With a show as massive as Game of Thrones, it’s important to remember how many elements go into the production of such elaborate scenes and sequences, like the Battle of Winterfell, even if they did draw mixed reactions, like that it was not lit well enough. With Jeanie Finlay’s The Last Watch, fans get a final, inside look into the making of what essentially amounts to six small movies. Variety reports that each hour of filming often reached a budget of up to $15 million or more.
While the documentary does feature a few glimpses of the main stars like Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington, the focus is put more on the people behind the scenes, the crew members that are often glossed over in the end credits. Some of the featured characters in the documentary are Andrew McClay, a frequent minor cast member known as Aberdall Strongbeard according to Time. There was Sarah and Barrie Gower, a pair of parents and prosthetic makeup experts so devoted to the show that they were comfortable leaving their young daughter for a somewhat lengthy period of time to travel with the production. There are some bigger names too, like veteran executive producer Bernie Caulfield, described as the linchpin of production by D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. She describes the planning of season eight as something akin to an algebra equation, saying, “We keep messing with the puzzle. When that last piece fits, you’re like ‘Yeah, it worked.’”
The film also takes us back to the beginning of the show, giving us a peek at some of the earliest table reads, even showing off some “long dead” characters like Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa). It gives viewers a chance to see how much the cast has grown before showing one of the last table reads for the final season. On that day, the audience sees Harington react to the news that he’ll be the one to kill Daenerys (Clarke) firsthand and sees him and Clarke tear up a bit at the news. There are also some noticeable differences in the script read on the first day of production and what viewers saw on their screens in late spring 2019.
The film progresses chronologically, even if production doesn’t. Some scenes from episode six are filmed well before scenes from episodes four and five and audiences are reminded of the intricacies of television production. The documentary closes with a series of final reactions from big stars and background crew members alike, with Clarke saying goodbye to her braided blonde wigs and her hair specialist as well as McClay talking about the fact that while he wasn’t the main star, the show definitely changed his life.
The Wrap says the film is approximately two hours and is available to watch on all HBO platforms and extensions through other streaming services like Hulu.