Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Back From LA

Just back from a week in LA.

I did Conan (the O'Brien, not the Cimmerian) and the Today Show, and taped a segment for a BBC special about Machiavelli... along with the usual dozen or so meeetings.

Also, while in town, swung by the Bookstar in Studio City and signed all their stock of my books, which was considerable. So if you're an Angeleno or just visiting LA, and want to snag an autographed copy of one of my novels, get yourself to Studio City while the supply lasts.

And now I'm back in the land of wolves and savage dust storms, digging out from under.


Jun. 13th, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
Most of these people have obviously not read the books.

If they had, they would know there is no racial component to slavery as practiced on Essos. It is based on slavery as it existed in the ancient world. The Romans and Greek were just as willing to enslave other Greeks and Romans as they were Celts, Goths, Germans, and Africans. It's on the page.

However, when you are filming scenes in Morocco, and you put out a call for extras, it's Moroccans who show up. Most of them are darker skinned than our European actors (though there is actually a lot of different races and ethnic groups represented in the country, including Arabs, Berbers, Africans, French, etc). It is not so different from shooting a scene in Belfast and putting out a call for extras, whereupon a lot of Irish show up.

We fly our actors from country to country and continent to continent, at considerable expense, but that's not a practical consideration when dealing with extras. So in any big crowd scene, the prevailing skin color is always going to echo that of whatever the location is that you're shooting in.

But just for the record, yes, Dany is white, just as she has been from the beginning, and she may or may not be a savior (the last scene in "Mhysa" is not the end of her journey by any means), but she frees slaves of all colors, races, creeds, and nationalities.

Jun. 14th, 2013 11:03 am (UTC)
Well said, George :)
Jun. 15th, 2013 06:52 am (UTC)
Hey George,
Hopefully it's not too late to comment on this--but with all due respect (this is coming from someone who was so inspired by your work that I went back to school at 35 and recently graduated with an MFA in creative writing), I have to disagree with the above sentiments.

It seems a bit disingenuous to defend the show using the logic of the books--which in my mind are a light-years ahead of the HBO adaption in quality, but I digress.

The deft and nuanced world-building of your novels has for the most part been jettisoned by the showrunners, and without that, the scene is problematic.

Regardless of the financial and logistic production woes of the show--in terms of race and imagery, it was a poorly conceived scene, to say the least. All we're left with is what's there on the TV screen. To deny this is to deny history. Perhaps if we were living in some sort of apolitical vacuum, or on another planet, maybe the scene might have worked (actually, I take that back, unfortunately, it was also saccharine sweet maudlin Hollywood, in all the wrong ways).

A Storm of Swords portrayed this scene powerfully, but the HBO adaption muddied it with the real world baggage of race, colonialism, and lack of all common sense, which ruined audience immersion, yanking us out of Slaver's Bay, throwing us back into 21st century earth.

Though I can understand how you might be defensive, at the end of the day, how could you be blamed for this lazy depiction? You didn't write or direct the episode, and have no veto power in the production.

As you once quoted another author in an interview in Dragon Magazine many years ago--and I paraphrase--"Hollywood didn't ruin my books, they're right over there on the bookshelf."

And for that, I thank the Old Gods and the New.

Fanboy addendum--can't wait for The Winds of Winter and the new novella!

Respectfully yours,
Shawn Crawford

Edited at 2013-06-15 11:30 am (UTC)
Jun. 21st, 2013 07:28 pm (UTC)
I really do want extended debates about the show on my Not A Blog. There are other places for that -- on Westeros, on Winter Is Coming, on Tower of the Hand, on Television Without Pity. So those of you who want to continue this discussion should take it there.

I will address this issue one more time, however.

I suppose one could discuss aspects of the show in a vacuum, as if the novels never existed. Consider only what is on the screen. That is a perfectly valid approach. But not for me. I am the author of the novels. I have lived in this world, off and on, since 1991. I know what I wrote, I know what I intended... in the books.

Maybe I am too close to the material to consider the show only as a show, without reference to the novels. So, sure, one can say "what is in the books has no relevance to what was on the screen," and that's true enough for you, maybe... but what's in the books is sure as shit relevant to ME, and I will always go back to that.

That being said, I worked in TV for ten years, and I know a bit about how things work. I know the challenges that David and Dan and their crew face. In my last comment on this subject, I tried to explain some of the practicalities of production. Some people have dismissed this, saying in effect that it's the politics that matter, not the practicalities... but practicalities will always trump politics in television production.

In the instance of this scene, David and Dan were adapting material straight from the novel. I have not seen their script, but I would wager it reads something like, "the gates of the city open, and the slaves come pouring out. A few at first, then more and more, hundreds and then thousands." I very much doubt there is any mention of skin color.

Then the script goes to the director, in this case David Nutter. When planning the scene, his first question would be, "how many extras will the budget allow me?" In this case, I am told, about eight hundred extras were used. Some CGI was used in post to multiply those numbers further, make the crowds appear bigger.

So you are shooting in Morocco. You need eight hundred extras. You put out the call, and people show up, hoping for a few days work. Usually you get way more extras than you actually need, allowing you to pick and choose the "looks" you want. That's certainly true when you're using twenty extras, or fifty, or a hundred.

When you are hiring eight hundred, though... well, I have no idea how many turned out, but it is entirely possible that the show hired every man, woman, and child who applied. I doubt that many applicants were turned away. And certainly no one was turned away for reason of race. If the job applicants had been more ethnically and racially diverse, the crowd on screen would have been more ethnically and racially diverse, but they weren't.

As for Dany's whiteness... well, there wasn't much we could have done about that. The character has been established since 1991, and Emilia is playing her superbly
Jun. 18th, 2013 12:07 am (UTC)
I actually had a similar concern precisely because I did read the books. I remembered there wasn't meant to be a racial component to the slavery in Essos, and therefore felt it was a shame to have the scene filmed in a such a way.

Definitely understand the costliness of flying people in and the amount of time it would take to find more nationalities to fill up the screen, but I would have appreciated more of an effort when it came to that specific scene, because of the implications it could have (especially on those who haven't read the books and might therefore not understand the nuance, as you suggested).

Hopefully next season will have a more varied POC representation in other locations throughout the show. Basically, I'm holding my breath in anticipation of the Martells, whom I adore with every fiber of my being. ;)

I really love the series, though, and appreciate the time and energy you've spent crafting the world and writing the books - and I love HBO for bringing it to life on the small screen.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

Latest Month

April 2018


Page Summary

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner