The Game of Thrones Rush

I have been in the production aspect for more than three years (as of this day). I dare say it has taught me a lot more than my previous 21 years in the industry combined. However, similar rules apply, but on a grander scale, most of which tend to evade common reasoning.

With one of the most spectacular TV series reaching its conclusion, there is a huge behind the scenes movement to find the next equivalent. “Find me the next Game of Thrones”, Jeff Bezos of Amazon said to his people. On the other hand, Disney hired David Beniof and D.B. Weiss, the builders of the GoT TV series to create a Star Wars equivalent; a move that the fans are wary of.

Following – and working in – the audiovisual industry for a respectable amount of time, I find a bit of irony in this entire endeavor. In a business meeting I had back in Toronto, when I pitched my company’s flagship franchise, the response I received from a brilliant executive was: “I heard everything I wanted to hear, except the words dragons and b**bs”! A phrase that gave me a very good understanding of what the market has been looking for. Too bad I was negotiating for the first feature film, Eternae (for “War of Eternities”), which is borderline PG-13. Too bad we did not have the Archon prequel prepared at that time (an intense story-packed novel – currently in the editing phase).

Point being, Game of Thrones is coming to an end and this replacement campaign feels a bit late. The best way I can illustrate it is the “California Gold Rush”, where everyone would frantically run to the rich areas in search of the precious metal. There is nothing wrong with looking for a project that will fill in the gap that Game of Thrones will leave behind, but let us face it; this story was written by George R.R. Martin over the course of several years. Right now, everyone is looking for its equivalent within a few months. I admit I do share the concern of the Star Wars fans, especially for something that has to be built in such a short time. However, I would be intrigued to seeing a Yoda being another Lord Tyrion. Could you imagine a drunk “Jedi” as a permanent brother customer? OK, let me not give out strange ideas.

In the recent years there have been similar attempts in recreating the GoT feeling. One of them being “The 100”, a good effort that touches the science fiction aspect in a post-apocalyptic Earth. A second that crossed my screen is the Chronicles of Shanara, though it takes a more Lord of the Rings approach. No need to become a critic of the shows here, since everything is a matter of personal taste.

Targaryen_bannerBack to our topic, Game of Thrones had a pre-developed story-line with intertwined events, long arcs and a very detailed lore. The last part is where many other attempts fail at, since it requires an immense amount of work that may never be seen on camera, or even mentioned in the dialogues. This is a fundamentally different aspect from the production mindset. In post and CGI, we only focus on what the lens sees, what our field of view brings forth to the screen. Everything beyond it is immaterial and should never be taken into account. With good stories however, this is not the case at all. Without the depth of the lore, the background, the history, the building of cultures that justify who does what and for what reason; everything is described pretty much with one word: “superficial”. The audiences pick up on it very easily. They can’t always pinpoint what feels off, but they do realize that what they’re seeing feels a bit fake. This is why Game of Thrones felt real. It paid attention to that depth, that history, that lore.

This is why when financiers and executives are hunting for the “new Game of Thrones”, there is little to no way they can get a world so detailed in such a short time. Perhaps they should think outside the box and look for projects that have a similar/equivalent amount of time dedicated in the development of a universe’s depth. Because that is – in the end – what people want. The ability to leave the everyday routine and allow themselves to “travel” to another realm. No?

The above video is from Luke Mclelland Smith on Vimeo. It should give you a small idea (which you are already aware) on the lore depth behind Game of Thrones. Now, can a project like this be built in a matter of a few months?


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