Behind the Scenes of the Dragon Battle in ‘Game of Thrones’

How did 'Game of Thrones' pull off the explosive effects?

August 8, 2017 11:13 am

The most recent episode of HBO’s explosive show Game of Thrones included Daenerys taking a stand in a big way: attacking Jaime Lannister’s forces on dragonback. It was a duel attack: Drogon torched her enemies as the Dothraki slaughtered every man in sight on the ground.

While it went by in a matter of heart-racing minutes for the viewers, the actual shooting of the sequence took a lot longer. In a nearly 14-minute video released on the Game of Thrones YouTube channel, the show’s creators discuss the technical side of the scene, like they were able to light 20 men on fire for one shot or capture Dany’s ride.

The sequence is one of the show’s most impressive to date. It set a new record for most people set on fire, according to The Verge. The stuntmen who are on fire, the real heroes of this sequence, have to hold their breath the whole time the flames are raging and keep calm, so their heart rate stays down.

Matt Shakman directed “The Spoils of War” episode and spoke with Variety about the season’s biggest battle scene thus far. He said it took “18 main-unit days, roughly around five second-unit days, and then several weeks of the effects-unit shooting back in Belfast, which is where we did Daenerys flying on her dragon and shots of flamethrowers and people turning to ash and all that stuff that got added into it.”

Throughout the scene, you get to see several points of view: Tyrion, Daenerys, Jaime, Bronn. This is the first big battle between characters that viewers love and are rooting for. Shakman said that he wanted this collision of people so that the viewers would fear for them all at the same time, seeing that any of them can die at any minute.

“I think the goal always was to keep the possibility of death imminent,” he said to Variety. He also said that they looked a lot at Pompei as a reference, which led to the idea of people turning to ash in an instant.

Shakman also wanted to play with the way people viewed dragons. Drogon is the size of a 747 at this point, and the cone of flame he sends is 30-feet wide, which makes the VFX aspect of this scene enormous.


The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.