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Showrunners At Screenwriter
Event Talk Secrets Of LOST!!

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“Lost” showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof spoke Saturday at Creative Screenwriting's 2008 Screenwriting Expo. “Did they always have a plan for the show or are they just making it up as they go along” is a question often posed in fandom, and we learn again from the Saturday panel that the answer is “both.” It sounds like a lot of the show’s broader direction wasn’t decided upon until Cuse joined the show for episode nine. From
Asked if they know the answers to all the questions they raise on the show right away or sometimes figure it out as they go along, the duo said it was a combination of the two. Lindelof recalled how the entire pilot was put together – including writing, casting and production – in 12 weeks, which didn't allow much time to come up with any long-term mythology. However, once the series was given a full season order, beyond the initial 12 episode order it received, Cuse said he and Lindelof sat down and discussed, "What the overall mythological underpinnings of the show would be. We quickly landed on the ending, and then constructed this broader road map of other mythological points we'd hit on this story."
Discussing the flashbacks on the series, Cuse said it was really exciting in the first year, answering the question, "Who are these guys?", as the flashbacks could reveal big surprises about the character and their history. However, Cuse said eventually the problem became, "There's only so many revelatory flashbacks," and that by the time you get to flashbacks answering, "'Why does Jack have tattoos' and 'Why does Desmond call everyone brother', it's a fairly good illustration that these flashbacks were running out of steam"
The duo stressed that while they have introduced time travel and flash-forwards into Lost, they've firmly decided to never do a paradox story, with Cuse saying, "It's not like Heroes," where the future is always something that can be prevented or changed, but in fact on Lost, "There's nothing you can do to stop it from happening, and the more you try to stop it, the more potential there is for you to be the cause [of that future event]."
In the pilot when they introduced the polar bear, they knew that a group of people had brought it to the island for experiments, but they did not decide who these people specifically were until shortly after Carlton joined Lost for "Solitary" when he and Damon had a discussion about all the big mysteries that did not have answers yet. For example, Damon already knew what the monster and the island were, but they talked about question such as, what if the group of people is called the Dharma Initiative? What if the characters get off the island before the end because the audience would totally not expect that? What if the series becomes about the characters getting back together on the island at the end of the show? What is the final episode of the show? What is in the Hatch that is soon to be introduced?
They acknowledged that they stalled in the third season because they did not have an ending, pointed specifically to "Claire strapping a message to a frigging bird's foot!"
Originally, a flashback story was written and shot for Sawyer in "Adrift", in which Sawyer goes to Florida and falls in love with Jolene Blalock's character, who he is conning, but it was apparently was absolutely horrible so they got rid of it.
Other interesting tidbits: * Ben Linus was originally only to appear in three episodes. * Before Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje decided he didn’t like Hawaii, the original plan was for Eko to challenge Locke “for the spiritual leadership of the castaways.” * Cuse seems more connected to the production in Hawaii than Lindelof. (On my visit to Oahu between the first two seasons, Lindelof told me he was looking forward to catching up with the cast members, whom he hadn’t seen since the pilot.) * James Ford was named after Harrison Ford. * Patrick Fischler, who plays comic Jimmy Barrett on “Mad Men,” will be in season five. * Paul Zbyszewski (“Day Break”) and Melinda Hsu Taylor (“Medium”) have joined the writing staff. * Drew Goddard has apparently left the show’s writing staff to direct “Cabin in the Woods,” the movie he wrote with Joss Whedon. * 10 of the 17 season-five episodes have been written.

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