Filmmaker Taylor Morden and podcast producer Ralph Apel chat about their new documentary Getting LOST. Covering the hit ABC series LOST (2004-2010), it’s due to release in 2024, Season 1’s 20-year anniversary.
Documentary filmmaker Taylor Morden and longtime podcast producer Ralph Apel unite for the documentary Getting LOST.
Both are longtime, passionate fans of the hit series LOST, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2024. In fact, Taylor and Ralph discuss their fandom in this interview.
That’s when Getting LOST will be released. As a matter of fact, it’ll include interviews with alumni of the series, including character actor Eric Lange, who played Radzinsky in Season 5.
Additionally, to find out more information about the documentary, check out their social media platforms here.
Without further ado, check out this condensed, edited version of this interview below. Meanwhile, you can watch the full conversation on the Courageous Nerd YouTube channel.
We’ll be talking about the upcoming Getting LOST documentary, which you’re producing. However, could you discuss your already established filmmaking career?
Ralph Apel: I’ll leave that one to Taylor. I have no prior filmmaking experience. I’d been producing podcasts since 2006 and Taylor was a fan of that podcast, which just happens to be about LOST.
So, I was approached by Taylor and I’ve got to say, as far as filmmaking goes, my position and what I’m doing has been working out pretty good, I think.
Taylor Morden: That’s kind of the fun thing about indie film at this level. We’re all just figuring it out. I thought Ralph’s podcast skills and interview skills, it’s the same thing. We’re all just telling stories, right? It’s just whether there’s cameras or just microphones.
Now, there’s cameras and podcasting. So, it’s all the same. I’ve done a few documentaries. The one most people know is called The Last Blockbuster. It’s on Netflix, about the last Blockbuster video in the world which is in Bend, Oregon. I’ve done a couple of others about music and just finished one about Build-A-Bear workshop, the teddy bear folks.
LOST has stood the test of time – from people who watched when it aired, to someone like me who found it 10 years later, to people just discovering it now. What do you think made the show so appealing, even 20 years on?
Ralph Apel: There’s a wide appeal to LOST because there’s a lot of stuff going on in the show. For sci-fi geeks like me, there’s definitely stuff like Dharma Initiative, polar bears. There’s stuff going on that piques my interest.
My mom watched LOST. She doesn’t watch anything, but she was in it for the sort of soap opera nature of Sawyer, Kate and Jack, how’s that going to go. Then, it’s just like a really well-done drama. You’re picking up all these different fandoms in one show.
If you’re into supernatural stuff, you have stuff with Claire and Walt. If you want sleazy stuff, you have Kate swimming in a waterfall with Sawyer, both down to their underwear. There’s stuff for literally everybody and such a diverse cast of actors from around the world. It just hits on a global scale.
That’s what I think the appeal is. It just reaches out to as many people as possible.
Taylor Morden: It does all of those things really well. It’s not an okay sci-fi show, it’s a great sci-fi show. It’s not an okay drama, it’s a great drama. The characters are amazing and the acting is great. The writing is top-notch. It was kind of the first of that kind.
The first show to have all of those things, all of the elements be quality and work well. I think that’s a testament to why people are still getting into it.
When we announced this project, my mom started watching LOST for the first time. Only a few weeks ago, she’s already in the middle of Season 3. People are coming to it now, just like you said and it’s a different experience.
We watched it when it aired and you had to wait a week and the community aspect was so huge. Talking to people all week before the next episode would come out.
People now don’t get that, because when you finish Episode 4, Episode 5 is right there. It’s waiting for you. That’s cool, it’s really cool to think about. For example, Conor, your experience with LOST, coming at it 10 years after was from our experience.
It took us 6 years to watch LOST, it took months in-between seasons. They would do these alternative reality games, there was a video game, there were books. For some of us, it was an obsession that lasted years and years. Now, you can literally watch the whole thing in a couple of weeks.
What first sparked your thoughts to make this documentary?
Taylor Morden: It’s [LOST] gotta be my all-time favourite TV show. I mean, I loved it at the time, wasn’t a “filmmaker” when LOST was on TV; I was trying to be a professional musician, trying real hard.
I took a trip in 2010 while they were still filming the final season. My wife got me a trip to Hawaii. We visited the set and they were filming episodes 612 and 613. I got to watch them making LOST, my favourite TV show. I’m there, experiencing… there’s an explosion, killing off characters. I don’t know what’s happening, as the first episode of Season 6 hasn’t aired yet.
I’m seeing them film a scene with Jack’s son and I’m the most confused I’ve ever been in my life. That kind of thing. I had been a kid in the 90s with the big video camera on the shoulder. Shooting on VHS, editing with two VCRs. It had always been something I did as a hobby, I’d make music videos and things.
Then, when I got into filmmaking… that time, being on the LOST set always stuck with me. Like, “yeah, making movies, making TV, that’s a cool thing to do, maybe for a career”, I hoped. Then it kind of went to the back of my mind and I was doing other things.
I like doing nostalgic documentaries, like The Last Blockbuster. It’s something from the 90s that we all remember and I had always thought about doing a LOST documentary. It didn’t seem like it had been long enough. In my mind, LOST just ended last week. Turns out, it’s been a while.
It dawned on me that 2024 is going to be the 20th anniversary of Flight 815. The first episode airing. It seemed like the perfect time to look back, nostalgia goes in twenty year waves.
From what I’ve heard, Getting LOST sounds like a real love letter to LOST as a series. How far back does your history with the show go?
Taylor Morden: I jumped on a little bit later. I remember the hype, oh my God, everybody’s talking about this show. At the time, I was playing in a band. I wasn’t sitting at home at night watching network TV. I had given up on network television. It was kind of not great.
So, everyone was like: “There’s this show on ABC that you’ve got to watch.” “Sure, there’s a show on ABC that I’ve got to watch.” I was in a hotel somewhere, travelling and an episode came on. It was the Michael and Walt episode in Season 1, with the polar bear. I had no context, it just came on and I was like: “This show is terrible. What is everyone talking about?”
It seemed like the worst CGI polar bear I’d ever seen. Who are these people? Why do I care? It doesn’t work. You can’t just watch an episode from the middle of the season. I didn’t know it was that kind of show. Nobody told me: “You have to start at the beginning and watch”. I watched that whole episode and I was so confused.
I was like: “Okay, so it’s about a psychic kid? It’s a show about a psychic kid who can summon animals from comic books. Think that’s what the show’s about. I guess people thought I’d like it because I like comic books.”
I got caught up between Seasons 1 and 2 and did not have to wait 6 months to find out what was in the hatch.
Ralph Apel: I actually was in there pretty much from the beginning. I didn’t watch the night it premiered, but the next day at work, a friend of mine said: “You’ve got to watch this show LOST.” I’m like: “I don’t care about TV, I like watching movies.” He was so sincere about it and he’s like: “Listen, you’ll love it.”
So, I went home and saw it on the Friday night after it premiered.
You’ve already announced some exciting contributors for the documentary, such as Eric Lange (Radzinsky) and Sean Whalen (Frogurt). How was talking to those actors?
Taylor Morden: To me, as a documentary filmmaker, my favourite thing is talking with somebody about their favourite thing. The reason Eric Lange was excited to talk to us was that it’s still his favourite project or one of them. He’s been in a ton of TV shows, a bunch of movies. He’s one of those character actors that’s just working all the time.
Yeah, he’s done a ton of projects, but as soon as your start talking about LOST, he just lights up. It’s one of the greatest times in his life. That’s why I love doing this kind of documentary on the 20 year cycle. It’s been years, not like he’s been talking to people about LOST every day. Most people don’t talk about LOST everyday anymore.
All the cast and crew, people we’ve talked to so far… they love it. Even the ones for whom it’s not their favourite thing, it sparks these memories. They’re like: “Oh right, and then we were in Hawaii.” It’s so different. Most TV is shot in LA or New York, maybe Vancouver. They all got to be basically on vacation. So, the memories of making LOST are really special.
Ralph Apel: Taylor and I were very excited about Sean Whalen. For being in LOST, but being in other stuff that sort of affects our lives. For me, growing up, the Got Milk? commercial that he’s in. We would mispronounce Aaron Burr all the time, it was a running joke in our family. That wonderful commercial that Michael Bay directed.
If someone were to ask me what my favourite commercial of all time is, I would probably say that one. It’s so well done and well-directed, a great commercial. It was like a bonus. Yes, we get to talk about Neil Frogurt, who is onscreen for approximately a maximum of 5 minutes. He was more myth by the time he came onto the show.
If you ask fans about their favourite character or actor from LOST, it’s usually pretty divided. Who would be your number one choices?
Taylor Morden: I have two answers for characters because spoiler alert, one of them doesn’t make it that long. I was a Charlie fan because I was a musician. I was like: “if I was in a plane crash, that would be me.” Charlie was my favourite character, not because he was morally great or anything. He was Charlie. At the time, Dominic Monaghan was the guy from The Lord of The Rings. He was the famous one on the show. We all loved him.
He was my favourite until about half-way through the show. Then, there was a literal handing off the baton moment. From then on, my favourite character was Hurley. The moment when Hurley finds out about Charlie.
It’s still to me, the most heartbreaking moment in television. It also was just like: “Charlie is with you now.” So, now, you’re my favourite. That was my character journey of “favourites”.
Then at the end, I was like: “I knew it.”
Ralph Apel: I always liked Hurley. You never saw, other than The Simpsons, comic-book guys. You never saw just like a regular guy. I didn’t associate myself with a rockstar or a doctor. That’s not me. I’m not a fugitive. So, when it came to Hurley, that guy right there feels like the most real person on this island.
He wasn’t defined by his job. His flashback came so late in the first season. We already knew that Sawyer was a con man, Michael was an artist. From Hurley on the island, you get the sense that he likes listening to music. I like listening to music. Reading comics.
He’s the most common man, fish out of water. He’s there to experience it and that’s how I felt. I wouldn’t be one of the guys who goes on the trek. I’m not that kind of guy. Hurley was always my favourite.
As far as acting-wise, jeez, Michael Emerson. Terry O’Quinn. It’s hard. Those guys, everybody on the show put in amazing performances. There was something different about those two where this is the kind of stuff you see in really good dramatic films.
Even with Dominic Monaghan, he was in movies.
At the time, you didn’t see movie stars do TV. LOST kind of changed that too. Before that, you would just have your TV guys and your movie guys. They really did a lot of the marketing around him. They’d use all his lines – always, “Guys, where are we?” in every single trailer leading up to the pilot.
It was saying, this is quality stuff. We’ve got a genuine movie star here. He was just in a won something that won every Academy Award for the biggest screen franchise at the time. We got him on our show.
That was another thing with LOST, bringing people you know from the big screen onto the small screen.
Looking back through some of LOST’s ‘greatest hits’ – from the ending of Walkabout to the final scene of the series – what stands out in your mind?
Taylor Morden: It’s all those. We ask everybody, “What stands out?” Walkabout I think is for almost everybody, the moment they fell in love with the show. It’s early, the third or fourth episode, but that moment… For me, coming into it having seen an episode and hated it. Then seeing the Pilot and being like: “Oh my God!” The Kate episode is a good episode, but not “Oh my God!” I get it, it’s flashbacks and character stuff.
Then to get that twist in Walkabout was just like… “Oh, this is my favourite show now.”
Ralph Apel: It’s so well-directed. It didn’t even occur to me. What’s great about that Kate episode too is that it’s “here’s what happened.” From get-go, one of the first mysteries is that there’s handcuffs. We see these handcuffs. Who did they belong to?
You’d probably think Sawyer, but oh, it’s Kate. She’s the nice lady who helped the doc with his stiches. It kind of flips on its head. Then, in the Walkabout episode, you’re just thinking: “Cool, we’re gonna see this guy’s backstory.”
Not even remotely thinking that there’s going to be a twist. At this point, the twists are kind of ‘whatever’, there’s nothing super crazy.
We’re so focused on what’s in the jungle. Is it dinosaurs? Did they die? We’re thinking of all this stuff. You’re not thinking: “Oh, this guy’s in a wheelchair.” It’s directed, staged and set up so wonderfully. I think it was Jack Bender, maybe.
It gets you, when he pulls out from that desk…
Taylor Morden: Then they go back to that scene from the Pilot. It recontextualises the Pilot. So, three episodes in, you’re like: “I have to go back and watch the first episode again”, which is a common thing for LOST.
LOST had one of the more polarising endings – up there with Game of Thrones or How I Met Your Mother. What were your thoughts on how the show ended in 2010?
Taylor Morden: I didn’t love the ending of How I Met Your Mother, but all the rest. Game of Thrones, I’m fine with because I didn’t read the books. Not that attached. The people who read the books hate that ending more than anyone hates the ending of LOST.
To me, that’s why it warrants a documentary and why we’re taking this look back. It’s because it is “one of the worst endings on TV of all time”. The people who love it, the people who get it, it’s one of the best endings. They really stuck the landing and if you don’t see that…
I’m going to get quoted out of context now, “they stuck the landing”. I see why you don’t like the ending. I get it, I totally understand. It was such a cathartic character moment. Even the on-island ending with Jack’s story arc, I loved that.
For the people who thought they made it up as they went along. The last shot with the eye closing and the first shot with the eye opening. The dog… if the dog didn’t get you, you’re dead inside.
It’s one of those things where almost everyone we’ve talked to has echoed the same sentiment. It was impossible to please everyone. People liked the show for different reasons.
The people who were there for the mystery/whodunnit/sci-fi and trying to piece everything together. Yeah, they didn’t answer everything. They couldn’t answer everything. I get what that’s upsetting.
I was one of the people more interested in the time travel than love triangles. But, I’d also spent 6 years with these fake, made up people. They mattered to me. Hurley was a friend of mine, that I saw every week. We hung out for an hour and then we went on the internet together and tried to solve mysteries.
Ralph Apel: The thing for me with the finale… we knew when the finale was going to happen. Jay and Jack, who were podcasters back in the day – they’re still podcasting. They were kind of one of the major LOST podcasts out there.
Put together this event in Los Angeles, like maybe a 2000-seat theatre. Classic Hollywood art deco, balcony, big curtain theatre – the Orpheum. They were projecting the finale onscreen. When you’re sitting in a room with 2000 LOST fans, watching the scene where all your friends come together to this one place.
Everyone was sniffling in the theatre and blowing their noses. We were them. People from around the world, who you only know from this one event. Just like in the show, came together one last time before going out into whatever the unknown is.
So, for me, the finale hit so hard. I was doing a podcast at the time, in it with all of these people.
Where can people find more information about Getting LOST?
Ralph Apel: Yeah, I would say gettinglostdoc.com has all the links to our socials. That’s the easiest thing to do. I mean, Taylor’s been handling the Instagram and Facebook side. I’ve been handling Twitter.
If you just want to DM us there or use our email address. We’re also covering the LOST fanbase, getting a lot of emails and DMs from die-hard fans in the community.
I wish we could get everybody in – we definitely won’t be able to interview every fan. Scheduling is quite the thing, it’s tough.
Taylor Morden: We’ll probably come up with a way. There’ll be a way to include a lot of these fan stories. We’re getting a lot of stories like: “LOST changed my life for this reason.” Or, “I was in the hospital and the only thing I had to look forward to was LOST.”
These are really heartwarming stories that matter and that’s part of the story we’re trying to tell. Obviously, we can’t go around and interview everybody. This isn’t going to be a 7-hour documentary but do get in touch with us if LOST changed your life.
Even just to put you in a collage – do send your photo in. I know what it feels like to want to be a part of something that you love. The three of us love LOST – a lot of other people do. It’s exciting to try to be connected to it.
Thank you for taking the time to chat, guys- best of luck with the documentary!
Taylor Morden: Thanks, you too!
Ralph Apel: Thank you.