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House of the Dragon Showrunner Interviewed

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In one of the first interviews with House of the Dragon showrunner Ryan Condal since HBO’s straight-to-series order was announced, Beyond the Trailer‘s Grace Randolph manages to draw out a few details about the show and Condal’s relationship to the novels and George R.R. Martin in the course of discussing his passion (and that of fellow guest, writer and Veep showrunner David Mandel) for collecting Hollywood memorabila.

Besides revealing himself to be a very knowledgeable collector (for example, he shares the fact that there were only two hats used for Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark), he reveals a handful of things about the show:

  • The show has already hired a costume designer and a production designer. Rumors early in the year suggested Deborah Riley was on board as production designer, resuming her role from Game of Thrones, but this has not been confirmed.
  • As far as costumes and production design go, Condal says fellow showrunner Miguel Sapochnik‘s mantra has been, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” meaning that the show will draw heavily from the costuming and production design already featured on Game of Thrones. However, Condal mentions that they will look for subtle ways to tweak costumes and production designs to visually suggest that the show is set some “200 years” in the past from the original TV show.

It’s an entertaining interview with both writers/showrunners, with some fun anecdotes and some very neat examples of memorabilia (lets just say both Condal and Mandel are fans of certain iconic Lucasfilm movies). Well-worth watching the whole thing! The interview promotes Mandel’s and Condal’s new podcast, The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of, which is focused on collecting props. The first two episodes released yesterday, and can be found at all the major podcast sources.

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What rumors Deborah Riley will return?!

i heard rumors from fans who saw her at post finale events in which she said she was so mistreated by production on season 8 that she’d never work for HBO again?

Edited by The Dragon Demands

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Ryan Condal just did a new zoom interview with WinterIsComing.net - a short 7 minute piece, not as much info as the first interview, BUT it had some interesting behind the scenes stuff:

Ryan Condal originally wanted to pitch Tales of Dunk & Egg.


According to Condal, because he'd already known GRRM for years, he was one of the names floating around in the initial pitch phase, and what he argued very strongly for was Dunk & Egg.  A bonus going for it was that it would be a lot easier to produce than Game of Thrones due to its smaller, more intimate scope.  HBO itself was actually pretty enthusiastic about the suggestion - but it was GRRM himself who put the brakes on it, saying that he only wanted Dunk & Egg to be a TV show when the whole novella series is finished.  

So as Condal puts it, "I was one of the first and one of the last names put forward during the prequel pitch process".  He was an early name floating around for Dunk & Egg at the beginning, then when Bryan Cogman left the Dance of the Dragons pitch, they brought him back on.  

I'm curious if Dunk & Egg was ever a formal "pitch" as such - GRRM said "there were 2 other ideas I pitched to HBO that they rejected out of hand" - for a total of 7 pitches.  But Martin himself wouldn't pitch Dunk & Egg to HBO.  If you check the copyright filings, the prequel pitches were actually numbered 1 through 7 - skipping 3 and 5, presumably the other two pitches.  It seems this was more of a "suggestion" that got shot down early.

Only other thing is that Condal says he was as shocked as anyone when they got greenlit to a full first season, skipping the pilot stage.  He thought there would be a pilot.  I think the failure of the Long Night prequel pilot is what caused this - not that HBO abandoned "pilots" in principle, but that simply too much time had already been lost and they couldn't afford to wait another year.

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On 10/23/2020 at 10:03 PM, Westeros said:
  • As far as costumes and production design go, Condal says fellow showrunner Miguel Sapochnik‘s mantra has been, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” meaning that the show will draw heavily from the costuming and production design already featured on Game of Thrones. However, Condal mentions that they will look for subtle ways to tweak costumes and production designs to visually suggest that the show is set some “200 years” in the past from the original TV show.

I hope the difference in costuming is not too "subtle". The fashion among the nobility should have changed noticeably in such a long time, and it would be a nice way to make the two shows distinguishable. I'd love if they took the opportunity to use simpler designs and more vivid colors.

12 hours ago, The Dragon Demands said:

HBO itself was actually pretty enthusiastic about the suggestion - but it was GRRM himself who put the brakes on it, saying that he only wanted Dunk & Egg to be a TV show when the whole novella series is finished.  

I'm happy to read that George is optimistic enough to plan for finishing the whole D&E series. And of course, I wouldn't like another good story spoiled.

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I believe we know now what the spinoffs were:

Quote

 

Spinoff #1 was to be produced by Max Borenstein and Steeplechase Amusements Inc. It was copyrighted on 24 May 2017.

Spinoff #2 was to be produced by Brian Helgeland. It was copyrighted on 6 July 2017.

Spinoff #3 is not shown on the list, but logically must have been copyrighted in July or August 2017 and was to be produced by Carly Wray. 

Spinoff #4 was to be produced by October Lodge Ltd. and was copyrighted on 20 September 2017. Based on UK Company House filings, October Lodge is the production company owned by Jane Goldman/Ross, so this was The Longest Night (aka The Long Night aka Bloodmoon).

Spinoff #5 was to be produced by Bryan Cogman and Randy Mailman Productions, and was copyrighted on 6 April 2018. This show morphed via a seventh pitch (so #5 and #7 are the same thing, effectively) into House of the Dragon, the only one of the shows to get a full season order. We also know now that the production company for House of the Dragon "Bastard Sword." HBO plan to shoot this series next year for airing in 2022.

Spinoff #6 was to be produced by HunterFed and Far Shariat and was copyrighted after 8 February 2018. Far Shariat is an experienced TV producer, often working with Rand Ravich, and they have an overall development deal with HBO at present.

 

Spinoff #1 was the rumoured Empire of Ash/Valyrian Freehold project. Spinoff #4 was The Longest Night and Spinoff #5 and #7 are the same thing, which became House of the Dragon.

Spinoff #2 or #3 were the Aegon's Conquest show, with the other one likely being set post-Long Night but pre-Aegon (since only two projects were based on Fire and Blood).

Spinoff #6 is an interesting one. I have heard it was proposed to GRRM by HBO (rather than vice versa) and was shot down pretty quickly. It's possible that this was a more formal pitch for either Dunk & Egg or Robert's Rebellion, or something else GRRM was not interested in developing further. Because GRRM has veto power over any further GoT spinoffs, HBO could not proceed without his approval.

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20 hours ago, Werthead said:

Spinoff #2 or #3 were the Aegon's Conquest show, with the other one likely being set post-Long Night but pre-Aegon (since only two projects were based on Fire and Blood).

GRRM last year said two spinoffs are firmly based on F&B, so Carly Wray's show, which died rather quickly, is probably not.

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2 hours ago, zionius said:

GRRM last year said two spinoffs are firmly based on F&B, so Carly Wray's show, which died rather quickly, is probably not.

Yup. I always suspected it was Nymeria and the Rhoynar, but no inside info on that, just that nothing else in the time period jumps out as being particularly likely.

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My own guess on this was a little different but I could be wrong (I did a whole YouTube video on it after finding the copyrights):

  • Spinoff #1 was Max Borenstein. Valyria / Empire of Ash (actually, David J. Peterson confirmed that the third prequel idea was "Old Valyria" - of the three that advanced far enough in development to get story bibles, the other two being Long Night and HotD).  
  • Spinoff #2 - Brian Helgeland.
  • Spinoff #4 - Jane Goldman's Bloodmoon / Long Night
  • Spinoff #6 - listed as HunterFed and Far Shariat, I concluded this was Carly Wray's by process of elimation.  

Bryan Cogman's Dance of the Dragons show was filed late due to his Season 8 commitments, and thus didn't get filed with a number; it's just called "Bryan Cogman Prequel" for a time (though when Ryan Condal later filed for it, this was changed to "Untitled Dance of the Dragons Prequel").  

https://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?v1=17&ti=1,17&Search_Arg=cogman&Search_Code=FT*&CNT=25&PID=LbMyLbXn7ols-_feBRKMuRyZrB5YO&SEQ=20201112212616&SID=4

Martin stated that "two" of the five pitches were based on Fire & Blood...AND that he suggested two other ideas which HBO rejected out of hand.  

Based on those factors I concluded that Martin's INTERNAL numbering system went up to 7, and included the two ideas HBO rejected.

If Martin never wanted Tales of Dunk & Egg, why include it in his own numbering system? Assuming this was HIS numbering system that is...

In this scenario, Ryan Condal's Dunk & Egg was an EIGTH idea which was never formally pitched.  

Major Point:  We have no info on Spinoff #3 OR Spinoff #5.  The info you list off, that Cogman's prequel was filed in April 2018, is for "Untitled Cogman Spinoff" - which for all we know could have been #3 or #5...or, as I suspect, #7.  The last one filed because Cogman was late (filing it barely 2 months before they picked Long Night).  

"I have heard Prequel #6 was proposed by HBO to GRRM and shot down early"...interesting but I don't have confirmation /external source on that.   I'd be happy to be wrong.   I don't know.

Of the five they suggested at least, Fire & Blood is basically "Targaryen Conquest and aftermath" and "Dance of the Dragons and aftermath".  Given that there's no way in hell they'd do Sons of the Dragon before Conquest, "Pitch Four" was assuredly Targaryen Conquest.  Probably done by Brian Helgeland (as "Pitch #2" is probably an earlier idea, this being an obvious one).  

The theory I developed, probably wrong but the best I've got, is that "Spinoff #3" was Sons of the Dragon and "Spinoff #5" was the Regency era...pitching them as paired projects, you see.  "Targaryen Conquest AND Sons of the Dragon" as two distinct pitches, as a package deal.  But then HBO basically said "let's see how the first one does before committing to a sequel".  

The model proposed above doesn't account for how Martin said he had two additional ideas that HBO didn't want, but this does.

....regardless, in any scenario, we have no idea what "the fifth pitch" was.   Of the five pitches that survived long enough to be formally announced, what the heck was Carly Wray's?  If the rumor was true that "GRRM shot it down early", it wouldn't have even survived to the War of the Five Pitches phase, to be formally announced.  My blind guess, merely based on what has enough material, is either Blackfyre Rebellion or "Young Tywin & the Reyne Rebellion".  

So MY functional....I admit, loose...guess at this is:

  • Spinoff #1 - Valyria (Empire of Ash)
  • Spinoff #2 - Targaryen Conquest
  • Spinoff #3 - Sons of the Dragon? ( a package deal with Conquest, that HBO passed on)?
  • Spinoff #4 - Long Night / Bloodmoon
  • Spinoff #5 - Regency era - (a package deal with Dance)? - the numbering got reshuffled, perhaps, and Dance became #7?
  • Spinoff #6 - Carly Wray's prequel  (????) (Blackfyre Rebellion? Young Tywin?)
  • Spinoff #7 - Dance of the Dragons / House of the Dragon (shifting from Bryan Cogman to Ryan Condal)
  • Ryan Condal's unofficially suggested Tales of Dunk & Egg

....I don't know, this is grasping at straws.  The big problem here is they may have SWITCHED numbers due to Cogman being late with Dance, that's the X-Factor here.  And that GRRM suggested two other pitches HBO didn't want.

 

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One pitch that I think would definitely pick up an audience would be a show about Aegon IV. Just look at all the books, movies, and TV shows that have been produced about Henry VIII's wives -- people love that stuff. Not to mention that this would be post-dragons, which would save HBO a ton of money and allow them to possibly hire more hire-profile actors and actresses.

I would be stunned if no one thought of this, which makes me think that it was probably vetoed by GRRM, especially since there were rumors years ago that he wanted to write a book entirely about Aegon IV. I'm guessing that's the reason why there isn't a Dunk & Egg show in development either. After watching the main series overtake the books, he probably wants to make sure that doesn't happen again. 

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Yeah, fifteen years ago Martin was thinking of writing a biography of Aegon IV from his own POV and it's something that I'd really love to read.

I'm not sure how well the idea would translate to TV, though.

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On 11/23/2020 at 7:14 PM, The hairy bear said:

Yeah, fifteen years ago Martin was thinking of writing a biography of Aegon IV from his own POV and it's something that I'd really love to read.

I'm not sure how well the idea would translate to TV, though.

I had first heard about it in one of the reddit AMAs (it may have been Werthead's, now that I think about it). Due to all the work that George is juggling, it wouldn't surprise me if he's abandoned that idea in favor of just folding it into the next installment of Fire and Blood. 

I think it could work as a show if they made it similar to The Tudors, with lots of drama and romance. Just the little bit we got in the world book was quite tantalizing.

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On 11/23/2020 at 4:33 AM, The Bard of Banefort said:

One pitch that I think would definitely pick up an audience would be a show about Aegon IV. Just look at all the books, movies, and TV shows that have been produced about Henry VIII's wives -- people love that stuff. Not to mention that this would be post-dragons, which would save HBO a ton of money and allow them to possibly hire more hire-profile actors and actresses.

I would be stunned if no one thought of this, which makes me think that it was probably vetoed by GRRM, especially since there were rumors years ago that he wanted to write a book entirely about Aegon IV. I'm guessing that's the reason why there isn't a Dunk & Egg show in development either. After watching the main series overtake the books, he probably wants to make sure that doesn't happen again. 

Maybe that's the problem. It would be too much like shows based on Henry VIII like The Tudors. There's very little magic involved in that story, aside from Blodraven's abilities. It would barely feel like a fantasy show. Going by the fact that they initially went with the Long Night idea (White Walkers and zombies galore!, HBO doesn't want a GoT spinoff to be just sexy political costume drama and doesn't think that would be enough of a hook for GoT audience. Dance with Dragons gives you a sexy political costume drama with dragons - lots of dragons. 

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