Stories of how Game of Thrones showrunners, David Benioff and Dan Weiss, struggled to get the show off the ground is basically television lore at this point. But as it turns out, not only was it a miracle that the show was made at all, the duo proved that they’re just another pair of white men who managed to fail their way upwards.
With the backlash over the final Game of Thrones season finally over (more or less), David Benioff and Dan Weiss emerged from their hiding place to do a panel for the Austin Film Festival. Talking about how the show came together, it seems like it was less about being meticulously prepared and more “making it up was we went along and hoping for the best.”
Twitter user ForArya managed to keep a record of what was said by the duo and it was a surprisingly open and frank discussion on how the pair got away with everything in making the show.
They talked about their meeting with George R.R. Martin and the duo were forced to admit to the author that they didn’t have any TV credentials or experience, and was baffled why he trusted them with “his life’s work.” Trust me, we’re wondering too.
The revealing anecdotes only escalated from there as they again talked about how awful the original Game of Thrones pilot episode was before revealing how they made every mistake that was possible to make in the process, and yet HBO still went ahead with the show because apparently the network had a lot riding on the series.
One good thing did come of this phase and that was the casting of Jason Momoa, who David and Dan found by scouring internet fan pages, so there’s a silver lining of sorts at least.
The duo revealed how woefully ill-equipped they were when it came to working with various production departments, such as the costume designers, and how making Game of Thrones was essentially film school for them that was funded by HBO.
Perhaps the most surprising (or unsurprising) reveal was how David and Dan didn’t understand the many characters in the series. Since this is a fundamental problem in any TV show, the pair resorted to letting the actors do the work for them by allowing them to define the characters before simply writing for the actors.
On the topic of the writing for Game of Thrones, the show was notable for the lack of a writer’s room compared to other shows and it was simply because David and Dan “didn’t know better” and decided to write everything themselves.
HBO twisted their arm and they eventually hired Bryan Cogman (their assistant) to write for the show. When asked why there weren’t women or people of colour writing for them, the pair said they had Vanessa Taylor and David Hill (who is of Asian descent) do some writing for them but they wouldn’t properly hire writers unless they were willing to be part of the production team, presumably because they knew they were in over their heads and desperately needed help.
Vanessa ultimately ended up leaving Game of Thrones to write The Shape of Water with Guillermo Del Toro and was nominated for an Oscar for it.
When asked about the actual writing process and how they tried to understand and condense the novels’ dense themes and elements into something digestible for TV, David and Dan basically said “nah, we didn’t do any of that actually.”
In addition to removing “as many fantasy elements as possible” to appeal to a wide audience, the duo said that since Game of Thrones‘ scope was so big, they boiled it down to a show about “power.”
With so much they didn’t know about both Game of Thrones and making TV in general, you would’ve thought David Benioff and Dan Weiss would go around seeking as much feedback as possible.
Turns out they tried that once but got upset after reading some fan feedback online and decided to not bother going forward.
The entire thread is stuffed full of tea and deserves to be read in full. But the biggest takeaway from it all, other than David Benioff and Dan Weiss being incompetent filmmakers who somehow conned HBO into greenlighting Game of Thrones, is how the entire series is yet another depressing example of more white men failing their way into success.
There’s no denying that film and TV productions are the result of many mistakes, compromises and a whole lot of trial and error. But hearing the creators of the biggest fantasy series ever admit that they were woefully ill-equipped for the task or why they were even given the greenlight in the first place is a big kick in the teeth to all the equally – if not better – qualified women and people of colour who were denied these sorts of opportunities over the years simply because they weren’t white men who can bullcrap their way through almost anything.