For those unfamiliar with our new behind-the-scenes series, Redanian Archives will be covering the entire duration of The Witcher‘s filming for its first season, week by week. In part one of the series, director Alik Sakharov began filming the show’s pilot episode, with lead Henry Cavill (Geralt) finally on set. In the second part of this series, we’ll cover the eventful third and fourth weeks of filming. This time, we travel to Cintra and Dol Blathanna!
Week 3: Fort Monostor, or Cintra
During The Witcher‘s third week of filming, the crew converged at Monostori Erod, a 19th-century fort at the Hungarian-Slovakian border. This fort, and one of its corridors in particular, would become the exterior of a key season one location: the city of Cintra. Cintra is the home of Princess Ciri (played by Freya Allan) and Queen Calanthe (played by Jodhi May). One actor confirmed to have filmed scenes that week is Adam Levy, who plays the druid Mousesack and is a member of Calanthe’s court. Take a look at these images taken on set at Fort Monostor during the week of November 12.
With preparations complete, The Witcher filmed at Fort Monostor throughout the week. We know of several night shoots, but it’s possible they filmed during the day as well. Director of Photography Gavin Struthers was also on location, which means the scenes were for episodes one, two, five, or six, as these were episodes Struthers worked on. With the timing of filming for this block, our guess is that these scenes are from episode one or two.
Throughout the show’s seven months of filming, the crew filmed in five countries. We already knew of Hungary, Austria, the Canary Islands and Poland, and now we believe we’ve found the missing piece. After completing the filming at Fort Monostor, The Witcher‘s crew travelled across the border to Slovakia and stayed the night in the town of Patince. One possibility suggested to us as to where they might have filmed in Slovakia is the Fortress Komárno (which is somewhat similar to Monostor). However, we have no crew pictures from the fort to confirm this.
Filming may also have returned to The Witcher‘s headquarters at Origo Studios after wrapping at Fort Monostor. Here, we have a couple of pictures of what looks to be a set within Cintra. The second picture may well be Queen Calanthe’s bedroom glimpsed in the trailer. It is here that she tells her granddaughter Ciri to “find Geralt of Rivia”. Freya Allan, who plays Ciri, did mention in several San Diego Comic Con interviews that she filmed emotional scenes very early in the shooting schedule.
As we now know, the production had two units working simultaneously: the Mutant Unit and the Monster Unit. As such, filming could happen in two locations at the same time. This was likely the case in week three. Another location visited by the crew that week was Lake Oreg near Tata Castle (where production would return in April). Regarding these scenes, your guess is as good as ours. It’s possible that the crew was only scouting the area for future filming locations.
During the same week, the crew also filmed in the fields near the village of Paty. With actors Henry Cavill, Natasha Culzac (the elven warrior Toruviel) and Tom Canton (the elven leader, Filavandrel) all in Budapest, it’s likely scenes were filmed for the show’s second episode, which almost certainly adapts the short story The Edge of the World.
In these final pictures from the Paty location, we can see the crew gearing up for a shoot. It’s likely that showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich and director Alik Sakharov are seen behind the camera, though we can’t tell for sure. Most interesting is what we see in the second picture: horses with bows strapped to their saddles. These horses may well belong to the elves who attack Geralt and Jaskier in The Edge of the World.
While we can’t confirm if Joey Batey‘s amiable bard Jaskier or the vulgar sylvan Torque played by Amit Shah were present for filming in Budapest with Henry and the elves, it does seem very likely that they were. Neither Toruviel nor Filavandrel appear in scenes without them in the first three books.
Week 4: Filming at the Edge of the World
Week four was a bit calmer than its predecessor. Cast members involved in The Edge of the World (Canton and Culzac) were still on set. Additionally, the crew returned to Mafilm Studios where they most likely resumed filming the pilot episode’s Blaviken sequence.
Once again, the crew filmed Cintra scenes at Origo Studios. Though we only have one leaked picture from the set, we have something else even better: an alleged extra’s recounting of one of the scenes – which later appeared in the show’s first teaser, confirming the extra’s reliability.
The report was provided by Redanian Intelligence’s Gravemaster a few weeks before our website was founded and was shared on Reddit. Gravemaster relayed this information: “Lots of extras in that scene. Plenty of them are soldiers standing by the two sides of the hall parallel to the door, leaving the middle open. Several soldiers one by one exit the formation, walk to Calanthe and kneel. She knights them, giving a speech about the knight’s vows to loyalty, bravery, etc. In the scene also present were Eist [played by Björn Hlynur Haraldsson] and Ciri. Unfortunately this time the director couldn’t be identified, so we don’t know what episode is this for.”
It’s quite possible the director helming this scene is Sakharov and that it belongs to one of the first two episodes. We only know that the scene was shot late in November, so it’s possible it was actually filmed the following week.
Towards the weekend, actresses Mimi Ndiweni and Therica Wilson-Read (sorceresses Fringilla Vigo and Sabrina Glevissig respectively) arrived in Budapest. However, they may have only filmed the following week. Take a look at them enjoying the view at one of Budapest’s major landmarks in the Instagram post below.
And that’ll be all for this report from the Redanian Archives. In our next update, we’ll be covering the crew’s visit to the hills of Csákberény where we believe a battle was staged between Cintra and Nilfgaard. Stay tuned!
2 comments on “Redanian Archives: Behind the scenes of The Witcher, Part II”
Fort Monostor is actually part of the larger defensive structure of Fort Komarno which was built in the 19th century and used to be the largest military structure in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, capable of housing quarter of a million troops. The bastions and defensive walls of the fortress are still very well preserved and form a structural part of the town of Komarno.
The town of Komarno in Slovakia used to be one of the major military and trade centers of the Hungarian Kingdom. It lays on both banks of the river Danube. After WW1 the city was split in two by the winning powers and the more prosperous part was awarded to the newly formed Czechoslovakia as it lay on the northern bank of the river Danube.
The led to the decline of the City’s status.
On the other hand it had helped to preserve the late 19th early 20th feel of the town centre and the 19th century military fortification.
Thanks for the information!