It's Saturday, Port Eliot is alive. The cold fizz from cups of Apple Slayer and soft pad of feet, as friends creep up on one another and embrace in laughter. The scrape and bat drum beat, of crepes being folded and patted, as their edges crisp. People are picnicking on the grass, children playing chase and shrieking; fresh flower crowns tied loosely around their heads, scenting the clement breeze. The blessedness of summer, drawing out felicity from each branch, bench and shadow. The inspirited atmosphere wears the sky like a halcyon cape, billowing out behind it - as it sweeps through everything and everyone like magic.
Inside the Bowling Green tent the anticipation turns the air to solstice frost. People have jostled into every spare space. They sit on the ground between chair aisles, stand in rows reaching the entrances. Children clamber onto tables at the back, rolling up programs to use as telescopes. The women enter the stage and the climate heaves. 'I'm sorry we're late, it's a long way from Westeros!' The crowd unite in laughter. What is apparent immediately, is the camaraderie between the three women being interviewed by Sarah Mower - Michele Clapton, Game of Thrones costume designer, Gemma Jackson, set designer and Gwendoline Christie, who plays the character of Briene of Tarth. Throughout the talk they joke, encourage and expand on one another's talent. Showing genuine admiration and an awareness of the cohesive importance of cast, production and design, giving credence to HBO's Game of Thrones success.
Sarah mower, fashion critic, contributing editor to U.S Vogue and co-chair of BFC NEWGEN committee, comes across on paper as being a successful but austere woman. With a needle point stare and golden flecked coiffure. But she conducts herself in an accessible and relaxed manner. 'I am probably quite an unlikely fan of Game of Thrones, but it's actually my son that originally got me into it, he is here today.' Throughout the interview she shouts out to him in the seated crowd, asking 'Have I pronounced that correctly Thomas?'
The talk starts by Sarah asking Gwendoline what drew her to the character of Brienne. 'She wasn't conventionally attractive and had a moral rigor about her.' Gwendoline talks in a bold clear voice. Her long black manteau dress, with ornate semi sheer neckline that gives way to waterfall noir sides, represents her powerfully elegant aura. A clip is played 'Brienne vs The Hound.' The audience wince and gasp as the fighting scene builds, a universal drawing in of breath through teeth, in reaction to Brienne pinning Sandor Clegane (Also nicknamed The Hound) with her sword. They lock eyes, and he shunts both gripped hands up the body of the sharp sword, blood spilling from his palms. The pair continue in battle, with Brienne victoriously overthrowing The Hound, with an intense barrage of solid hits. Everyone cheers and Gwendoline emits unquestionable pride.
The fight scene was worked on over two months. 'I would train two or three times a week for six hour sessions. He taught you how to fight but also saw how you (naturally) fight.' Gwendoline trained in Belfast with the stunts team, but the scene was filmed in Iceland. 'It was boiling hot. I was casseroling in my armour.' It took 3 days to shoot. Michele explains that she made leather versions of the armour to see what works. When Gwendoline was rolling on the floor she had to wear leather versions, as it was too dangerous to wear metal armour. 'A woman would not have been be able to have armour. So Her first set is designed to look like it is collated from various men's armour she has collected. Then Jamie gives her her own set.'
The conversation moves to later in the series when Brienne is humiliated by wearing a dress whilst fighting the bear. 'It was a personal injustice. It was about other peoples attitudes' says Gwendoline. Talking about how the dress isn't actually particularly ghastly or strikingly odd looking. Michelle explains she didn't actually want her to look ridiculous. 'It's more about having her choice taken away from her.'
Michelle Clapton expands on her process of costume design for GoT. 'I had three weeks on my own, just thinking about it. It was ten weeks prep in total. I remember looking out of a window in LA and seeing a TV the size of a wall, and thinking this is why we need to make sure it's right. If you actually held the pieces you could believe it belonged to that person (GoT character). The Starks are the first group of people we are introduced to. 'They don't trade, so have to use what is available to them. They have nothing to do in the evenings, they would embroider. It's cold, so they wouldn't wear metal armour. They would wear animal fur.' 'I would think what would they do?They lived near the sea, so we went to all the fish restaurants in Belfast and collected oyster shells. We though in their show-offy culture they would probably paint what they had killed on their clothes. Some have rabbits, some huge bisons.'
Referring to the Dothraki costumes Michele says 'It is about looking at history, but mainly why they dressed like that. People ask why does she (Daenerys) always wear the same costume. Well they are travelling, where do you think she gets new outfits from.' On the topic of the Dothraki tribe Gemma Jackson adds 'The carved penis chairs -I just loved them.' Mower asks why Michele chose to work in TV and film, rather than taking a career in fashion. 'I like working as part of a team. I like to find areas to be creative within. I like that you never know where you're going to go next, and the story telling element.'
'We are all control freaks, that's probably why we are good at our jobs' adds Jackson.
Gwendoline's career has soared to the headlines. 'I'm in the new Hunger Games and Star Wars.' Everyone cheers, she flushes clove pink and beams a huge rejoicing smile, as if she is genuinely overwhelmed herself. 'Haven't you won two Emmys and a multitude of other awards?' She says, turning to Michele in modesty. 'I think most people have won something on Game of Thrones' ... 'Not everyone!' Says Gwendoline, giving us a playful, mock appalled look. 'I've held your award though, I think it was in a Tesco bag' 'Yes, it's stayed in that since I received it. I just wanted to go and dance.'
GAME OF THRONES & HBO
©2015 Home Box Office, Inc.
please credit photos and images ©2015 Affinity with Plymouth University