HBO has released an extensive Game of Thrones behind-the-scenes featurette that gives an in-depth look at how the big battle sequence from “Beyond the Wall” was created. Once we saw “Beyond the Wall,” it made perfect sense why director Alan Taylor—who helmed early episodes of the series before directing big budget films like Thor: The Dark World and Terminator Genisys—returned to helm this particular episode of Game of Thrones. The scope of this battle sequence is bigger than any one the show has done previously, and it involves an intense amount of visual effects.
In this video, Taylor, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and other explain how this battle sequence was conceived and executed. We see some tremendous footage from the location shooting in Iceland, where they captured those magnificent vistas, but we also learn that a great deal of the actual battle was shot in Ireland, where the crew created a massive concrete-based set that looks exactly like an ice lake. This set was necessary given the weather restrictions of Iceland—shooting for months in that kind of cold, with only a few hours of sunlight every day, would’ve been too cost prohibitive. So recreating that set in the much warmer and more controlled Ireland was a better bet, and audiences are none the wiser.
It’s also revealed in this featurette that the zombie bear is an idea that Benioff and Weiss have been trying to enact for years, only to have the VFX teams tell them it wasn’t possible given the budget restrictions. But “Beyond the Wall” provided the perfect opportunity to finally bring the zombie bear to life.
Check out the 13-minute featurette below, as well as the “Inside the Episode” featurette in which Benioff and Weiss unpack some other key plot points from the episode—including referring to Benjen as “Coldhands”, which book readers may find very curious…