Redanian Archives: Behind the scenes of The Witcher, Part I

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In this new series of posts, Redanian Intelligence will be setting out all we know about the filming of season one, breaking down the entire process week-by-week and adding some entirely new information and photographs along the way that we hadn’t had the chance to share before.

In fact, this is how this website came to be. Back in the day, RI founder Gravemaster posted an album on Reddit of filming pictures. After that, a team was assembled to dig deeper and continue the series. That proved a more arduous task than expected, with the filming heating up, and so there were no follow-ups.

Not long after, this site was created. While that meant we could share some of our biggest finds, setting out an in-depth timeline wasn’t something we had time for … until now. Enjoy!

Background

1986. A then unknown writer penned a short story for the Polish Fantastyka magazine, inspired by his son’s love of fantasy. The short story, named Wiedzmin, was later translated into The Witcher.

November 2015. Following the success of The Witcher 3 video game, Platige Image announced their plans to create a film adaption of Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher, to be directed by Tomasz Baginski. At some point, that movie was pitched to Netflix.

May 2017. In a generous change of plans, Netflix decided that instead of one movie based on a short story called The Lesser Evil, they would develop the Witcher Saga into a full series. It was quickly dubbed “Netflix’s Game of Thrones“.

December 2017. After screening several potential showrunners, Netflix placed Lauren Schmidt Hissrich at the helm of the show. Preproduction began on season one of The Witcher.

September 2018. The writers’ room completed the scripts, and it was announced that Henry Cavill would play Geralt of Rivia.

October 2018. With filming slated for early November in Budapest, the cast and crew entered high gear.

Week 0: Origo Studios and Skanzen Village

The week before filming began, the show’s cast and crew gathered in Budapest’s Origo Film Studios, where most of the action took place. Cavill underwent extensive training. As we later learned, he insisted on doing every single stunt on his own. Meanwhile, the set designers were hard at work crafting the first interiors of the Continent.

Also at Origo, actor Wilson Radjou-Pujlalte, who plays show-original character Dara, had his face scanned for a yet unknown reason. One possibility is that Dara will have a dryad’s arrow lodged in his eyesocket, and that the art team is making a mold of Wilson’s face to place the arrow inside it. It’s possible, however, that this is something else entirely, and Wilson will be some sort of monster. Dara will be involved in Ciri’s storyline, but little else is known about the character.

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While the cast trained and the art department created the show’s sets, another department rummaged through what would later become one of the show’s filming locations. This is the Skanzen Village Museum, a place that looks just as you would expect from a small town in the Northern Realms. And yes, there’s a donkey, too.

The donkey

With the show’s star growing more and more comfortable in Geralt’s boots, Netflix released the now infamous Geralt costume test. It was our first official The Witcher promotional material. It became known as Wiggate.

With November fast approaching, the show’s production was about to begin. Here’s where it gets interesting.

Week 1: The Butcher of Blaviken

When Baginski came to Netflix to pitch them The Witcher, he offered to film an adaption of The Lesser Evil. Though Baginski’s role changed significantly, and the creative reins were handed to Hissrich, this short story remained the show’s Pilot episode.

As it happens, that episode (and its climactic fight scene) were among the production’s first scenes. Present with Cavill on location at Mafilm Studios near Budapest were Shane Attwooll, Matthew Neal and Luke Neal, who together portrayed the outlaw band that follows Princess Renfri, then played by Millie Brady.

This fight scene is the centerpiece of The Lesser Evil, and it would later undergo severe reshoots (and also numerous recasts). This sequence was originally filmed by director Alik Sakharov who, as well as directing four episodes, had a significant role in shaping the look and feel of the show.

The Witcher’s set at Mafilm Studios, or Blaviken
The muddy ground of Mafilm Studios’ Blaviken set
A crew member mentioning filming of the Blaviken fight scene

During the same week, the crew apparently filmed their first scenes in Skanzen Village. We don’t know which town in the Continent Skanzen stood for in these scenes, but a good guess could be Lower Posada from The Edge of the World.

Alik and Lauren celebrating the end of The Witcher’s first week of filming in what appears to be the Skanzen Village Museum

Week 2: Mafilm and Origo Studios

During production’s second week, the show resumed filming in Mafilm Studios’ Blaviken set, filming various scenes for the pilot episode. Cavill, Attwooll and the two Neals were all on hand.

Showrunner Lauren S Hissrich at Mafilm

The crew also continued work at the show’s headquarters in Origo Studios, where most of the show’s interior scenes were filmed.

Mustaches belonging to the costume department. Henry was probably delighted to see them
A set of The Witcher which appears to be the corridor of Cintra glimpsed in the trailer
The same set, as seen in the show’s first teaser

And that’s all for today. But, worry not! There were 29 weeks of filming for The Witcher‘s first season, and we will be covering all of them. You can expect similar behind-the-scenes posts covering the entirety of the show’s production timeline, as we’ll be delivering them on a regular basis. Coming up next is the filming at Monostori Erod, the show’s stand-in for Cintra. Stay tuned!

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