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Ser_not_appearing_yet

My discussion with one of the producers

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I have been asked to keep the details of this quiet, but it turns out a good friend of mine 'may' be working as a producer for the pilot version of game of thrones. I talked to her last night about it (i was in total fanboy shock, as you can imagine) and i have to say she wasnt enthusiastic about it.

This is essentially what im able to disclose, we discussed other aspects too, but im not posting them since she requested i didnt.

Her main issues is that the series is just too big.. and if they cut it down shes worried the story wont hold up. The other major concern she seemed to have was that the characters were in general too black and white to get emotionally invested in (at least for an american audience: see lost, sopranos etc). Of course i was immediately like 'WTF? JAIME?? TYRION??? THE FRIGGIN HOUND???' But unfortunately it didnt seem to change her view, and she clearly knows far more about it than me.

Anyhow, the good news is its not her decision, and hbo may make the show simply because they have no other option(:D), but it did make me think about it all more deeply.

The question is (and i dont really post here much so i dunno if you people have already discussed this), can song of ice and fire really connect with a large enough audience? She argued that rome got the audience mostly due to the actual relevence of the historical characters, while soiaf (obviously) doesnt have this.

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I'm baffled at her argument that the characters are black and white. You sure she talks about the same series?

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[quote name='Sernotapearinginthiseries' post='1630221' date='Dec 25 2008, 09.48']I have been asked to keep the details of this quiet, but it turns out a good friend of mine 'may' be working as a producer for the pilot version of game of thrones. I talked to her last night about it (i was in total fanboy shock, as you can imagine) and i have to say she wasnt enthusiastic about it.

This is essentially what im able to disclose, we discussed other aspects too, but im not posting them since she requested i didnt.

Her main issues is that the series is just too big.. and if they cut it down shes worried the story wont hold up. The other major concern she seemed to have was that the characters were in general too black and white to get emotionally invested in (at least for an american audience: see lost, sopranos etc). Of course i was immediately like 'WTF? JAIME?? TYRION??? THE FRIGGIN HOUND???' But unfortunately it didnt seem to change her view, and she clearly knows far more about it than me.

Anyhow, the good news is its not her decision, and hbo may make the show simply because they have no other option(:D), but it did make me think about it all more deeply.

The question is (and i dont really post here much so i dunno if you people have already discussed this), can song of ice and fire really connect with a large enough audience? She argued that rome got the audience mostly due to the actual relevence of the historical characters, while soiaf (obviously) doesnt have this.[/quote]

Yes. American audiences ate up LOTR, and that is nothing but black and white. They want gray characters in their cop shows and their mob shows b/c that resembles real life. ASOIAF will be escapist fantasy...but only initially. Starks = good, Lannisters = evil will only hold up for a few episodes. Tyrion will challenge that notion. Daenarys (and Robert's handling of her) will challenge that notion. The Hound and Jaime will be nothing but antagonists until later in the series. That is what makes ASOIAF so endearing. Everyone is gray. Everyone. This show will be escapist fantasy until the American audience feels comfortable and then it all gets turned on its head. I hope it stays on long enough.

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Personally.. i have no idea. Shes read the first two books, i know that. I think she means in relation to other successful series, ie: lost and sopranos where you get a small group of characters with massive focus on each one. It does take a long while for characters such as jaime to develop, and i suppose the worry is by the time they do start to develop will the show still hold people's interest? Anyway ive never been involved with tv or directing etc so i didnt really argue. (this was to rinso^)

Mike- i like that:P Next time i see her im saying 'every character is grey!' She says the entire series could last something like 8 years, and she finds the whole prospect of it all totally exhausting.

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[quote name='Sernotapearinginthiseries' post='1630234' date='Dec 25 2008, 10.10']Personally.. i have no idea. Shes read the first two books, i know that. I think she means in relation to other successful series, ie: lost and sopranos where you get a small group of characters with massive focus on each one. It does take a long while for characters such as jaime to develop, and i suppose the worry is by the time they do start to develop will the show still hold people's interest? Anyway ive never been involved with tv or directing etc so i didnt really argue. (this was to rinso^)

Mike- i like that:P Next time i see her im saying 'every character is grey!' She says the entire series could last something like 8 years, and she finds the whole prospect of it all totally exhausting.[/quote]

If your friend feels that way then maybe she shouldn't be a producer on it. It is a long commitment, but it can also be groundbreaking for a television series. If this is done right, she will be remembered and honored along with the rest of the crew.

As far as everyone being gray, you should probably say everyone but Gregor. He is most definitely evil. But he could be mildly retarded as well. So maybe he isn't "evil." Okay, say everyone except The Others.

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The same argument could have been made for the Lord of the Rings:

* Too big - LoTR has a massive backstory and possibly more characters than ASoIaF if you take into account the Silmarillion.
* Too black & white - the characters of LoTR were totally black & white (now the Silmarillion is a different story...). Most, but not all, of the characters of ASoIaF are much harder to define.
* Relevance - LoTR was no more historically based than ASoIaF. Perhaps less so, considering JRRT's proclaimed dislike of allegory.


And yet somehow, this massive, black & white, irrelevant story was made into one of the most successful movie franchises of all time....

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Well i really want her to produce it for purely selfish reasons, rofl.

The difference with lord of the rings is cost. Lotr movies were created by people who were huge fans of the book (and lotr has been a recognised classic novel for.. forevor), Soiaf is relatively unknown, and its current fanbase is certainly nothing like lotr was.

Not to mention soiaf is a totally different type of fantasy. Its not so family orientated.. its very different.

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Yes, it's different. [i]Exactly because [/i]it's not black and white and touches adult and morally ambiguous themes.

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Characters too black and white? Did this woman read the books? That comment couldn't be more off base, which makes me question the source.

The series is big, no debating that- we don't even know when/how it will end at this point. Size shouldn't matter though, especially with HBO. And after reading the review of the script, the writers seem to have done a good job of condensing a lot of information/events into the pilot. The Sopranos ran for 6 seasons, taking eight years to finish 86 episodes. As a fan, I was discouraged by the length it took to produce the show; but I still never lost faith, cheerfully watching every episode upon release. ASOIAF may not generate the exact same fanbase as Sopranos, but it will find its place. Millions have readers will flock to HBO to watch what is considered the greatest fantasy epic ever written. It will be recognized by the media, which will bring in a larger audience.

The series has potential to be the greatest book to screen adaptation ever. EPIC is the only word that comes to mind.

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Wow. I can only think by "black and white" she means the characters are so richly and expertly crafted it's hard to find even a minor one she can place her own creative stamp on. A show like this needs people who are passionate about it to make it work. Hopefully she can find that passion.

[quote]and hbo may make the show simply because they have no other option(biggrin.gif)[/quote]
I suspect we're supposed to pry some more details from you... don't be shy... tell us more :P

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[quote name='Lord_Deg' post='1630370' date='Dec 25 2008, 22.30']Characters too black and white? Did this woman read the books? That comment couldn't be more off base, which makes me question the source.

The series is big, no debating that- we don't even know when/how it will end at this point. Size shouldn't matter though, especially with HBO. And after reading the review of the script, the writers seem to have done a good job of condensing a lot of information/events into the pilot. The Sopranos ran for 6 seasons, taking eight years to finish 86 episodes. As a fan, I was discouraged by the length it took to produce the show; but I still never lost faith, cheerfully watching every episode upon release. ASOIAF may not generate the exact same fanbase as Sopranos, but it will find its place. Millions have readers will flock to HBO to watch what is considered the greatest fantasy epic ever written. It will be recognized by the media, which will bring in a larger audience.

The series has potential to be the greatest book to screen adaptation ever. EPIC is the only word that comes to mind.[/quote]
Yeah i was pretty confused by it. I think it was more that she didnt feel they were characters easily adaptable to tv. She admitted tyrion was great though, and she seemed to like the targaryen section of the book. She didnt seem to like the ease in which people die.

The real problem is cost dude. In order to be effective, this series (as apposed to sopranos) needs a massive budget, and a REALLY good director. It has neither yet, and thats why she seemed dubious about it all.

^and i know nothing else about that, thats all i could get out of her. Im gonna try again though, next time we meet. :P

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Well, if this possible producer is remarking not on the series itself, but rather how viewers might percieve it ... There may be a point that if you try and be faithful to the way the story is written, you will have an initially rather black and white understanding of what's going on -- Starks=Good, Lannisters=Bad (except Tyrion) -- and perhaps viewers will not catch the hints that there's more depth and variance to the characters than initial impressions might suggest.

I think one thing that would have to be done is to play up, say, the Varys and Ned scene in the dungeon (assuming it gets to series) to have Varys make it plainer that Eddard Stark's sense of personal honor has directly plunged Westeros into a war that could have been avoided if he wasn't so concerned for his precious honor. Basically, make it plain that the good guys are stuck in personal codes of conduct which can damn everyone else.

Sernotappearing,

Well, the series can't have a budget until it gets the go-ahead. Does this possible producer have some idea of the talk regarding the target budget for the series, then?

IIRC, Deadwood was done on something like $55-60 million. Tudors is done on something like $42 million. The former budget, IMO, would be more than sufficient for a tightly-run [i]Game of Thrones[/i] series. The $100 million spent on [i]Rome[/i] is absolutely unnecessary.

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Yeah she said the budget wasnt likely to be that big, which was another reason why she didnt seem confident. I didnt get any figures however, though she did say it would be less than what was spent on rome.

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Wasn't likely to be as big as Rome, or as Deadwood/Tudors? No surprise, and no worries, if it's not as big as Rome, IMO. If it's going to be less than Deadwood, a little worrying, but not too much. Less than Tudors, though, would start to seem rather problematic.

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After some of my own experiences with TV network and studio development executives, I am not even remotely surprised by any of the shit I hear come out of their mouths. I think part of it is that they have to read so much material, all the time, and they always have to have an opinion on all of it that even if it is something they don't really have a good handle on, they can't (for the sake of their jobs) just say nothing. Their job is to have opinions on the material they read and if they don't do that, they aren't being the proper kind of filter for the upper level executives who make the final decisions on these matters. Even if it's a project they don't really have an opinion on, they have to act like they do have one. After a while, having opinions on stuff, even if you don't really have one, becomes second nature - a very knee jerk reaction. You get into a room with people asking what you think of something and you just start talking out your ass.

Another thing that happens, executives get filled up with all sorts of "conventional wisdom" which can really cloud their judgment on things. Same thing sometimes happened to me coming at it from the management side of things, trying to assess what it was that these executives would perceive as the conventional wisdom of the moment, and my own judgment could get screwy. I usually was most on my game when I just went with my gut. I once predicted to a friend that "this right now would be a great time to do a World War II movie," and a week later it was announced that Spielberg was doing Saving Private Ryan. It was just something I suddenly felt in my gut after reading a fairly lame WWII script from someone wanting representation. I had a lot of moments like that over the years and it always seemed that when I went with my gut on these things, I was more right than when I tried to be too analytical about why something would or would not be successful.

I worked with a writer who sold a pitch about the boxer Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini to F/X about 10 years ago. The script he wrote was simply brilliant, the producer also loved it (it was the first time I ever saw a producer not have any notes or comments on a script before we sent it along to the network). Unfortunately, the network executives who bought the pitch were no longer in power at F/X by the time the script was written, so the new guys came back to us with a few really ill-thought out, nonsensical reasons why they didn't like the script (it almost sounded like they didn't bother to read it). Anyway, they decided that the script wasn't good enough (bullshit!) and they canned the project - and that was that. This was likely because the new regime at F/X decided to cut most of the projects shepherded by their predecessors, which is a very common thing. Sometimes the opinions people state about something are not even their real opinions in that business, often it's just political.

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The black and white comment almost made me vomit. Lord of the Rings made how much??? And those characters are black and white. But, more than likely this person only read the pilot to Game of Thrones. So I'm sure the first impressions of those characters seem black and white.

But she is right about it being a lot of information to cover, even in 12-16 episode seasons. It's going to gloss over a lot. AND cost and locations are going to be through the roof compared to Deadwood and Rome and supposedly HBO had trouble funding those shows.

As long as this person gets the necessary money or puts it forward - I don't care what she thinks.

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Even though the books are ginormous in scope, 12 episodes per season should be enough time to render a very faithful version of the story. There is a ton of descriptive dialogue and huge numbers of the cast of characters that can be omitted (or seen in the background and not named) to save expenses and whittle the tale down into 12 hours. In fact there should be more than enough time to get everything important in. LOTR only had about 3 hours per book. If the director gets bogged down in recounting every character mentioned in the book and becomes fond of dwelling on every flashback and dream sequence inthe book, then yeah, it could get too big. But there should be ample room to tell the full story focusing on the Starks, Lannisters, Greyjoys, Martells, Targaryeans, Baratheons, Arryns, Tyrells and the Watch. No need to get into the minutia of what drives Dacey Mormont and Osmund Kettleblack.
As to the budget, this may be the true reason the series doesn't get picked up. To do it justice HBO is gonna have to loosen up their pursestrings a bit. Fortunately there are no huge battle scenes until ACoK so HBO will have time to see how the series does through its first season on a smaller budget while allowing the creative-types the ability to tell the story without focusing on too many expensive SFX or wide screen crowd shots. I can only hope that they are able to blend in the sfx that do exist (especially the direwolves) to make them look realistic.
The black and white character comment is nonesense. Either your producer friend didn't take the time to read the books closely (or at all) or she simply doesn't get fantasy and shouldn't be involved with the project (my condolences to your inside eyes if the happens ;P). The main reason I became so engrossed in the series was the fact that all of the characters had moral strengths and weaknesses. From Brienne (as probably the most pure) all the was down to Gregor (most evil) no one is wholly black or white.
This franchise has a good core group of fans that can get the ball rolling for excitement. We're much more rabid for this series to see the light of day than say True Blood fans. Look at the success that relatively obscure set of books is having (its a great series and I'm currently reading all the books but it can't hold ASoIaF's jockstrap). Rome may have had a group of steady viewers that were into history. If this is an argument your friend is making you may want to tell her that ASoIAF is much more of an alternate historical novel than it is a fantasy piece. Its basically the War of the Roses with a sprinkling of the arcane for interest. Much as you could describe True Blood as a dramatic romance series with the occasional bite mark or telepathic insight, you can broaden ASoIaF's fanbase to history buffs if you market it correctly. GRRM has some kind of masters or doctorate in medieval studies so his sense of actual history is highly prevalent in the books.
The bottom line here is that anyone who has read the books and has watched other HBO series knows that there is simply no other brand/media marriage with the potential of a GoT/HBO pairing. It could truly be somehting special.

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The main problem is four story locations with characters in each one that rarely/never interact with the others. Only Catelyn and Tyrion do any travelling, every other character stays put.

The challenge will be tying those locations together into a common story. LoTR was simple and linear, even thought the books had tons of characters, that didn't matter since you could follow the journey of the fellowship pretty easily not knowing anyone's name or where they came from or why they were there.

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