What goes into making fake snow for an expensive network TV show? How do you block out a large action sequence on a studio backlot in Belfast, Ireland? Do you ever give more than half a thought to the daily routine of an onscreen extra? How fast can a direwolf run?
All of these questions and more are answered in Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, a special two-hour documentary (directed by Jeanie Finlay, it aired earlier this evening) that chronicles the making of the HBO series' eighth and final season, highlighting not only the major stars, but the unsung heroes as well, from location managers to wig stylists to the assistants of episode directors.
While some fans may have found the season rushed and disappointing—going so far as to demand that it be remade—The Last Watch will (hopefully) give them a better understanding and appreciation of just how much work goes into a show of this size and scale. After watching it, they may realize how easy it is to overlook something as trivial as a coffee cup or a water bottle.
There were, in reality, a staggering amount of moving parts in the creation of Game of Thrones. Take, for instance, Del Reid, whose actual title was "Head of Snow." His sole responsibility on the show was to make sure that the sets and locations were coated in just the right amounts of white powder, which was made by a mixture of water and paper. Such a duty may sound easy, but don't be fooled. When it comes to dressing a set with fake snow, you need to have an eye for detail and take the range of the camera into account or else A) the illusion is broken and B) you're just creating more work for yourself, because more snow will end up being needed for a larger shot.
The documentary focuses on some of the biggest moments related to Season 8, particularly the initial table read (Maisie Williams got a great cheer from the cast when it was said that Arya kills the Night King); the making of the Battle of Winterfell in Episode 3, "The Long Night" (the longest consecutive battle sequence ever committed to film); and the final scenes for certain major cast members, like Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) and Kit Harington (Jon Snow).
There's also some really great emphasis on Vladimír Furdík, who not only worked as a stuntman and choreographer on the series, but also played the Night King. Despite the fact that his backstory and motivations were left in a state of ambiguity, Furdik has a few thoughts on what the horned villain is all about.
"The mask completely changes you," he says in The Last Watch. "You're stepping into the makeup trailer joking and happy, and step by step you're becoming the dark side ... I think he's angry. He doesn't want to be Night King. The Children of the Forest, they changed him and now he's [like], 'Okay, you want me to be the Night King? Okay, now I kill you.'"
Even some old faces dropped by the set from time to time. When production moved to Seville, Spain, for Episode 6's council meeting that crowned Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) as king of Westeros, both Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H'ghar) and Faye Marsay (The Waif) showed up to surprise the cast. These two characters helped Arya become a faceless assassin during her tenure at the House of Black and White in Braavos.
You can now stream Game of Thrones: The Last Watch on HBO Go.