Metro Vancouver visual effects artist wins Emmy for Game of Thrones

It was a night that Thomas Schelesny and his son Hudson will never forget.

Schelesny, a visual effects supervisor living in Tsawwassen, won the Emmy last week for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for the episode The Bells on the final season of Game of Thrones. His team included: Joe Bauer, Steve Kullback, Adam Chazen, Sam Conway, Mohsen Mousavi, Martin Hill, Ted Rae, and Patricl Tiberius Gehlen.

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“You don’t want to jinx these things when you go into it, so once you are nominated the tendency is to not want to discuss it because you don’t want to sound optimistic or pessimistic at the same time,” said Schelesny. “The single most rewarding part of it was having my son Hudson there. Five years ago I had also won an Emmy for Game of Thrones and when I returned from the Emmys (he was much younger then), he asked me if I could bring him if I was ever nominated again. I said yes, but I kind of knew that the odds of ever going again were so thin, I felt bad even saying it at the time, so to be able to make good on that promise was already an enormous reward.

“Then to be able to give him the entire experience was a lesson for him to see that hard work and a lot of luck… and my team… I work with over 100 artists that I represent…all working together and not quitting is important, so it was just amazing for both of us.”

Schelesny said Hudson is a musician, also chasing a career in the arts.

“That is equally an unlikely a career with an uncertain future as working in the film industry,” he said. “So to be able to, again, have him there and experience all that was just a huge opportunity for him.”

Schelesny was the visual effects supervisor on over 99 per cent of the dragons that were seen in the entire final season of Game of Thrones.

“We worked on all the episodes where dragons appeared, but not necessarily all the dragons. I think about one per cent was done by our partner vendors,” he said. “We were not only completing most of those shots ourselves, but also working with other vendors who were perhaps experts at adding soldiers or castles in the background, so we would send them the dragon work and they would put the dragon on top of the background. All of us working together and that accounted for almost half of our shots…it was an international collaboration between many different vendors.”


He said being a part of Game of Thrones these past few years has been a defining moment in his career.

“I worked on season four and then we did season seven, but season eight we knew would be seminal work,” he said. “We did about 100 dragon shots on season seven, but we had to do over 400 dragons on season eight. To be recognized between those two seasons that we were about to embark on a journey that would not only be more rewarding, but more challenging than anything we have ever done previously in our careers.

“This is my 28th year doing this. I’ve really made sure that everyone recognized that this is going to be hard and you will never ever forget or regret working on this season and it’s turned out to be true. It’s a high watermark I think for television work and visual effects, but for all of us it’s the high watermark career wise because it will be difficult to top it, but now that the industry knows what can be done, I guarantee you there are many shows reaching for that rung to match it. The goal is to match it and then eventually move beyond. I’m working on projects now that will hopefully take that next step.”

When time permits Schelesny is also actively involved as a lecturer with the Delta Film Academy as well he is on the advisory board for the Langara Centre for Entertainment Arts which has just been opened by Langara University.

He said both of these programs enable the next wave of students a chance to follow their dreams and break into the film industry.

As for his current projects, Schelesny said for now he’s keeping those under wraps.

“Let me put it this way, I knew how Game of Thrones ended for over a year. Many people working in the industry obviously had to seek how things would wrap up and we are experts in keeping things under wraps, so I will tell you what I’m working on in a year,” he said.


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