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15th Aug 2017

GOT assistant director talks about the scene which almost turned Jon Snow into “a human kite”

The elements attempted to push Jon over the edge... literally!

Rory Cashin

In case you didn’t already know, we here at JOE are big GOT fans.

While the fifth episode of the seventh season – titled “Eastwatch” – felt like a bit of a breather between last week’s Dracaras-heavy action and next week’s Night King terror, there was still an awful lot in the episode to get your teeth into.

Between Gilly’s bombshell revelation, to the significance of Arya’s note-finding skills, to the 15 other things you may have missed, Eastwatch kept the narrative action going even while the actual action took the day off.

In amongst those things to keep the peepers on was the first meeting between Jon Snow and Dany’s dragon, something which was pulled off with aplomb on screen, but behind-the-scenes was much more difficult than you might have guessed.

Head of the assistant director’s department for the show, Charlie Endean, talked to The Verge about everything that needed to go just right for the scene to work, as well as the natural elements that were attempting to send Jon over the edge… literally!

“Whenever a dragon appears, it’s expensive. And it’s a tricky one, too,” Endean said. “The fans love them, but honestly, they’re very hard to work with. An actor is trying to act quite often with something that isn’t there, so they’re being challenged to emote while looking at a green screen, or a piece of green cloth.

“The sequence where Jon meets Drogon, we were filming on a cliff-edge in Northern Ireland, with very high winds, and Kit [Harington] had this safety rope attached to him, and a harness, because it was so windy. He had this heavy cape on, and had the wind picked up any more, he would have just turned into a human kite.”

“So you have him standing on a cliff-edge with a flapping cape, and a guy dressed in wet-weather gear, because it’s freezing, holding up a green ball on the end of a green stick. And that’s the dragon. It’s quite crude, actually. And then obviously everything is added in post.

“It looks preposterous, but you have to treat it seriously and create an atmosphere on set as if you’re at the theatre, while there’s all this anarchy going on. That’s an important aspect of what the assistant director is. What I have to do on set is make sure the machine moves fast, but the moment the camera rolls, you go into that quiet mode. Otherwise, nothing gets done.”