Posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2012 by Germain Lussier
Despite his huge commercial success, massive fan base and seemingly super-heroic ability to take criticism, Damon Lindelof is only human. The co-creator of Lost and co-writer of Prometheus hears a lot of negative comments about his work and, in a new interview, admits that it gets to him. He also admits that high-concept, sometimes ambiguous projects are the kind of stuff he loves and he wants the fans to engage with. So it goes with the territory.
Lindelof spoke to the Wall Street Journal about these things and more in specific relation to the semi-chilly online reaction to Prometheus. He reveals that he was one of the leading voices behind the viral marketing component of the film and believes the online reception of a film is extremely important, even if the studios haven’t yet taken that into consideration. He also comments on some “errors” in the film and more. Read excerpts after the jump.
The below quotes come from an interview with the SpeakEasy blog at the Wall Street Journal, which primarily focuses on the conception and production of the three major viral components to Prometheus: The Weyland TED Talk, David 8 Android commercial and Elizabeth Shaw video blog. Here are some of the other highlights after that.
On whether or not Michael Fassbender, or he, got paid for this additional work:
I can only answer for myself and presume they didn’t pay Michael anything additional. I looked at it this way: Part of my job, what I get paid for, is promoting the movie and the Writer’s Guild is probably going to get mad at me for saying this, but that’s just the way I looked at it. Since I pitched it, I wanted to do it and Fox said yes, they were putting money out there to make this thing. I looked at it as a couple of extra scenes I was doing for “Prometheus” that would be on a small screen. I do think that in the future my agent will probably negotiate bumps for additional content that are not going to be on the screen. But you have to look at it as a freebie when you are trying to do something new and cool.
On fans dissecting the film in excruciating detail:
My feeling is: this is what I signed up for. I am driven and captivated and interested in these open-ended stories that have a high level of interpretation to them. There’s a certain level of frustration that comes with that package. So, when I was involved in the movie just looking at tiny little effects, naming planets and star systems, you have to be responsible. Charlize [Theron] has a line in the movie where she says, “I wouldn’t be half a billion miles away from every man on earth if I wanted to get laid.” And Neil deGrasse Tyson [the well-known astrophysicist] came out said “This would put her somewhere in the neighborhood of Jupiter, when they are much, much further out.” I chose not to say anything because the line was intentional. It had been dinged before we even shot it. But we stuck by it for reasons I don’t feel like discussing.
On the seemingly “flubbed” line of dialogue, where Fassbender’s android says “2 years, 4 months, 18 days, 36 hours, 15 minutes” (emphasis mine):
The “36 hours” line has been burning a hole in my side because I wasn’t there on the day they shot it. I don’t know if it was an ad-lib by Michael or an idea by Ridley, that wasn’t the line that we wrote. So when people contact me and say “Explain this. Is it a glitch in David?” I have to say “I can’t take responsibility for this.” So, I do think in terms of fair play with the audience, Twitter is a medium for me to say “I can’t come out now and bullshit you.” God forbid somebody pulls the script one day and sees that line is not even in the script. So I have to be honest.
On why he engages and responds to negativity on Twitter:
I am amused if somebody says something cleverly negative about it. The mean negatives, there is nothing pleasant about that experience whatsoever for me. I try to not address it unless it’s so horrible that I feel the need to tell everybody who follows me, “Just so you know, there are people out there who says this.” If somebody says something positive it’s something I want to keep to myself.
On whether viral content can help a film’s box office:
I think that tracking is very rudimentary. It’s “Are you aware of this? And if you are aware of this, how strongly do you want to see it?” What it doesn’t take into account is the zeitgeist construct. Take something like “Ted.” That was a rated-R movie that way outperformed its tracking. A zeitgeist forms around something, and the fuse doesn’t get lit until it’s out there and available. Then suddenly people go, “Oh right, ‘Ted’ That’s the ‘Family Guy’ guy. I want to see that!” So there are these 11th hour miracles that can occur for movies, and I think they are largely spurred by social media.
There’s even more at the above link, so I urge you to go there and check it out. I think the take away here is that despite all the negative commentary about the ending of Lost and the ambiguity or plot holes or issues with Prometheus, Lindelof is well-aware and interested in discussing it. Publicly. Whether you agree with him or not, that places him in a very small minority of blockbuster filmmakers and screenwriters, one that commands a level of respect.