During Comic-Con, I was fortunate enough to sit down with the two creators of SyFy’s (then Sci-Fi) hit mini-series, The Lost Room.
In the interview we discussed the past, The Lost Room mini-series and planned television show, the present, the cult-following and internet resurgence, and the future, their upcoming Red 5 comic, The Lost Room: Season 2 – which makes its way to shelves in 2011.
After pushing through the many geeks in attendance and passing knights fighting in full armor (literally), we finally found a section of the San Diego Convention Center yet to be taken over by attendees dressed up as their favorite niche anime characters.
After stealing a few chairs, Christopher, Laura, and I finally came to rest under a set of palm trees outside the upper level of the convention center to talk about one of my favorite shows and their opus (in my opinion) – The Lost Room.
The Lost Room Mini-Series & Planned Television Show
Laura Harkcom & Christopher Leone
Note from Laura Harkcom regarding Paul Workman: Paul was a co-creator of the project with Chris and me. The three of us created “The Lost Room” universe and storyline together, and then Chris and I wrote the scripts. The idea of a motel room that existed outside of space and time as we know it, and most of the properties of the room, were Paul’s original ideas. He also came up with a lot of the objects and their powers — he’s a master of those kinds of mind-bending ideas.
Could you explain how the The Lost Room originated? I’ve read previously that it stemmed from a thought experiment.
Christopher Leone: Paul [Workman] and I used to work in the library at college and he would come in with these thought experiments – we weren’t even thinking about a story at that point. So, he came in and said, “I have this idea: what would be the most powerful superpower that I could have, with the least effect.” His whole idea was if I could teleport into this hotel room and I could just get room service – I wouldn’t need to have a job, I don’t have to pay rent.
Laura Harkcom: You don’t need money because you can just go into any restaurant and eat wherever you wanted. You could break into a bank vault.
Christopher: Originally, I think you could only come out the door that you went in and it wasn’t attached to the key or anything. His other idea was a superpower where he could transport anyone to Fort Wayne, Indiana and they’d have a bus ticket back to where they came from. So, it would be frustrating to you, but it wouldn’t be devastating.
Laura: Right. It wouldn’t necessary hurt the victim and they’d have a way back home because they’d have a bus ticket.
Christopher: Then, years later, Laura and I were working on this movie idea and we were just kind of stuck. It was about this kid who got a glass eye and does magic. Basically, the scene with Joe and Wally in the diner on the first night – where Wally lays out all the objects – that was originally supposed to be between the kid and this other guy in the original movie. We knew that the eye was really powerful, but we didn’t know what the whole universe was. We just knew that there was this whole war going on in diners and bowling alleys.
I think Laura, at one point, suggested that we bring Paul’s ideas in, but those were almost like superpowers. So, [we thought] what if they were attached to objects so that people could steal them – what if the motel room was actually the key and then it just exploded because all that logic just ripples out.
Laura: The idea was now that we’ve assigned powers to these objects, how will these things play out in the real world. We always wanted this story to be grounded in the real world and be more of a noir-type story than a superhero or superpower story. So, if these objects actually existed in the real world, how would people react to them? That’s why you have some people assign them religious values, some people would say, “No, no, no… They’re so dangerous, we have to get rid of them.” Everybody would have a different idea of what they were and what needed to be done with them.
Of course, then there would also be the people who just wanted to steal them for their own personal gain. Then it was pretty easy from there to extrapolate if you’ve got a guy that has the most powerful object – the key – what kind of position could we put him in.
Since the mini-series was originally planned as a back-door pilot for a television show, how much had you planned out in terms of the story following the events seen in the mini-series?
Christopher: We had a lot. Ultimately, it’s a really big universe and we had a lot of stories planned. What we really wanted to do is follow the story of the key. You’d actually have a different protagonist (motel man), so different characters could come in, but the secondary characters would stay the same.
You’d actually get a new protagonist with each season and all of a sudden they would have a whole new set of problems. So, a whole new guy gets the key – or girl – and they get sucked into this world, too. Say that the protagonist from one season with the key might lose it and still be a character on the show, but not the motel man anymore.
It’s kind of like how the mini-series was. We get Joe’s complete story and now that Joe is an object, he’s still part of the world, but he wouldn’t be the protagonist next time.
How long was it after the mini-series aired that you found out Sci-Fi wasn’t going to go forward with a television series?
Christopher: It was a little while – six months.
Laura: Yeah, six months.