HBO fans were forced to bid farewell to the #1 fantasy drama to have ever existed. I sat down prior to the finale with AlterEgo Sr. Editor and award-winning Sound Designer, Nate Hoeft, to reminisce on his days spent working on the series
*spoiler alerts below
Heather: When did you first hear of GoT? Were you already a fan or did you hear about it through work?
Nate: I had a few friends who were wayyyyy into the books, so I’d heard about the series a few months before the first trailer dropped for Season 1. I didn’t know much except that they were insanely excited, which was enough for me to give it a look. At the time, I was working for a trailer shop that didn’t really have a relationship with HBO, so everything that came out about the show was as new to me as any other fan.
Heather: What was the project you received?
Nate: About a month prior to the Season 6 premiere, the company I was working for was offered the opportunity to cut a teaser/trailer, which would then be put through what is known in the industry as a “bake off.” This is an incredibly common process, which is: different trailers from several competing vendors are sent to studio execs and the directors/show runners, who then pick a winner that is released to the public. On a major film or TV release (like GoT) there are upwards of 7-8 different trailers that are fully concepted, produced and edited….. and never see the light of day. Sadly, this was one of those times. Our trailer was apparently the runner-up to the one that was released for Season 6.
Heather: Who were you up against?
Nate: I honestly, to this day, have no idea.
We were aware of one big one, there were very few spoilers, even for us!
Heather: What was it like to first receive the footage?
Nate: I was definitely excited to have been given the opportunity, but HBO is so tight-lipped about GoT that we only had network-approved scenes and selects to work with. Of the 10 episodes in the season, I think we had footage from maybe 6 or 7 of them. And none of them were full-length. Although we were aware of one big one, there were very few spoilers, even for us!
Heather: What was the security process?
Nate: For this project, the only people who could view material were myself, my producer, and one assistant editor. Our AE would comb footage for specific shot needs that I had, and my producer (also an editor) would review edits and all of the material as well, so he could shoot me ideas quickly.
Everyone always asks for inside info, but deep down they don’t really want to hear it
Heather: How did you deal with NOT being able to talk about it?
Nate: Here’s the thing: everyone always asks for inside info, but deep down they don’t really want to hear it. It’s just not as enjoyable if you know ahead of time. My wife watches the show as closely as I do, and she jokingly asked for details, but I knew she wanted to see things unfold in realtime. And she didn’t bug me too much. Thankfully, this wasn’t a project we were working on for 3-6 months. I only had a few weeks before the rest of the world also knew that Jon Snow was alive (!!!)
Heather: If you could have cut one thing for GoT what would it have been (trailer, episode, scene … )?
Nate: I really enjoyed cutting the trailer. I moved to LA with the dream of editing features, or at least episodic TV. While that would still be an amazing experience, I’ve come to appreciate the immense amount of work and creativity needed to make trailers that inspire and leave audiences awe-struck. I was disappointed that my work on Game of Thrones was never released, but in the world of trailer editing if your work finishes 30% of the time then that’s still all-star level talent.
Heather: What is your favorite scene ever?
Nate: Such a difficult choice here. I feel like everyone’s go-to is The Red Wedding. While I was as shocked as everyone, it doesn’t have the re-watchability factor for me. In this moment I’d probably pick The Battle of the Bastards. Which I know is an entire episode, but from the first arrow launched, it all plays as one scene for me. It gave the audience such a satisfying death to the most despicable character in Westerns, but seeing the battle almost solely through Jon’s eyes was a visceral experience unmatched by anything outside of Saving Private Ryan.
Heather: Most unexpected scene?
Nate: Is and always will be The Red Wedding. Ned’s Head is a close second, but after you heard the final notes of “The Rains of Castamere” you knew that truly nobody was safe.
And her trail of revenge killings was always good TV
Heather: Favorite character/actor?
Nate: I was always a fan of Arya, and Maisie Williams does such a great job. Her character has come so far and seen so much that it was awesome to see her be the one to kill the Night King. And her trail of revenge killings was always good TV.
Heather: If you could live in any of the kingdoms, which one would you chose and why?
Nate: We never got to see much of Dorne, but everyone raves about the wine and the weather, so that would probably suit me just fine.
Heather: Who is going to win … Team Dani or Team Snow?
Nate: Team Snow. He’s the moral arc of the show, and the closest to the honorable Ned Stark as anyone. From the beginning of season 7 I could tell there was something wrong with Danerys. She’s just never seemed like she felt comfortable in Westeros. Cerise always call her “The Usurper” and she’s right. The people hated Cersei, but they never would have loved Dany the way she wanted them to. Jon’s never wanted it, but everywhere he’s been on the show he’s been chosen to lead. If there’s a destiny on Game of Thrones, it’s Jon’s. He is the one who was promised.