UPDATE: To read Part Three of the interview click here.
Last week I posted Part One of my interview with Kris White. Kris, for those that don’t know, spends his time at Disney/ABC publicizing shows, including Lost, and has gained notoriety in the Lost community as the creator and producer of The Official Lost Podcast. Here is Part Two of the Q&A I conducted with him.
Audibly Lost (AL): You talked a bit about your role in the creation of the podcast, what were Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse’s reaction to it?
Kris White (KW): Damon and Carlton were instantly excited by the possibilities of a podcast. They recognized the opportunity and welcomed the chance to connect with fans, even though their time was limited by, you know, writing the show.
AL: Was there a sense at the time that these podcasts would become such a huge deal for fans?
KW: We knew pretty early on that this was going to be something influential. But we never knew it would be as big as it is.
AL: If you could discuss your role at Disney/ABC in detail I think many people would appreciate it. You’ve always been a rather mysterious figure, despite your job being briefly explained in the podcast.
KW: Much as I love Lost and am an absolute fan of the show, it’s not my only responsibility. I produce podcasts and internet featurettes for a variety of shows all across the Disney ABC Television group. I do the Grey’s Anatomy Audio Podcast, and I’ve created podcasts for many of our past shows, like Commander In Chief.
But that’s not all (I sound like an infomercial, right?), I also do Electronic Press Kits for everything from High School Musical 2 to Dancing with the Stars. Electronic Press Kits are the building blocks that news and other entertainment outlets use to create their stories. It consists of soundbites, behind the scenes footage and clips.
Oftentimes, we’ll also create special featurettes for the internet. I just did a walk-through behind the scenes of ABC Family’s The Middleman with Executive Producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach (also a Lost alum!). His new show is based off his comic book by the same name and we wanted to give viewers a special look at that show. That featurette should be out in the next few weeks. The show premieres on June 16th.
That said, Lost is one my favorite shows. Whenever a new script or cut of an episode comes across my desk, I usually drop what I’m doing to take a look at it.
AL: So how often do you get to read the scripts before the shows come out? Also, do you ever get a chance to hang out with Carlton and Damon outside of doing the podcast?
KW: Basically, I learn things about the show on a need-to-know basis. Oftentimes, that means reading the scripts as soon as they’re written and seeing the shows long before the public does. We have to because we’re interviewing cast members and shooting video podcasts sometimes months in advance. However, there are certain big picture things that I don’t know, like how the show is going to end. That said, we do get to hang out with the guys a little when we’re doing our podcasts. It’s not all business. They’re about as funny off-mic as they are on.
AL: You seem to have a lot of fun doing these podcasts for Lost. Even things like selecting the [amazingly corny, where did you even find it?] theme music or playing Carlton’s banjo music really make me laugh. There is definitely a level of creativity here. Do you consider yourself a creative person? What do you try and do to make the promotional material for the show as fun as possible?
KW: Most of our music comes from a music library that we are able to access. For the theme music, I basically selected the corniest music I could from several genres and let the gang pick their theme. Of course, they couldn’t decide – so we let the fans do that instead.
We always love trying to find new ways to do something fun with and for the fans on the show. My favorite thus far was the cross-over story from Damon and Carlton’s past. That one forced me to really pull out a lot of stops. It was like being back in film school. We did everything with like a three man band… from casting the parts to creating the props (like the “comic book” young Damon’s reading).
KW: Our publicity team is great. My department itself isn’t that big. We’re called Broadcast Publicity and we basically support all the individual network publicists for our shows. Right now, we have three full time producers (including myself) that go to set and do electronic press kits, podcasts and other things for our shows. There’s also a slew of other people on the team that are responsible for producing radio tours, satellite tours, coordinating press lines, and even making sure our talent has a warm bed to sleep in when they get flung far and wide for press interviews.
AL: Can you tell us a bit about how your work has evolved as the ways viewers interact with technology and communication evolve as well?
KW: Our job is changing rapidly and every day. Before I got here, we’d never done a podcast, much less a featurette just for the internet. We’re constantly evaluating what’s out there and how we can use it to connect our fans with the shows they love. A lot of that means working with some of the other fabulous departments here at Disney ABC. ABC.com, for one, has been key in getting our podcasts developed and out there. Another great team to work with has been our friends in Entertainment Marketing. These are the folks who made all those notes in a bottle appear telling people to tune in for the original premiere of Lost back in 2004. They’re also the ones who created “Lost in 8:15” and “Lost in 4:23”.
AL: You’ve become a bit of a celebrity for the Lost fan community, with people even sending in questions to you for The Official Lost Podcast. Do you get recognized by fans?
KW: The last time I was recognized was at Comic Con. And this guy only knew me because of my voice. This was before the video podcasts. In general, I don’t get recognized though. Although one friend of my fiancée flipped out when he learned who I was. He was like, “You’re marrying that guy?!”
With that we close Part Two of our interview with Kris White. Stay tuned to Audibly Lost for Part Three, the final part of the interview later this week. In it Kris takes questions from other podcasters and fills us in on what work he’ll be doing over the summer. And to read Part One of the interview just click here.
UPDATE: To read Part Three of the interview click here.