Paula Fairfield Interview: ‘Game of Thrones’ sound designer
“It’s really such a multi-layered piece sonically,” reveals “Game of Thrones” sound designer Paula Fairfield about the episode “The Spoils of War,” for which she’s nominated for an Emmy for Best Sound Editing (One-Hour Series). “Everybody’s role on it is so crucial,” she adds, and “the final soup is delicious.” Fairfield, who joined “Thrones” in its third season, is Emmy-nominated for the fifth time for the show and for the ninth time overall. This is one of 22 bids “Thrones” received overall for its seventh season. Watch our exclusive video interview with Fairfield above.
In “The Spoils of War” Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) ambushes the Lannister army with the help of her fire-breathing dragons. “It really was all hands on deck for that episode,” says Fairfield. “It’s a great episode to really showcase all of our work in the sound department.”
The veteran sound designer is in charge of “all of the fantastical elements” in the show, including the dragons and White Walkers. To create the various sounds, Fairfield looks for “the concepts” behind them. In “Beyond the Wall,” for instance, she had to create an ice dragon for the White Walker army after they defeat Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys. She came upon the idea that “the fire and the screeches of the dragon were made of the essences of the souls of the dead army. That gives me a place to start, and a really interesting one.”
Fairfield has yet to begin work on any of the concluding episodes for the show’s upcoming eighth and final season, so she doesn’t know how the story will end any more than the rest of us. “It’s bittersweet,” she admits. “There’s been nothing quite like it, and for me, it’s been a wonderful adventure with a group of people who I respect and adore, whose work I’m a huge fan of as well.”
Fairfield won an Emmy in 2015 for her work on the show’s fifth season episode “Hardhome.” “As a woman working in this industry, it meant a lot,” she says. “In 2017, they did a tally, and 5% of sound designers at that point in Hollywood were women. For this day and age, it’s not okay. So it meant a lot.”