Game of Thrones Season 4 challenged cinematographer Rob McLachlan
Vancouver cinematographer shares details about what fans can look forward to this Sunday night
After a shocking end to last season, Game of Thrones fans are abuzz with excitement as they ready themselves for Season 4 in the epic fantasy series.
Vancouver cinematographer Rob McLachlan works on the show and shares a few details about what fans can look forward to.
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This is a condensed and edited version of McLachlan's interview with CBC Radio's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.
What was it like working on Season 4?
Well it was actually my second season. The season that just aired this time last year, I had the privilege of working on the "Red Wedding" episode. My primary goal on that was not to give anything away visually, so the viewers would go down that much more.
These episodes look like feature length films. How much attention is given to cinematography?
A lot, but you've got to remember that we're also taking pictures of very beautiful things. It doesn't matter how good a cinematographer you are, if you are given a crummy looking set or an uninspiring location to work in, you're always going to be working to polish something up that doesn't polish up anymore. And that's the inspiring thing about Game of Thrones.
When I first got there, the director and I walked over to look at the sets, it took my breath away. This show has a big investment in infrastructure with absolutely stunning sets. There is a huge amount of attention and care by the producers, who have impeccable taste. And as a cinematographer your heart leaps because you can really do something special.
What impact does that have on the storytelling ?
It impacts all the technicians, but also the actors. They get there, they're garbed in these incredible costumes, and you've got all these elements in place. It makes all of us want to bring up our game.
The other thing, and I've worked on dozens and dozens of TV shows, but usually you get the script, if you're lucky a week before you start shooting. But it looks like I'm going back to work on Season 5 in August, and we were just handed the outline for the whole season.
So months in advance I'm already chewing on stuff and I've got an idea of the locations, so all that stuff impacts the quality of the finished product.
You along with director Michelle McLaren have been called something like the demonic Canadian duo - how do you feel about that title?
Actually, what happened was after a particularly debauched scene, it prompted Dave Benioff, the show's creator to call us his "demented Canadian duo". From him, on that show, that was a big compliment.
So Michelle and I both looked at the season and thought we've really got to take it to the limit.
Let's talk about the "Red Wedding" episode. You directed the photography for it, how much debate went into how graphic it was?
Here's the thing, There was more graphic violence in other episodes and on other episodes of TV. But here's the big difference, with that episode, everybody loved those two characters so much. So that made it ten times worse because it was people who the viewers, myself included, cared about.
The other thing was that no one saw it coming. If it's a battle scene, or a trial, you know there's going to be blood, but with this, I tried to light it and shoot in a way that made everybody think they were going to get the happy ending they were so badly hoping for.
Game of Thrones at the best of times, at the best of time is very dark and moody and there's often a lot of darkness and shadow, but I really wanted to make that wedding feel really up, almost Disney-esque, so that when we pulled the rug out from under the audience, they would fall that much harder.
We did a lot of travelling for the show, at one point I think I was on about two dozen flights over the course of the season. I was going through passport control in Holland, and the young border guy was being quite officious.
He questioned why I'd had all this back and forth travel, and he asked me what I did. I said I worked on a television show, and he asked which one, so I said "Game of Thrones". And he completely dropped his officious demeanour, said "Game of Thrones! That Red Wedding episode, I couldn't sleep for a week afterwards" and then he wanted to question me for ten minutes while a big long line up of people gathered behind me.
What can you tell us about Season 4 and 5?
Well the season that's about to air is bigger than season 3 in scope and scale. There are some amazing story points, and season 5, from what I can tell is going to be even bigger still.
The show just gets bigger and bigger as the audience gets more universal. So the best thing about it is that while the scope and the scale goes up and up, the writing at its core is still spectacularly good and you can't help but get invested in all these amazing countries. It's going to be big and you're going to love it.