Shedding Light on the Game of Thrones Premiere

“The public obsession with Game of Thrones has become somewhat of a phenomenon within the past few years. I think Billy Butchkavitz and the entire design team did an extraordinary job capturing the energy and essence of the show, turning the premiere into an authentic and memorable experience for the cast and crew. I could not be more thrilled to share this design inspiration with the DesignDawgs community!” – David Merrell

By Liese Gardner
Photos by Gabor Ekecs

Game Of Throne Premiere

While there are no answers for what will happen this season on HBO’s Game of Thrones (which premiered April 24), the light that was shed at the premiere event illuminated the latest chapter in the epic of Billy Butchkavitz who has been designing HBO events for more than a decade.

In this new season, winter is finally here, but where the storyline goes now is anyone’s guess, which is how the fans like it. This is not lost on Butchkavitz. Backed by his own court of event professionals — Images by Lighting, Bart Kresa Design and Town & Country Event Rental — Butchkavitz turned the two-story lobby of Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel into a labyrinth of twists and turns befitting the splendor, excess, climate changes and wild ride that defines HBO’s wildly popular epic.

Game Of Throne Premiere Season 6 Party, Roosevelt Hotel, Hollywood

Guests entered through a foyer filled with icy light in shades of white and blue. From there, they could go many directions. The first large space was the hotel lobby (an indoor tiled courtyard). Here, Butchkavitz recreated the feeling of the show’s infamous “wall.” Drapes made from custom fabric with subtle ice flow patterns were washed in shades of white and cool blue lighting with white projections of the show’s logo. In the center, a massive throne created by Agile Eye Solutions was fashioned of “frozen” swords was raised in the middle of a large, round banquette, upholstered with a different, more graphic ice pattern. Icarus Rigging had removed the hotels’ chandelier to make the throne fit.

Game Of Throne Premiere

Lighting here included four-sided spots on the throne that made the icy throne appear to glow, and also gave consistent, 360-degree lighting. Around the room, huge torchieres needed a light source that was low profile and could mimic the effect of flames. Curt Stahl, Senior Lighting Designer at Images by Lighting, specially sourced and found that Gothic glow. In addition, the room was blanketed in a light breakup pattern designed to mimic ice fissures.

Game Of Throne Premiere

Game Of Throne Premiere

Game Of Throne Premiere

Two smaller doors off this area led to bars filled with candles, mercury glass vases, apothecary jars, and even crows scattered among the tabletops. Lighting in these areas was both form and function – architectural lighting on the dramatic arches, and overall lighting. Breakup gobos in leaf patterns were projected over the space in chocolate and amber tones while slightly brighter lighting illuminated two public areas containing Game of Thrones pinball machines and a station where guests could pick up GOT merchandise.

The largest door led guests into the hotel’s main ballroom which had been transformed into a jaw-dropping hall of faces entombed in a stone wall. The effect had been created by Agile Eye Solutions on vinyl and literally wrapped three walls of the room. On the fourth wall at the front of the room, fire – video mapping by Bart Kresa – burned from a castle balcony above the show’s logo. Kresa also had mapped a building outside the hotel and the theater where the season opener was aired.

Game Of Throne Premiere ]

Game Of Throne Premiere

“In terms of lighting design, it was just as important that we paid as much attention to shadow as to light,” Stahl said. “That’s what creates the mystery.”

And speaking of mystery, upstairs was yet another twist in the visual storytelling … a diorama Butchkavitz had designed complete with taxidermy wolves, dead branches and a carpet of dead leaves. In this area, Stahl used three lighting applications. “We did an overall front wash in blue and then added a soft breakup pattern in amber along the tops of the branches and the wolves. Finally, we accented the wolves with streaks of white light under their throats, or along their bodies to create a very dramatic, stark effect, almost like headlights cutting through the night.”

It was just one of many stunning details from this event and one this audience could definitely embrace. Like the show they love, the premiere party for Season 6 provided those “OMG moments” that kept everyone breathless and waiting for the next sword to drop.


Design / Décor / Flowers: Billy Butchkavitz
Venue and Catering: Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Lighting: Images by Lighting
Video mapping: Bart Kresa Design
Fabrication: Agile Eye Solutions
Rigging: Icarus Rigging
Photos: Gabor Ekecs

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