Episode one of StoryTech gets off to a flying start as Jeff speaks to Jeremy Podeswa - one of the lead directors of the global phenomenon Game of Thrones. Currently working in Paris on his next venture for Apple TV, Jeremy shares his experience bringing HBOs most successful series to life and how technology is helping directors tell grander and more ambitious stories.
From green-screen action scenes to creating dragons and whitewalkers, CGI played a large role in bringing the world of Westeros to life. Jeremy is no stranger to working with computer graphics or its potential to turn fantasy into reality. As he explains to Jeff by exploring one of the most famous scenes from Game of Thrones: the moment when the mythic ice wall came crashing down.
He breaks down the process that began with a line on a page and ended in 12 minutes of computer-produced epic drama. It took months of planning and some impressive tricks and techniques from the computer graphics team.
You can listen to episode one of StoryTech free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Amazon Music right now. Or if you’re more of a reader, just scroll down for the full episode transcript and highlights from this week’s episode.
Jeremy Podeswa is a director with a staggeringly impressive list of TV credits including Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead, True Detective, The Handmaid’s Tale, Six Feet Under and Rome.
Jeremy has lived through the changes in film technology over the last 40 years. And, after directing some of Game of Thrones most watched episodes, he has a unique perspective to talk about how computer graphics are changing the TV and movie industries. This is a fascinating look at how the visual world of Westeros was created through the eyes of someone at the helm.
This 32 minute podcast episode was transcribed in 15 minutes by Trint’s super-powered AI. View the full transcript below or jump ahead to notable points from Jeff’s interview with Jeremy Podeswa.
[00:00:02] Jeff (V/O): This is StoryTech. I'm Jeff Kofman.
[00:00:07] Attendant: Hello. Hi.
[00:00:09] Jeff: Nice to meet you. So I need to do a COVID test?
[00:00:10] Attendant: Yeah, because it's a lot of extra, a lot of people.
[00:00:14] Jeff: That's fine. Yeah.
[00:00:15] Jeff (V/O): Back in November, I made a trip to Paris to visit Cité du Cinema. The huge film studio complex in Saint-Denis on the city's north side, one of the main hubs for French TV and film productions. Before I was allowed inside, I had to stop for a COVID test.
[00:00:31] Jeff: I might sneeze. Okay. Thank you.
[00:00:34] Attendant: Okay. If we don't tell you, it's negative.
[00:00:37] Jeff: Okay. Okay. So I can go now?
[00:00:39] Jeff (V/O): I came here to watch the filming of a glittering new series for Apple TV Plus called The New Look. It's about the historic rivalry between fashion designers Christian Dior and Coco Chanel. With a budget of $100 million for ten episodes. They told me it's the most expensive American film project ever shot in France.
[00:01:04] Jeff (V/O): The set is breathtaking. Paris, at its most glamorous, a perfect reproduction of Dior's 1947 showroom. I'm watching the reenactment of the most famous fashion show in history with 150 actors in dazzling costumes and an equally dazzling slate of A-list Hollywood stars. Glenn Close, Juliette Binoche, Ben Mendelsohn, Maisie Williams and John Malkovich. Yeah, I'm a bit star struck.
[00:01:32] Jeff: Wow, there are a lot of people.
[00:01:36] Jeff (V/O): But the reason I'm here is to see the director, Jeremy Podeswa.
[00:01:41] Jeff (V/O): Jeremy has an impressive list of TV credits. Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead, True Detective, The Pacific, The Handmaid's Tale, Six Feet Under, Rome. He also happens to be one of my oldest friends. He was an aspiring filmmaker in Toronto in the 1990s struggling to break through, when I was a young reporter at the CBC. I moved to CBS and ABC. He moved to Hollywood.
[00:02:09] Jeremy: Okay, here we go. Okay Teddy lets go.
[00:02:13] Jeff (V/O): Jeremy has lived the changes in film technology over the last 40 years while working on dozens of TV shows and movies. But for StoryTech, I wanted to talk to him about one show in particular. Game of Thrones. Jeremy was one of the lead directors on HBO's most successful series, directing some of the most watched episodes ever. Game of Thrones is fantasy - flying dragons and a 700-foot ice wall. It's brought to life with computer-generated imagery or CGI. Today, Jeremy is going to take us inside one of the most famous scenes from Game of Thrones - the finale of season seven, The Fall of the Wall.
[00:03:04] Jeremy: Here we go. And, action.
[00:03:09] Jeff (V/O): From Antica Productions, Trint and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in cooperation with WAER Syracuse and NPR member station. This is StoryTech.
[00:03:27] Jeff (V/O): This is a personal journey I want to share with you. I spent the first 30 years of my career as a broadcast journalist, foreign correspondent and war correspondent, and the last eight years as founder and CEO of Trint - a tech company focused on transcription and streamlining the workflow of storytelling. We have seen so much technological change come at us so fast. The idea behind this podcast is to explore how those changes have shaped what we watch, what we read, and what we listen to. Today, CGI and how the wall came down.
[00:04:13] Jeff (V/O): The day after I visited Jeremy on set, I sat down with him in an apartment in Paris's Marais district. It's been his home for three months while he's been directing for Apple TV Plus. I wanted to talk to him though about Game of Thrones. But I had to ask him about something else. Seeing Jeremy working on this $100 million project with huge superstars, it all felt a little surreal for me because I knew Jeremy back in the 1990s when he was a struggling indie filmmaker. I wondered what he thought about the transition from that part of his life to what he's doing now.
[00:04:49] Jeremy: Well, you know, interestingly like my work as a director is the same. It doesn't really change like your, you know, when you get right down to it, you've got people in a room or people somewhere and they're talking and interacting and you're telling a narrative and it's storytelling. I think the only thing that's changed is that the apparatus is bigger. But for me, it's been bigger for 25 years. But from where I started from when I made films and we had a crew of 50 people and there was no visual effects, obviously. The stories I was telling when I was younger were very intimate, personal, contemporary stories. And then when I started to work in television, I started with Six Feet Under, which was very much my comfort zone because it was contemporary, intimate storytelling. And then did Carnivàle, which was a bigger period show. And then I went to Rome, which is a bigger period show.
[00:05:34] Jeff: So which was the first one that involved CGI. Where did you first meet CGI?
[00:05:38] Jeremy: Carnivàle was the first one because there were magical sequences in there and dreams and things like that which required...
[00:05:43] Jeff: And did you feel like you'd acquired a new paintbrush?
[00:05:46] Jeremy: Yes, I think when I started to do Carnivàle, it was when I really sort of learned a lot about what's possible with visual effects. And then it was a very quick, steep learning curve of going from there to Rome, which had a lot more, and then to the Pacific and then to whatever else came after that.
[00:06:04] Jeff (V/O): It may be obvious that a show like Carnivàle or Game of Thrones uses a lot of computer graphics. But even realistic shows like The New Look, the Dior series Jeremy's in Paris to shoot, rely on visual effects a lot more than you might think.
[00:06:19] Jeremy: Computer generated imaging can be like, you know moving a pencil from here to here on the table if you don't like where it was, or get rid of somebody's wrinkles, or change the clouds in the sky because you don't like them. You can do it for things like that, which are not readily noticeable by anybody watching a film. Or you can use it to create an entirely virtual environment.
[00:06:43] Jeff: And a really good example of that is the ice wall in Game of Thrones. You directed season seven episode seven, the finale for the second last year of Game of Thrones. And that ice wall is obviously a complete computer fabrication.
[00:06:57] Jeremy: Well the part of the top of the wall is real. To me, the most effective use of CGI when you're creating an entirely new environment is that you have some real elements in front of it that you build off of. And so to have everything unreal makes it very challenging I think, to sell it as a true environment. Although these days they are doing amazing things. But I still think having something concrete for the actors to interact with and a set piece that kind of suggests what the extension would be is really, really important and helpful. So with the top of the wall we had, I don't know how many meters of the top of the wall built on the soundstage in Belfast, and that's, you know, the top part of the ice wall. But it's relatively small compared to what you see on the show.
[00:07:34] Jeff: For people who don't know the ice wall, could you describe the mythic scale of that ice wall?
[00:07:39] Jeremy: Yes, it's meant to be the dividing wall between the north and the south. It goes from the sea inland for miles and miles and miles. And it's a miles high wall, which was for centuries in the mythology of the show, impenetrable. And in the story point in this is that the wall finally comes down after thousands of years of standing, and it's brought down by the Army of the Dead and the Night King, and if you're not watching the show it's all going to be really confusing to you. But that's, that's Game of Thrones.
[00:08:10] Jeff: There is whole layers of mythology here that we're talking about.
[00:08:14] Jeremy: So the important thing to know is that the wall comes down unexpectedly because it was meant to be impenetrable and it was for so long.
[00:08:20] Jeff: So the final sequence in that episode, you're probably better at describing it than I am. But with a bird's eye view sweeping up over the wall, guards are watching. They see this, the White Walkers is it emerging from the forest? And then a dragon is ridden.
[00:08:39] Jeremy: By the Night King.
[00:08:40] Jeff: By the Night King. Towards the wall? Then what happens?
[00:08:44] Jeremy: The dragon breathes blue flame, which burns the ice of the wall, and the wall comes down.
[00:08:54] Jeff: So you directed that sequence?
[00:08:56] Jeremy: Yes.
[00:08:56] Jeff (V/O): What did that look like when they had to do the script?
[00:08:59] Jeremy: Well, you know, it's funny because this is the kind of thing where, you know, it's like Rome burns is like one line. And then it's of course, it's like, you know a massive thing to create. So there was the same thing. It's like if the wall comes down, it was like a line.
[00:09:09] Jeff: Really? That whole sequence.
[00:09:11] Jeremy: Well, I think the entire sequence with the people on the wall and all that stuff was maybe like the last page of a long script. And I get to the last page and I read it and I was like, Whoa, okay, how are we going to do that? That's like, That's a lot. So then it becomes my job to kind of like, take the few kind of like hints that are in the script. I mean, the script was actually fairly descriptive. It was just brief. And I knew that this was going to be like for the show. It's a massive sequence and it's going to be ten or 15 minutes. It's going to be a thing that's going to be looked at and talked about for a long time because it's something that's been a long time coming. We're season seven in the show. Everybody's been talking about the wall forever as being impenetrable, and now it's finally coming down. So it had to be like a meal and then it becomes a whole thing of, okay, well, how do we make this a meal? Like, how do we make this really exciting and surprising and beautiful and scary and all those things at the same time? Then my work begins.
[00:10:05] Jeff (V/O): Step one of that process - inside Jeremy's head.
[00:10:09] Jeremy: The first thing I do is I don't even think about visual effects first. All I just think about is storytelling. And I imagine in my mind that every single thing is real and every single thing is possible. And if I'm seeing this movie in my head, what do I see?
[00:10:21] Jeff (V/O): Step two - Jeremy makes a rough storyboard.
[00:10:25] Jeremy: I'm not the greatest artist in the world, but I can convey something in a drawing to other people. So what I do is I just start to kind of like, think what I want to see as an audience member of how the story is being visualized. So I make sketches that are not great, but they're good enough.
[00:10:41] Jeff (V/O): Step three - he sends it to the storyboard artist.
[00:10:45] Jeremy: Who does better versions of my drawings that communicate better than mine.
[00:10:48] Jeff: Yours aren't going to end up at a museum.
[00:10:51] Jeremy: Err no, but they will end up in archive somewhere. But not a museum.
[00:10:55] Jeff (V/O): Step four - after some back and forth between Jeremy and the artists, the storyboard goes to the producers.
[00:11:02] Jeremy: And they sign off on it.
[00:11:04] Jeff (V/O): Step five - the storyboard starts to come to life.
[00:11:07] Jeremy: And then it goes to the visual effects group. And then the first thing they do is what's called an animatic where you take the storyboards, the actual storyboards, and you animate them. You do like a sort of graphic novel in motion, so close up of this person, shot of that, and you see it in a sequence. And what they do is they'll put in a voiceover doing the actors dialog and they'll put in sound effects and they'll put in music sometimes so you can actually watch it and it starts to feel like a scene.
[00:11:35] Jeff (V/O): Step six - the flat animations go three dimensional.
[00:11:39] Jeremy: And they do a previsualization or previs and then they do like a 3D rendering. They take the characters, they have like avatars of the characters they put into a 3D world and they tell my story with their renderings. It's like it now becomes like a 3D cartoon, a 3D animated film of the sequence.
[00:11:58] Jeff (V/O): Which is followed by more rounds of refining by Jeremy, the visual effects team and the producers.
[00:12:04] Jeremy: And so the sequence looks like what we want the finished sequence to look like.
[00:12:08] Jeff: The one that I actually see on TV.
[00:12:09] Jeremy: The one you see. And so the 3D rendering is like a sort of animated version of the final show. And then you take that 3D version of the show and it's like, okay, well, what now is real? Like, what are we gonna do with actors and what's going to be visual effects? And then if it is shot real, where and how do we shoot the real part? It's all these different like bits and pieces that make up the story. So now it becomes a process of like unpacking it and it's like, okay, well, we have the real Night King. We don't have a dragon. So the way we do people on dragons, which has been established in the show is you have them on what we call a bark, which is like a, just a fake thing that kind of moves like a dragon that they sit on.
[00:12:52] Jeff: It's like a saddle, like one of those things that you see in the rodeos?
[00:12:55] Jeremy: Exactly. It's like when you go into a bar and you do like a rodeo eight seconds thing and you get thrown off this mechanical bull. That's basically what they're on.
[00:13:02] Jeff: With a greenscreen around them.
[00:13:03] Jeremy: With a greenscreen around them. And then that mechanical bull becomes the dragon animated.
[00:13:07] Jeff: And I'm curious, is he in costume at that point?
[00:13:09] Jeremy: Oh, yeah. He's completely in costume and he's completely you know, he's the guy.
[00:13:13] Jeff: Right. And before we go further, between your crude sketches and that moment, how much time is it?
[00:13:20] Jeremy: Months.
[00:13:20] Jeff: Months?
[00:13:21] Jeremy: That was months and months of planning for a sequence like this. So I come on very, very early. And I should say in this particular case to there's a slight switch in what I said, which is that because the sequence is so huge and there's, I mean we have a lot of time for a TV show but it's not a lot of time for this kind of very elaborate sequence. The visual effects department will sometimes come up with their own version of an animatic before I've even started. And so they'll do like their own rendering of the story from their perspective, just to kind of get a jump start on everything. So then what ends up happening is like my version and their version becomes a bit of a meld that I'm supervising because some of their ideas are great and maybe I didn't think in my storyboards to do this shot or that shot, but they've created a shot that's really cool. So I can start to like meld their ideas with my ideas and then that's how we get the finished thing.
[00:14:10] Jeff: Okay, so you've got the finished thing, but what does it look like then on the day of shooting for the actors?
[00:14:16] Jeremy: The thing is with something like this there's many days of shooting because you have the top of the wall, which is like one element. Then you have the White Walkers, which is another element. So they're shot on a completely different day and they're shot in a greenscreen kind of thing. We're putting in the frozen forest and the tundra or whatever behind them and in front of them. And we might have 100 extras, but it's meant to look like 10 million extras or 10,000 or whatever. So those all get multiplied. You know, that's another visual effects thing where you take a small group of people and make it a horde.
[00:14:45] Jeff: So there are scenes in that episode, in a lot of the episodes of Game of Thrones, where you see dozens of warships. Same thing?
[00:14:52] Jeremy: Well, that's another case where we have one ship on a set in a parking lot in Belfast, and it's not even an entire ship. You have like a piece of a ship and that becomes that whole ship and hundreds of others.
[00:15:05] Jeff: It really is magic you're conjuring here.
[00:15:07] Jeremy: Yeah. And it's actually fascinating because, I mean, I've done a lot of visual effects before but like this is on a level that I hadn't done before. And I remember like the first time I came to prep Game of Thrones and I had seen the show before and I'd seen all these boat sequences and I thought, oh, they're amazing. I don't know how they were done but when I came to see like what we actually had, which was like a quarter of a boat in a parking lot in Belfast, and I was like this is the entire battle.
[00:15:29] Jeff: That's it.
[00:15:29] Jeremy: With this, like that's every boat in the show. That's like the boat that's being attacked. It's the boat that's attacking. It's 10,000 other boats that have like things flying off of them. And yeah, that's it's all from that one thing. And I was like, I don't even know how this is possible. Like at the time I was just like, ahhh. But then of course, you work with this amazing team of people and they explain how everything's done and then you start to work with what you have and then you figure it out.
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[00:16:27] Jeff: For the actors, you know, when they're watching a dragon - how do you watch a dragon when you're in the studio?
[00:16:34] Jeremy: Well, I think Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage are like the masters of dragon acting in a way. Here's the thing. They have the good fortune of having a great visual effects department and directors on the show who can show them previs of what the finished sequence will look like. So, you know, when they're in the room they've got like a little dragon head on a stick or a ball that they're reacting to, virtually nothing real at all. They don't have a piece of a dragon, they just have some very rough things to kind of react to.
[00:17:02] Jeff: Like a basketball or something?
[00:17:03] Jeremy: I mean, it can be as little as a ball on a stick or it can be a head on a stick of something. For example, like the Direwolves, which are these big dog wolf things in the show are stuffies, you know we call them stuffies. They're just basically a stuffed animal that's completely rigid, doesn't do anything. But it's the size of the thing, and that's what you react to. So in the case of the dragon, it's like the scale of it's too big to create anything that's like really looks like a piece of a dragon, but there's something like a physical thing there to look at or whatever. But the previs is what tells them what the story is. Because in the previs the dragon is actually animated and you can see what the dragon is actually doing. The dragon is kind of moving its head and it's moving its wing like this and it's reacting to what you're doing and it's shrinking back or it's attacking or like you can see it in an animated version of what it is. So they know that's what the dragon's doing. So they can imagine that in their minds when they're looking at this thing and they know what the sequence is about.
[00:17:58] Jeff: What kind of directions do you give for a scene like that?
[00:18:01] Jeremy: You know, I do see these sequences in my mind and I do have a sense of those kinds of things, like even from a performance point of view. And so I'll try to guide the actors to how I imagine it. For example, there's this amazing scene when Peter Dinklage in the show meets a dragon for the first time, which I directed.
[00:18:21] Peter Dinklage: I'm here to help. Don't eat the help.
[00:18:28] Jeremy: And it's like the sense of awe around this thing. Even for the characters in the story they're sort of mythical beings, and they have amazing qualities and aspects about them that are special even to the people within the story that we're telling.
[00:18:43] Peter Dinklage: When I was a child, an uncle asked what gift I wanted for my name day. I begged him for one of you. It wouldn't even have to be a big dragon I told him. You could be little like me.
[00:18:58] Jeremy: And so for Peter's character Tyrion, to meet a dragon it's a huge deal. So, you know, I think Peter knows this already. He knows the character, he knows the context. But maybe it requires more of a sense of wonder or it requires more fear in this moment and fear that becomes something or its fascination that suddenly becomes fear, or it's really just what every moment requires. And sort of guiding his journey through this encounter with the dragon in a way that it tells the story effectively. And, you know, it's really like directing anything. You're always working with an actor to achieve something.
[00:19:30] Jeff: So once it's all in the can, you get into post-production. How much are you involved in that?
[00:19:37] Jeremy: It really depends on different shows how involved you are. The thing is that doing visual effects for this kind of thing takes months and months and months. And so I'm often on another show. I'm gone by that time. So I'm not always around to see the final, final, final. But, you know, there were so many components of this. Like there are things I didn't even describe, like people falling off the wall. Those are elements that you have to shoot, stunt people falling off of things into a green thing and the fire that the dragon breathes. You film a fire element that becomes the blue flame of the dragon, but that's another shoot. There's an environmental shoot where they shoot, you know, landscapes in Iceland that will become part of what the wall context looks like. There are so many different things that are shot when I'm not around. And, you know, they all get put together. I know how they're going to put together because I created the template, but I haven't seen the actual finished visual effects until it's all composited together.
[00:20:29] Jeff: And when you saw the final.
[00:20:31] Jeremy: I was like, shit - that was good.
[00:20:33] Really? You were happy?
[00:20:34] Yeah. Oh my God. Yeah, it was fabulous.
[00:20:54] Jeff: So when you look at that paint brush that you've acquired, and that every director who has the resources has this CGI, has it changed the way stories are told?
[00:21:06] Jeremy: I think it changes the facility with which stories are told. You know, they were making biblical epics in the 1930s. They're going to go back to D.W. Griffith and stuff. So I think the kind of stories people are telling, there are always those kind of stories. Now you can do it easier and you can do it bigger. The tools are in aid of people's visions. Your vision can get bigger in telling those stories, and the verisimilitude is greater. But I mean, I think since the beginning of movies, people wanted them to be spectacular and tell spectacular stories and as well as intimate stories. So that's always been a drive I think.
[00:21:39] Jeff: When I was doing some background reading before talking to you, I was reading about 1933 King Kong - one of the very first special effects films. And this was real spectacle. This was movies really discovering new frontiers. People thought it was a man in an ape suit, but it was stop motion. But people were prepared to suspend their belief and accept that this was an real ape.
[00:22:02] Jeremy: Well, I think in those days the audience had never seen anything like it. It was mind blowing to see something that, you know, doesn't exist in reality. And it's presented in a relatively realistic way. I don't think people had any understanding of film knowledge. It's not like now where you can open up a magazine or go online and see behind the scenes of something. Like kids now grow up with a huge amount of understanding of how things are done. They know how the recipe is made. In those days, there was no information. Nobody had any idea. So you saw something like that, like people don't even know how movies are made, like any movie was fantastical to people at that time. It would just seem incredible that people could talk in films, that anything could happen on film. And film language was so new, it was being invented at the same time.
[00:22:45] Jeff: Is the prominence of visual effects of CGI starting to shape the way the industry's evolving?
[00:22:50] Jeremy: Well, I think there's a little bit of a chicken and the egg thing. I think that the studios created these movies to get people into theaters, right. It's cause I think the idea is that you don't know if people are watching things on their iPhones or on their iPad, but what are they going to go to the theater for? They're going to go for a spectacle. So a marvel movie doesn't look as great on your iPhone. But if you're telling a story of two people in a room talking, you can watch it on your iPhone, theoretically. So the big draw is visual effects and spectacle and action. I mean, that was always the case in a way. Like they made Spartacus or Cleopatra or things like that to get people into theaters to show them something huge. Or Lawrence of Arabia, you know that was the whole thinking. Now that that has become the new Lawrence of Arabia, sadly, is Iron Man. So that's what gets people into the theaters.
[00:23:36] Jeff: I'm guessing you don't aspire to direct an Iron Man?
[00:23:39] Jeremy: Not so much. But then now you've created this generation of audiences that will only go to the theater to see those movies because they think that's what movies are and they think everything else is for your computer or your iPad. So there's this kind of symbiotic thing that's happened now where cinemas are really now the home of only spectacles. And the other platforms are, you know, for other things.
[00:24:03] Jeff: So the traditional Hollywood film that isn't a superhero film. Is there a place for it?
[00:24:09] Jeremy: Well, that's the big discussion now, because most real movies are like story movies that are not those kind of movies are on Netflix or Amazon or HBO or Apple, and that's who's financing them and that's who wants them because those have their own kind of economics or they need products. They need stuff for people to watch.
[00:24:27] Jeff: So CGI is getting so good now. Is there a point, do you think, in the future where we will actually have shows like Game of Thrones done with no actors at all?
[00:24:35] Jeremy: I think it's theoretically possible to do that because, you know, they have already done experiments with bringing old movie stars back to life and putting them in things, recreating them. Like you could make a movie now with Marilyn Monroe, and it's all just like a virtual version of who she was using components of all the film stuff that she's ever done. You feed that into a computer and you can create a new virtual Marilyn Monroe.
[00:24:59] Jeff: I don't know if that's exciting or terrifying?
[00:25:00] Jeremy: It's terrifying to me. And it's ghostly and ghastly and I don't like it, but I think that's theoretically possible and that, somebody is going to do that in the future. You're going to get a new Marilyn Monroe movie and you Humphrey Bogart movie and you know, and it'll be seamless. I don't think it's going to replace actors, but it'll be a thing. By the way, the new Abba Stage show, that's what it is. They've done it on stage already. They brought Abba back to life and there they are. So imagine if they can do that on a theater stage. They can certainly do it in a movie.
[00:25:27] Jeff: I want to ask you to think ahead. 20 years, 40 years. Where do where does technology and film take us?
[00:25:34] Jeremy: I think it's so hard to predict what lies 20 years ahead in the future because technology moves so quickly and there are already things today that you couldn't have imagined five years ago, let alone ten or 20 years ago. So I think where we're going with VR, virtual reality, which is incredible already. I think we're going into theaters and people's homes that are like, four wall things, that you are standing in a space and you're in the movie. I don't know, like I'm kind of happy I'll be dead by then because I don't even want to think where it can go. Like every sort of dystopian vision of the future that you can imagine is going to happen. You know, Ex Machina whatever 2001. It's all going to happen. It's all going to be real.
[00:26:23] Jeff: We'd like to end each episode of StoryTech with a couple of questions. When you look back over your career in film and TV, is there a single piece of technology that you'd pick as your favorite, something you just loved working with?
[00:26:37] Jeremy: You know, it's funny because I'm like the lowest tech director alive. I don't use anything like you know, for like as a tool, like I don't use apps. I don't use. I still work with like a binder and, you know, a pen and like, I draw my own storyboards. I don't do them on an iPad. I'm so 20th century because I started that way and I don't really, I have almost like a kind of slightly superstitious thing about my process. I don't want to change it, like it's been working for me for a long time. This is the way I like to prep, this is the way I like to shoot, this is the way I like to plan. You know, it's all paper, pen, post-its. That's my thing.
[00:27:10] Jeff: So your favorite piece of technology might be a ballpoint pen?
[00:27:13] Jeremy: Pretty much, yeah. And a post-it.
[00:27:15] Jeff: And is there on the other side. Have you encountered in filmmaking a technology that was so difficult to work with or so constraining that it became an impediment?
[00:27:26] Jeremy: I think the thing is, like, as much as I've said that I have sort of resisted those kind of advancements in technology, I actually do embrace them at the same time. Like in a certain way, like the change from film to digital is fabulous. I fully embrace that, you know, the visual effects technology as a tool, totally embrace that. I've embraced all these things. I have to say that the one that was the hardest for me to get over at the beginning, because it was quite early, was the move from film editing to digital editing? You know, I started I was edited my own films.
[00:27:55] Jeff: These are 35 millimeter film.
[00:27:57] Jeremy: While 16 than 35, and it's literally like chopping the film, taping it together with tape, putting it through a machine that projects it onto a little screen so you can watch it every time you want to add a couple of frames. You either have to cut those frames off, scotch tape them in, and then add them to the reel. It was a very laborious process and sometimes you could lose frames because there's trims everywhere. It was a really impractical process, but it also had a kind of mythology around it and is like in my brain and many editors brains, you need that kind of like tactile thing with film. You have to touch it and you have to like tape it and you have to like, put it through a projector. And the time that it takes gives you time to think about the cut you're making. And if every time you have to splice it and paste it is a bit of a thing, you don't make it unless you really want to make it. And so you really have to think about the cut and you have to really think about every moment. And that extra time that it takes has its own kind of tantric, you know whatever thing about it. So every editor who worked on film was very, very, very slow to move to digital because, you know, even though it's so fast and easy and you don't have to cut and paste things and you can do like a million cuts in like a few minutes.
[00:29:02] Jeff: And you can go bang, bang, bang and add three frames.
[00:29:05] Jeremy: You can do anything. And it is so much better. But I think people didn't want to go to it because it was like, well what are we going to lose? Are we going to lose this tactile film thing? We're touching the film, we're going to lose the time it takes that kind of meditative aspect of it. It became like a dream in the end, because the ease with which you can do things and how much you can do and how you can, in your cutting room you can make it look like a mixed finished color timed beautiful thing. So you're showing somebody a rough cut. It's not a rough cut, it looks like a finished movie. And you can really see the show before you finish the show and the speed with which you can do things. Like I can edit an hour show in four days, you know, digital. It would have taken me three months to do that on film. So it's so, so it's just so much better. But yes, I feared that technology going in.
[00:29:51] Jeff: Jeremy, thanks.
[00:29:53] Jeremy: Thank you. It was fun.
[00:29:58] Jeff (V/O): That was director Jeremy Podeswa. I talked to him in Paris where he was directing the last two episodes of the Apple TV Plus series, The New Look, about the rivalry between Christian Dior and Coco Chanel in France under and after the Nazi occupation. The series will be released sometime in 2023. Jeremy was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Game of Thrones.
[00:30:23] Jeff (V/O): StoryTech is produced by Antica Productions, Trint and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in association with WAER Syracuse, an NPR member station. Thanks to HBO and the producers of Game of Thrones for allowing us to use audio from the episodes Jeremy directed. You can stream Game of Thrones on HBO Max.
[00:30:47] Jeff (V/O): Our senior producer is Kevin Sexton. Our associate producer is Emily Morantz. Mixing and sound design by Mitchell Stuart. Our associate audio editor is Cameron McIver. Our theme music is by Josh Spear. Stuart Coxe is the president of Antica Productions. Our executive producers are Laura Regehr and me your host, Jeff Kofman.
[00:31:10] Jeff (V/O): If you have any story ideas, suggestions or thoughts, you can send me an email at Jeff@Trint.com. Podcasts are spread by word of mouth. So it helps us when you tell people about this show. I know there's someone in your life who loves Game of Thrones and will find this episode enthralling. Please tell them about it, post it on social media and don't forget to subscribe to StoryTech. Thanks and see you next week.