HBO executive talks dragons and career advice at Game of Thrones viewing party

Groups of students huddled outside the Cesar Chavez Student Center Sunday night to attend a viewing party of a recent episode of “Game of Thrones,” with a special introduction from HBO’s vice president of production.

On Oct. 2, Associated Students, Inc. hosted an event for “The Battle of the Bastards,”one of the most-talked about episodes of season six of the hit HBO show. The episode was introduced by HBO’s Vice President of Production Janet Graham Borba, who also spoke to students about the process of producing a big budget show like Game of Thrones.

While waiting to hear Borba’s presentation, dedicated fans discussed plot theories for the upcoming season show while others read episode synopses on their phones to catch up in time for the viewing party.

Some students were there just to get an opportunity to learn more about what it’s like to work for a television network such as HBO.

“I’ve never seen the show but I’m hoping to get career advice and find out what she does for the show,” said film major Domenic Strazzabosco.

While attending the University of Virginia, Borba studied economics and never thought she would work in film and TV production.

“It didn’t even occur to me that I wanted to work in film or TV because I didn’t have any role models in that field,” Borba said. “I went into a completely different field and then at a certain point decided I was interested in film, so I started looking for a grad program.”

Borba attended University of Southern California’s producers training program and went on to assist a director after getting her masters degree. Her many production experiences landed her a job at HBO, where she’s worked for over 20 years.

To an audience of about 55 students, Borba spoke about her career story and talked about her involvement in producing Game of Thrones.

Borba explained that shows on HBO are often planned years in advance. She said most of her job is spent planning schedules for potential films and mini-series and meeting with young professionals to advise them on their career paths.

Maddy Raithel, a broadcast and electronic communication arts major, asked Borba if she had the possibility of working for a network as big as HBO as a broadcast student.

Borba reminded her and other students that their major doesn’t always have to define future career plans. Instead, she said it’s important to always continue feeding your creativity.

“If you want to work on the creative side of the business you need to read,” Borba said. “You need to need to read every story you can get your hands on.”

Borba talked in-depth about what it takes to produce Game of Thrones. She discussed production schedules, on-location sets and the special effects required for the dragons on the show.

Borba praised the show’s attention to detail, especially that of costume designer Michele Clapton. Borba explained that every piece of clothing was created and aged to fit the appropriate setting and character. She divulged that the show employs seamstresses and metal workers in Belfast, Ireland —where a majority of the show is filmed — to make the costumes.

She then went through the title sequence of the show, stopping at each credited name to explain what that person did for the show.

Students also saw an example of a post-production schedule, which showed how the timing of each season is set up and why it takes more than a year to produce a 10-episode season.

After Borba’s presentation, students were able to watch episode nine of the sixth season with more background on how the season finale was created. Students watched the episode attentively after learning about what is needed to make a show of that magnitude.

“I felt very satisfied and appreciate the show after learning about all the logistics it takes to create the show,” said Stefani Yasukochi, a business management major. “But in the future, I would love to hear from a writer to get more specifics of the show’s plot.”

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