On May 26, HBO released a documentary called Game of Thrones: The Last Watch. It was a two-hour behind-the-scenes look into how much effort and work was put into the hit drama by the crew members and cast.
HBO found director Jeanie Finlay to helm the entire documentary.
“My films are known for their intimacy and finding unconventional characters,” said Finlay. “I thought that trying to tell the story of 2,000 team members is just unfathomable. Then I thought about the way Game of Thrones is structured. It’s a big story in the larger world of Westeros but you learn it through key characters and focusing in on the personal. What I thought I need to do then is find the Seven Families, seven departments and then seven really great people and follow them through the final season.”
Finlay found one particular person that fans could feel a relatable connection to. Andrew McClay started with Game of Thrones in 2015 as a Baratheon soldier until pledging allegiance to Jon Snow as a Stark soldier in the “Battle of the Bastards.” McClay stayed alive throughout the entirety of the show, and the documentary.
“You see in real time in the film me finding out about Andrew McClay,” explained Finlay. “I was really fascinated by the casting department because I thought they were really the unsung heroes. You have like 500-600 extras on set during those big filming days. When Rachel recommended Andrew, I thought, ‘OK, I’ll find him.’ There were all these guys with big beards and extras jackets, so I learned the deep mythology, this idea that you could be a Stark but never a Bolton and you hate the Freys and all this. When I met Andrew, I just knew. Sometimes you just get so lost in filming when you’re following someone who’s got real charisma or exactly what you need. It’s like time slows down and you’re watching the film already. I just absolutely knew. As soon as I’d filmed him, I said, ‘I’ve found the heart of our film.’”
For Finlay, the final days of filming Game of Thrones were captured on the documentary as well as the goodbyes.
“I could feel the energy moving as we got toward the end of production,” said Finley. “It was really difficult because it’s not like you have one big explosion and that’s the last day. It’s not the end of school where everyone comes together then leaves. It’s a sad, long goodbye that was emotionally exhausting because people were leaving over two months because of the way filming was scheduled. I knew that Andy’s last day was going to be on the same day as Kit [Harington]. I knew that by interweaving Kit’s story with Andy’s story, we’d really feel what it was like to be the audience. Andrew was a stand in for the audience because he’s the person walking around set getting excited about Dothraki swords and asking me if I know what’s going to happen. Of course I told him, ‘You don’t want to know!’”
You can watch Game of Thrones: The Final Watch on HBO and HBO GO. The documentary is also available on Hulu through the HBO add-on subscription.