INSIDE GAME OF THRONES: A Fan’s Experience as an Extra on the Set of Season Six

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Seventh season of the world-acclaimed series is on its way. So, to make the wait for The Long Night more bearable here’s a glimpse of what it’s like to be part of the show.

If you’re a hard-core fan of GOT, you’ve surely dreamt about participating on the series. That’s what Clara, a young Spanish fan, was able to accomplish during the filming of the past season in Las Bardenas Reales, Navarre. Some of the scenes on Khaleesi’s storyline were filmed near her hometown and she didn’t hesitate to audition as an extra.

“I heard about it via WhatsApp –everyone in town was talking about it.” Clara went with three other friends, but she was the only one who got a call-back. “Surely because they thought I could play the part of a nasty slave.” she laughs.

According to local sources, more than 3,500 people went to the audition, which took place the 4th of July in Tudela. There were neighbours from nearby cities, but also from further counties in Spain. “I spent about five hours queuing, after partying the whole night before with friends.”

Requisites for being selected were quite specific. They sought out tall and athletic men and women, with dark hair and skin; ‘Mediterranean’ people. Preferably without tattoos or dyed hair. “However, there were some folks who were so much alike wild dothrakis they just found a way to cover the ink.”

A staff member would do a preliminary selection, based on the physical appearance. “Once inside the facilities they took us some pictures and requested us to provide some personal info. They asked about our English level, if we had previous experience working on TV or films, etc.”, Clara recalls.

Confidentiality was a main concern during both auditions and filming. “We weren’t allowed to bring our phones on set; the police surrounded the place to prevent any storyline leaks; journalists couldn’t participate as extras; they covered the windows of the dressing room.” Clara confesses us that she secretly took a piece of her outfit. “I snatched a leather strap –just as a souvenir.” she says playfully.

“I had little hope, but I decided not to dye my hair –as I usually do every summer.” Call-backs were made in September. “I was already in Madrid, preparing to start 2nd year at uni.” They told her to be on set for the final wardrobe and make-up tests next morning. “I didn’t even know how would I get there, but I just said ‘yes’. After all, it’s a lifetime’s opportunity.”

Filming began a fortnight later and lasted for a week. “I worked just for two days –and that was only for 10 minutes footage on the show!” It took about four hours to get all the 250 extras prepared. “They made us wore some really itchy fabrics and the make-up artists manage to make us all look like filthy savages.” Then various buses –escorted by the police– would take them to the filming grounds. “The set was gigantic. Moving all the extras and the equipment was a real challenge.”

Most of the crew were Spanish and had already worked in the set of Seville. “They told us some funny stories about the cast. While in Seville, the main actors and the staff went out together one night. Maisie Williams was wearing a sporty look and the guy at the disco didn’t allow her to enter the disco.” Surely Arya, her character in the series, would have added this doorman to her particular murder list.

The only principal on set in Navarre was Emilia Clarke, who portrays Daenerys Targaryen. “They specifically told us not to bother her too much. But she was really nice to every crew member and extra. She even took a picture with all of us before wrapping up the filming.” Who wasn’t that comprehensive was one of the directors –there were three on set. “He asked to repeat the scenes a billion times; too perfectionist.”

It was not all a bed of roses, though: “We worked from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day –it was exhausting. And filming in a desert the temperature went from freezing cold to melting heat.” They even had to cut various scenes because of the wind. “Imagine a guy who plays a dothraki, all tall and pretty scary, complaining about having some dust in his eye. It’s a quite funny situation.”

Some of the extras had to stop filming because they felt dizzy or dehydrated. Everyone was provided with blankets, parasols and food and drinks throughout the day. “You might imagine that having to pull off such a big show they would care less about the extras. But it couldn’t be further from the truth!”

“Overall it was an awesome experience. I was able to do something that is any fan’s dream and got paid for it!” For each workday they received 50 euros – not much, but she “would have done it for free”.

Moreover, unlike most extras Clara caught a glimpse of herself in one of the scenes which finally made it for episode one. “I was so thrilled when I spotted myself. It was the cherry on top.”

 

Irene Reta

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