this constant tape in my head of, 'You are being employed to cope. Just cope. You just have to cope.' But now I realise all we were ever doing in seasons 4, 5, 6 and 7 is we were training for season 8.

"The schedule is impossible. The season is very big; it’s written very big. It’s just this business of trying to do film finishes on a TV schedule and on a TV deadline.

"And I think this season we’ve certainly found what the limit of being able to be achieved. Now everybody realises Game of Thrones has to finish because it just cannot get any bigger. There are a lot of frayed nerves walking around, myself being one of them."

4. Snow man

Del Reid, not related to the Snow family, is literally the "head of snow" on the show. He explained that all the snow dressing you see on castle walls, nooks and crannies and some landscape scenes are actually a pulpy spray mixture of paper and water.

The team used special machines to spray snow everywhere as well as brooms to "sweep" snow over the dirt out of big snow bags. 

5. The $%&* location lady

"What the f- are you talking about?" Naomi Liston is the location manager, who was constantly besieged by seemingly impossible on-location logistics.

Imagine a varsity res mother with a walkie talkie, a raincoat, and having to deal with crisis after immediate and pressing turmoil and having to find solutions for everything. She loves using the "f-word", but we think it helps her cope. "It came on a tipper, so we just have to f- tip them into the f- grass," she says in a scene.

"You can have 350 crew, and with that comes the infrastructure, service vehicles, extras, marquee tents. I end up doing sort of all of the logistics and the running of all of the locations when we’re out and about."

On a tent site where the extras would sit until needed for the big Winterfell battle scene, Naomi had to figure out how to avoid a manhole cover, keep everyone away from big propane gas canisters (since people might smoke), and a neighbouring farm’s electrical fence.

On another day it got so severely cold not a single toilet for 250 extras worked – the water was frozen and even hanged like icicles from the taps. In the toilet bowls, the bleach was frozen.

6. The Heart-attack bomb

Leigh McCrum ran the mobile on-set tuck shop. She made massive, fully-loaded toasties that, if a White Walker didn’t kill you, surely could.

"We tried to do the healthy stuff, but they tend to like stuff that just keeps them going," she said. It contained bacon, chicken, cheese, ham, tomato, onion, and tobacco onions on big slices of bread.

During the excruciatingly long night shoots Leigh and her shop were there feeding the hungry. "Very busy. And a bit stressful. Because of the nights," said Leigh after nine weeks of night shoots and making toasted sandwiches for the cast and crew.

7. The director needs great coffee

David Nutter returned as director of season 8’s episodes 1, 2 and 4. For the last season, the show wanted to go with all digital scripts, but David Nutter was one of the few people who had and insisted on having printed scripts.

On the day of filming the unsullied army, David was handed a takeaway coffee, as they marched up to Winterfell.

"We’ve got no Leigh’s coffee truck, so we’re doing our best," said a producer as he took a sip. Hilariously, he suddenly pulled a disgusting face. Obviously, the coffee wasn’t nearly as good as Leigh’s.

8. Becoming the Night King

Vladimir Furdik not only played the Night King, he was also one of the stuntmen and coordinators on the show. "They called me and asked me if I want to be Night King. I just heard 'king'. And I said I can be any king, don’t worry."

Actor Vladimir Furdik.

(Vladimir Furdik in a scene from Game of Thrones: The Last Watch. Photo courtesy of HBO)

9. Drone shots – but not the ones you think

Fans are … insane. Kit Harington told the makeup artist while sitting in his morning session chair: "I left the hotel room curtains open yesterday. Getting out of the shower, a drone flew past. There’s just no privacy anymore."

10. Spanish deception

To throw fans off, the show, while filming in Spain, literally flew some of the actors not appearing in the show or the later episodes to Spain – including the actor playing the Night King and Kit Harington. They could walk around and be "spotted" while basically getting a free, sunny holiday and spending some time on-set in costume but not getting filmed.

11. Why the cast and crew call Kit ‘Keet’

"I’ve basically come out as a decoy," explained Kit Harington in Spain. "It feels weird being here and not filming. When all the Spanish fans shout 'Kit', they shout 'Keet! Keet!' So, the rest of the cast has now dubbed me Keet."

12. Solving severed arm puzzles

Sarah Gower, prosthetics co-department head and her husband Barrie both worked on the show doing everything with their team of makeup artists from the White Walkers to severed limbs and slit necks gushing blood.

Sarah had to deal with stuff that usually happens on set like a stunt man showing up who had to get a severed arm.

The director said characters would have their sleeves rolled up, but then suddenly the characters are wearing long-sleeved, thick jackets, which means that you can’t do a severed arm gag because viewers won’t see it.

Their daughter is also the little girl seen in the final episode as one of the kids as the Wildlings walk off into the frozen woods beyond the Wall.

13. Big wheel surprise

The Titanic Studios car park in Belfast next to the harbour became a backlot to build the King’s Landing set like the street seen in the final two episodes.

It took seven months to complete. Just before filming and even putting screens up to shield production activity from curious onlookers, a company came and erected a giant Ferris wheel – something the show wasn’t informed about beforehand would happen. 

So, people in the Ferris wheel could basically see into the set from the top. "In among all of the big discussions and our set over there and filming there, oh no – they built the f- London Eye," deadpanned location manager, Naomi Liston.


Game of Thrones: The Last Watch is available on MultiChoice’s DStv Now Catch Up service as well as on its video-on-demand service Showmax.

Read more on:    tv  |  game of thrones

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.