Entertainment

Game of Thrones shines with Canadian talent

Canadians have critical roles to play behind the scenes of the highly rated HBO series Game of Thrones. CBC's Eli Glasner talks to two Canadians, director Jeremy Podeswa, and visual effects supervisor Wayne Brinton about those Canuck contributions.

Canadian director, visual effects supervisor make magic on smash hit series

CBC's Eli Glasner looks at how Canadian talent is contributing to the show's success 2:08

Season 5 of Game of Thrones is wrapping up Sunday night after 10 episodes that had fans cheering and screaming more than ever.

It was perhaps the most controversial season ever, with some fans even threatening to quit the series over especially violent deaths and a rape scene of a favourite character.

But the series isn't just the biggest show on HBO Canada. It's the biggest show on HBO ever.

And behind the dragons and the drama you'll find there are quite a few Canadians in critical roles. 

There's a certain Canadian who worked in front of the cameras. 

Remember the stunning white dire wolf "Ghost" that protected Jon Snow?   

His real name is "Quigly" and he happens to be an Arctic wolf from Calgary. 

His battle scenes were filmed in Calgary and inserted later.

And behind the scenes, Jeremy Podeswa is a Canadian director who quickly became TV's go-to-guy for challenging series, from Boardwalk Empire to The Walking Dead.

Podeswa shot two episodes of Game of Thrones this season and just left for Belfast to start work on Season 6.

Jeremy Podeswa talks about shooting two episodes for the HBO series 1:47
He says there are a number of Canadians working on the show, a few of them he brought onto the show himself.

"I think maybe there might be something about Canadians who are kind of easy to get along with, and being adaptable and being comfortable in various situations," he explained.

He says on such a show with complicated battle scenes and exotic locations, an easy-going nature is critical and something Canadians generally share.

Podewsa was also behind the camera and directed the most controversial moment of Season 5: the traumatic rape of the bride Sansa.

He admits reactions can cause some stress, but he's pleased the public is so invested.  

 "The great thing is people are super invested in the show," he says. "That's what I love about the dialogue that surrounds it. If people are enraged by something or if they love something, that's just really a testament to how strong the storytelling is and that people are really affected by it."

But it's not just Canadians behind the camera.   

Canadian visual effects artists are also working on the show to create those amazing other-worldly locations and monsters.

Montreal's Rodeo FX

When the Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen freed the slaves and the golden statue came tumbling down from the Great Pyramid, that was all original computer generated images from Montreal's Rodeo FX. 

Rodeo created epic battle scenes, built the slave city of Meereen and brought the Smoking Seas to life, all from scratch.

"It was a little bit different than the rest of the shots we worked on," says Wayne Brinton, visual effects supervisor at Rodeo. "Just because it was the first time we were actually introducing the audience to that world."

Brinton says building visual effects for key scenes in the series doesn't mean he and his crew know everything about how it ends.

"I've seen enough of the last episode that I kinda know what hits the fan," he says, "but I don't know how it happens. So I can't wait."

Click on the video above to see Jeremy Podeswa as he describes his work on visual effects.

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