Game of Thrones is the HBO adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s popular book series, A Song of Ice and Fire. A Game of Thrones is the first book in the series, clearly the inspiration for the less than unique title of the HBO series. A Family of Thrones is the story – with a really unique, inspired, cool title – of a family during the holidays as they deal with each other, some visitors and life-changing moments. The serious, murderous Game of Thrones series is viewed through a very different lens in A Family of Thrones – an emotional holiday tale that is ultimately hopeful.
Specific links to course readings
I think my most employed tool in the trailer is the fade-out. The cuts would have been too jarring, abrupt without the fade, technically and emotionally speaking (Dick 16). The fade provides a sort of buffer between the slower and faster paced shots or the contrasting lighted shots. Transitions between the different character segments are buffered with fades to provide a more natural rhythm than just cutting straight to the next segment.So, for the second and third connection to our readings, Dick shows that… Kidding, kidding. I do have another author, I promise.
A Family of Thrones relies on, I think like most of the trailers the class created, the notion that the viewer already has prior sources in their minds that the elements in the trailer can call on (Sobchack 2). I’m relying on the viewers to have seen the emotional stories that show a family coming together, each member going through something that help them realize themselves better. The somber but uplifting song with the shots of the characters at their happiest and their most vulnerable shows a glimpse of the journey that each Stark is going to take before the story is over. At the same time, it isn’t just completely derivative of previous works because of the medieval setting. I think this adds a unique spin on it because it is in this different setting and culture yet there are still themes that everyone can relate to.
With the time constraint and the limited footage to manipulate, I had to piece shots together that I thought implied a certain event or outcome for a character’s progression without having to actually show it. Allowing the viewer to finish the picture themselves, I think, would be more rewarding to the viewers and would help deliver my message better (McCloud 75). A specific example of this is showing the scene where Theon is speaking to Robb about how he’s a man now then cutting to the footage of him visibly distraught, a nearby tree being hacked to shreds by his sword. By providing enough of a seed to take root but not showing the entire tree itself, the viewers can become an accomplice, making them more invested in the story that they helped fully flesh out.
Rationale for creative choices
My initial reaction when the thought of using Game of Thrones as a base was that I had to go the complete opposite. The seed for a family story was there since, if one was to be reductive about it, Game of Thrones does star the Starks. I wanted it to have this family element during the holiday, a season that is universally attached to joy. Other characters would also play a part: Bobby B (Robert Baratheon) would play a Santa that would inevitably die, Tyrion would play an elf (I’m not above using height, or lack of, as a gimmick) and the Lannister twins as the killers of Santa.
But, of course, plans are very different from reality. This web of intrigue was difficult to narrate without dozens of titles and then it was difficult to keep the theme cheerful. I changed a lot of things around: adding a cheerful Christmas song (Sleigh Ride by Boston Pops) as the background music for the whole trailer and happy, cheerful shots of the Stark family (which, of course, made my selection limited to the first two episodes – after that is all blood and sex).
I thought I was done yet it seemed empty. It wasn’t very exciting or really telling anything. Music and random, out of context shots of people did NOT make a movie. So, in the end, I settled to axe everything but the idea of this family. It starts of cheery (same music) with an abridged scene showing the Stark family being, well, a family but the music stops after a minute and then Wake Up by Arcade Fire starts playing while segments of each Stark member is shown, with important character shots.
This version, the one I submitted, works for a number of reasons. The character archetypes are familiar to most viewers and lend some context to these characters even though the viewers see them briefly. There’s now a narrative, however vague it is, that adds an extra pull for viewers, instead of merely shots of a family looking happy. The move to allow highlights from each character’s story really made the trailer work. It gave the trailer an atmosphere and emotion.
Frustrations, difficulties, and solutions
If I haven’t made it clear previously, Game of Thrones is a show that is almost the complete opposite of the genre that I wanted my trailer to be. Some trailers are easier to accomplish when the genre is sort of similar or when a comedy is being turned into a something serious. The opposite, something serious to something that isn’t, is far more difficult. Showing shots of comedic characters looking at things out-of-context, with the right music, can easily be portrayed as creepy while someone’s head being chopped off can’t really be turned into something more cheerful (with happy music, it only turns sadistic). I’m not saying that my trailer is so much of a higher form of trailer than others, I just think that there’s a bit more consideration in which shots go into the trailer. At some point, especially when using Game of Thrones, one must use shots where people aren’t smiling (those are in SUCH limited quantity) so it’s important to frame these shots in a way that doesn’t distract from the lighter, more hopeful mood of the genre that A Family of Thrones is aiming for.
A lot of the most difficult choices I had to make were covered on top. I didn’t come across any technical problems or anything, it was all creative choices. In those terms, there were some things that I would change. There’s specifically a part in Arya’s part (the rebel) where there’s a shot that last about a second, it’s really jarring when it flashes by. It’s like a rabbit hiding or something but with no easter egg! There’s also some of the shots I chose for the latter people, namely Arya and the Stark parents, were less exciting and probably didn’t convey as much emotion as the shots for early characters. Maybe some transition between the audio tracks and some shots. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the turnout though!
Oh, writing this blog post is pretty difficult!
Bernard Dick (2002). “Film, space, and image,” excerpt from Anatomy of Film. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s.
Scott McCloud (1994) Understanding comics: The invisible art. New York: HarperPerennial.
Thomas Sobchak (1975, Summer). Genre film: A classical experience. Literature Film Quarterly, 3(3), 196.