|The ‘Tower of Joy — A Game of Thrones Fan Film’ team just posted:
I know it’s been some time since our last update—between the holidays and our relentless preparations for the weekend of our exteriors shoot, all we could have said was “stay tuned, we’re doing tons of boring work!”
Well, all that boring work paid off. Our on-location exteriors shoot (aka the Northmen/Kingsguard confrontation beneath the ramparts of the Tower of Joy) took place this past weekend, January 23rd and 24th. It was, without a doubt, a RESOUNDING SUCCESS!
At sunrise on Saturday morning, our cast of 10 and crew of 10 made its way to Rancho Indalo, Anthony De Longis’ gorgeous mountaintop property perched above Canyon Country, California. The air was crisp and cool. Clouds flowed low between mountains and mesas to the southwest, threatening rain all day. Wasting no time, everyone set to work. The director and cinematographer went over the shot list as the sound designer tested his microphones and grips and assistant camera unpacked the camera, lenses, stands, sand bags and natural lighting bounces and flags. Everyone would get a workout carrying equipment up and down the steep hillside.
The man of the house, his wife and their wrangler assistant brushed down and tacked up 4 beautiful horses in the pipe corral mere yards uphill from the 3 plateaus where our epic sword fights would be filmed. The production designer/armorer set himself to the mighty task of laying out a brimming truckload of armor and medieval garb, and one by one the actors transformed into Westerosi warriors. I started by laying out a car-top-carrier full of food on a folding table on the house’s back deck (hungry troops mutiny). Then I rolled out a blanket on the deck boards and placed 11 weapons on it (2 arming swords, 2 greatswords, 1 bastard sword, 1 poleaxe, 2 hand axes, 1 heavy mace, 1 short spear and 1 long spear). Some grunting, lugging and drilling later and I’d attached handles and leather straps to 3 of 6 heavy white round shields. I’d painted a big black bat in the middle of each shield—Ser Whent was supposed to have a bat-winged helm, but time and budgetary constraints had cut short our customization potential (to say the least) and I figured the fans would forgive me a shift of bat-detail, just so long as it was clear which white knight was which.
Given that 7 of the 10 male Tower of Joy actors are professional horsemen, the first shots of the day in which the Northmen ride across the mesas towards the distant Tower went off beautifully.
While the horsemen played, the rest of us suited up for the dialogue scene. It’s probably better that I keep most of the details of each scene of the weekend to a minimum (gotta leave something to your imaginations while we finish making this puppy), but here’s the important information: IT WAS AWESOME!!!
The actors looked absolutely right for their roles, Jack Yang’s armor and costumes were gorgeous and functional, Dave Baker’s custom-made weapons held up famously to the beating we gave them all, our intrepid dialect coach Chris Lang had rehearsed extensively with each actor over the holidays and was on-set to lend his ears during each take, making sure that each actor was speaking with the correct accent, and both days were filled with nonstop fun, awe, professionalism and absolute heart from each and every person working on the set. AND THE FIGHTS! My and Anthony’s fight choreography, previously rehearsed, in the hands of our amazing actor/fighters, on the terrain of the mountainside, with such vistas in the background and the multi-million-dollar-quality of our recording equipment…
I had extremely lofty aspirations for this film, and everyone who is working on it with me understands this. This is not an exaggeration: ALL of my aspirations and expectations were significantly surpassed this weekend. It’s operatic. It is the most important and worthy artistic undertaking in which I have ever been involved. It has changed my life for the better and will keep changing my life for the better.
And all of you are responsible for making it happen.
Your love of the source material and faith in our mission is what separates us from so many dreamers in Los Angeles, dreamers who keep dreaming without creating anything. WE are creating something that is the stuff of each of our passions, and you, our family, friends, fans and supporters have just as much to do with the success of Tower of Joy as I and my entire filmmaking team do, and from all of us, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU ALL.
THANK YOU for supporting our vision.
In 2 weeks, we shoot the interior scene at One Star’s Night Productions’ sound stage in North Hollywood, in which Ned is reunited with his sister Lyanna, the beautiful/tragic conclusion to our tiny dangling thread of the Song of Ice and Fire tapestry. It will be a much more intimate, low-pressure environment compared with the ticking clock of sunrise-to-sunset that we faced for our exteriors shoot weekend. Arthur Dayne’s been killed off by this point (spoiler alert) so I will probably just marvel at the other actors’ moments together and cry tears of joy that we made it this far.
Stay tuned and stay excited folks. Tower of Joy will be released in April.
-Paul Suda, producer/fight designer/Sword of the Morning