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Werthead

Iceland and Morocco

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Given GoT's modest budget (compared to Rome and the like, anyway), it is impressive that they're considering expanding filming to other countries for S2. I assume the production will continue to use Malta, as so many locations established there will be needed for S2 (King's Landing, the gates, the walls, Chataya's etc), and obviously the studios and sets remain in Northern Ireland.

Iceland makes a certain amount of sense for the filming of scenes on Dragonstone. Iceland has a plethora of volcanoes and Dragonstone needs a volcanic backdrop (as a bonus, if Katla explodes, as it has a tendency to after its neighbour Eyjafjallajokull erupts, they can film some Doom of Valyria flashbacks). In addition a lot of CoK happens on waterfronts: Harrenhal, Dragonstone, Storm's End, Qarth and all the action on the shores of Gods Eye. All of that can be filmed in Iceland, Ireland, Malta or Morocco with no real problems.

In addition we have the Red Waste. Deserts in Morocco or wastelands in Iceland can be adapted to that purpose without too much of a problem as well. Plus, whilst scenes in the Haunted Forest and Craster's can be done in Northern Ireland, scenes in the Skirling Pass, possibly the Fist of the First Men as well, could be done in more glacial and rugged areas of Iceland.

An interesting idea, if true.

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I was told that Iceland was specifically being looked at for the lands beyond the Wall. Can't rule out that they'd use it for other things besides, but it seems to me Ireland is going to be a superior location for a lot of other things you mention.

I assume if they go to Morocco, it'd be for the red waste and Qarth, but I didn't get specifics on that.

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A lot of the action beyond the Wall in the books happens in the Haunted Forest, which they've filmed already for in Northern Ireland. Iceland only has a few small forests and wouldn't be too suitable for that sort of thing, unless, of course, they are changing things from the book. That's why I assumed it was more to do with Dragonstone and the Frostfangs.

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I'm just reporting what I was told. My own hope is they mean using it for the Frostfangs and Skirling Pass as you say... but it could well be they've decided to change how the lands beyond the Wall look as compared to the book, for whatever reason. See my Twitter timeline, I was discussing the idea there with WiC and others last night.

I don't think Dragonstone makes any sense, OTOH. Relatively easy enough to render a couple of set up shots with the volcano, or find some appropriate mountain near the water and digitally alter it to look like a steaming volcano, I guess. Much of the action takes place inside the citadel anyways, so views of the volcano ought to be rather limited. They may not even bother with it, really...

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I imagine if they do decide to look at Iceland they will use it for more than just the Land Beyond the Wall. Like how Malta was also used for KL, when (IIRC) we initially assumed it was just to be used for Dany's story? Theon's journey could work in Iceland also. They could do it in Ireland but if they take the trouble of going to Iceland, they may as well take further advantage of it.

It would be very interesting if they go to both Morocco and Iceland. That would be a serious amount of travel. Morocco sounds more useful, given a need for the Red Waste (Ireland definitely doesn't have that while you could probably get away with using Ireland for the LbtW). But as Wert said, maybe they could convert Icelandic waste into a desert type waste. That would certainly be creative. :)

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I was told that Iceland was specifically being looked at for the lands beyond the Wall. Can't rule out that they'd use it for other things besides, but it seems to me Ireland is going to be a superior location for a lot of other things you mention.

I assume if they go to Morocco, it'd be for the red waste and Qarth, but I didn't get specifics on that.

Also makes a lot of sense for Iceland to get some of the GoT pie. Considering their economic problems for the past 2 years, the Icelandic government (like Northern Ireland) will probably give plenty of incentives to film there...

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I could see them using Iceland for the lands beyond the wall. To be fair though, you wouldn't need a huge crew to film in Iceland either, so I don't imagine it would be too expensive.

If they don't use the beautiful coastline of NI to be the Iron Islands it would be a travesty.

Also surely they still have some of their sets built in Morocco? Perhaps they could use those sets as Qarth? Again reducing the cost by reusing older material?

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Also surely they still have some of their sets built in Morocco? Perhaps they could use those sets as Qarth? Again reducing the cost by reusing older material?

I'm not sure did they build any sets in Morocco? They just took advantage of the sets for previous films.

The interesting thing about the latest "Paint Hall expansion" note is that they don't seem to have confirmed N Ireland for S2. Maybe they were looking at Iceland/Morocco as alternatives for N Ireland? Since I imagine they will return to N Ireland (the level of investment there seems to suggest it), that could mean that Morocco &/or Iceland are not going to make it.

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The interesting thing about the latest "Paint Hall expansion" note is that they don't seem to have confirmed N Ireland for S2. Maybe they were looking at Iceland/Morocco as alternatives for N Ireland? Since I imagine they will return to N Ireland (the level of investment there seems to suggest it), that could mean that Morocco &/or Iceland are not going to make it.

I imagine a lot of the sets built at the Paint Hall will be used for the duration of the project. However new sets would need to be built for Riverrun - such as Hoster's bedchamber, Dragonstone - Painted Table, Various new King's Landing sets, Iron Islands. I don't think there is any way they could use a studio location other than the Paint Hall.

Were they not getting free use of the facility?

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At the Moot back in October the main question that the TV reporters wanted an answer to was whether the production would be staying in Northern Ireland or not. George has said that he hopes production will remain in Belfast for the next 10 years but there is some concern that HBO want to move elsewhere so until they explicitly state that they are definitely staying put those concerns will remain.

But I can't see them moving elsewhere. Belfast City Council are very much aware of how important a big production like this is to the local economy and have been making every effort to make the production welcome. I don't believe they are getting free use of the Paint Hall but they are getting a big discount on the hire of it and reductions on other costs of filming, like taxes.

Of course the Paint Hall is not the only location they are using in Northern Ireland, Magheramorne Quarry where the Castle Black set is and the Winterfell Courtyard set (or part of it anyway) at Castle Ward are also considerable investments and if they moved their entire production to another country then those would be impossible to duplicate exactly elsewhere. I really hate it when a location you are familiar with from one series completely changes the next time you see it and you can tell it is a different set altogether with no explanation. With the reputation for attention to detail the fans of the series have I think HBO know they need to avoid inconsistencies as much as possible.

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Upping sticks from Belfast would seem to be impractical for quite a few reasons, but there is another issue: the rising tide of violence and problems in Belfast and Northern Ireland. 2010 was the worst year for this sort of problem since the Good Friday Agreement. I know that the NI government have no doubt been urgently impressing on HBO that the situation is under control, there's no reason for dissidents to target an American production, etc, but if the violence continues to escalate (let alone return to 1980s/1990s levels), I wouldn't blame HBO for considering moving somewhere more stable. I imagine that the Dragon International Film Studios ('Valleywood') outside Cardiff in Wales (if HBO can deal with questions over its existence or not) would be a top candidate, since most of the cast is British or Irish-based so moving too far from the UK would be impractical. They'd also likely get a much better deal than Shepperton or the other more expensive studios closer to London, with Wales looking to also bolster film investment.

However, for the time being I imagine that HBO are looking at staying in Northern Ireland. For example, we heard that HBO were tentatively looking at a multi-year hiring of the Paint Hall last year, which would suggest at the very least that their preference is to stay put.

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I know that the NI government have no doubt been urgently impressing on HBO that the situation is under control, there's no reason for dissidents to target an American production, etc, but if the violence continues to escalate (let alone return to 1980s/1990s levels), I wouldn't blame HBO for considering moving somewhere more stable.

That's not fair. N Ireland isn't in anyway like it was in the 1980s. I'd be shocked if that was much of a concern.

Might as well say London was unsafe after the recent violence there.

Anyhow, given the Northern Irish government is looking at investing in the Paint Hall, i'm sure they are confident of getting back the HBO production. But at the same time, HBO have to evaluate their options like any business would. So i'm wondering were the talks regarding Iceland and Morocco no more than HBO looking at their other options if Malta and N Ireland fall through. I'm thinking now that we may still end up with 2 country locations for any S2. Maybe a third. But 4 countries seems extravagant.

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