‘Game of Thrones’: One Action Scene Featuring Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Took 18 Days to Film

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed television series of all-time. Despite its much discussed and mostly hated series finale, the fantasy epic is an amazing achievement and a modern marvel of visual film-making.

One of the most impressive creations in the show is the trio of incredibly realistic computer-generated imagery (CGI) dragons, which blend seamlessly with the show’s real elements and actors. Following their hatch at the end of season one, the three dragons Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion, grow from tiny hatchlings to fire-breathing giants that dominate the skies.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen on ‘Game of Thrones’ | Helen Sloan/HBO

The actor that interacts with the CGI dragons is their mother, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). Shooting and editing scenes that involved the dragons was a challenge for the creative team behind the show, especially complicated battle seasons in later seasons.

One of the longest and most difficult Game of Thrones sequences to shoot was in the season seven episode The Spoils of War, which lasted 18 days for Clarke and her character Daenerys. 

What is ‘Game of Thrones’ about?

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Based on the series of novels by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones combines fire-breathing dragons, familial and political drama, taboo romances, explicit violence, blood magic, and an army of undead ice zombies to create an epic and unforgettable fantasy tale. The show ran on HBO for eight seasons, focusing on a wide range of characters both good and evil.

The main goal of many of these characters is to sit upon the Iron Throne, which gives them domain over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. The main familial groups that compete for the Iron Throne are the Starks, Arryns, Baratheons, Tullys, Greyjoys, Lannisters, Tyrells, Martells, and Targaryens. The Targaryen claim to the throne lies in who is thought to be the last of the dragon-blooded family, Daenerys. 

Who is Daenerys Targaryen in ‘Game of Thrones?’

Tied with her nephew/lover turned murderer Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and her mortal enemy Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) for the second most episode appearances in Game of Thrones, Daenerys is one of the main characters in the long-running series. Also known by her preferred name — Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons — Daenerys is the last of the powerful Targaryen family.

The Targaryen’s founded and dominated Westeros for hundreds of years, until the Usurper Robert Baratheon defeated Daenerys brother Prince Rhaegar and father King Aerys, to claim the Iron Throne. Daenerys begins her story on the show with a forced marriage to Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), during which she receives three priceless dragon eggs as a wedding gift.

Eventually, Daenerys and her eggs are placed into a large fire, of which the Khaleesi emerges unburnt and with her three dragon children. The dragons grow both in size and importance in the show, especially as Daenerys grows bolder in her attempt to win the Iron Throne. 

What Daenerys-centric scene took 18 days to film? 

In season seven of the show, Daenerys and her army begin their invasion of Westeros as the last remaining Targaryen looks to reclaim her rightful place on the Iron Throne. Her first major military move in her conquest was to destroy a Lannister train of supplies and loot with her fierce dragon-son, Drogon.

According to Mental Floss, this attack is referred to as the “Loot Train Attack” by the show’s creator D.B. Weiss, who has said that the epic sequence took 18 days of production to shoot. The challenging scene took nearly three weeks to shoot due to the 80 shots that Daenerys and Drogon appeared in together.

Shooting Drogon and the other dragons is extremely technical, and extremely expensive. In the end, all the hard work and time put into the scene resulted in an impressive show of power, both for Daenerys and her dragon, as well as the Game of Thrones creative team.