Lost creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse took a J.J. Abrams idea and, since 2004, have steered the show into waters both thrilling and emotionally charged. SheKnows talks to Lindelof and Cuse and gets an inside peek at the show starring Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly.
Just iIn time for the Lost: Season Four DVD arrival on store shelves, the masterminds behind the pop culture phenomenon sat down to dish on the extended season four discs and priceless insight into Lost: Season Five.
SheKnows: How did adding flash-forwards to your usual flashbacks as a plot mover affect the show for you two as the creative force?
Damon Lindelof: The fact that the audience embraced switching gears on the show from reverse to drive emboldened us to get a little more loose with how we drive the story, as long as we’re never in neutral! The cool thing about Season Five is that it takes a little while for your brain to fully absorb how the story is unfolding…but hopefully, once it does, you’ll realize we’re trying something new yet again.
SheKnows: Now that the fourth season has arrived on DVD, how do you view the Lost DVD sets? And what are your thoughts on the people experiencing Lost week to week on TV versus in one or two or three commercial-free sittings on DVD?
Damon Lindelof: The DVDs are definitely part and parcel of the show. We’ve always thought of an episode of Lost playing on several different levels. They’re almost designed for repeat viewings. In fact, our habitual use of planting hidden “Easter eggs” is tailor-made for the DVD experience. Personally, I love watching my favorite shows (particularly serialized ones like Dexter) one after the other. I sometimes think about how frustrating it would’ve been to read the Harry Potter books one chapter at a time once a week. I’d pretty much kill myself.
SheKnows: Next season will have stories set in two time frames. Has your storytelling approach changed at all?
Carlton Cuse: Our approach to the story telling changed drastically once we were able to negotiate an end date to the show. Before that we didn’t know if the mythology had to last two seasons or seven seasons. Once we knew there were only going to be 48 episodes of the show left we were able to start charting out the remaining journey.
We approach it on three levels. First we have discussions about the uber-mythology and plant the big landmark events in rough locations. Then at the end of each season we have a writer’s mini camp where we discuss the arc of the upcoming season in great detail. Then we break each individual episode and see where we end up at the end of each break. We give ourselves a fair amount of latitude to listen to the show and react – writing more or less for various characters or situations depending on how they play.
SheKnows: What television programs inspired you both?
Damon Lindelof: I was a TV junkie growing up. Other than watching endless hours of cartoons (Thundercats, Voltron and yes, Smurfs), I loved watching “grownup shows” with my folks… like Dallas. Perhaps that’s where I got my love for melodrama!
The show that really affected me, however, was Twin Peaks, which I’d watch every week with my dad. He’d tape the show on his VCR – remember those? – and we’d watch the episode again right after it aired in our quest to pull every last clue out of the show.
The idea of a TV show being a mystery and a game that spawned hundreds of theories obviously was a major precedent (that’s a fancy way of saying we ripped it off) for Lost.
SheKnows: Now that you are close to being finished with writing season five, how does it feel to know you are so close to the home stretch in this epic? Has it brought out reflections or feelings you didn’t expected either personally about the process or towards the storyline?
Carlton Cuse: I think all of us who work on the show know what a special experience it is. Our ability to negotiate and end date to the show so far in advance was I believe unprecedented in network TV. It has given us a real sense of what the journey is going to be. Normally when you work on a TV show you never know when it is going to end. You’re just trying to survive season to season until the proverbial horse drops out from underneath you. We’re not quite far enough along yet to start to wax nostalgic, but I think we all recognize that we’ve had a chance to do something really extraordinary.
I was watching all the bonus features and thinking about the special alchemy of Lost. You can do your best as a storyteller but on TV you also need a great cast, crew, directors, composer, etc. You really see on those features what a collaborative art form it is. We are truly blessed that this assembly of talent came together for this project. The journey of making a show over six years and the hours it takes really makes you a family – and we’re about as happy and as functional a TV family as I’ve ever seen or worked with.
Up next…Season five hints