Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lost creative screenwriting panel

So I've never actually seen Lost (no TV, no time), but I know it's a big phenomenon out there. Ran across these notes by artistChris Oatley he took at a Lost panel at the creative screenwriting expo. Cherry picked ideas from his notes (definitely go read his notes for more thorough explanation and context) notes 1 2 3 4 5:

make the exposition as emotional as possible. Lost has become such a huge hit because it's very character driven. So when they need to explain some sci fi thing, they embed it within some issue that is very emotionally strong to a character. Like explaining how someone has to swim through an underwater station and flip a switch was tedious until they made it about Charlie being terrified of swimming and drowning.

The writers write the character's as surrogates of the audience. Sawyer is always ‘in on the joke’ with the audience. He knows when weird stuff is happening on the island and he points it out. He says what the audience is thinking and they can relate to him for that reason. Hurley asks the questions that the audience is asking.

They talked about nonlinear story telling inherently having stronger questions as to what's going on in the audiences minds, which compels them to keep watching. Mentioned the scene at the end of Pulp Fiction where Vincent walks into an apartment complex, and that it had resonance because the audience had already seen Vincent get bloodily shot to death there out of order earlier in the film. So the Lost writers with their flashbacks are always thinking of what is the mystery of this episode, and when is the time to reveal the answer. The revelation time is when it will have the greatest emotional impact.

Damon and Carlton have a self-imposed rule for writing the show where they never introduce an element of the story’s mythology without having worked out where it came from and where it is going within the story.

At the end of each season, the LOST writing staff has an intensive, three-week ritual called ‘Mini-Camp.’ They begin by deciding what that will take place in the next season finale. The finale then becomes the goal that they work toward in the planning of each episode within the season.

1st question of minicamp: what do we owe the audience, what are they expecting for the upcoming season.

5 days to break a story. 1st day all brainstorming. 2nd day deciding specific scenes to see. 3rd breaking story outlines on whiteboard. An episode is 5 acts and a teaser. Teaser is opening hook before Logo. 3 or 4 scenes per act. Write entire episode as 1 line per scene. Figure out what the act-out for each act is (mini cliffhanger to get hold interest through a commercial break.)

“To write a great love story, you have to give your characters a great obstacle to overcome...” show WHY they are in love.

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