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DIY Filmmaking: How to Get the Game of Thrones Look on a Budget

Do you ever have a crazy, elaborate idea, but don't have the budget to pull it off? In this DIY breakdown look, see how you can create the famous Game of Thrones look on a miniscule budget with just the things lying around your house. 

When I log onto my HBO account and catch up on my weekly Game of Thrones fix, I always leave inspired by the elaborate sets and moody aesthetic that the crew is able to pull off. Though the problem I often run into is I don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gear laying around in my gear closet at home, and my maximum budget usually stretches to something just shy of a few hundred bucks. This predicament is one I think most of us have felt at some point and had to overcome.

To help point me in the direction of how I can make my elaborate visions a reality, luckily, this video popped up on my recommended tab. In this awesome 10-minute breakdown video put up by one of the top DIY filmmaking channels, Film Riot, host Ryan Connolly attempts to simulate the dark castle, candlelit fantasy vibe that is seen in the Game of Thrones series.

To start creating this look, Connolly pastes up a set of three $17 brick photo backgrounds on c-stands and constructs it in an L-shape formation. To give the cheap walls more depth, he throws them out of focus and places the subject a few feet in front of them. Once the set was built, he added a few sprays of aerosol haze and shined a blue LED light on the top of the set to contrast the already warm light coming from the torch. Creating color contrast in your shot is one of the quickest ways to achieve this kind of cinematic look. Lastly, he threw on one of his custom LUTs, which you can find here, to tie it all together. 

One of the biggest things I took away from this video was not only seeing how to achieve this classic look, but most importantly, the lesson Connolly emphasizes throughout. The main thing he likes to focus on is that it's all about making your limitations work for you. If you can make it work with a $100 budget, you will be much more ready to make it work when a bigger budget comes your way. When you work on a smaller budget DIY style shoot, you have to think more creatively in the way you address and solve problems that arise on set. When you have a new idea, it's important to realize that you don't need a massive budget to try it: just dive headfirst into your concept, and make it work with the set and gear you already own. You'd be amazed at what you can accomplish when you think this way.

If you want to see more videos on how to sharpen your skills as a filmmaker, check out the Film Riot YouTube channel for new videos each week or purchase the Fstoppers-produced tutorial here! 

Eli Dreyfuss's picture

Eli Dreyfuss is a professional portrait photographer based in sunny Miami, Florida. He focuses on making ordinary people look like movie stars in his small home studio. Shortly after graduating high school he quickly established himself in the art world and became an internationally awarded & published artist.

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ETTL while drinking Starbucks?

I was just thinking to myself to just do the entire shoot inside a Starbucks. It'll look just like GoT then...