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Feature: Lost

…in Production


It’s not exactly been a picnic for the Flight 815 survivors to date, but, as producer Stephen Williams explains, there’s worse to come…

It’s lunchtime at the Hawaiian Lost production offices. Sitting down in his office with a plate of food, series supervising producer/director Stephen Williams takes some time out of his very busy day to eat as well as chat with Cult Times. He has been part of the creative force behind the successful ABC show from the beginning, having helped produce numerous episodes as well as directing over a dozen, including last season’s penultimate tale Three Minutes. In it, one of the castaways, Michael (Harold Perrineau), made a difficult moral decision, and the consequences from it are still being felt this season.

“That was a wonderful story to direct and I feel an important one for the series too,” explains Williams. “It was also a rather moving as well as sad and painful episode because it’s where Michael brokered a deal with The Others in order to get his son Walt [Malcolm David Kelley] back. As we now know, that deal involved an exceedingly high price, mainly the betrayal of his fellow castaways. I thought Harold’s performance was awesome from start to finish.

“In this episode we also revealed the fake village built by The Others and used as a way of throwing people off their trail, if you will. As with so many things on Lost, most of the design process for the village was a result of a collaborative ‘soup’ involving Carlton Cuse [executive producer/writer] and Damon Lindelof [series creator/executive producer/writer] and their writing staff in Los Angeles as well as here in Honolulu with Jack Bender [executive producer/director], the show’s production designer, Zack Grobler, and myself. It starts as this aesthetic ball that gets batted around from one group to the next in an even more refined and specific way until we finally arrive at a place we all agree on.

“With the village, we then had to find a locale where we could build it. The finished set was subsequently augmented with CGI [computer generated imagery], so there were fewer real structures on that tiny piece of land than actually appeared in the final cut of the episode.

Three Minutes was unlike any previous Lost episode in that it had quite a scope to it. It was an immense challenge, but greatly satisfying as well.”

Having delivered Jack, Kate (Evangeline Lily) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) to The Others, a guilty Michael, along with his son, depart the island on a boat at the end of Live Together, Die Alone. Season Three of Lost opens with A Tale of Two Cities, in which Kate and Sawyer are put to work by their mysterious captors, while Jack is isolated from them. Directed by Jack Bender, this story presented Williams and the rest of the show’s production team with some specific challenges to overcome.

“There were two big production issues with this story, the first of which was creating the holding cell area that we find our Jack character in,” recalls the producer/director. “This particular hatch, the hydra-hatch, is located underwater, which explains the aqua-coloured environment with dripping water and big chain winches to hoist various sea creatures, including sharks, which are then studied and imprinted with the Dharma insignia. Funnily enough, there’s a scene in the second season episode Adrift where a shark swims by and you see the Dharma logo on it.”

by Steven Eramo

Read the full interview in
Cult Times #139

Photo © ABC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #139, see below for ordering options
Cult Times #139
April 2007
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