by Jean-Yves Le Moine, published on 29.07.2009
Everyone knows Lost and its heroes, the modern-day Robinsons, marooned on an island. What is less well known is that JJ Abrams developed a whole transmedia concept around the TV series.
From the very first episodes, he himself ran a forum on which all the fans of the series had a field day commenting, imagining the next episodes, above all inventing a past for each character, a pre-crash past. In the first few episodes of Season 1, these flashbacks were but meagrely developed, but in view of the interest aroused on the forums, JJ Abrams decided to develop that aspect a lot more in the subsequent episodes that had yet to be shot. All he had to do was ask his scriptwriters to draw on what his fans had written on the forum.
Lost also evolved through the short films that were released on the Web: one of the protagonists finds a movie camera on the beach and films his peers. The resultant shorts can only be seen on the Web. On mobile, other short programmes portray the less developed characters in the TV series.
But what really amuses JJ Abrams is to blur the lines between fact and fiction. And what better means to that end than an Alternate Reality Game (ARG – mixing the real and the virtual)! The scriptwriters then left hints in the TV series, whilst a rumour was started on the Internet: the production of Lost was said to be financed by a cult, which also appeared to be one of the solutions to the mysteries on the island. This double rumour induced fans to embark on a wild hunt for hints in each episode. It was then artfully orchestrated by the producers in-between Seasons 3 and 4 to perk up the series’ viewing audience, which had been running out of steam.
This game was followed by hundreds of thousands of Americans. Capitalizing on a far better story, the game succeeded in reaching and growing several different audiences! Now more than ever, a very good transmedia concept requires first and foremost a good story to be a success….