Let me frame this post first, before I talk about it. It originated from a forum thread at Talentville (http://www.talentville.com/forum/index.php?topic=966.msg6132:topicseen#msg6132). The discussion started when an excerpt from the first few pages of the LOST series was used to validate a point, “It’s critical to draw the reader in on the first page.”
I commented on how the excerpt was a great example. But, warned that spec scriptwriters (a.k.a. amateurs) should not copy every single aspect as some elements are not acceptable for amateurs to use. Besides, I added, the writer probably didn’t sell this script based on its writing. Instead, they sold it through pitch sessions.
When you sell a script through a pitch session, certain “taboo” elements are never seen. They are even ignored during development because the producer was hooked on the concept and the style rather than the words on the page.
I didn’t do any research to validate my point; it was my instincts talking.
A later post talked about the “camera angles” in the script and whether a spec writer should write that way. I answered, “No.” Again, I didn’t research to support my opinion.
I theorized the Director might have added these elements long after the sale was final. Some clues that this may be true is the voicing of the phrases. “Angle on…” “Tight to…” “Hold on…” This is how the Director sees the world.
Like I said, I did no research to support my theories; I only relied on instincts. But, the discussion intrigued me enough to test whether my instincts were correct. And, this is what I found —
The series was conceived by Lloyd Braun, head of ABC at the time, while he was on vacation in Hawaii during 2003 while listening to Autistico. Braun ordered an initial script from Spelling Television based on his concept of a cross between the novel Lord of the Flies, the movie Cast Away, the television series Gilligan’s Island, and the popular reality show Survivor, which began script development for Lost.
Jeffrey Lieber was hired and wrote Nowhere, based on his pitch to write the pilot. Unhappy with the result and a subsequent rewrite, Braun contacted J. J. Abrams in January 2004, who had a deal with Touchstone Television (now ABC Studios), and was also the creator of the TV series Alias, to write a new pilot script.
Although initially hesitant, Abrams warmed to the idea on the condition that the series would have a supernatural angle to it, and collaborated with Damon Lindelof to create the series’ style and characters. Together, Abrams and Lindelof also created a series “bible,” and conceived and detailed the major mythological ideas and plot points for an ideal four to five season run for the show.
Lost‘s two-part pilot episode was the most expensive in the network’s history, reportedly costing between US$10 and $14 million, compared to the average cost of an hour-long pilot in 2005 of $4 million. The series debuted on September 22, 2004, becoming one of the biggest critical and commercial successes of the 2004 television season. The world premiere of the pilot episode was on July 24, 2004 at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
[end of research]
I added the last phrase, about premiering at Comic-Con, because of its relevance to the objectives of Amazon Studios. They favor visually-inclined “taste tests,” and use Comic-Con as their proving grounds.