Saturday, May 15, 2010

Failure And Creativity In Lost

In his podcast yesterday with Bill Simmons, writer Carlton Cuse explains a bit of the driving philosophy behind the composition of Lost. First, he argues that the premise of a TV show is much less important than its execution. Seinfeld, the "show about nothing," is his example here. I do wonder whether this is will be different for comedies, though. The preponderance of movies based on previously successful books / plays in imdb's top 250 suggests to me that the plot is critical for a drama.

Second, he argues that to be successful creatively in any endeavor, one must risk failure. Apparently, Cuse and Lindelof (the other writer) basically expected to fail. Their goal in writing the first twelve episodes in 2004 was to make them as cool as possible so that if / when the show was canceled, it could become some sort of cult classic that they would be proud of. That would make it like Firefly, which only aired in 2002 for eleven episodes but killed it in DVD sales. The writers being cool with conventional failure for such a plausible and specific reason could explain the show's success and its love of ambiguity.

This post is dedicated to Colin Marshall, who ostensibly hates Lost (see here, here, and here), but who loves the idea that risking and / or embracing failure is essential to success in creativity (see here, here, here, and here).