David S. Goyer is producing Flash Forward for ABC in the US. The show generated the most buzz at this year’s LA Screenings and has already been sold to over 100 international broadcasters, becoming Disney’s fastest selling TV series ever.
Is it flattering or annoying that Flash Forward is constantly mentioned in the same breath as Lost?
It’s a good and a bad thing. My regular viewing is towards cable, but ABC is the studio and network I chose to do Flash Forward with and with Lost they showed they are the best place if you want to create a challenging show that is more morally complex than most shows out there. Something that can be complex and a mainstream hit.
But no-one wants their show to always be compared to anything else. I didn’t set out to make the next Lost and I got involved with Flash Forward eight years ago, before Lost was around.
How challenging is it to make a show that people will want to return to week after week?
TV can do serialised drama in a way that film can’t. There are a lot of storylines and eleven regular characters, but we want it to die-hard fans and make it friendly enough so that a viewer can drop in and not be lost.
You’ve said there’s a three-season story arc – was that always the plan?
Actually, there’s more of a five-season plan, I fleshed out the first to the fifth season to the network. I’ve been asked ‘what’s the minimum length to do it in?’ and said three, but it could accordion out to six or seven.
Certain parts of the story are set in stone, but there’s a lot of latitude.
Can you create the intrigue and mythology that a successful series generates or does that just happen when a show takes off?
You can’t game the audience. I’m just trying to do a show that I’d want to watch and get excited about. I’m a consumer of TV, comics, film and in the writers’ room we talk about what we’d want to see, what would be disappointing it’s not ‘how do we make this a hit’.
I know as a viewer I feel annoyed if showrunner doesn’t know where a show is going.
What are the positives of working in TV as opposed to film?
I conceived of Flash Forward as a two-hour movie – so it’s exciting to have 24 hours or more to tell the story rather than two. It allows for epic storytelling. With TV, as with comics, stories can evolve and there’s an interactive element with the audience, you get that feedback.
How about the drawbacks of TV, coming off a big movie?
We don’t initially have the same budget as The Dark Knight.
That means we have to pick and choose our moments and over the course of the show we actually do have the same budget.