When you hear director Miguel Sapochnick say he “pissed off” Game Of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, you might assume it’s because he forgot the lights while filming during “The Long Night.” But, no, by that point Sapochnick had already paid his dues. On a new episode of IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast, the director says his first few gigs on the show, season five’s “The Gift” and “Hardhome,” found him routinely butting up against the creators.
His crimes? Weaving in his own sense of cinematic flair. He cites a scene between Cersei and Tommen that he shot through bars to indicate the idea that Tommen is, in his own way, imprisoned by the kingdom. Later, he shot Maester Aemon’s death scene in a way that mirrored his deathbed with his funeral pyre. Benioff and Weiss, he says, were none too pleased.
“[Benioff and Weiss] said [it was] ‘so self-conscious and we hate it basically,’” Sapochnik says, saying that the pair preferred a much more classic style of direction. “I was visually policed for the first three months of my shoot and it made the creation of ‘Hardhome’ really difficult because I pissed them off.”
His talents eventually won them over, however, leading him to become a go-to director for the pair. That said, “The Long Night” was nevertheless a rough shoot, and the director details its arduous creation on the podcast, saying that there was a lingering fear that it would end up being “a remix of every battle we’d ever done.”
He also says he argued with Benioff and Weiss over the battle’s dearth of impactful deaths. “I wanted to kill everyone,” he says in news that really makes us wish he were running the show. “I wanted to kill Jorah in the horse charge at the beginning. I wanted it to be ruthless, so in the first 10 minutes you could say all bets are off, anyone could die. But David and Dan didn’t want to. There was a lot of back and forth on that.” Sapochnick says he eventually relented because “there comes a point when they dig in and you just don’t want to be there.”
Head over to IndieWire for the full interview, or stream it below.