The Battle of the Bastards and The Winds of Winter (episodes 9 & 10) director Miguel Sapochnik recently spoke with EW and gave us more insights into the epic battle we saw in last episode of Game of Thrones season 6 and also teased the upcoming finale. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
The historical inspirations for the battle:
“Initially we based BOB (Battle of Bastards) on the battle of Agincourt which took place between the French and English in 1415. But as needs changed, as did budgets, it became more like the battle of Cannae between the Romans and Hannibal in 216 BC. The strategy and tactical aspect was a key thing for David and Dan. They wanted to specifically focus on that so that we could really see the way Ramsay ensnares and outguns Jon in the almost exactly the way the same way Davos had planned to defeat the Bolton army. I also did a bunch of research into Alexander the Great who was legendary in his strategic battle prowess.”
On difficulty of working with 70 horses:
“Everything takes about 50 percent longer. Also they (horses) need relatively solid ground to run on, and when it rains the field would turn to into a bog and we’d have to lay down tons of gravel to sure up their footing. Horses also get bored and spooked and some perform better than others. They also need an entire separate field to rest in. Oh, and they sh*t and piss all the time. In fact, one of the hardest scenes to shoot was the parlay between the different factions prior to the actual battle. Getting a bunch of horses to just stand there all day and do nothing is much harder than getting them to run around. They would fart and pee a lot, often in the middle of [star Kit Harington’s] lines.”
The biggest challenge they encountered while filming the battle:
“The sheer logistics of staging a battle scene this size was like a battle in and of itself, minus the life/death thing. For example: The number of days to shoot it, where we shoot it. What happens if it rains? How do you feed 600 people every day? Don’t get me wrong, I personally don’t have to decide that stuff. But the creative decisions I make are heavily influenced by simple practical concerns. Like every time we charge the horses it takes 25 minutes to reset all the fake snow on the field and rub out the horseshoe prints. So how many times can we afford to charge the horses each day knowing we need to give time for a reset that’s 10 times longer than the actual shot? Another thing was how to make 500 extras look like 8,000 when you are shooting in a field where there’s just nowhere to hide your shortfall. It becomes a bit like a bonkers math equation. And finally: How do you get these guys riled up enough to run at each other and get covered in mud and stand in the rain and then run at each other again and again for 25 days, 10 hours a day, without them just telling you to piss off?”
What excites him about the upcoming finale?
“That it feels equally as epic as episode 9 … but for completely different reasons.”