Author got misty on the set of Flash Forward—and will cameo

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

SF author Robert J. Sawyer, whose 1999 novel is the basis of the ABC sci-fi drama pilot Flash Forward, told SCI FI Wire that he grew emotional observing the film's production March 5-7 in Los Angeles—and that he will have a cameo appearance in the initial episode.

"They filmed my favorite scene in the whole script," Sawyer said in an exclusive telephone interview. "And I actually got misty-eyed when they were filming it, because it didn't matter if the character names were the same as the character names in my novel. They were saying things that were the heart and soul of the novel that I had written a decade ago. What they're doing is Flash Forward, and I, to the core of my being, feel that they are doing my book."

The award-winning Canadian writer and his wife, Carolyn Clink, spent three days on the set of Flash Forward, which was developed for television by Brannon Braga and David S. Goyer (Threshold) and Goyer's wife and producing partner, Jessika Borsiczky Goyer.

Sawyer also had his moment in front of the camera, thanks to Nne Ebong, ABC vice president of dramatic program development, who suggested putting him in a scene. "It was something for the special features and for the fans and for the audio commentary," Sawyer said. "Nne is so savvy about this, and she immediately said, 'Here's an opportunity to add nuance and texture to our ancillary materials.' And she's so powerful, suddenly the next scene was being reblocked to include me with a bit of business to do. I was also interviewed for the making-of featurette that's going to be on the DVD. And we haven't even talked about my second appearance in the pilot, and that's all I'm going to say!"

Flash Forward—which stars Jack Davenport, Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Sonya Walger and Courtney B. Vance—follows a group of characters around the world who have to deal with the consequences of a 2-minute, 17-second glimpse into their futures.

Sawyer said of the ABC Studios production: "I was blown away by the scope. In Canada we use four extras. My first day on set, we had 152 extras, and every one of them was used to great effect. The camerawork: It was crane shots and dolly shots that went on for 150 feet of dolly track and circling around and Steadicam, and all of this to make the one scene look incredibly dynamic. The amount of technology that's at hand to do really sophisticated things is astonishing, and they took advantage of every bit of that."

During his visit, Sawyer—who is a consultant for the series—was given access to all the production departments. When he met visual-effects supervisor Kevin Blank (Lost, Cloverfield), Blank was watching production from a chair just behind director David Goyer. "He had his laptop open and trying things on the fly," Sawyer said. "Kevin is just showing me amazing stuff that he's pulled together already. The guy is a genius."

Described as a complex, mystery-laden series like Lost, Flash Forward is now in post-production; if ABC picks it up, the series could premiere in the fall.