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Werthead

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  1. Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. Adam has been writing about film and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for over fifteen years, and was a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2020. Be sure to check out his websites, The Wertzone and Atlas of Ice and Fire (including The Wheel of Time Atlas!) as well as his Patreon. Today marks a full year since production of The Wheel of Time began in the Czech Republic and Slovenia. Had things proceeded according to plan, shooting would have wrapped in May and the production would have been deep in post-production, ready for an early 2021 debut. Unfortunately, fate had other ideas and instead we’ve had to endure a pandemic which has had far-reaching consequences around the globe. The Wheel of Time had to go on shooting hiatus in March with six of the eight episodes in the can and for a while it looked like completing the season would have to be held off indefinitely. Fortunately, shooting on the final two episodes was able to resume last week and the hope is that the series will be able to debut in 2021, hopefully not too far behind the original airing schedule. For this anniversary post, I thought it would be fun to do a brief catch-up of the news covering production as it unfolded. Back in April 2019, we had firm news that casting was underway. Two months later we had confirmation of our first castmember: Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, The World’s End) as Moiraine Damodred. Pike also signed on as a producer, part of a long-term interesting in working behind the scenes in film as well; she also recently signed on as a producer on Netflix’s Three-Body Problem, working alongside former Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The floodgates opened in August 2019 when the main Two Rivers cast was announced: Madeleine Madden as Egwene al’Vere, Marcus Rutherford as Perrin Aybara, Barney Harris as Mat Cauthon, Zoë Robbins as Nynaeve al’Meara and Josha Stradowski as Rand al’Thor. We also got Brandon Sanderson to weigh in on the casting choices, and he had some wise words on audience expectations of a faithful adaptation versus the practicalities of delivering that with the practical and financial limitations of television production. We then got news of Daniel Henney being cast as al’Lan Mandragoran, and an early preview of the cast in action due to a video of the first table read for the series. More casting news followed: Tam al’Thor; Logain, Loial, Thom Merrilin and Padan Fain; Alanna Mosvani, Maksim and Ihvon; Liandrin, Aram, Leane and Ila; Abell Cauthon, Natti Cauthon, Marin al’Vere, Bran al’Vere, Daise Congar and Cenn Buie; Eamon Valda and Geofram Bornhald; Master and Mistress Grinwell and Dana; Basel Gill; Raen; and Min Farshaw and Siuan Sanche. Meanwhile, in other posts we discussed things to expect from the show, characters who might have expanded roles, the writers working on Season 2 scripts, the directors, the budget, the locations, and that pesky question of how many books will be adapted in the first season. We also had to address fan concerns over characters being cut, initially fears that Thom Merrilin was going to be axed (he wasn’t) and that Min wouldn’t make it into the first season (she has, although the jury is still out on Elaida, Elayne and the rest of the Trakands). We even had a chat about the show at the virtual JodanCon back in April, which was gatecrashed by showrunner Rafe Judkins who kindly answered some of our questions about the project (and got some nice exclusives, like Seasons 1 and 2 being eight episodes long apiece). It’s been a wild ride and it’s not quite over yet. Shooting on the final two episodes of the season is expected to continue well into October, if not November as well, and there’s still some castmembers we expect to see in the first season who should be announced (including Lord Agelmar, hopefully, and maybe a couple of those pesky Forsaken). As usual, Dragonmount will continue bringing you news on the series as it comes in.
  2. As I said, I think we are not going to be seeing a "faithful adaptation" in the sense of a linear blow-by-blow adaptation of the books. There simply isn't enough time and enough episodes. So I think we will see a more general adaptation of the main storyline from the books, but many, many subplots and minor characters are going to be cut, and they'll be blending together elements from across the entire series, combining characters (not the really big hitters, but certainly tertiary and less important ones) and leaving out elements that are not strongly tied into the main story or the main characters. Maybe if, say, AMC had been adapting the project as 16-episode seasons and they could have adapted two books per season, 8 episodes per book, that would be a different situation, but then they'd have the problem of not having anywhere near enough money to do the show justice.
  3. This does not account for the Tinkers not appearing until Episode 5, or reportedly being in three episodes in total, or Padan Fain only being in the first episode and not appearing again until the second season.
  4. Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. Adam has been writing about film and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for over fifteen years, and was a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2020. Be sure to check out his websites, The Wertzone and Atlas of Ice and Fire (including The Wheel of Time Atlas!) as well as his Patreon. As production resumes on Season 1 of The Wheel of Time, a familiar question has reared its head again: how much material from the books will the first season cover? This is a key question because The Wheel of Time is, by some measures, the longest work of epic fantasy ever published. The series itself spans fourteen large volumes, a prequel and two companion works. The series is almost 12,000 pages long in paperback, containing more than 4.4 million words (approximately ten times the length of The Lord of the Rings) and taking twenty-three years to publish. Adapting it to a television series which might be lucky to last seven or eight seasons is going to require very extensive changes, far moreso than even the changes required to adapt George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire into its TV equivalent, Game of Thrones; although I suspect Rafe Judkins and his team will at least be very happy that they have a complete story to work from. This question became more challenging once it became clear that Season 1 of The Wheel of Time will only consist of eight episodes, which will almost certainly be the standard one-hour length of most Amazon television series. For contrast, Game of Thrones had ten episodes to adapt the first novel in that series, a novel which is only marginally shorter than The Wheel of Time’s first volume, The Eye of the World. It could be argued that The Eye of the World has a somewhat more relaxed pace and certainly a much smaller cast than A Game of Thrones, with a more linear story which keeps the characters together in the same location for much of its length, so there is scope to depict it more quickly, but even so there are limits on what I think will be possible in terms of compression. We also know the names of the first six of the eight episodes in the season: Leavetaking, Shadow’s Waiting, A Place of Safety, The Dragon Reborn, Blood Calls Blood and The Flame of Tar Valon. On the basis of the titles alone (and the perceived overall need to fit in two books per season), some have suggested that the show will try to fit The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt into the first season. On this basis, Leavetaking will span most or all of the events of Winternight, our heroes meeting Moiraine, the Trolloc attack and the subsequent flight from the Two Rivers; Shadow’s Waiting will focus on the side-trip to the ruined city of Shadar Logoth; A Place of Safety could refer to Caemlyn and Egwene and Perrin’s adventures with the Tinkers; The Dragon Reborn would feature the events in Fal Dara and the Blight; Blood Calls Blood would feature the events in Fal Dara leading to the theft of the Horn of Valere and The Flame of Tar Valon would introduce the Amyrlin Seat. These all seem like fairly logical extrapolations. In addition, we know several characters have been cast who do not appear until Book 2, most notably Siuan, Leane, Alanna and her Warders, and Liandrin. However, there are several problems with this interpretation. The first is the casting has been announced roughly in keeping with the table reads for the series. Maria Doyle Kennedy and her fellow actors playing Tinkers were not unveiled until the Episode 5/6 table read, suggesting that the Tinkers will not appear until these episodes. The second is that much of the casting for the show was leaked before it was officially announced, and we have had no indications at all of casting for key Book 2 roles such as Ingtar, Hurin, Suroth, Egeanin, Verin or King Galldrian (although we should also note we have still not had several key Book 1 cast announced yet, most notably Elayne, Galad, Gawyn, Morgase, Elaida, Bayle Domon and Lord Agelmar). We also have a reasonable list of filming locations so far and none of the places involved would seem to reflect key Season 2 locations, such as Falme or Cairhien (indeed, the shooting locations for this week seem more reminiscent of the Blight, or Tarwin's Gap). In addition, Johann Myers who plays Padan Fain has only been booked to appear in one episode of Season 1, with the potential to return for future seasons. I would submit that doing the start of The Great Hunt, let alone all of it, without Padan Fain is untenable. Finally, we know that the Eye of the World material will be supplemented by a new storyline focusing on Logain, his capture and his taking to Tar Valon for trial and gentling, with actor Alvaro Morte booked for multiple episodes of the first season. A rushed Eye of the World, which is only covered in four hours, doesn’t seem like it leaves much room for a major new multi-episode arc focusing on a different set of characters. We also know we are getting flashback scenes to Siuan’s childhood (as an actress has been cast to play Siuan as a young girl) and potentially to the events of New Spring (an Aes Sedai who only appears in New Spring and dies during its events has been cast); fitting in a large amount of new material when they are trying to cram two long, epic books into just eight hours would be very difficult. Revisiting the episode titles with this knowledge, they can be given different explanations: The Dragon Reborn could focus on the battle against Logain and his capture, whilst in The Flame of Tar Valon he arrives in Tar Valon and is tried and gentled. During this storyline we would meet the Book 2 characters who show up early: Alanna, Siuan, Leane and Liandrin. This would also be a likely explanation for why Eamon Valda has been cast in Season 1. Although oft-mentioned in the first six books, he doesn’t actually appear in-person until Lord of Chaos. However, we do know that he was part of the detachment of the Children of the Light who helped defeat Logain (studiously avoiding all Aes Sedai contact in the process), followed them to Tar Valon via Caemlyn and generally made a nuisance of themselves outside the city. Blood Calls Blood is a trickier one, especially if it’s the same episode the Tinkers first appear in. It may be that the TV show has repurposed the saying from the Prophecies of the Shadow to be more related to the wolfbrother abilities. On the other hand, it might be that the dark prophecies will be quoted and appear earlier on than they do in the books, perhaps in one of the dream sequences that litter the first volume. The curious issue of pacing is still a valid one. We know from Brandon Sanderson’s set visit that Episode 2 opens with the events in Taren Ferry. Perhaps the action cuts quickly from fleeing Taren Ferry to Shadar Logoth (potentially bypassing Baerlon altogether, with Min’s late casting announcement suggesting she appears somewhere else, perhaps Basel Gill’s inn) based on the episode titles, but that then leaves a fairly yawning chasm between fleeing Shadar Logoth (presumably at the end of Episode 2) to Perrin and Egwene meeting the Tinkers (apparently in Episode 5). One solution I’ve seen theorised is that Episode 2 actually does feature more material related to the flight from the Two Rivers and Shadar Logoth is presented as “a place of safety” they can flee to; the Shadar Logoth events take place in Episode 3 instead and then Episode 4 cuts away mostly to Logain’s story, picking our heroes back up in Episode 5. A third solution also does raise itself. We’ve been focused very much on Season 1, but we also need to consider the bigger picture of the entire series. It’s extremely unlikely the series will go for much longer than seven or eight seasons in total due to the mounting cost of cast salary renegotiations (the expense of which eventually made even global mega-hits like Game of Thrones and Friends unsustainable at a certain point), so packing in the entire saga as it appears in the books is simply impossible, as that would take more like fourteen seasons. If eight-episode seasons are going to be the norm (as they are for many Amazon projects), Rafe Judkins and his team potentially have less episodes than Game of Thrones did to tell a story more than twice the length in the books. This requires a dramatically different kind of adaptation, one that simply cannot afford to be “faithful” to the text in the same way as Game of Thrones’ early seasons or Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies. Trying to do that would likely result in the series being left incomplete. Instead, the approach may be to take the entire book series as one whole and then dramatically cut, compress, combine and streamline events into a shorter, more focused narrative, whilst trying to remain true to Robert Jordan’s themes and the general big picture. Taken from this perspective, trying to map which books will appear in which season may be futile, with the showrunners instead conflating storylines, characters and locations in a more dramatic manner than fans are perhaps expecting. On this basis the first season may draw on elements, scenes and characters from several books whilst still trying to achieve the narrative objective of introducing the characters and world and setting up the storyline. With shooting due to resume in the next couple of weeks, hopefully we’ll get some shots and information from the Episode 7/8 table read which will confirm those episode titles, which should gives us some more information to work with. As usual, let us know your thoughts and keep an eye on the Dragonmount TV page for more Wheel of Time news.
  5. Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. Adam has been writing about film and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for over fifteen years, and was a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2020. Be sure to check out his websites, The Wertzone and Atlas of Ice and Fire (including The Wheel of Time Atlas!) as well as his Patreon. Work on the Wheel of Time TV series is spooling up again after a long break due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the cast and crew is now back in the Czech Republic, more casting has been announced and shooting should be resuming fairly soon for the last leg of production so, hopefully, we can see the show early next year as originally planned. Whilst that work continues, it may be interesting to consider something we haven’t talked about much so far: locations and places in The Wheel of Time and how they will be depicted on screen. The Wheel of Time spans numerous cities, towns, villages, nations and areas of wilderness scattered across a landmass considerably larger than the United States, as well as (very) brief jaunts to other continents and islands. One of the weaknesses of depicting fantasy on screen for decades was how to depict such locations on a limited budget. Peter Jackson cracked that in his Lord of the Rings movie trilogy – aided by a competitive exchange rate – by scouring the entire nation of New Zealand for interesting locations and building towns and cities on naturally-occurring landforms, using a mixture of CGI, forced-perspective, models and actual physical sets, sometimes in a logistically challenging manner. The construction of Edoras, the capital of Rohan, was a major enterprise involving construction workers spending months building on Mount Sunday, a remote hill in a mountain valley several dozen miles from the nearest town, for just two weeks of filming. These scenes were then augmented in post-production with additional CG buildings. Similarly, HBO’s Game of Thrones presented us many cities on a limited budget. The great city of King’s Landing, capital of the Seven Kingdoms, was built on sets but also through location filming, principally in the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, but also locations in Malta, Spain and on soundstages in Northern Ireland. Locations in Spain and Morocco, again backed up by a large amount of CGI, augmented these to build up other cities such as Qarth, Astapor, Meereen, Braavos, Volantis and Oldtown, creating distinctive environments out of a small number of filming locations. The Wheel of Time starts small in the bucolic backwater of the Two Rivers but soon grows larger. In the first book alone we visit the large towns of Baerlon, Four Kings and Whitebridge, the ruined and crumbling metropolis of Shadar Logoth and the cities of Caemlyn and Fal Dara, along with half a dozen villages along the Caemlyn Road. We also travel the banks of the mighty Arinelle, cross the enormous plain known as Caralain Grass and risk the High Pass through the foothills of the Mountains of Dhoom to find the home of the Green Man, Someshta. Later books take us to the great cities of Tar Valon, Cairhien, Illian, Tear, Ebou Dar, Tanchico and Far Madding (among others) and the ancient, unfinished city of Rhuidean. The TV producers may also be tempted to include flashbacks to the Age of Legends and vast, vanished cities like Paaran Disen (seat of the Hall of Servants) or V’saine (home of the great floating laboratory known as the Sharom, where the Bore was created), or travel to the Seanchan home continent to behold the imposing Court of the Nine Moons. The Wheel of Time has hundreds of strange and evocative places, many or most of which the TV producers will have to recreate for the show. We already know that The Wheel of Time has a generous budget and we will be seeing some of these places on screen. Emond’s Field, chief village of the Two Rivers, has been partially built as a physical set on location in the Czech Republic, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some economic redressing and shooting from different angles to sell this village as several different villages. Taren Ferry is also present, and it seems a waste to have the main soundstages located in the great city of Prague and not make use of its historic buildings and period architecture to depict the streets of Caemlyn or Tar Valon (or both!). Computer graphics will no doubt give us impressive aerial establishing shots of these places as well. CG will also likely be employed to depict the various mysterious and strange other dimensions our characters encounter: the Ways, the Portal Stone worlds, the enigmatic world of Sindhol (home of the Ael’finn and Eel’finn) and Tel’aran’rhiod, the World of Dreams. Always know where the nearest post office is. Depicting the locations is one thing, but you also need to make sure the audience knows where they all are. Fantasy novels almost always come with a map in the front pages of the book, or in the case of hardcovers sometimes realised as a spectacular full-colour painting, located conveniently for readers to be able to refer to as they read. This is less convenient for a TV show or film. The Lord of the Rings got around this by having maps appear in the film itself, with characters like Bilbo or Faramir pouring over them to decide their next move. Game of Thrones had, of course, a title sequence built around a map, with the locations appearing in that episode appearing on the map, with the camera swooping through them as they raised out of the ground. I suspect Wheel of Time will not copy that device, but getting the geography of the story across to the audience in a manner that doesn’t take them out of the moment is an interesting challenge. What locations are you looking to appearing in the show? As usual, let us known in the comments and keep an eye on the Dragonmount TV page for further news.
  6. And even more for eight, which is how many episodes are in the first season.
  7. Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. Adam has been writing about film and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for over fifteen years. Be sure to check out his websites, The Wertzone and Atlas of Ice and Fire (including The Wheel of Time Atlas!) as well as his Patreon. Things have been surprisingly busy since our last check-in, with Amazon revealing multiple new castmembers for the show. To quickly get up to speed, the new characters announced are as follows: Christopher Sciueref as Abell Cauthon. Juliet Howland as Natti Cauthon. Mandi Symonds as Daise Congar. Lolita Chakrabarti as Marin al’Vere. Michael Tuahine as Bran al’Vere. David Sterne as Cenn Buie. Abdul Salis as Eamon Valda Stuart Graham as Geofram Bornhald. Jennifer Preston as Mistress Grinwell. Pasha Bocarie as Master Grinwell. Izuka Hoyle as Dana. With the exception of “Dana,” these are all characters well-established in the books, consisting of a sizeable chunk of the Emond’s Field supporting cast, two of the Whitecloaks and two farmers met by Rand and Mat on their journey. There are two questions that the latest casting announcements encourage: who is Dana and why haven’t we heard anything about Elayne or Min? There is no Dana, there is Only…? In the Wheel of Time novels, the name Dana is notable by not actually existing. The closest approximation is “Dena,” the name of a young gleeman whom Thom takes on as a student (and lover) in The Great Hunt. Changing “Dena” to “Dana” seems fairly pointless, but it is possible that they will introduce Dena much earlier in the TV show and perhaps have Thom meet her after he parts ways with Rand and Mat. Keeping Thom’s story on screen saves it disappearing for a large stretch of time (probably well into the second season), which is useful for keeping the actor gainfully employed in the meantime. It is also possible that the producers have already decided not to feature Dena (a very minor character in the books) and borrowed her name for Else Grinwell. With several “E” names already present in the first season (Egwene, Elayne, presumably Elyas), introducing some name variety is a good idea. It seems a bit silly, but other shows have also done this kind of name-changing on occasion (most famously, turning “Asha Greyjoy” in Game of Thrones into “Yara Greyjoy” because they deemed it too similar to the already-introduced wildling character of Osha). The fact that Dana was announced at the same time as the Grinwells adds credence to that theory, although you’d assume that they’d also have just announced her as “Dana Grinwell” in that case. There is also the possibility that “Dana” is a codename for another role, ranging from Mili Skane (the last Darkfriend standing, first introduced in The Eye of the World) to the intriguing (if somewhat farfetched) possibility that she is actually “Dana Bornhald,” the genderflipped daughter of Geofram Bornhald. That seems unlikely, but remains a possibility, since Dana and Dain are closely related names. Is Min MIA? Another discussion engendered by the announcements is the fate of Elmindreda Farshaw, or “Min,” a fan-favourite character who appears early on in The Eye of the World. Min only has a small role in that book but goes on to have a much bigger role in the rest of the series. Min first appears in the town of Baerlon. Curiously, we have not heard any casting at all for notable characters in Baerlon (such as Dain Bornhald, despite his father being cast) and the episode titles suggest that if our heroes are stopping in Baerlon at all in the show, it’ll be for a very brief visit (the second episode is called Shadow’s Waiting, suggesting that most or all of the Shadar Logoth storyline will take place in that episode, which limits the time that can be spent in Baerlon). This has led to the speculation that Min has been cut from the first season and will appear in Tar Valon in Season 2, or, more intriguingly, will show up in the Queen’s Blessing Inn instead, working for Basel Gill. The rumour mill suggests that Gill has also been cast, but we have had no official confirmation from Amazon yet. This latter idea has a lot of promise, since it means that Min and Rand can meet up and spend several days together rather than the comparatively brief meeting in Baerlon. My strong suspicion is that Min has been cast for Season 1 but not announced yet, and appearing later in the season would explain why the announcement has not yet been made. Of course, it could be that “Dana” is a code name for Min. Trakands or Not Trakands? Another question is hovering over the fate of the entire family Trakand. The royal family of Andor has a small but key role in The Eye of the World, when Rand’s curiosity gets the better of him and he ends up in an ad hoc royal audience with Queen Morgase and her court. Particularly important in this sequence is that he meets Elayne Trakand, Daughter-Heir of Andor, but many characters critical to the later storylines show up at this point: Gawyn, Galad, Gareth Bryne, Elaida, Morgase, Lini and Martyn Tallanvor. That’s seven characters with multi-season roles to introduce at once, which is why I’m increasingly sceptical that it will be adapted faithfully. It might make more sense, especially from a budgetary point of view, to skip this scene and introduce Elayne, Gawyn and Galad in Season 2 instead, and potentially Morgase and Gareth as well (Lini and Tallanvor are relatively minor characters who are ripe for the chopping, although I think fans would hate to see Lini and her endless quotes cut from the series). The only problem with this approach is that Elayne and Elaida are such major characters that introducing them as early as possible seems like a much better idea. They could also cut the difference: cut the court scene but introduce Elayne and Elaida via the expanded Logain storyline, as we know there will be new material for Logain relating to his capture in battle and subsequent journey to Caemlyn and Tar Valon (it’s also likely that this is where we will meet Alanna and Liandrin). These are key questions that will, of course, keep fans guessing until Amazon confirm the full cast for the first season. As usual, let us know your thoughts in the comments and keep checking in with the Dragonmount TV page for the latest developments.
  8. Siuan and Moiraine are contemporaries, so the actress for the grown-up Siuan will likely be around the same age as Rosamund Pike. This actress is considerably younger. I think Dena is much more likely, or possibly a code-name for Min (as Steve is likely a code name for someone else, possibly Elyas, Ishamael or Lews Therin).
  9. Tam has already been cast, with Michael McElhatton (Roose Bolton from Game of Thrones) playing the role.
  10. Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. Adam has been writing about film and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for over fifteen years. Be sure to check out his websites, The Wertzone and Atlas of Ice and Fire (including The Wheel of Time Atlas!) as well as his Patreon. Money may not always make the world go around but it is certainly important when you want to make an expensive fantasy TV show featuring nonhuman creatures, sorcery and vast ruined cities. It’s been known for a while that Amazon have dramatically increased the money they are spending on their shows. A few years ago, Jeff Bezos, the head of Amazon and Richest Man on Earth™, told his TV division to start spending big and look for the “next Game of Thrones” to help popularise Amazon’s streaming division. They took that to heart, snapping up not just The Wheel of Time, but also J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth for a new prequel TV show set in the Second Age, telling the story of the forging of the Rings of Power and the original rise of the Dark Lord Sauron. The budget for the Middle-earth show is widely-known, having been discussed in the trade magazines at the time. The Tolkien Estate sold additional rights to the Middle-earth books to Amazon for an unprecedented sum of $250 million. They also included a stipulation that each of the show’s seasons was to have a budget of between $100 million and $150 million. With apparently ten episodes per season, that gives the show a budget of $10-15 million per episode. For comparison’s sake, HBO’s Game of Thrones was given a budget of $100 million for each of its final three seasons, which, due to a declining episode order per season, gave them a per-episode budget of approximately $10 million (for Season 6), $14 million (for Season 7) and $16.7 million (Season 8), so the Tolkien series will be in the same ballpark. The budget for the Wheel of Time TV show has been much more of a secret, at least up until recently. WoTSeries.com did some digging and found publicly-disclosed funding which seems to indicate how much money is being spent on the project. The Wheel of Time TV show is being shot in the Czech Republic, in studios in the capital city of Prague with location filming in surrounding areas and across the border in Slovenia. As is common, the Czech government has tax rebates and incentive funding available for shows that film in the country, the idea that by spending a certain amount of money to encourage the production to remain in the country, the production will spend more money and the local economy will benefit, encouraging more shows to shoot there. This has been successful in recent years, with the Czech Republic becoming a hub of filming with numerous projects setting up shop there (Carnival Row is shooting in studios near the Wheel of Time production base, for example). The rebate is based on the idea of “Czech spending,” how much of the budget is being spent in the country itself, with the production able to expect 20% of the budget refunded by the government. In the case of The Wheel of Time, we now know that $14.9 million was refunded by the government to Amazon for Season 1 of the show. Some rather simple back-of-the-napkin maths shows that Amazon must have spent $74 million in the Czech Republic to qualify for a $14.9 million rebate. Of course, that’s not the total budget for the show. Casting was carried out in the United Kingdom and a large chunk of post-production is likewise being handled in the UK, by Cinesite Studios and several other CGI companies. There is also editing, mixing, musical composition and other post requirements taking place in the United States. All of that comfortably lifts the total budget to well over $80 million and likely significantly more (the CG effects requirements for the show will be enormous). With showrunner Rafe Judkins recently confirming eight episodes for each of the first two seasons, that puts the per-episode budget of The Wheel of Time at well over $10 million per episode, comparable to Game of Thrones circa Season 6 and not far off the budget of the new Lord of the Rings project. It’s worth noting that Game of Thrones’ budget only started at $6 million per episode when filming started in 2009 (about $7.2 million in today’s money, thanks to inflation). The Witcher’s first season had a budget of around $70 million in total (about $7.7 million per episode), although some figures place it at closer to $80 million (around $8.8 million per episode), so Wheel of Time will certainly outrange its Netflix competition. The show will live or die on its writing, direction and performances, but it’s good to see that Amazon is providing enough financial resources to bring Robert Jordan’s grand vision to life. In other news, WoTSeries has an interesting feature on the set of Emond’s Field being removed and on the logistics of location shooting, as well as finding confirmation that the Emmy Award-winning Ondřej Nekvasil is the main production designer on the show. Daniel Henney (Lan) has posted the second part of his recent online Q&A, confirming that he sees himself working on The Wheel of Time for many years to come. Zoe Robins (Nynaeve) has also been interviewed in her native New Zealand, in which she discusses the show and seems to confirm the previously-mooted 2021 release date (although how the pandemic impacts on that remains to be see). As usual, we will bring you all the latest news here on Dragonmount’s TV page. Also, sure to watch our latest video on The Wheel of Time Community Show on YouTube where host Thom talks about this budget topic.
  11. Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. Adam has been writing about film and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for over fifteen years. Be sure to check out his websites, The Wertzone and Atlas of Ice and Fire (including The Wheel of Time Atlas!) as well as his Patreon. With Wheel of Time filming on hold due to the global coronavirus pandemic, you’d be forgiven for thinking there’d be no news to share. Fortunately, the cast and crew of the show have put their time in quarantine to good use. A couple of weeks back, Rafe Judkins dropped in on a virtual JordanCon panel (with Matt Hatch, Shannan Lieb, Daniel Greene, Jennifer Liang and myself) to drop some nuggets of new information about the show. He confirmed that six episodes of the first season – rather than the previously reported four – had completed filming before the lockdown, leaving only two incomplete. Editing and post-production of those six episodes are in progress even during the lockdown. Rafe also confirmed that the show’s first two seasons will consist of eight episodes apiece. Encouraging news has also come out of the Czech Republic, where The Wheel of Time has been shooting. The Czech Republic enacted a severe lockdown very early in their outbreak of the virus, sealing borders with more adversely-affected countries and reinforcing their health service. As a result, the Republic has seen cases and fatalities both plummet. The country began easing restrictions two weeks ago and there has been no sign of a surge in new cases. As a result, the country’s government has given permission for shooting on various productions to resume, as long as cast and crew subject themselves to several days of isolation and testing after entering the country. The second season of Carnival Row is expected to resume shooting in the next few weeks, and discussions are underway with Marvel and Disney to remount the aborted Prague leg of shooting for The Falcon and Winter Soldier. In the latter case there was only a few days of shooting booked for Prague with most of the remaining shooting to be undertaken on the main sound stages back in Atlanta, Georgia, which so far remains shut down for filming (but likely not for much longer). Interestingly, The Wheel of Time is apparently not rushing back to filming. About six weeks of shooting were left on the clock for the first season, so more work definitely needed to be done but the current reports suggest that a resumption of filming is further out. This may be a nod to the show’s more international crew, with actors and crew having to return from other countries where pandemic restrictions and lockdowns are still in place. Interestingly, Rosamund Pike (Moiraine) chose to remain in Prague during lockdown and seems raring to get back to work. Still, the situation is better there than it is for countries still at the peak of their respective outbreaks; the UK, where filming of the second season of The Witcher and the first season of Joss Whedon’s new show, The Nevers, were in full swing, is unlikely to allow production to resume for many more weeks. In additional news, actor Daniel Henney has hosted one of his online Q&As. He confirmed that he is in the process of reading the books and notes that Lan in the show will retain his commitment to loyalty and duty, elements he finds inspiring. He also noted that he found the sets built for the show to be overwhelming, and the most impressive he’s ever worked with. Back to Rafe, he recently asked a question on Twitter about how fans think the prologue should be handled. He’s previously confirmed that the first episode will open with Rand and Tam on the Quarry Road, so the prologue is not opening the series, and there have been no signs that it’s been filmed in the first season (no possible casting, so far, for Lews Therin or Ishamael, for example). It’s likely that the scene will appear eventually as a flashback. My feeling is that the producers want to avoid the problem of other productions where they’ve hired actors for the first season, had a long break before getting back to them and then finding them unavailable, so have had to recast (a repeated bane of casting on Game of Thrones, for example). It may make more sense to hold back until the studio can do a better deal with the actors to lock them in place for a longer stint. That may also feed into how they want to handle Lews Therin’s “voice” in the film, whether it’ll just be a voiceover or maybe a more physical presence, and also whether they want the same actor to play Ishamael/Ba’alazamon and Moridin. As usual, please follow the Dragonmount TV page for the last developments and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
  12. With regard to the glossary, I think the thinking was that having the "very end of the Wheel of Time" followed by the glossary would feel a bit anticlimactic, and they knew the super-glossary was coming out in the form of the companion so they felt able to skip it in the final book.
  13. Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. Adam has been writing about film and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for over fifteen years. Be sure to check out his websites, The Wertzone and Atlas of Ice and Fire (including The Wheel of Time Atlas!) as well as his Patreon. With Wheel of Time production suspended – along with almost every other TV show and film on the planet – I was thinking it might be some time before we got more solid news on the series. However, showrunner Rafe Judkins surprised everyone by hosting a Q&A yesterday on his Instagram feed. There was a lot of exciting information to learn here, so let’s get to the salient points. There is no connection at all between the current series and the 2015 Winter Dragon pilot from Red Eagle. Confirming what we’ve previously reported, Season 1 will consist of eight episodes. At the time of the shutdown, production was completed on episodes 1-4, they were still shooting episodes 5-6 and prepping episodes 7-8, whilst writing Season 2. Post-production is continuing remotely, with Rafe currently approving vfx shots and editing from home. One of the first challenges they found was that Mat and Rand visit 20 villages and cities in The Eye of the World including Emond’s Field, Taren Ferry, Baerlon, Shadar Logoth, Whitebridge, Arien, Four Kings, Market Sheran, Carysford, Breen’s Spring, Caemlyn and Fal Dara, plus lots of unnamed ones. Doing this on the show would be impossible, so they have condensed the trip along the Caemlyn Road in particular. “Honey in the Tea” (Chapter 24 of Knife of Dreams, about Egwene in the White Tower) is one of Rafe’s favourite chapters of the entire saga. Elayne, Aviendha and Min are three of Rafe’s favourite characters. They will not be combined. Min will appear in Season 1, but Rafe did not comment on Elayne. Sometimes very minor characters will be folded into a more major one to make better use of the cast, but there will be no “nutso” combinations for the sake of it. “New” characters will be few and far between, and will be inspired by characters in the books or a number of characters combined. The production cannot cast every named or appearing character from the books because then they’d only be able to afford “a radio play.” As well as main composer David Buckley, there will be “musical guests” on the show. Actors are speaking the Old Tongue where required. Lord Captain Geofram Bornhald is in Season 1 but his actor has not yet been confirmed. He has what Rafe describes as his “favourite costume” on the show. Rafe has been spending “more time” with Ishamael in the writing process. His favourite Forsaken are Graendal, Lanfear and Moghedien. Rafe has had to make some “painful” cuts. The visual effects (vfx) team has spent a lot of time on channelling and how it looks. The early work looks “awesome” so far and Rafe screamed when seeing Moiraine channel on screen for the first time. The show will have a fair bit of CGI but they are trying to do as much as possible in-camera. An Aiel will appear in Season 1, and the one in question will “shock” audiences. Rafe wants tall actors for Aiel but has noted that acting ability will always be the first priority. The show has a real sword master who handles the weapons and training. There are actually two horses playing Bela, one trained to pull a cart and one for riding by herself. Mandarb and Aldieb also have their own horse actors. When asked if we will “see the prologue from The Eye of the World on screen in Season 1,” Rafe replied that we “will hear that phrase.” Fal Dara is Rafe’s favourite set in Season 1 and the Great Serpent Rings are his favourite props. Narg has not been cut. Harriet McDougal (Robert Jordan’s widow and literary executor) has visited the set in Prague, read all the scripts and provided notes when she felt the script was moving too far away from the books. Rafe is a fan of Brandon Sanderson’s work, including both the Mistborn and Stormlight Archive series. Brandon has read all the scripts, provided notes and consulted on the project. Rafe would have him do more, but Brandon is busy with his own projects. Loial will be presented properly as an Ogier, and will be not made more human looking for practical reasons. The show is making some adjustments so it will be understandable for those who haven’t read the books, but “Google exists” for other queries. Alanna, Verin and Siuan are Rafe’s three favourite Aes Sedai. He also loves Sheriam and Pevara. Galina is his least-favourite. My main takeaway is that, as previously speculated, it should be possible for Amazon to complete the first four episodes even with the shutdown. Whether that means they will transmit them or wait until production can resume and finish the whole season is not known. If the shutdown is likely to persist into 2021, they may decide to air the completed episodes as new content, but if it looks like the pandemic has eased and production can be remounted later this year they may choose to wait until the last four episodes are completed as well. Obviously, the health and wellbeing of the Wheel of Time cast and crew, and of the residents of the city of Prague and the Czech Republic, is the primary concern at the moment. As usual, please follow the Dragonmount TV page for the last developments and let us know your thoughts in the comments. A full transcript of the Q&A follows Which character has your favorite costume so far? Rafe: Ooo this is tough. Probably Geofram Bornhald. Can we expect a trailer for the show anytime soon? Rafe: Probably not for a long while sadly. When will we get more casting announcements to hold us over? Rafe: I’ll try to get them to put out something soon. A lot of folks in all departments are affected by the state of the world right now though, so I can’t promise a timeline. Are you using taller actors to portray the Aiel, or camera trickery? Rafe: Trying to get tall folks. But I’m less concerned with height and more concerned with acting ability. Will [Min], [Elayne], and [Aviendha] have to be combined into a single character? Rafe: Girl you crazy, I’m not going to combing huge characters like that. Maybe sometimes a minor character folded into a more major one to make better use of our cast but nothing nutso Do you have a favourite chapter from the whole saga? Mine is Veins of Gold. Rafe: So many. But Honey in the Tea is one off the top of my head. How many trollocs do I have to take out to become a writing assistant? Rafe: Violence is never the answer RJ writes a lot of internal headspace stuff. What’s 1 hint on how the show will handle that? Rafe: That’s the biggest difficulty of any novel adaptation. Figuring out how to make the internal monologue come out clearly to the audience. A lot of the changes we make and stories we tell differently are designed to serves exactly that purpose—showing you what those characters internal monologues from the book are without them just saying it out loud in exposition What are you finding most challenging about going from book to screen? Rafe: The hardest thing is the physicality of production. In the first book alone they go to more than 20 villages and cities. To try to do that is physically impossible for the show, so most of the work we [do] in the room is geographical, figuring out how to condense the story and move it through places we can physically create. Yes or no. Have you had to make any cuts be it a scene or chapter, that has been painful for you? Rafe: Yes. How are you handling sword forms and their names? Rafe: We have a for real sword master on the show who walks into every room and tests out everything as a weapon. He could most definitely kill me with any item in my office. What’s been your favorite shooting location so far? Rafe: Slovenia! Spectacular stuff there What words of hope would you offer a fan afraid that the show will cut out a lot of content? Rafe: I genuinely think we are cutting less than most people think. When I see people ask questions like “are you cutting Min?” it blows my mind. I don’t know how you do an adaptation without some of these characters. I think it’ll be more of the smaller stories you’ll miss. We can’t have Rand and [Mat] travel to many many inns on their travels across the countryside for instance. It’s just not producible. So that will be more of what you miss, I think, and the books always exist to read for that 🙂 Any funny behind the scenes stories? Rafe: I once walked up to Rosamund’s dummy to say hello and then pretended to check its makeup and told everyone they were doing great work What would you say the CGI to practical ratio is going to be? Rafe: Trying to do as much in camera as we possibly can! Will we have to wait till season 2 to see any Aiel? (Other than Rand) Rafe: Nope. And the one you see will shock you. Haha. Amazon shouldn’t let me be on here when I’ve been cooped up for a week. How are the horses on set? Is Mandarb spectacular? Rafe: They are so great. Honestly I love our horses. Mandarb and Aldieb are downright sexy Is [Mat] fluent in the old tongue yet? Rafe: We’ve had a couple cast members speak in it already and they NAILED IT Will the show be understandable for those who didn’t read the books? Rafe: That’s the idea. If there are little things they don’t get though, luckily google exists Similar to Thom performing in an old Inn, what other iconic moments filmed stands out to [you]? Rafe: Rand and Tam walking through the Westwood Who is your favorite Aes Sedai in the books? And you can’t say Moiraine/Siuan or the Wonder Girls Rafe: So many rules. I honestly love all of them though (except Galina that bitch) Alanna, Liandrin and Verin are probably my Top 3. And Siuan! There’s too many I love. Sheriam! Pevara! Since JordanCon was cancelled, can we maybe get an extra treat next month? Rafe: Sure! What do you want? I think [Bela] is such an important character, will the same horse play [Bela] through the series Rafe: We’ve already had to have two Belas. It turns out a horse for riding on film is not the same as a horse for pulling a cart and SHE MUST DO BOTH If you were an Aes Sedai, what Ajah would you choose? Rafe: Such a good question. They all have merits but GREEN for the win. If only to hang with @priyankabose20 Has any post-production work begun or does that not start until filming is completed? Rafe: Nope! We do it simultaneously. Before the corona hit, I was prepping 2 episodes, shooting 2 episodes, in post on 4 episodes and writing Season 2 simultaneously 😮 Can you guys do a big WoT Wed announcement during the hiatus to keep all us fans hyped instead of al [sic] Rafe: Yeah! It would cheer us all up and we have some fun news How involved, if involved at all, is [Brandon] Sanderson in the writers room? Rafe: Brandon is hugely helpful. I talked to him before we started Season Two while he was in Prague to get advice and he reads all the scripts and gives notes. He’s incredibly thoughtful and understands the process of adaptation and what’s required from it. I feel so lucky to have him involved. I would have him do more if I could make him! Will there be a soundtrack? Who’s the composer? Rafe: Of course! David Buckley. Plus a few incredible musical guests we’ve already had. To what extent has Harriet McDougal been involved with the project? Rafe: She’s a consulting producer so she’s been out to Prague to the sets and reads all the scripts and sends me her notes on them. She and Maria [Simons] are hugely helpful for maintaining the truth of the series and always keep me honest when it comes to things that change too much Do you read [The Way of Kings] or Mistborn? Please make a tv adaptation for them too Rafe: Read both. Love both. Will the show have any connection to that abomination of a pilot that [Red Eagle] put out Rafe: nope! 🙂 Are you going to merge Min and Elayne? Rafe: Hell no Are Min/Elayne in season 1? Rafe: TWWaTWW [The Weave Weaves as The Weave Wills] Will we see the prologue from the Eye of the World on screen in season 1 Rafe: You will hear that phrase Is Lan going to be as much or an absolute stud in the show as he is in the books? Rafe: You’ve seen @danielhenney right? Which WOT book title best describes your self isolation experience? Rafe: A Memory of Light… What has been your favorite set so far? Rafe: Fal Dara! RJ created 1000’s of [characters]. Given that did you feel the need to create new characters? Rafe: Anyone “new” is inspired by characters in the books or a number of characters combined. If we paid to cast all speaking roles in the book we could only afford to have a radio play Please tell me you’ve cut Narg!! Rafe: Never!! First moment you were speechless on set? Rafe: First time walking into Emond’s Field with my mom How is the cast and crew weather the pandemic? Rafe: Our team in Prague did an amazing job of getting everyone out and keeping them safe. And now everyone’s home and we all live on Instagram. Should Amazon do a better job of engaging fans love of theory & speculation. [Please] embrace us!! Rafe: I love theory and speculation! What can they do to better engage you? Send suggestions and I’ll forward them along 🙂 Blink twice if Min is in season 1. Rafe: 😉 😉 Do you have a favorite Wise One? Rafe: [Aviendha] Now you’ve met them settle the score: who’s better with women? Rand, Mat or Perrin? Rafe: I think they’d all say it’s the other Will Loial portray the Ogier species, or will he be humanized for screen? Rafe: He’s an Ogier! How are you planning to handle the visualization of the weaves? Any little tidbits? Rafe: We are trying to stay as true to the books as possible. I’ve been giving a bunch of VFX folks long diatribes about channeling, weaves, threads, earth vs. air, etc and [the] early stuff has started coming in. It looks FUCKING AWESOME. I screamed when Rosamund started channeling Will Jeff Probst be one of the Aiel? Can you make some calls? Rafe: If he dies his hair red 😉 Can you please make sure you do a great job? Books are so great Rafe: This is a really good idea Is any aspect of the show still in development, or has it all stalled because of the virus? Rafe: A lot can be done virtually! I’m still doing VFX, editing and the Season Two Virtual Writers Room! And I can do it all in pajamas Who is your favorite Forsaken?? Rafe: Ahhh. I love the ladies. Greandal, Lanfear, Modhedien. And Ishamael holds a special place in my heart the more time I spend with him So far, what is your favorite prop in the show? Rafe: Great Serpent Ring. We all want one. How has it been to work with your incredibly talented cast? Also… dinner’s ready Rafe: Okay I have to go eat now. I think I did this right. Next time I’ll use different colors. I don’t know why it was pink and orange the whole time.
  14. Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. Adam has been writing about film and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for over fifteen years. Be sure to check out his websites, The Wertzone and Atlas of Ice and Fire (including The Wheel of Time Atlas!) as well as his Patreon. The Wheel of Time appears to be the latest TV production to sadly be impacted by the spreading coronavirus pandemic. Sony TV have now confirmed that production of The Wheel of Time is indefinitely suspended. The Czech Republic, where production for the series is based, began clamping down on the outbreak earlier this week, closing schools and restricting large gatherings of people. This led to Disney cancelling a one-week filming stint for their Marvel show The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which will instead film those scenes elsewhere. On Thursday this was followed by the news that Wheel of Time’s sister-show, Carnival Row (shooting at Barrandov Studios in Prague), would shut down roughly halfway through the shoot for its second season. This morning the Czech government announced draconian measures to control the outbreak. They have sealed their borders to travellers from other countries affected by the virus, including the UK where numerous Wheel of Time cast and crewmembers are based. The situation with citizens from those countries already in Prague and other Czech cities is unclear, but it appears that flights out of the country are not affected so far. Based on some crew posts on social media, The Wheel of Time is gearing up for the shutdown from the end of today. Given the status of other filming projects in Prague and the measures introduced by the Czech government, it was hard to see how it could continue. Filming on the first season began on 16 September and was due to run until at least early May, meaning the bulk of the filming for the season was complete. Looking at the turnaround of directors and when they were in Prague, it also looks like the season was shooting in approximate chronological order. This means that, even if the series cannot be remounted in the next few months to complete the final scenes, it should hopefully be possible to air a truncated, shorter season (assuming, of course, that the coronavirus outbreak does not impact on post-production facilities in the United States and elsewhere), with the remaining material held back for a second season. Of course, the situation remains very fluid and estimates for the time of the pandemic range from months to a couple of years, which would have a much bigger impact on the timescale for the series (and, of course, everything else). So, the news is unfortunate, but the team at Amazon Prime Video have amassed a huge amount of material over six months of filming (so far) and hopefully we will get to see that at some point. In other news (and there is some!), to celebrate International Women’s Day last week, The Wheel of Time TV show’s resident book advisor and expert Sarah Nakamura tweeted out thanks and respect to the cast and crew who are working on the show, including several actresses who’d previously been rumoured to be appearing but not confirmed. This message was widely retweeted and liked by others involved in the production, so we can take it as confirmation these actresses will indeed be appearing, although not in which roles. Helena Westerman’s involvement has been unofficially known for some time: she appeared in the table read video released a few months ago and her own account has been following and retweeting Wheel of Time news for a few months. Westerman is a young British actress who has been appearing on stage and in short films for a few years. She also has credits as a producer and writer of theatre material and short films, and is co-director of the Rascal Theatre. Juliet Howland is an actress and composer, best-known for roles in Colditz, Skins and Doctors. According to some rumours, she will be playing the relatively small role of Natti Cauthon, mother of Mat Cauthon, but this is not yet confirmed. Naana Agyei-Ampadu is an actress whose previous credits include the TV show GameFace and the film Ready Player One. Ampadu was also seen in the table read video. Lolita Chakrabarti is an English actress and writer. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), she has appeared in Criminal, Rviera, The Casual Vacancy, Intruders, Bodies, Hustle, Extras, Silent Witness and a regular character on The Bill. In additional news, Priyanka Bose, who is playing Alanna, confirmed that she wrapped filming and headed home for the season before the shutdown. The shutdown may also impact the show’s premiere date. Amazon has remained tight-lipped on when the show could air, with projections being divided between an optimistic view that the series could air at the tail end of 2020 and a possibly more realistic one that the show could air in the first few months of 2021. Netflix’s The Witcher wrapped shooting on 29 May 2019 and was on air in December 2019, but The Wheel of Time is being shot by a different company with likely different (and probably more elaborate) post-production requirements, so this is not a precedent. A recent interview with Rosamund Pike (who plays Moiraine and is an executive producer on the series) seemed to be leaning on the 2021 date as well, but this has not been confirmed by Amazon. Still, it may be wiser to temper expectations of a release any sooner, especially given the delay to filming. It may even be possible that the show will air sooner if the season is indeed not remounted and they go with the material that is already completed, but this is highly speculative. As always, Dragonmount will keep you informed about developments as they happen on our Dragonmount TV page. Please also let us know your thoughts. Whilst the news is disappointing, I’m sure everyone will join us in agreeing that the health and wellbeing of the cast and crew of the show, and of the residents of the country hosting filming, must be paramount. To stress, this is a developing story and we will continue to cover it as more news emerges.
  15. Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. Adam has been writing about film and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for over fifteen years. Be sure to check out his websites, The Wertzone and Atlas of Ice and Fire (including The Wheel of Time Atlas!) as well as his Patreon. It appears that we now have our full roster of Wheel of Time directors! Ciaran Donnelly recently confirmed that he’s working on the show and his agency updated his CV to show that he’s working on the Season 1 “finale,” although that may actually be the last two episodes (Amazon have declined to confirm so far, as with most things about the project). That would fill up the last gap on the schedule. All the evidence is pointing towards the first season of The Wheel of Time having eight episodes in total, with four directors tackling two episodes apiece. First up is Uta Briesewitz who is handling Leavetaking and Shadow’s Waiting, followed by Wayne Yip with A Place of Safety and The Dragon Reborn, then Salli Richardson Whitfield with Blood Calls Blood and The Flame of Tar Valon. Ciaran Donnelly will be helming the last two episodes whose titles have not yet been confirmed. Television directors are notable in that they have far less power than in film, where they are the primary creative force. In television, directors are needed more to film in accordance with the “house style” which will be laid down in the first episode by the writers, producers and the director of the first episode (in this case, Uta Briesewitz). The job of all the directors who come after is to fit into that style and into the challenging filming schedule. That’s not to say they can’t bring their own filming styles and ideas to the party, but they have less room to be improvisational. But the choice of directors is still an important one for a TV show, and almost every show has a cadre of preferred directors the producers want to use as much as possible because their vision for the show adheres closest to that of the showrunners: think of Miguel Sapochnik on Game of Thrones, Jack Bender on Lost, David Nutter on The X-Files or Michael Rymer on Battlestar Galactica. So, who are our directors? Uta Briesewitz is a German film-maker who started off as a cinematographer, planning the photography and lighting of each scene in conjunction with the director. After small-scale films and TV shows, she got her big break in 2002 when she was recruited by David Simon to work on his HBO masterpiece, The Wire. She established the photography aesthetic of the whole show, resulting in its mix of documentary-style film-making with more dynamic dramatic moments. She continued to work with HBO on shows including John from Cincinnati, Hung and True Blood. HBO also gave her a first break at directing, with an opportunity to direct episodes of Hung. She subsequently directed episodes of Weeds, Orange is the New Black, The 100, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, The Defenders, The Deuce, This is Us, Altered Carbon, Westworld and Stranger Things, building up a strong rep in the process. Her work on the Season 2 Westworld episode “Kiksuya” has been particularly praised. Briesewitz also has a producer’s credit on The Wheel of Time, which is standard practice for the director of the first episode since they are also intimately involved in casting the main actors and establishing the look and feel of the whole show which will be adhered to for years to come. Wayne Yip is a British director who started his career in music videos in the mid-2000s. He then worked on short films for several years, winning a BAFTA Award in 2007. He moved into television in 2010 with Coming Up, Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Utopia. He began branching into filming for both British and American productions, and in recent years has worked on Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Preacher, Cloak & Dagger, Doctor Who, Into the Badlands, Doom Patrol and Hunters. Yip has gained a reputation for working fast and reliably at a high level. In 2019 alone he directed eleven episodes on seven different shows, including the very challenging Into the Badlands which has extensive visual effects, martial arts and sword-fighting set pieces in every single episode. Salli Richardson-Whitfield is best-known as an actress. She started her career in the early 1990s in TV shows such as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Stargate SG-1, CSI: Miami and House. Her best-known role was as a series regular in Eureka (aka A Town Called Eureka outside the US) from 2006 to 2012. More recently she’s appeared in shows like Criminal Minds, NCIS, Castle and Black Lightning. She moved into directing in 2011 with the short film Grace. Since then she has directed episodes of Eureka, Scandal, Lethal Weapon, Agents of SHIELD, Luke Cage, Black Lightning, The Punisher, The Magicians, American Gods, Doom Patrol and Altered Carbon. Like Yip she’s gained a reputation for working fast and effectively, with more than a dozen episodes of television shot last year alone. Irishman Ciaran Donnelly is the most experienced of the four directors, beginning his career in the 1990s with short films before moving into TV movies at the end of the decade. His TV work includes Cold Feet, Spooks, Donovan, The Tudors (which he work on with Maria Doyle Kennedy), Camelot, Once Upon a Time, Vikings, Krypton and Altered Carbon. See more about what our team thinks of the Season 1 directors on The Wheel of Time Community Show on YouTube. We also now have confirmation that the composer for the show will be David Buckley. Buckley is a British composer now based in the USA. He has worked as a composer on films including Jason Bourne and Angel Has Fallen; TV series including The Good Wife, The Good Fight, Killing Lincoln and The Gifted; and video games including Metal Gear Solid 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Batman: Arkham Knight. You can listen to a selection of Buckley’s work on Spotify. Please let us know what you think of the creatives discussed today. Have you seen or heard any of their work? Any suggestions for directors for Season 2? As usual and until next time, peace.
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