A scene in the Hall of Faces in Game of Thrones (HBO)
For devoted followers of HBO’s Games of Thrones, the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros is a land they know intimately. Its castle halls, towering battlements, starkly beautiful landscapes, and torch-lit chambers are places that root the epic narrative in a highly detailed world that bridges the real and the imagined.
Production designer Deborah Riley, who joined the series in Season 4, is responsible for creating the visual environment against which the saga of power, family, revenge and romance plays out. Just as the show’s characters and plots reflect a range of world mythologies and legendary archetypes, so too does the look of Game of Thrones, for which Riley draws on a mix of historical periods, styles, and cultural traditions. Even the shooting locations—which extend from Northern Ireland to Croatia to Iceland—add to that global mix. Riley talks about how she and a small army of craftsmen give Game of Thrones its distinctive visual style in a conversation with Lisa Woolfork, an associate professor of English at the University of Virginia, who recently taught a class that analyzed Game of Thrones.
At a reception afterward, check out a replica Iron Throne (courtesy of HBO), and raise a toast with Game of Thrones beers from Ommegang Brewery, including the newest in the line, Bend the Knee.
Go behind the scenes as Deborah Riley talks about the process of production design as “visual storytelling.”