The Wheel of Time spun big numbers for Amazon Prime.
Coming off of the success of the first season, TV Fanatic got to sit down with Cinematographer David Moxness to discuss how the filming process unfolded.
Check out the interview below!
Were you a fan of the books before you started working on the show?
I had heard of the books but to be quite honest I had never read them prior to being involved.
When things were initially starting to come my way for consideration, I was very fortunate that my wife and I were doing a road trip across the country so I downloaded the audiobooks of the series and listened to them the whole way through the trip.
It was fantastic, and it really intrigued me and got me very interested. That was my first full start into the series of books.
How closely do you, as a cinematographer, work with the entire production to bring these scenes to life?
Well for me, extremely closely. Every cinematographer has their own process in the way they go about it, but I like to be very involved.
I feel it's a responsibility of my position and something I enjoy doing. I'm passionate about it. I feel it's my goal to get the look, feeling, and emotion in the piece.
I try to work very closely with the director, showrunner, creators, production designers, and the hard work from every department to get that translated through the camera and into the final product.
I try to be on the same page with everyone and put the best possible collaborative product out.\
Prague has very interesting architecture, did you get to work with any of Prague's architecture in terms of shapes and designs of each shot?
Not too much for this show, because we aren't in a contemporary time, and we didn't actually shoot within Prague proper.
Most of our locations were outside of Prague in the countryside in the mountains, hills, and vistas.
Did you get to work with Brandon Sanderson (the author who picked up the book series for the final books)?
Personally, I didn't, but I know the producers, the writers, and the showrunner Rafe (Judkins) had work and discussions with him. I didn't have any direct collaboration.
How did filming this show, a high fantasy show set in a different world, differ from shooting a show like Fringe, which is still sci-fi/fantasy but set in our world?
It was a wonderful challenge and opportunity to have to create a world and be able to explore that and define those boundaries a little bit.
It's a clean slate in a way with starting -- but obviously, you have a specific template from the books and the story.
It was really nice because it felt like a non-contemporary piece in the fantasy genre.
To be able to create a unique world from the amazing world that Robert Jordan (the main author of The Wheel Of Time series) had put forward.
What were some of the biggest challenges when filming?
There were a few all mighty and big.
I wanted to make sure that we were portraying what Rafe wanted -- how he wished to tell the story. There were some things that Rafe was quite specific about, with adhering to the books or deviating from them how he wanted.
I wanted to make sure that we were getting that accurately for him.
In terms of technical shooting, certain locations were difficult because we were in deeply forested areas and mountain areas.
The world doesn't have artificial light sources, everything's either the sun, the moon, a candle, a fire, etc. Lighting and shooting those locations was tricky at times.
Our cast is on horseback for their big travels, and in those locations, it's tricky to get a device and a vehicle to appropriately follow along to shoot those scenes when riding.
Those technical challenges were wonderful to have and find a way around, but they were tricky.
To jump off of what you said with horses, how do you film something when most of the actors are on horseback? Is it a crane, vehicle, or even a drone?
Every time it's a little different. We try to cater specifically to the need of what we are up against location-wise, the speed, what kind of shot we want and depending on the space.
We often use a large electric vehicle that we rig with steady cam arms or remote heads. We slung a cable between trees to follow along in a forest if the situation allowed.
It all depended on the situation. Drones were only used for the large cast landscape shots because of safety around the horses and actors on the horses.
A lot of the channeling and the magic used has to do a lot with light. How did you factor in Moiraine (or other characters) channeling when shooting a scene?
It involved a lot of discussions in what the channeling was, or what the event was that took place.
We shot a lot of camera tests to determine all the likes and dislikes so we could all be on the same page.
We also worked closely with the post-production and visual effects team.
We also explored interactive light that we would try and compliment and go together with the visual effects. Everything was done in combination.
Were you involved in any way with post-production?
Not in editing so much, but in terms of final color they would send me things when they got to close final edits and I'd send notes back.
Sometimes there were takes to recommend, but that's usually it in terms of final finishing touches.
Everything involved a lot of collaboration.
One final question, what was your favorite scene or episode to shoot?
There are so many, it was such an amazing opportunity and shot and I'm very grateful to be involved.
I think the first couple of episodes were very fun because it was a big undertaking and collaboration with a big group of dedicated people. I'm really pleased with the first episodes out of the gate.
It's all a journey, but they turned out wonderfully. I think we achieved some really fun stuff at the start.
The cast all the way through was just absolutely phenomenal. They're very talented performers and such nice people and they provided so many "wow" moments. Working with them was fantastic.
So Fanatics, what did you think of the first season?
Are you excited for the second season?
Let us know in the comments below!
Michael Stack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.