NEW YORK — “Battle of the Bastards,” Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones,” was one of the biggest battle sequences in TV history.
Yet, for its director, Miguel Sapochnik, the dramatic power of this furious collision of two armies comes down to two men.
“I always saw this as a bit of bar room brawl,” Sapochnik told CNNMoney. “Two guys insult and taunt each other from either side of a pub and then, when they cant take it anymore, they fight.”
The two men that Sponchik is referring to is the drama’s hero Jon Snow and its villain Ramsay Bolton. Season six’s penultimate episode finally brought the two together in the biggest battle that the HBO drama has undertaken.
“Keeping it simple is often the best way through something this complicated I find,” he said.
Complicated is an understatement.
The shoot which took place over 25 days in Northern Ireland included hundreds of extras and complex visual effects.
Sapochnik said that one of the most intricate aspects of the production wasn’t even on screen, but instead what took place behind the scenes.
“It’s not just about the extras and horses that end up on screen,” he said. “It’s all the support and infrastructure that you need to keep the machine going.”
This included shooting on one field but using two others “to build stables, offices, holding rooms for extras, training grounds for stunts.”
Fans and critics gave the episode high marks for its action, pacing, and cinematography with some calling it the best episode of the series.
Away from the bloody carnage, another challenge for the production was keeping Snow’s role under wraps.
The appearance on the battlefield of Jon Snow, who is played by Kit Harrington, was top secret seeing that he was killed at the end of last season.
But Sapochnik said that there was only so much you could really do to keep that secret.
“I remember one day in the middle of filming we all stopped to watch this small biplane fly overhead, circle and then skulk off again… The next day there was a photo of Kit and myself in the papers,” he said. “Amazingly the extras were great about not giving the game away to anyone so it could have been much worse.”
Sapochnik’s time in the Seven Kingdoms is far from over, however.
The director also helmed the season six finale, “The Winds of Winter,” which airs Sunday.
(HBO, like CNN, is owned by Time Warner)