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Among Game of Thrones' 32 nominations are three for the editors on the HBO fantasy series' final season. Katie Weiland earned a nom for the "Iron Throne" episode, Crispin Green for "Winterfell" and Tim Porter for "The Long Night." Porter, who over the years has earned three previous nominations and one Emmy for his work on the series, talked with The Hollywood Reporter about this chapter, which featured a massive battle sequence that finally saw the end of the Night King.
What was the biggest editing challenge to "The Long Night," and how did you approach it?
"The Long Night" is essentially a continuous action sequence from beginning to end, with very little dialogue. The challenges came from constructing the narrative mainly through the action. It was a constant search for the correct rhythm, tension building, hope, fear, when to feel that all is lost and finding unspoken moments between characters that the audience could engage with.
How did you approach so many different characters and keep their stories all moving forward?
Integrating all the pieces of the puzzle and individual battles across the episode was something that really appealed to me. It meant finding the right recipe to keep all of the characters present. I spent a lot of time exploring ways of structuring and intercutting the sequences to find the balance.
For me it's a feel thing, when something begins to flow, you know you're in the right spot. It was important that this wasn't simply a fast-paced battle episode, as "battle fatigue" can set in very quickly. The episode worked as three acts. The opening act slowly built the tension with the threat of the Army of the Dead's imminent arrival, leading into wild action and mayhem, then slowing down in the final act with Ramin Djawadi's amazing score synthesizing the intercut of the Night King's entrance and our heroes fighting for their lives and ultimately Arya's arrival and her slaying of the Night King.
How would you describe cutting Arya's suspenseful scene in the library?
The starting point was to cut this sequence to director Miguel Sapochnik's brief: He described it as "survival horror." This sequence never really changed from the first time that I cut it. It was beautifully choreographed and shot — Maisie Williams (Arya) moves so well, silently dancing through the scene; the timing of her avoiding the Wights who appear at every turn was really impressive. We end the sequence with her running through the endless corridors of Winterfell pursued by frenzied Wights, not knowing her fate. The sequence played mainly without music, and the sound team created a fantastic auditory experience from her point of view.
You let the audience sort of lose her before the big reveal at the end of the battle.
As there were so many characters fighting different battles, we were trying to make sure that we weren't away from each beat for too long, keeping the characters under pressure and the audience involved with their plight. All except for Arya, we wanted to lose her, to take the focus off where she was, and what she was doing, until we see her entrance into the Godswood to save the day.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
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