By Cat Taylor
Photo Credit: Helen SloanAfter months of working long hours, in multiple countries and on different units, sometimes things blur together. The start of shooting feels like years ago, the end of last season even further back, but it’s all come rushing back because here we are, on the very last day of shooting, and the scene we are filming is from the very beginning of the first episode, directed by Dan Minahan. We have come completely full circle in 6 months.
We are filming by special permission at the power station in Krafla, high on the top of a mountain with steam plumes from a geothermal spa nearby twisting into the sky. Every so often a waft of the sulphurous waters blows by. It’s not really a welcome visit.
We have lost 7 minutes of light per day since arriving in Iceland. Winter is coming – and seems to be on a tight schedule – so every moment counts. It’s always hard to keep to time when you are also shooting a big stunt, something that has to be done right the first time, as there is no time to reset the scene (or in this case, the stunt). When that stunt also involves VFX, it’s even more important to get it right. Added to that, on the other side of base camp a small splinter unit with a single camera is filming some insert shots, so cast members are running between the two areas to make the best use of the day.
Finally, it’s time to film the big scene. Anything involving fire is always going to be one of the most dangerous things to shoot, and when it’s fire and a person everyone is on high alert. The stunt and safety teams are close at hand, and all non-essential crew are moved back to base. When the flame drops, there is only a short window of maybe 20 seconds to get the shot, and once the stunt man is lit, that’s all the time you have, whether you get it or not. Let me just say this: We got it.
It’s then a race against time as the sun begins to set over the mountains, and the very last shot of the season is a tough one. Our extras are knee deep in the heavy snow and must trudge through it repeatedly, with the light dwindling overhead. It’s an epically beautiful, haunting shot, and for me, it will be how I remember Iceland this year. Well, that and the Hakka-like chant of the Night's Watch extras when the final cut was called.