From Arts Lecture Hall to the Red Keep, the University of Waterloo’s Meagan Needles shared her adventure from walking the halls of Waterloo to working for HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Needles worked as the assistant costume co-ordinator in the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Not surprisingly, working for Game of Thrones’ award winning costume department came with unusual requirements. “In a day I could be asked to find 50 animal pelts, an extremely specific rivet for armour, and a bra that will fit a man with a 40-inch back. You just went with it,” Needles said.
Needles later transitioned to her role as the locations co-ordinator in the fourth season, where she focused on the outdoor shooting in Northern Ireland. “Essentially,” Needles said, “we would take a location, make the adjustments to fit the director’s vision, and then post-shoot we would put it back together.
“The initial goal is to find a location that needs minimal preparation to shoot. Locations that have structures or buildings on them require more preparation/construction to align the building with the era and the setting of the show.”
Secrecy was also a difficult task to manage with such a well-known show and in more high-profile areas. “The timing to prepare high-profile locations — like Ballintoy Harbour — needs to be done at a different rate,” Needles explained. “When public access is a concern, everything needs to speed up to ensure all the show’s secrets are maintained. A location like Ballintoy is prepped, shot, and recovered in a week. Not many other locations function like that.”
Surprisingly, Needles didn’t major in digital media studies, nor did she study in the Citadel to earn her Maester’s chain. Instead, she majored in speech communication with a minor in peace and conflict students at UW. She said that the ability to operate in a challenging and rewarding work environment while at HBO stemmed from speech communication’s, “very small class sizes where you [became] comfortable speaking, debating, and challenging ideas.”
When asked what advice she could offer to fellow UW arts students about their future outside of UW, Needles said, “Getting your foot in the door is more important than getting your dream job from the start. If you are working with the right people, it is much easier to get where you are hoping to go.”
Which is perhaps ironic, considering Needles holds a job that many students would murder a few Starks for.
As for her favourite part of working on Game of Thrones? “It was really fascinating to watch the director decide how he wanted the footing of Arya and the Hound as they strolled up a narrow path, where he wanted the camera to zoom, and the exact place he wanted them to stop to exchange words,” Needles said. “I think listening to the creative process verbally and seeing it later in hard copy was my favourite part of working on the show.”
Her offices perks weren’t too bad either.
“My office was beside the voice dialect room and that often made for entertaining workdays. I would be sitting typing away while someone in the room beside me practiced their vocals of a sex scene. To say this could be distracting would be an understatement.”