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950 Hours of ‘Game of Thrones’ Footage Was Shot for Documentary, So No Wonder Director Feared Leaks

Filmmaker Jeanie Finlay was given "unfettered access" to the final season of the world's biggest show.

Emilia Clarke

Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”


HBO went the extra mile to protect the secrets of “Game of Thrones'” final season, but at least one person who is not a member of the cast and crew knew everything there was to know about the last six episodes: British director Jeanie Finlay. The documentary filmmaker was hired to make a top secret behind-the-scenes movie on the making of the final “Thrones” season, which aired on HBO a week after the final episode under the title “Game of Thrones: The Last Watch.” Finlay opened up about the film for the first time in an interview with Variety, admitting that having direct access to the biggest plot details in the final season freaked her out.

“I was given pretty much unfettered access. My main fear was that if there was a leak that it would come from me or my team,” Finlay said. “The documentary was also a secret. It was meant to be a surprise when it aired. So I didn’t tell anyone anything about what I was doing for two years. It was very overwhelming, trying to keep that secret. It’s very strange at first and then there’s all this relief. It meant that I could make the film without the pressure of fan expectations. I could really concentrate on doing the work. That’s a real luxury because the fanbase is both large and ardent.”

Per The Wrap, 950 hours of behind-the-scenes footage was shot over 14 months while the final season was filming. As seen in the final product, Finlay got inside access to the final season table read and was able to record cast reactions to major final season twists. Kit Harington did not read the script prior to the table reading and his shocked reaction to the Jon Snow-Dany twist was one of the documentary’s most viral moments. Recording the making of the final season also meant Finlay got to know how “Thrones” ends months before the rest of the world.

“I could feel the energy moving as we got toward the end of production,” Finlay told Variety when asked about witnessing the last day of shooting. “It was really difficult because it’s not like you have one big explosion and that’s the last day. It’s not the end of school where everyone comes together then leaves. It’s a sad, long goodbye that was emotionally exhausting because people were leaving over two months because of the way filming was scheduled.”

“Game of Thrones: The Last Watch” is now streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now.

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