Jaffer/Lindelof Interview

Here's an interview I found between Murtz Jaffer and Damon Lindelof:

Murtz Jaffer: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Damon Lindelof: I am from New Jersey originally. I went to NYU film school for college and then as soon as I graduated, I came out to LA. I just sort of did the learning process here. I worked for an agency for a year. Then I worked for Paramount for three years. In all that time, I was writing. I finally decided to take the leap and I got a job as a writer's assistant on this TV show called 'Wasteland' which was on the air in 1998 or 1999. That was sort of my break. It was Kevin Williamson's show who did the Scream movies and Dawson's Creek. He sort of gave me my shot and made me a writer on that show right before it got cancelled. The next job I got after that was Nash Bridges. I worked on that show for a year. That was its sixth and final season. After that I went to go work for Crossing Jordan in its first year and I worked on that show for its first three seasons and then J.J. and the rest is kind of history.

MJ: How old are you right now?

DL: 32.

MJ: That sounds like a pretty extensive resume for a 32-year-old. Is that usually how it works for all TV writers?

DL: The average age of a television writer is probably in the age-40 range. I am on the low-end of it and there are writers on the staff that are over 40, but most of them are in their mid-30s. There are younger staffs I am sure on shows like Family Guy. I am sure there are people over there that are in their 20s. On some of the procedural dramas like C.S.I., they are probably all over-40. It all depends.

MJ: Does it help being younger in the environment because I know that you can bring fresher ideas to the table. Don't older TV writers basically stick to being formulaic in their approach?

DL: I wouldn't say that is their default position. In fact, I think the longer that you are stuck writing the formula, the more eager you are to break out of it. If you take a guy like Marc Cherry for example, the creator of Desperate Housewives, he was a journeyman television writer who had worked on sitcom staffs going all the way back to the Golden Girls. He still created Desperate Housewives which was very fresh and innovative and had a fresh voice. I think it all comes down to who the writer is and I hope that I am still writing cool stuff into my 40s.

MJ: Can you tell me a little bit about the timeline of Lost and how you first heard about it?

DL: I got a phone call at the end of January (2004) from a friend of mine, Heather Kadin, who was at ABC at the time. She basically said that Lloyd Braun (who was running ABC at the time) wants to do a show about a plane that crashes on an island. I said 'what's the show' and 'how is that a series.' I didn't understand what would happen every week. She said that was exactly the issue. She said that Braun was trying to get J.J. Abrams to involve himself. J.J. of course was doing Alias and another pilot and she said that he didn't have the time but if somebody were to come in to co-write it, he might get involved. I was a huge fan of Felicity and Alias, so I said that any opportunity that I had to meet with J.J. was something that I would take and this was a Friday evening. Over the weekend, I just sort of started to turn the idea around in my head of how you could maybe get a couple of episodes out of that idea. On Monday, I came in and met with J.J. for the first time and we really hit it off. By the end of that week, we generated a detailed outline of what the pilot of our show would be. Essentially, 11 weeks later, we delivered the finished two-hour pilot to ABC. It happened all over the course of three months. From that first meeting to writing the script, to casting the show, prepping the show, shooting the show and cutting the show.

MJ: Was it an advantage to get it done that quickly. If you have an exam, if you study for it for like three weeks, you can stress yourself out. If you cram the night before, you tend to learn more. Was it the same thing here? Did the pressure produce a good product?

DL: I think that has a lot to do with it. I also think that the benefit of there being no time to really stop and think about all the reasons that it didn't work... I think that's the comment that we get the most (even with the second season) which asks how long are we going to be able to sustain the show. I think if we had just had a lot of time to just sit around and think about that, we would have completely talked ourselves out of it.

MJ: Heather Kadin said that they wanted somebody who would work well with J.J. Abrams. Why do you think that she thought you guys would hit it off so well?

DL: I don't know. She and I go way back. She was one of the first people that I met in Hollywood and she had been working as an executive on Alias for three years and I guess she just felt like, creatively, J.J. and I had the same lexicon of stuff that we loved. Like the Star Wars movies, anything that Spielberg has ever done, we had sci-fi interests and we both loved The Twilight Zone. She felt like the talking points were the same. That we were horses of a similar color. Keep reading...

Posted byNick at 4:00 PM

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