Following Tuesday's confirmation that HBO will be producing a ten-episode first season based on George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, some additional information has come to light.
The series will continue to be filmed mostly in Northern Ireland, with Shane Castle in County Antrim added to the existing filming roster from the pilot (Castle Ward and Tollymore Country Park). A new and substantial set is being built at the main studio location, the Paint Hall in Belfast, for use in the series. Smart money will be on a reproduction of the Red Keep and other structures in the city of King's Landing, where a great deal of the action in the first three books takes place. The production will also return to Morocco to film sequences involving Daenerys Targaryen (Tamzin Merchant) and her adventures on the eastern continent. Filming is expected to begin in June and run all the way through to the end of December this year.
The budget is anticipated at over £30 million ($45 million), possibly not including the rumoured $10 million already spent on the pilot. Taking into account tax breaks and the free use of the Paint Hall facility, that puts the budget in the ballpark of the amount spent on Deadwood, HBO's landmark Western series from several years ago, although still only half of the amount spent on the massive Rome. It is unclear if this includes the previously mentioned contribution by the BBC. In terms of budget that puts Game of Thrones at the same level as shows such as Lost and substantially higher than shows such as Caprica or Heroes (probably twice what either of those shows are on). It is also moderately higher than The Tudors. Earlier fears were that the budget would be much higher. With a relatively modest budget compared to the likes of Rome and Carnivale, it is likely that Game of Thrones will not be as susceptible to premature cancellation as those shows.
The schedule going forwards would seem to be an immediate resumption of casting and scriptwriting the remaining episodes of the series. Expect to hear casting news for roles such as Littlefinger, Ser Barristan Selmy, Bronn, Renly Baratheon, Gregor Clegane and Tywin Lannister over the next several months. Production resumes in June and runs through the end of this year, with transmission in the USA currently pencilled in for around March-April 2011 based on comments from HBO's head of programming in January.
Those wishing to make casting suggestions in a place where the producers will see it can do so in the Casting sub-forum at Westeros.org.