The days are growing shorter, and fall is finally here. In a few short days, it will be October, and you know what that means. No, not Halloween! It's Game of Thrones time! This coming month, they'll start filming their final season. But unlike last year, where there was a formal announcement of the directing talent coming aboard, and which episodes each would helm months ahead of time, we're only a week out and we still don't know who's directing Game Of Thrones Season 8. But we just got a huge hint.
Last year saw the show bring in their trusted workhorse directors Jeremy Podeswa and Mark Mylod, who have been staples of the production's directing team since Season 5. They brought in new blood with It's Always Sunny's Matt Shakman to cover the "Field Of Fire" episode. And they also reached into the wayback machine and got Alan Taylor, who hadn't directed since Season 2, to come in and direct the ice battle of "Beyond The Wall." Taylor is famous for early episodes like Season 1's "Baelor," and the Stark-heavy nature of this episode made sense to have him return.
But Shakman and Taylor were also brought in to help cover two of the biggest battle heavy episodes for a reason -- the "battle maestro" the show had come to lean on in the later seasons, Miguel Sapochnik, was not available to sign on for Game of Thrones' grueling six-month sequestration of a director's entire schedule.
Now, while Shakman and Taylor both did bang up jobs last year, Sapochnik was probably the preferred choice if they could have had him. His breakout episode with the production was Season 5's "Massacre at Hardhome," which smartly focused the emotional impact on a single female wildling desperate to protect her children from the Night King.
He followed it up with Season 6's "Battle of the Bastards," which was remarkable, not only for the groundbreaking nature of presenting a battle on the small screen, but for the entire back half of the battle, which was improvised when he realized they would never be able to finish the shoot as originally scripted. (Yes, the entire scene in the mass of humanity mud pit was completely improvised. That's why it felt like no other battle you've seen staged in a fantasy series.)
With that sort of legacy, it's a no-brainer the show would want him back for the final battles that the show will stage, including maybe even the big one where Daenerys Targaryen and her nephew, The Character Soon To Be Formerly Known As Jon Snow, Real Westerosi Hero, face down the Night King for the final time. And that's why this Instagram, posted by Game of Thrones cinematographer Fabian Wagner, is so exciting.
The photo is taken on the Battle of the Bastards field, not far from where Game of Thrones is filming Season 8 in Ireland, for which this team won an Emmy. That's Sapochnik holding it. Does that mean they're all there right now? We don't know -- the photo could be from last year. (Remember, they won the Emmy for Season 6 in 2016. Season 7 will be nominated next year.)
But it does suggest that the "team" is getting back together for the final season. Certainly Joe Bauer and Steve Kullback, the heads of VFX, are back. Caroline Valderson was Sapochnik's directorial assistant in Season 6. Are they back too?
While we'll have to wait and see which directors show up on set starting next month, the show has been upfront about how is penning which of the final episodes. (Unlike most U.S. based shows, Game of Thrones do their scripts the UK way, with a single writer -- or pair of writers -- assigned per episode, instead of a collaborative writers' room. It's one of the lasting legacies of the show, originally being a BBC co-production.)
Here, for those who are wondering, is that list:
Episode 1: Written by Dave Hill Episode 2: Written by Bryan Cogman Episodes 3-6: Written by Benioff & Weiss
Will Sapochnik be directing some of those final episodes? We'll hopefully find out soon.