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Archive for October, 1996

Cinefantastique: Darin Morgan

Darin Morgan
Paula Vitaris

The X-Files’ court Jester on Turning the Show Inside-Out

There’s a scene in the X-Files episode “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space”‘ wherein a teenage girl wakes up after a possible alien abduction to find she is wearing her clothes inside out or backwards. “Inside out or backwards” also serves as a fitting description for the comic X-Files episodes written by Darin Morgan, author of “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space”‘ and three others: “Clyde Bruckman”s Final Repose,” “The War of the Coprophages,” and last season’s “Humbug.” Morgan’s episodes are all bonafide X-files, with cases to be solved and creepy monsters and aliens on the prowl, but like any good court jester, he has no hesitation in sticking a pin into the inflated balloon of X- files convention, be it Mulder’s reputation as a well-dressed genius, Scully’s ultra-professionalism, or the show’s thoroughly serious tone. The person behind all the hoopla is a self-effacing 30-year-old man with a love for the work of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Howard Hawks, Preston Sturges, and Billy Wilder. The younger brother of X-Files producer-writer Glen Morgan, he was offered two jobs during the X-Files’ second season: to play the mutant Flukeman in “The Host” and to help work out the story for the “Blood” with Glen and James Wong. Morgan’s work on “Blood” earned him a spot on the writing staff, which he accepted even though he was unsure of his ability to turn out a script due to his slowness as a writer and his natural bent towards comedy. When he finally turned in “Humbug,” the staff and the network were understandably apprehensive, since the episode was so unlike anything done before. Even though “Humbug,” his first produced script, turned out to be massive hit with the fans, to this day he is unsatisfied with the final result, lamenting the loss of a number of good gags. Morgan got the feeling he was on the wrong show. No matter how much he tried to be serious, he kept turning out funny stuff. “At least on The X-Files, there always was a point to why I was being funny. I tie it into the show in various ways,” he said. “The thing I was always careful of was to make sure I had a real investigation, with theories from both Mulder and Scully. I was aware I was doing things differently, but I also wanted to make sure I was doing all the things the show would normally do. In ‘Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,’ each time Mulder says Clyde is psychic, Scully had a legitimate reason to say he’s not. I did even more in ‘Coprophages,’ where, in the end, Scully was wrong, but she was right in the beginning, and that’s what the whole show is about: different theories, how to explain certain phenomenon. My scripts had that, and I always had stereotypical ‘boo’ scenes or act-outs [ending an act] with a dead body. I was proudest of ‘ Jose Chung,’ in which only two people died, and I didn’t have a death on an act-out. You get in the habit of saying. ‘Okay, here’s a dead body,’ cut to commercial. But you usually have to have those. The X-Files is a kind of horror show, so you have to have those moments of genuine terror or grossness. ”

His lingering disappointment with “Humbug” took him in another direction, a story that would become his second episode, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” about a weary middle-aged insurance salesman with the ability to see people’s deaths. When Mulder and Scully ask his help to help solve a series of murders of fortune tellers, Clyde, played by Peter Boyle, is reluctant. To his mind, there is no altering the future. “I felt I had done ‘Humbug’ wrong, so I watched ‘Beyond the Sea” [Morgan’s favorite X-Files episode] again to see what the show is really about. I decided to try to write one that was much more serious and much more depressing. I really was trying to write a show with no jokes in it at all–but I failed.” The character of Clyde Bruckman was named for a comedy writer and director who had committed suicide in 1955. “I was so depressed after ‘Humbug’ that I felt suicidal,” he recalled. “So I said, ‘I’m going to write about a character who will commit suicide at the end.’ You hear these things about people’s careers going downhill, and Clyde Bruckman always struck me as being the ultimate Hollywood horror story. He worked with Keaton, Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, and W.C. Fields. There was a ten year span that must have been the greatest. I can’t think of a greater series of jobs. Yet the guy obviously had some problems. He was an alcoholic, and ending up killing himself.”

Another source of inspiration came from Morgan’s insurance salesman father who is, said Morgan, “kind of a depressive guy,” like the fictional Clyde. Morgan was also intrigued by the notion of an insurance salesman who can foresee the future. “Insurance is about what will happen to you. You don’t know, so you have to take out insurance, and to have a character who actually does know trying to sell people that was kind of amusing.” The episode’s exploration of free will versus determinism, and coincidence versus fate grew out of Morgan’s difficulties with plotting. “I’ve always been really bad with plot and trying to figure out twists,” he said. “So Clyde Bruckman and the killer character act in ways that were really easy to plot, but which make the story seem complicated. Stu Charno, who played the killer, asked me, ‘Why does the guy kill?’ I told him ‘Because I needed him to.’ He really doesn’t kill for any specific reason. I had come me up with this idea of the killer as a puppet, someone who doesn’t feel in control of his own life. That’s why I like the story so much. It’s so contrived, that if you think there’s a future out there that you can see, you have to assume it was contrived or plotted that way by someone.”

Morgan researched fortune tellers and psychics, learning about their tricks to delude the public. Out of that grew a memorably over-the-top character, “a cross between Uri Geller and the Amazing Kreskin,” according to Morgan — the Stupendous Yappi, played by Jaap Broeker, David Duchovny’s stand-in. “Jaap is such a bizarre character,” Morgan said. “He has a very interesting facial structure, and he’s mesmerizing. I based Yappi’s speech patterns on him. Japp really talks like that, very fast, and sometimes he doesn’t stop.”

The first act opening scene, when Mulder, Scully and Yappi all show up at the scene of the latest murder, is Morgan’s favorite of all his episodes “Even though it was just a series of one-liners, a lot of information was conveyed. It was all done so fast that it seemed to work. Also, the other cops bought into Yappi’s explanation, which separated Mulder and Scully from the other investigators. I like the fact that it was Mulder who was making those points. Even though he believes in psychic phenomenon, he’s smart enough to know the difference between a charlatan and a real psychic.”

Besides Clyde Bruckman, the episode also demonstrates Morgan’s care in delineating Mulder and Scully. “Everyone looks at Mulder as having all the answers, he said, “Most of the other episodes present him as usually right. I’ve always found that the things he talks about, if a normal person talked about them, you’d go, ‘This guy’s crazy.’ He’s supposed to be a smart guy, but I’ve never looked at him as such. He’s just more lucky in some of his explanations. And Scully, although skeptical, has the right approach when she says, ‘I don’t believe this.’ Before I wrote for the show, Mulder always seemed like the more interesting character, but once I started writing for it, I found that I liked Scully more.”

The result is that Morgan often shakes up Mulder’s image, as at the end of “Humbug,” with Mulder unwittingly striking a GQ pose. “I don’t mind making fun of Mulder,” Morgan said. “He’s presented as the seeker of the truth, and to me such people are always somewhat ridiculous.”

Mulder’s and Scully’s attitudes toward Clyde also demonstrate Mulder’s views of their characters. “My pitch to Chris was that Mulder is so involved in psychic phenomenon that he’s interested in Clyde only for his abilities. But Scully, doesn’t believe in these abilities, so she can consider this man as a person and see how, even though he believes he’s psychic, it’s ruined his life. That was one of the main points of the episode. Everyone considers Mulder to be the one who has all the answers, but I think sometimes he’s so narrow-minded that he doesn’t do some things properly. He never really considered Clyde Bruckman as a person only as a phenomenon. The note Clyde leaves for Scully is written to her, because Bruckman knows that she’s treating him as a person.”

“Clyde Bruckman”s Final Repose” contained several lines of dialogue that sent fans into a frenzy pondering their meaning. The first came when Bruckman told Scully she wouldn’t die. “Some people took it to mean that Scully was immortal, but the meaning was that Clyde knows how Scully’s going to die, but he likes her so much he’s not going to tell her, because telling her would ruin her life, whether she believed it or not. Telling someone they’re not going to die is one of the nicest things you can say. That’s why he says it to her. It had nothing to do with whether she was immortal or was going to be hurt in the show.”

The other line of dialogue that transfixed fans came when Bruckman says offhandedly, “I’m sure there are worse ways to go, but I can’t think of a more undignified one than auto-erotic asphyxiation,” and Mulder quickly demands, “Why are you telling me this?” Is it just another joke, or is there some deeper meaning? “Well, yes and no,” Morgan hedged. “I think that’s what Mulder will die of A homicide investigation book I read had several pictures of people who died in that manner. There’s something in those pictures that is so disturbing, in the sense of going back to the ancient Greeks, and their idea of ‘don’t dishonor my body after I die.’ It’s bad enough to be found dead, and suicide is tragic, but then you see these people who have these really complicated, almost Rube Goldberg type set-ups. It would be humorous if it wasn’t so disturbing. This ties in with Clyde’s dream about what your body looks like when it dies. How will it be found? In what condition and what manner? That was the gist of that character. The autoerotic asphyxiation is obviously a joke line, but it came about from studying those photos.”

Third season post-production for Morgan was a much more pleasant experience than it had been with ‘Humbug.’ “On this show, you’re really regarded as being a producer of your own episode,” Morgan said. “No one trusted me on ‘Humbug,’ because it was my first. But on ‘Clyde Bruckman’ and the cockroach episode, it worked out that both David Nutter and Kim Manners had to start prepping another show immediately. They each had one day of cutting and then I was allowed to be in there with the editor.”

“Clyde Bruckman”s Final Repose” won Morgan praise from an unexpected quarter, when the science fiction author Harlan Ellison called to express his admiration. Morgan not a science fiction fan, had no idea who Ellison was. “He was the childhood idol of some of the writers on our staff and they were all pissed off that I didn’t even know who he was, and he called me,” he laughed. “I’ve since learned about him, although I’ve yet to really read his stuff. He really liked the episode and thought Peter Boyle was great.”

‘The War of the Coprophages, ” in contrast to the more measured, meditative “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” was Morgan’s lightest, fastest, most farcical episode. “There were some serious, actual ideas in this one, so I felt free to be a little bit lighter,” Morgan explained. The episode opens on a weekend with Mulder up in Massachusetts, hanging about UFO hot spots, and Scully at home doing those mundane things everyone does during the weekend. The X-File arrives when Mulder is pulled in by local law enforcement to help solve the mystery behind some strange deaths caused, according to witnesses, by swarms of roaches. Mulder traces the roaches–which he believes, naturally, to be robotic alien probes–to a factory that produces methane from dung.

The episode worked, Morgan feels, but it’s another script with which he is unhappy, although he can’t put his finger on what bothers him. ‘I don’t know!” he laughed. ‘I had less time to do that script than any other one. I wrote it in a week. I was a couple of days late with the last act, the only time I was ever late with a script. Fortunately [ director] Kim Manners really liked it a lot, even with just the first three acts, so no one was mad at me.”

Morgan conceived the idea of alien robot insects from his research into robotics and artificial intelligence. “Everyone assumes that if there are extraterrestrials visiting us, that they would look like gray aliens,” he said. “There is this idea that our own future in space exploration is going to be robotic. It would make sense that other alien forms, if they do visit us, would also be robotic. There is a roboticist at M.I.T., Rodney Brooks, who has devised robots in the forms of giant bugs a foot long. They operated much better than other robots, because he had decided that instead of trying to duplicate the way the human brain works, he would make his robots’ brains work the way an insect brain works, purely on reflex. The other idea in the episode was how we think our brains are so complicated the highest level of evolution, and yet so many of our actions and beliefs and thoughts are dictated solely by reflex responses, much like a cockroach’s. That was the idea behind the mass hysteria: that people don’t think about what’s happening. they just hear something and react, and scurry around like insects.”

The big “scurry around” scene in “The War of the Coprophages” was a hilariously slapstick mini-riot staged in a convenience store where the indefatigable Scully has stopped to buy a road map. Morgan’s source for this scene was the famous 1938 radio adaptation by Orson Welles of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds (the X-Files episode is set in Millers’ Grove, Massachusetts, a tribute to the radio show’s Grover’s Mills, N.J.), which Morgan considers a fascinating case of mass hysteria. “Nothing like that has ever happened in my lifetime. War of the Worlds is an example of people reacting by reflexes rather by complex thoughts. I always wonder what I would have done–you always like to think of yourself as being clearheaded. There are so many inconsistencies in the War of the Worlds radio broadcast that if you actually listen to it, it doesn’t make any sense. But I’m sure at the time and the moment, I would have been as terrified as anyone.”

Mulder and Scully prove to be immune from the panic gripping the town, but they have their own unique ways of reacting. “Although Mulder never reacts to the hysteria he has his own mindset, so whenever he hears killer cockroaches, he goes, ‘Oh my God!’ without thinking,” Morgan said. “Scully keeps telling him, ‘Oh no, it’s probably this other thing.’ She’s always right. But because Mulder has his own way of perceiving things, he keeps trying to convince himself that he’s on to something bigger.”

Another memorable character makes her appearance halfway through the episode, Bambi Berenbaum (Bobbie Phillips), possibly the most luscious entomologist on the face of the earth. “I thought it would be amusing if Mulder found another woman partner.” Morgan explained. “All of sudden Scully starts going, ‘No, this isn’t just cockroaches! This is something big! I’m coming up there!’ I thought it was amusing, that she would abandon some of her beliefs in order not to lose Mulder to another woman. We received some letters from people who were displeased that Mulder could find Bambi attractive. On the other hand, she is a very intelligent woman. So I don’t see why people got mad at that, but just the idea of Mulder having an interest in someone other than Scully put people into shock. You kind of forget Mulder is a man, because he’s so interested in the paranormal. But he’s a man, nevertheless, and I thought it would be interesting to have him be attracted to a woman.”

Morgan’s final verdict on “The War of the Coprophages” is resigned: “It’s never boring. It moves really fast. And there’s a certain achievement in centering an episode around cockroaches and dung.”

Morgan’s last effort for The X-Files was “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” an episode rooted in the show’s most basic premises, going all the way back to the pilot and “Deep Throat”: the government and the military are covering up proof of alien existence and while they’re at it, they’re deleting and altering your memories of whatever you think you witnessed. It’s also the show’s most baroque, flamboyant hour, as Scully relates to a cheerfully cynical writer named Jose Chung the events of a most unusual alien abduction case involving – possibly – the government abduction and hypnotizing of innocent citizens.

When Morgan joined the X-Files, he knew very little about alien abduction or UFO lore, so he bought some books on the subject. “There was actually a lot more information about typical alien abduction in ‘Jose Chung’ than there has been in most X-Files,” Morgan commented. “Usually the episodes that deal with abductions are about the Cigarette Smoking Man and the conspiracy. That has nothing to do with standard abduction stories. I thought there’s so much more out there about extraterrestrials, and these things should be mentioned. Even Roky, the character who goes to inner earth, is another aspect of that, because UFO people think there are inner earth people. And the published accounts of Men in Black are actually more ridiculous than what I had in the episode.”

Director Rob Bowman had to read the script 15 times before he understood it, Morgan said, grateful that the director gave it the extra attention. Although Morgan was interested in exploring the nature of reality in “Jose Chung,” the convoluted narrative design is also his strategy to maneuver around the problems he has with plotting. There’s always a practical reason behind the deeper thoughts,” he observed. It’s often a search to find a way to ease out of having to explain your plot. The coincidences in ‘Clyde Bruckman’ and the weird things about aliens and government involvement in ‘Jose Chung’ had to do with my needing an out. That out was the hypnosis angle. I felt like I could do anything. Unlike saying it’s all a dream, I could always go, ‘It’s all just memory implantation.’ Even though the episode is all about aliens and the government conspiracy, it actually has more to do with hypnosis and how much we can actually know and remember. I always thought it was more interesting to have some of your memories changed than to have them completely wiped out, so this show was more along the those lines. ‘They’ have the ability to change what you remember. To me, that’s more terrifying than being abducted by aliens. It’s kind of confusing to talk about, I know, but all this stuff was invented to avoid a specific plot. In terms of the multiple storytelling, I wanted to do something like Rashomon, where everyone had a different memory. I originally wanted to do it with Jose Chung interviewing a different person for each act. That still happens in the third act, when Chung talks to Blaine.

But it was too complicated, so I stuck with Scully. But I find it appealing to use tales within tales, where someone is telling a story and then a person in that story starts telling another story. The whole episode is really that, because even when Scully is telling her story, she’s actually telling everyone else’s account.”

Lord Kinbote, the hulking red creature who abducts Chrissy, Harold. and the two Air Force pilots, is a double tribute to stop-animation genius Ray Harryhausen and to Morgan’s favorite writer, Vladimir Nabokov. “We didn’t have the time or money to do a proper stop-action model, ” lamented Morgan. “Toby Lindala (special effects makeup supervisor] built a suit. The scene was shot, speeded up and then slowed down by computer to give it a jerkiness. Mat Beck [visual effects supervisor] had to do a lot of work on it. I hope it looked like stop-animation.” The name Kinbote is taken from Charles Kinbote, the possibly mad scholar of Nabokov’s novel Pale Fire. “In one of his interviews, Nabokov made the point that reality is a word that should always have quotes around it, because everyone’s reality in a sense is different,” Morgan said. “People will look differently at the same object, depending on their backgrounds and past history. That was a direct influence on this episode.”

Morgan could not resist adding his own satire of Fox’s alien autopsy show. The X-FILES’ second re-creation of the program this season. “We were all watching the alien autopsy tape one day, and it was so ridiculous!” Morgan recalled. “The Bigfoot footage at the end of ‘Jose Chung’ is just so damn phony, but you have no idea how much it costs to get the rights to that thing. You think about how much money has been made on that footage, and it’s a crime! And I feel the same way about the alien autopsy: it’s a swindle, and it’s almost disturbing to see how many people take it seriously.” Morgan expressed his sentiments by having his alien autopsy hosted by the Stupendous Yappi, his fake psychic from “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose.”

The episode ends on a poignant note, with Jose Chung wistfully reading from his book that “in our own separate ways, on this planet, we are all…alone.” “It was quite touching,” Morgan remarked. “It felt right. I didn’t want to end on a wacky note. The scene is humorous, but you also have certain points or feelings you like to express, and I guess the loneliness of human existence was one of the them. When Chung goes on about how some people don’t care about extraterrestrials, that is, I guess, my own summation about working on the show. I want to write about people rather than about aliens.”

“Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space'” is so confusing that one’s initial reaction, besides laughter, is to rewind the VCR and watch it again–precisely the effect Morgan wanted. “I think it worked, for the most part, and even if people are confused–because it is confusing, and purposely so–I hope that they would recognize that for being part of it and enjoy it even more. I just want to get a reaction. I don’t care if they learned anything or got anything out of it. I hope they thought it was funny and moving, and were entertained on whatever level they needed.”

After the X~Files’s third season, Darin Morgan left the show, burned out by the relentless pace of writing for television. “I did only four episodes, but they took a lot out of me,” he said. “There’s still a chance I might come back and write another one, but right now I have certain things I would rather write, rather than a couple more Mulder and Scully stories. I want to do something that’s more romantic-comedy, rather than those scary things.”

The Orange County Register: Interview with Mark Snow

The Orange County Register
Interview with Mark Snow
Kinney Littlefield

The News-Times: Television News: Composer Mark Snow puts the super-shivers in a very hot sci-fi show.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Aliens don’t give Mulder and Scully the quivers on The X-Files. What really jangles the daring FBI duo is composer Mark Snow’s moody music score.

Right now, Snow is busy spooking up X-Files’ fourth season of paranormal pursuits in his cozy home studio in Santa Monica. He’s also scoring the first season of Millennium, the apocalyptic saga of serial killers from X-Files creator Chris Carter, premiering Friday on Fox. And if it seems weird to hear the sounds of alien abduction, killer viruses, bloody mutilation and incestuous genetic mutation emanating from such a sunny, well-heeled corner of Southern California, it suits the dry-witted Music Man X-traordinaire quite well.

Today, as he does three to five days a week, classically trained Snow sits at the keyboard of his well-used Synclavier – a digital audio recording system – and improvises in sync to a videotape of the latest X-Files.

It’s the sound that is shivering the world. As you chat in Snow’s studio, a FedEx guy delivers a package from France. It’s a kitschy-looking Disque d’Or – a gold record for selling 100,000 copies of The X-Files theme in the land of brie. And two other X-Files albums – Songs in the Key of X and the just-released The Truth and the Light – have made Snow nuclear-hot.

Yet Snow, 50, looks like an unlikely X-Files kinda guy. Trim, bald, clad in black jeans and T-shirt, he seems shy and serious when you ring his doorbell. Later, he warms when you start talking music of all kinds, as he relaxes with eager cocker spaniels Bixon, Cowboy and Poppy at his feet and the score for this season’s fifth episode of X-Files in the can.

Q. Do X-Files fans expect you to look weirder?

A. I do surprise them. I’ve been thinking about Hair Club for Men and ear-piercing.

Q. So how did you get the X-Files gig?

A. Through R.W. Goodwin, an executive producer on X-Files who I’d worked with on TV movies. I think they looked at about 20 people or so.

And for Millennium, Chris and I already had the shorthand.

Q. How did you cook up the X-Files theme?

A. I was having a miserable time coming up with the The X-Files theme, and Chris Carter was being real nudgy about it and obsessive about it. And I called my agent and said, “You know, you might have to get me out of this, because this guy’s driving me nuts.”

We did The X-Files main title (theme) five times before Chris liked what was happening. I mean, he was very polite, but I finally said, “Why don’t you just politely go away and we’ll start from scratch?” Literally an hour after he walked out of the room, I put my hand down and there was a sound there – that repeated duh-duh-duh-duh. And I said, that could be the rhythm, now we need a pad under it, a melody. I tried a female voice, a female chorus, a boy chorus, saxophones, piccolos, guitars, oboes, trumpets. And I thought “Ordinary, not cool.”

Then that whistle thing popped in and I said: “Wow. I haven’t heard that in a long time.”

Q. You’d heard the whistle before?

A. Well, you know The Andy Griffith Show has it – in a different kind of music.

(In fact, Snow studied with Andy Griffith composer Earl Hagen.)

Q. And?

A. There’s a real, real special eerieness to the whistle that plays so well against the show. I mean, you think X-Files – Nyeeahhh. (Here Snow emits a big, screeching, throaty sound).

But this whistle has mystery and simplicity and transparency.

Anyway, in typical (understated) Chris Carter fashion, when he heard it he said, “I like it. Hmm. It’s good.”

Q. What’s Chris Carter like to work with?

A. Well, I have seen him get really angry, but not with me, not about the music. I’ve seen him get down on an editor, or a director, or the head of the studio, screaming, “We need more money.”

At the beginning, Chris wanted a lot of music in the show (The X-Files). And I think he didn’t have all that much experience producing this kind of show. And so in all these scenes where Mulder and Scully are walking down the hall or sitting in the car, there are long stretches where we could probably do without the music, but we’ve established this thing. So I’m kind of like their third partner, their unseen imaginary friend, lurking there. And it’s held up.

In fact, David Duchovny (who plays agent Fox Mulder) sent me a picture of himself signed, “Thank you for giving subtext to my performance where there isn’t any.”

And I appreciated his candor.

Q. What’s the Mark Snow sound?

A. I bring a sense of real instruments to X-Files.

A lot of composers start here (Snow gestures at his Synclavier), and their sound is very cold and unmusical. It’s very important to me that X-Files sound as musical as possible – human, warm and emotional, although still in the electronic setting.

And you have to weigh each scene on its own. A little electronic music goes a long way. Scully’s father comes back as a vision – that had to be really emotional, but really emotional in X-Files language. That meant not a cornball, florid, over-the-top melody but a simple, heartfelt melody like Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

Sometimes you have to lay low with it and go simple or neutral, because what’s happening on video is so wild. Charles Nelson Reilly telling an anecdote, or The Men in Black show up – it’s so abnormal that big music or busy music would really hurt it.

In the global conspiracy shows, you don’t really get into ethnic sounds. It’s more the straight-ahead big X-Files. But these so-called boutique shows, as I call them, give you the ability to experiment. We did a lot of African chanting and drums on last week’s show, about an African man who put a curse on people and turned them into albinos.

And I never do any special sounds for Mulder or Scully. It’s always about the situation they’re in. Sometimes I come up with a musical theme that recurs that’s about the protagonist, the killer, the bad situation, but for Mulder or Scully – never.

Q. How do you work?

A. First, Carter sends me a VHS copy of the next X-Files to watch. The next day, usually, I get a video to score.

An easy day is scoring seven to 10 minutes of music. A killer day is scoring 20. That’s the limit.

(The average 45- to 46-minute episode of X-Files uses about 38 minutes of Snow’s music.)

If I have a real tough schedule, I love to get up very early, like 6 a.m., and be in the studio before 7 and really jump on it. I don’t like to write at night. I’m not obsessed, but when I get into it I’m really focused. I rarely have writer’s block. I don’t need a writing room in the woods or at the beach. For me, if this was in the North Pole, or it’s dark, or it’s Hawaii, it wouldn’t mean nothin’. I get the sound from what I see in my head.

Then, after I score, my audio engineer, Larold Rebhun, comes in and adjusts the echo and EQ and highs and lows, and then he plays it for me. And I make my adjustments – too much violin, not enough piano. Later, Chris comes in, or one of the other producers, and sits right where you are and says, “It’s a little strong there”. Or “We need a ping there where the girl gets hit.”

Q. How did you segue from studying classical music at Juilliard to TV?

A. I came to L.A. cold in 1974. My wife’s sister, Tyne Daley, was married at the time to Georg Stanford Brown, who was on Aaron Spelling’s The Rookies. So I took my first demo tape – which was a joke, it was ridiculous – to Aaron Spelling, and he said, “That sounds good.” And that was my first job. Other shows came up, and very slowly I started to break in.

Q. Was that actually your name in the music credits on the pilot of NBC’s new sci-fi show Dark Skies?

A. Yes. You know, NBC told me the show was really something else, more of a ’60s period piece, not sci-fi. Then I saw it.

(The Fox network was not pleased to have Snow, the sound of The X-Files, working on a rival network’s show. Snow no longer works on Dark Skies.)

Q. So what are your best and worst X-Files moments?

A. The best thing is getting a scene that’s just full of great character revelations to score. The hardest thing is when it isn’t good, or when you get a long, shlogging chase scene to deal with. But I’ll have to say we get very few bad moments on this show.

You know, I could see X-Files was a cool show the first time I saw it, but I didn’t expect all this. I mean, when I got the job I didn’t feel like Steven Spielberg had called and offered me Schindler’s List II.

And I certainly would love to be doing big movie scores. But I’m 50. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. In terms of TV work, you know this is as good as it gets.

Source: Kinney Littlefield; The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) October 24, 1996

Entertainment Weekly: The Next Files

Entertainment Weekly
The Next Files
Benjamin Svetkey

Chris Carter made the paranormal sexy with The X-Files. Now, with his eagerly anticipated new creep show, Millennium, he’s shooting for just plain shocking.

Chris Carter has a horrifying idea. More monstrous than the Flukeman who wormed his way onto The X-Files during its second season. More hideous than the jumbo cockroaches that wiggled across the screen last season. More appalling than the apocalyptic serial killers about to be unleashed this season on Millennium, the deeply creepy X-Files spawn arriving Oct. 25.

“Let’s go jogging,” the TV producer suggests with hair-raising cheeriness. “How about Sunday morning? Sunday morning good for you?”

The horror, the horror. And that’s just the beginning. Hanging out with Carter for a few days in Los Angeles turns out to be an exhausting voyage into an otherworldly realm of paranormal scheduling. He may look like an ordinary 40-year-old human being–graying blond hair, blue eyes, the mellow demeanor of a man who’s spent far too much time on a surfboard–but there are definite signs that something not quite terrestrial lurks beneath the surface. For example: The guy never sleeps. At the office every morning at 7 a.m., seldom home before 11 p.m., he’s such a compulsive worker he makes James Brown look like a slacker.

Of course, Carter has lots to lose sleep over these days. After his breakthrough triumph creating The X-Files–the show that made UFO abductions chic–the world is waiting to see what he’ll come up with next. And what he’s come up with may just be the most boldly gruesome series ever allowed on the airwaves. Chockful of decapitations, live burials, incest, and other way-gross atrocities, Millennium pushes the limits of TV horror to such shockingly bleak levels it’d have Cancer Man reaching for the night-light.

Lance Henriksen (the robot from Aliens) stars as the not-so-subtly named Frank Black, an ex-FBI agent who belongs to a shadowy quasi-governmental organization of ex-law enforcers called The Millennium Group (supposedly based on a real quasi-government serial-killer-chasing group called The Academy–or so Carter insists). Using mysterious empathic powers to get into the heads of violent criminals, Henriksen skulks through each episode tracking down a growing tribe of psychopathic no-goodniks, apparently made extra cranky by the cosmic forces of the looming fin de siècle. “We’ve got this very important date coming up,” explains Carter. “The end of the millennium is an unsettling time, very nervous making. It sounds so obvious now, but I got this idea that someone should capitalize on it.”

That someone, of course, turned out to be the Fox network–home to The X-Files–which is betting big bucks on Carter’s new show. Spending $10 million on a feature-film-style launch, Fox is pre-premiering Millennium in 25 theaters across the country Oct. 23, followed by a satellite link-up in which Carter will answer questions from the audience. Millennium is also getting Fox’s prime time slot–The X-Files’ Friday-night hour–while Mulder and Scully are being transferred to Sunday evenings. A Millennium book is in the works as well, to be published by HarperCollins, a company owned by the same media mogul–Rupert Murdoch–who controls the Fox network (and Mulder thinks he’s the only one who can sniff out a conspiracy).

In short, get ready for Millenni-mania, the biggest hype attack of the TV season.

A writers’ meeting at 9:30 a.m. Carter has been toiling on the Fox lot for several hours already, tapping away on a laptop in his comfy bungalow office. Now he’s moved to a nearby conference room, where he’ll review script schedules with his Millennium scribes, mostly young, mostly male vets of shows like Homicide and NYPD Blue. It is instantly clear why these guys got their jobs–even their banter is dark.

“Remember that man who got killed by an errant golf ball near Griffith Park?” Carter asks. “If you think about it, it’s the perfect murder. If you were a good enough golfer, you could kill your victim and claim it was an accident.”

“Yeah,” nods one of the writers. “But you could only get away with it once. You couldn’t be a serial golfer.”

Carter usually spends about half his week on the Fox lot, taking meetings like this one, holding auditions, dealing with an endless barrage of emergencies (like when an assistant storms into the room to demand, “We need to know Mulder’s mom’s name, right now!”). For the other half, he jets up to Vancouver and visits the Millennium and X-Files sets (“He’s like a phantom—whenever we need him, he turns up,” says Henriksen). Technically, he lives in Santa Barbara, with his wife, Dori, and dog, Frankie. But the couple spend most of their time at their modest second home in Pacific Palisades.

On the surface, at least, it seems an utterly normal Hollywood lifestyle. Perhaps a bit too normal. Eerily normal. “People expect me to be a weirdo,” Carter admits. “They expect me to be pierced and tattooed and look a lot different. I do have a very dark sensibility, but it’s all inside.” Which is pretty much the way head X man David Duchovny describes his boss: “He’s not a psycho or anything,” he says. “If you get to exorcise yourself weekly on a TV show, you get all that stuff out of your system. He is a dark guy, but it’s all internal. He’s tough to get to know.”

Certainly there’s nothing obvious in Carter’s biography to suggest a portrait of a serial killer–although there are early signs of nascent neurotic work habits. He grew up in Bellflower, outside L.A. His father, Bill, who died last year, was a construction worker; his mother, Catherine, passed away five years ago; his younger brother, Craig, is a physicist working in Washington, D.C. In junior high, Carter got seriously hooked on surfing, a habit he still occasionally indulges. He put himself through Cal State University at Long Beach by, believe it or not, making pottery. His wife remembers him as a budding workaholic even then. “He would make 100 casserole dishes in a single night,” she says. “With tops that fit!”

After college, Carter took a job at Surfing magazine, but Dori (a screenwriter who penned the 1988 comedy Big Business) soon persuaded him to try his hand at script writing. Carter’s first effort, a Vietnam home-front drama called National Pastime, was never made, but it did catch the eye of Jeffrey Katzenberg at Disney, who gave the 27-year-old novice a three-picture deal. After cranking out some more never-produced screenplays–like a comedy called Rest Home for Spies–Carter made the jump to television, where he labored in obscurity on such brief-lived projects as Copter Cop.

Then, in 1992, X finally marked the spot. At first, Fox had zero interest in a show about FBI agents chasing little green men. “It was a really tough pitch,” Carter remembers. “They just didn’t understand it. They already had a UFO show, Sightings, so they weren’t interested.” Carter repackaged the concept, emphasizing the paranormal as much as aliens, and pitched it again, this time successfully. Flash-forward to the present and The X-Files is Fox’s top-rated drama, a show that’s redefined sci-fi for the ’90s and inspired countless imitations (like NBC’s Dark Skies, which gets this year’s Oliver Stone Award for wackiest JFK conspiracy theory—that he was killed for knowing too much about the Roswell aliens).

The success of The X-Files has also turned Carter into something of a cult hero, a sort of post-Watergate Rod Serling (at X-Files conventions, he gets almost as mobbed as Duchovny). More to the point, it’s made him the hottest producer on the Fox lot, especially now that the network’s other big shows–Melrose Place and Beverly Hills, 90210–are starting to slip in the ratings. No surprise, then, that Fox has granted Carter virtually free rein with Millennium, gambling that he can catch lightning in a bottle once again. Carter got the cast he wanted (although Fox execs did want William Hurt for the Frank Black role, until they found out Hurt doesn’t do TV); he got the budget he wanted (nearly $1.5 million an episode); and he got the look he wanted (hiring Seven art director Gary Wissner as production designer for the Millennium pilot).

“The concept is that we live in a culture where justice has been stolen from us,” says Carter, riffing on the new show with his trademark enigmatic caginess. “People have lost faith in the system. That’s the madness and insecurity I’m trying to write about. But, at the same time, I wanted to create a very bright hero who carries the weight of the world, who’s trying to make it a safer place for his wife and child [played by Megan Gallagher and Brittany Tiplady].”

Now that he’s famous, of course, Carter has to deal with some madness and insecurity of his own–celebrity nuisances like marital-discord rumors and other unkind whispers. Recently, things got ugly when the press reported a sexual harassment suit filed by a former X-Files script coordinator. Carter denies the charges but says his lawyers have advised him not to discuss the case. Others around him are less constrained: “It’s ludicrous,” says X actress Gillian Anderson. “It’s not him. He’s gentle and kind. He’s a wonderful guy.”

He certainly seems like one. And yet…something about Carter–the chilling California chipperness, the spooky sunshiny serenity–smells ever-so-slightly fishy, like one of those bottomless government cover-ups Mulder is always bumping into. Somewhere under that coolly bland exterior must beat a secret heart of darkness. How else could so seemingly pleasant a fellow hatch such brilliantly diabolical TV shows?

“You know, I have seen evil,” Carter reveals teasingly after the story meeting. “I’ve stared into its face.” With this, the master of the cliff-hanger leaves you dangling, only a tiny sliver of his psyche exposed. Typical.

Sunday morning. Pacific Palisades. Time for the dreaded jog. Carter, of course, has already been up for hours, working in his home office, a narrow space crammed with X-Files leftovers, like an alarmingly realistic dead alien from the show’s pilot episode (“I think he’s starting to decompose,” Carter says, giving him a sniff).

A quick ride in his Land Cruiser and he’s standing on the runners’ path on San Vincente Boulevard. As he starts to jog, the conversation returns to Carter’s face-to-face confrontation with evil. Mercifully, he finally opens up, recalling a seminal incident that happened over 20 years ago, back when he was umpiring his younger brother’s Little League team.

“There was a boy my brother’s age,” he begins. “He was 14 or 15. He was a good athlete and a good kid from a solid family. And then one day he was arrested. He had killed an Avon lady. Then they found that he had also killed his girlfriend with an ice pick. I didn’t know how to feel. I think I was wearing one of the kid’s T-shirts the day it happened. It was very unsettling. I would never have suspected he was capable of that. I think that was my first touch with darkness.”

As if on cue, another touch of darkness jogs into view–an ominous, skanky-looking fellow with greasy hair and a mottled beard. On his T-shirt is a portrait of the ultimate Millennium guest star, Charlie Manson. “Did you see what it said on the back of his shirt?” Carter asks. “It said, ‘Charlie don’t rave.'” He smiles. “Odd, isn’t it?”

He continues jogging on his merry way.

The X-Files Magazine: Brother from another planet

The X-Files Magazine [Manga/UK]
Brother from another planet
Paula Vitaris

You might say that writer Darin Morgan became the proverbial overnight success – after a decade toiling away on unproduced scripts – on March 31, 1995, the day the Fox Network broadcast “Humbug”, the first X-Files episode from his pen. Although fans had already learned his name earlier in the third season – he played the ‘Flukeman’ in “The Host” and received a story credit on the subsequent episode “Blood”, written by his brother Glen and James Wong – it was Morgan’s comedic take on The X-Files that instantly struck a chord with fans. It also earned the fledging writer a place on The X-Files staff.

Humbug” was a weird experience,” he recalls. “Everyone thought it was going to be a disaster up until the time we aired it.” Then, almost immediately after its premiere showing, Morgan knew the response was far more favourable. “(Co-producer) Paul Rabwin called to tell me about the online response back East, and how everyone liked it.” Only one person seemed to have been somewhat disappointed with the show – Darin Morgan himself. As an unproven writer, Morgan had little to say in the episode’s editing process, and found that some of the character interplay didn’t make it to the final cut. “There was this funny bit with Mr. Nutt, the hotel manager (Michael Anderson),” he says. “it was a gag David Duchovny came up with on the set. The manager goes through his big long spiel about making judgements based on people’s appearances, and then Mulder goes, ‘But I am an FBI Agent.’ and shows his badge. The manager says, ‘Sign here, please,’ and you see a close up of a hand ringing a bell. That’s how it ends now. But when we shot it, the manager turns to Scully to say ‘And you’re an FBI agent as well?’ Scully nods, and then he says, ‘But you’re a woman.’ Gillian reacted as if to say, ‘WHAT? I’m going to KILL you!’ but before she could speak, Duchovny leaned over quickly and rang the bell. It was a wonderful little bit of business for both David and Gillian, but people were concerned that we were being too funny, and the decision was made to cut that out.”

Lucky for Morgan, in the wake of “Humbug’s” success, the writer was allowed much more freedom in the editing room with his three subsequent third season episodes. “I love editing,” he enthuses. “this will sound like a schmaltzy one-liner, but I told the other staff writers – who came from shows where they weren’t allowed in the editing room – that (that’s) where you do your final rewrite. All my scripts were too long, which in one respect is bad, because they had to shoot more footage, but as (editor) Stephen Mark said, it’s always so much better to trim that to have to add on.”

As a boy, Morgan had no ambitions to be a writer. He describes himself as a “regular kid” whose goal was to be a professional baseball player. He liked watching TV and went to the movies regularly with his father, a film buff. But when elder brother Glen decided to try acting in high school, Darin saw “how much fun he was having” and also became an active participant in high school dramatics. When Glen enrolled in the film school at Loyola Marymount University, Darin would visit and help his brother create student films. Eventually, Morgan the younger enrolled in the same course, discovering the classic filmmakers who would become his principal inspiration.

“I saw Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL for the first time in a theatre that had an organ,” Morgan recollects, “and I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but seeing THE GENERAL changed my life. I thought, ‘Wow, this is what I want to do! I had a similar experience with Charlie Chaplin, when I saw CITY LIGHTS for the first time. I’d always heard Chaplin was a genius, but I hated the image of him as the Little Tramp. Watching the boxing scene in CITY LIGHTS, I realized he really *was* a genius.” Morgan’s film studies, particularly the physical comedy of silent film and the screwball genre, provided invaluable instruction in how to think visually. “I think of slapstick as a way of positioning the camera, to make a bit of business funny to look at, rather than someone having someone say something. That sounds very simple, but you mention slapstick to most people nowadays, and they just think of someone being conked on the head. The only time I write camera movement and angles is when I have a specific gag requiring the camera to be positioned in a particular way. Some gags just aren’t funny if they’re shot wrong. So in that way silent film has influenced me – you have to think about how the scene is going to be filmed. The X-Files’ visuals are mostly atmospheric. I’m told that when other television writers read our scripts, they hate them, because there’s so much description, whereas other shows don’t have *any* description. But the directors on The X-Files don’t mind being told specific things that need to be seen or shown because we are a visual show. I’ve heard stories of some directors on other shows getting very upset when a writer puts in too much description, and just to show the writer up will intentionally shoot it differently. On the X-Files, the directors are willing to have the writers put in as much as possible so that they knew exactly what we wanted.”

Morgan began writing in college, but dropped out after selling a script to a film studio. “I thought my career had started,” he says, “and that was part of my decision to leave college. I felt I’d already accomplished what I was hoping to get started there.” Then after an embarrassing attempt at writing a studio conceived “cross between BEVERLY HILLS COP and POLICE ACADEMY” which ended his Hollywood career as abruptly as it started, Morgan found himself without a job or a diploma. By this time, his brother Glen was working, with partner James Wong, for producer Stephen Cannell, and helped his brother land some guest roles on THE COMMISH and 21 JUMP STREET (which also starred Steven ‘Mr. X’ Williams). Then, in 1993, Morgan and Wong left Cannell to become writers and co-executive producers for The X-Files. “Glen showed me the pilot before it had been picked up for a series… and he was all excited about it.” But at the time, Darin, who has never been a sci-fi or horror fan, couldn’t appreciate his brother’s enthusiasm for the show. That was all soon to change. Glen, who was enjoying success on The X-Files first season, had great faith in his brother’s writing abilities, and suggest that he work on a script for The X-Files during the hiatus between the first and second seasons. Glen would then present the finished script to executive producer, Chris Carter, with a view to get it into production. Darin’s first idea was for a ‘teaser’ – TV parlance for the sequence before the titles of each episode – about two kids in a car, which eventually became the teaser for “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space.” At the same time, Glen and James Wong were suddenly faced with an unexpected assignment to write episode three (Blood), and Glen asked Darin to come up with a story idea about postal workers. Darin suggested a postal worker who goes berserk from reading subliminal messages on a sorting machine’s digital display screen, and when the amount of time allotted for writing “Blood” was cut, Glen asked Darin to come to Los Angeles to help him and Wong storyboard the episode, for which he would receive a story credit.

X-Files producer Howard Gordon, who had sat in on a Morgan and Wong story meeting which Darin had attended, proposed that Darin join the writing staff. “I guess Howard thought I understood the show,” Morgan surmises. However, Morgan himself wasn’t sure that his preference for writing comedy would suit such a serious show. “I had learned from my other job at the movie studio that I always wanted to make sure that I could do a good job on what I was writing. And I was so slow a writer back then that I was terrified of the idea of being on a staff, where you have specific deadlines. But they contacted my agent directly and my agent said, ‘Yeah, okay, he’ll do it.’ And then my agent called and said, ‘You start on Monday. you’ve been out of work a long time. You need to start somewhere again. why not do it?’ I thought that made sense.” The first contract was due to run for nine weeks, but Morgan was unconvinced that he would last even that long. “Once I started I knew right away I was in trouble,” he say. “I was trying to figure out what I could do to fit in. Fortunately, everyone assumed that Glen was supervising me – but he wasn’t. He let me go off and make up my own stories.”

The first such story was “Humbug,” after which expectations suddenly skyrocketed. And Morgan more than lived up to them, with three more outstanding third season episodes, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”, “The War of the Coprophages” and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space”. By the end of the season, he felt burned out from all the deadlines and distressed that his episodes upset some fans, who didn’t agree with his off-kilter view of the show. Most of all, he was ready to step away from the worlds of Mulder and Scully and return to fashioning worlds in feature scripts that were wholly his own. “I prefer doing a story that stands by itself,” he explains. “With a series, you have to consider how your episode affects everyone else’s episode. I don’t want to have to worry about that anymore.”

The reputation this remarkable writer earned during his residency on The X- Files – and the nominations of his “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” script for a 1996 Prime Time Emmy Award (this article is a bit dated as we all know that Darin won too!!!) – suggest that, whether his scripts end up on film or television, The X-Files was anything but Darin Morgan’s final repose.

Warner Brothers Records: Cybertalk with Mark Snow

Warner Brothers Records
Mark Snow – Cybertalk Transcript 10/07/96.

Marksnow96: We’re here with Mark Snow…

OnlineHost: An eerie, yet intriguing, melody glides over a
: shimmering, sinister rhythmic pattern. A familiar
: sense of anticipation and delightful dread settles
: in, as one of the most evocative musical themes in
: television history announces another episode of
: The X-Files; the latest triumph in the eclectic
: career of Mark Snow.

Marksnow96: Tosend your questions in for Mark Snow, click on the interact
icon and send it in!!
Marksnow96: We are ready to begin!

From Mtowns102:
Question: Mark, What equiptment do you use in the X-File theme, and how many
tracks did you use in
Question: recording it. Were you the only musician or where there others
recording the score?

Marksnow96: My main instrument is the synclavier, a bunch of MIDI gear and my
wife whistled it and
Marksnow96: I doubled that with PRODEUS 2 (Whistling Joe).

From Eve23:
Question: Where do you get your ideas for the music on the X-Files?

Marksnow96: Just from years of listening and studying music and being heavily
Marksnow96: influenced from my favorite composers. Such as: Stravinsky,
Bartok, Ravel and John Adams
Marksnow96: And Brian Eno.

From DJL509:
Question: Are you finding it difficult to score two shows this fall instead
of just one?

Marksnow96: No – my schedules are working out really well and there’s less
music in MILLENIUM than
Marksnow96: in X-Files.

From SfStegall:
Question: Mark: Have you written any lullabies for your grandchild yet?

Marksnow96: No, but that’s a good idea. I don’t want to scare the poor

From rob220:
Question: Will the XFiles ever be filmed in Portland Oregon?

Marksnow96: No it won’t, it is only filmed in Vancouver.

Question: Is that u on the hidden tracks on the x files cd

Marksnow96: No, it’s Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
Marksnow96: I’m not sure who is on the other hidden track.

From RBWoodb:
Question: where did you get your musical training?

Marksnow96: The Juilliard School Of Music in New York City.

From WuChou1:
Question: I regret to say that I was on a ferry to Nantucket last Friday at
nine and missed the
Question: premire. Could you tell me what happened with the alien? Most

Marksnow96: The alien got in all sorts of hijinx. He was buried alive in
sawdust, stung by thousands
Marksnow96: of killer bees, injected with killer alien juice and finally at
the end of the show,
Marksnow96: saves Mulder’s mother.

From IIIFaDell:
Question: What other music have you made? Are you involved in the making of
the show?

Marksnow96: I’m doing the Millenium show. I’ve done many tv movies and
min-series, including
Marksnow96: “The Last Confederate Widow Tells All” and “Children Of The
Marksnow96: I also did a series called “Nowhere Man” which was cancelled.
Marksnow96: I have nothing to do with the making of show.

From LingnH:
Question: Do you know what happens later in the season? Please tell!

Marksnow96: The next bunch of shows don’t have anything to do with the
Marksnow96: global conspiracy theories.. and I am sworn to secrecy about what
happens next.
Marksnow96: I hope you understand!

From FoxxMulde:
Question: What is your favorite cut on your new CD and why?

Marksnow96: Ahha… I don’t have any one favorite, but the ones I like the
most are:
Marksnow96: “One Breath” “Humbug” “Conduit” and “Soft Light”

From SLP Hawk9:
Question: Has your versio of Starsky & Hutch been released? I found it only
on a BBC import in
Question: 1980 (“BBC Detective Themes” recorded by “Laurie Holloway”, but
that record got destroyed in a
Question: move. Thanks!

Marksnow96: No.
Marksnow96: That was a long time ago. There is no version of that out that I
know of.

Question: Hiya Mark! This is Mr Sp00ky! 🙂 I was wondering how it feels to
work with such talented
Question: producers Chris Carter and Paul Rabwin (and all the others) and
how it feels to work with an
Question: award winning Drama Series? Thanks!

Marksnow96: When they all like what I do, it’s great! When they don’t, it
Marksnow96: But mostly they do! It’s a great group of people, and we all get

From IIIFaDell:
Question: Your wife whistled it? It sounds synthetic, did you improve it

Marksnow96: It’s the machine and my wife’s whistling sample combined.

From Gingerbab:
Question: I wa rather disappointed to see the X-files open their season with
the same theme song and
Question: opening sequences. Any plans to change either soon??

Marksnow96: No! We are not going to argue with success.

From TwnklToes:
Question: I was wondering how you chose victims for yor show. I’ve always
wanted to be on your show.

Marksnow96: We interview people and see who the most vulnerable are. The
ones who get
Marksnow96: scared the most, we keep them!

From Gambit161:
Question: How do you come up with the songs on the show?

Marksnow96: Well. it’s like, I’m an accompanment to the show.
Marksnow96: I loook at the action and the drama and that gives me the ideas.

From KReedstro:
Question: Can you think of some shows that have failed because of poor music?

Marksnow96: No – but I can think of great music that has failed because of
poor shows.

From Sam67:
Question: are you worried that the synclavier, which is your main axe, won’t
be supported much
Question: longer?

Marksnow96: good question…
Marksnow96: But, even though the company has gone down, a fellow in New
Marksnow96: has inherited all of the blueprints and all of the spare parts.
Marksnow96: There is still very good support in L.A.
Marksnow96: The synclavier is still (for me) the quickest and most
Marksnow96: elegant of all.

From Scooby134:
Question: How long does it take you to write the score for a whole show?

Marksnow96: It takes anywhere from 3-5 days.

From Bondo9401:
Question: With the two shows being so close in their dark tone, is it a
challange to keep the music
Question: different and original for both?

Marksnow96: It was at the bginning, but in the opening episode of Millenium,
I established a different
Marksnow96: sound that that of X-Files. I’ll be able to stick with that
sound on Millenium, which
Marksnow96: I hope you will find different from X-Files.

From JJRobb:
Question: hi love your show. will we ever find out the truth about mulder’s
Marksnow96: There will be clues about Mulder’s sister throughout this year…
Marksnow96: conclusion.

From QL Tiersk:
Question: Which of the X-Files episodes contains your favorite score?

Marksnow96: There are a few. “Colony/End Game” “Humbug” “Grotesque” “Jose
Marksnow96: and “Ice”

From Tanis8002:
Question: Mark, what is your favorite episode?

Marksnow96: “Jose Chung”

From Bailey917:
Question: Does anything ever happen between Mulder and Scully?

Marksnow96: Nothing has happened, or will ever happen between Mulder and

From CBrown511:
Question: Are you yourself interested in the supernatural??

Marksnow96: Yes I am! I saw a UFO once.
Marksnow96: At least I think that is what it was.
Marksnow96: On the New York stat freeway near Albany, I was driving and
looked up and saw
Marksnow96: a large round craft with lights.

From TNaszcyni:
Question: When will your new CD be out?
Marksnow96: The new cd called “The Truth and the Light” is out on October
8th. Tomorrow!

From LBock9814:
Question: You say it is only filmed in Vancouver. Why does it give viewers
specific locations such
Question: as Washington D.C.?
Marksnow96: The great thing about Vancouver is that it has many different
Marksnow96: Urban, mountains, lakes, rural countryside, desert, and so on.
Marksnow96: I’m just fine, thank you!

From Larencel:
Question: Mark, are you planning to release any of the music from “Nowhere
Man” or “Millenium” on CD?

Marksnow96: There’s ionterest for themusic from “Nowhere Man” from a label in
San Francisco.
Marksnow96: And Interscope records wants to do the Millenium soundtrack.

From Wu Chou 1:
Question: Have you ever been filmed in an episode?

Marksnow96: No, not yet, but I’d love to be one of the serial killers.

Question: What are you going to be for Halloween?

Marksnow96: I’m going to dress up as FoxxMulder and go to Paris and ride the
subways and
Marksnow96: see if anyone recognizes me.
Marksnow96: If that doesn’t work, I am going to dress up as Eugene Tooms and
sneak into people’s
Marksnow96: houses and give them very bad spankings!
Marksnow96: Question: Are there monsters under your bed?
Marksnow96: The only monster I know, are the ones lurking in my brain.

From MoeWarner:
Question: Mark…what other ambient artists do you listen to?

Marksnow96: Brian Eno, Deep Forest, Philip Glass, Bob Dole

From Litl Hmbr:
Question: DId you enter Juilliard as a piano student?

Marksnow96: No, as an oboe student.

Question: Mark, do you like pastrami or corned beef on your reuben sandwich?
Marksnow96: good question!
Marksnow96: I love pastrami plain, but on a reuben sandwich, corned beef.
Marksnow96: But my favorite deli sandwich of all is: briskett with Russian
dressing and coleslaw
Marksnow96: on rye.

From StarTravr:
Question: What are your favorite present electronic composers? If there are

Marksnow96: Spectrum
Marksnow96: they are my current favorite…

From Starbuck2:
Question: How much influence, if any, does Chris Carter have on the music
that you write for the
Question: show?

Marksnow96: At the beginning, he was very specific with what he wanted. He
hated melody and loved
Marksnow96: ambient atmospheric sound, but I knew I couldn’t do that for
every show. So, now
Marksnow96: the shows are a combination of ambient music and actual music.

From Sigenpob:
Question: why can’t i find your cd anywhere?

Marksnow96: You will tomorrow!
Marksnow96: It’s called “The Truth And The LIght” from Warner Bros. Records
and it comes out tomorrow.

From XPiperBlu:
Question: Mr. Snow- do you ever want to actually be in an X-Files episode?
perhaps, as one fan
Question: suggested, whistling the theme to the show?

Marksnow96: I think that’s a great idea..
Marksnow96: I’d love to be in a scene at night with Mulder and Scully talking
t o each
Marksnow96: other in the street, and I’m this guy with dark glasses and a tin
cup, whistling the
Marksnow96: theme song.

From Krazkin:
Question: Mark, are you ever overwhelmed success of the X-Files and
furthermore by the fame you’ve
Question: achieved through your contribution.

Marksnow96: Completely surprised by it and actually very happy about it. I
never thought it would be
Marksnow96: this successful.

From Gzjena:
Question: Have you ever considered working on a music and/or interactive
CD-ROM with the producers
Question: of the X-Files?

Marksnow96: The producers of the show don’t have time for anything but the
show, but I’ve been
Marksnow96: contacted by people who do interactive games to do music for

From JK 12005:

Marksnow96: That’s my secret!

From Go4Itt:
Question: How many CD’s are there for XFiles with your music and what are
there names? Which is
Question: your favorite piece?

Marksnow96: “Songs In The Key Of x” and “The Truth and The Light”, which is
Marksnow96: the background music for X-Files. It comes out tomorrow!
Marksnow96: Buy it! You’ll like it! Play it loud!!!

From Carter101:
Question: How do you know so much about the show, if you only write the

Marksnow96: Because I see it before I write the music for it!!!!

From AKins721:
Question: Hello…I am a huge XFiles fan…What do you have planned for this
season…The opening
Question: show was great

Marksnow96: There are some amazingly bizarre shows this season, more
Marksnow96: adventurous than the first three years. Especially, show # 3
entitled “Home.”

From Tanis8002:
Question: Mark, what other TV shows do you watch?
Marksnow96: I love “True Stories of the Highway Patrol”

From Krazkim:
Question: Mark! I have to know this. How come when Moulder stabbed the alien
with the AWL he didn’t
Question: die?? Please!!

Marksnow96: Because, he was a much more pwerful alien than the one portrayed
by Roy Thinnes.
Marksnow96: Mulder’s AWL was purchased by K-Mart.

From Reaper417:
Question: Did you write any sone on the CD Songs in the Key of X?

Marksnow96: No – just the theme.

From Machroon:
Question: Do you get and grupies because of the show??

Marksnow96: Only on the internet, since we don’t tour with the Mark
Snow/X-Files orchestra.

From Silvag721:
Question: What is your favorate instrument?

Marksnow96: Cello, English horn, and the harp.

From Restopan:
Question: Mark, are you pleased with the mixes on the show ?

Marksnow96: I always like to hear the music a little hotter, but mostly they
do a good job.

From Bondo9401:
Question: Tell us about the studio you have in your house to do the music.
Do you use that on
Question: Millenium?

Marksnow96: yes, it’s my garage that I converted into a studio.
Marksnow96: It’s a very neat compact room.

From Sigenpob:
Question: For the X-movie will you compose a complete symphonic score or will
it be more synthesiser
Question: stuff?

Marksnow96: It will be a huge 85 piece orchestra, combined with some of my
cooler electronic sound

From PJMcCanna:
Question: Do you ever get scared of your show?

Marksnow96: There was one scene, where somebody was taking a shower and he
coughed some
Marksnow96: horrible slimy seaslug thing.. I had to watch that scene a lot.
It was pretty gross.

From PFadis107:
Question: How did you learn about the X-files?

Marksnow96: A producer/friend of mine named R.W. Goodwin got me involved in
the show and
Marksnow96: introduced me to Chris Carter.

From Eve23:
Question: Is there a specific process you use to create your music for
X-Files and Millenium? If
Question: so, what is it?

Marksnow96: I always start on the longest hardest piece of music first, and
base the rest of the
Marksnow96: score around that.

From Wu Chou1:
Question: Do you wear a lot of black?

Marksnow96: When I am feeling extra-overweight I do.

From SLMooney:
Question: How does working on the X-Files compare to other shows you’ve
worked on?

Marksnow96: It’s the most fun I’ve ever had! It’s the best show
Marksnow96: on TV. I don’t know if there will ever be anything as cool as
the X-Files.

From Machroon:
Question: Marksnow what are some purks as a result of the show????

Marksnow96: I got a free Paul Simon hair piece and autographed pictures of
David Duchovny
Marksnow96: and Gillian Andersen.

From Sexyman02:
Question: What is Gillian Anderson like off camera?

Marksnow96: She’s incredibly sweet, unpretentious, a really great down to
earth person.

From Sexyman02:
Question: Is there plans for another X-Files CD in the future?

Marksnow96: Well, depending on how this one sells…
Marksnow96: so, everybody buy “The Truth and The LIght” tomorrow!!!!

Question: Mark, when did you first start to write music?

Marksnow96: After I saw the first Planet of The Apes movie.
Marksnow96: Jerry Goldsmith’s score really inspired me.
Marksnow96: Last question here…. time to go!

From Ophelia41:
Question: Hi Mark! What’s your favorite key or chord?

Marksnow96: Hi Ophelia! Thanks for showing up!
Marksnow96: I do love F minor and D minor.
Marksnow96: That’s the real “Key of X-Files.”
Marksnow96: Thank you all for showing up!
Marksnow96: I love you all. They were great questions.
Marksnow96: Hope to see you in some of the X-files chat rooms soon.
Marksnow96: Good night everyne!!

OnlineHost: Copyright (C) 1996 Warner Bros. Records.
: CYBER-TALK (TM) is produced in-house by
: a Warner Bros. Records staff.

Shivers: Nic Lea: Bad Boy Makes Good

October 1996
Shivers #34
Nic Lea: Bad Boy Makes Good
A Shivers Interview by Nigel Adams

The last time we spoke to Nick Lea, the actor who portrays double-Agent Alex Krycek in THE X-FILES, he had just completed work on “The Blessing Way” and “Paper Clip,” the opening two episodes of the series’ third season. At that time, Nic was looking forward to his next appearance on the series, but had little idea when it would occur or what form his return would take. Upon receiving the scripts for the two-parter that heralded Krycek’s return, “Piper Maru” and “Apocrypha,” the actor freely admits he was more than a little surprised…

“It really wasn’t what I expected,” Nic says of the storyline in which his character has clearly fallen on hard times and is having to sell classified government secrets in order to survive, “but I was really excited about it. It was great because it gave me the scope to have some input into what I was going to look like physically. I wanted to really make a definite change between how we’d seen him at the beginning [of Krycek’s time on the series] — the suit and tie — and then later with the black leather and the chopped haircut and the bags under the eyes and everything. I really wanted to make him look like a man on the run and when I saw the script and I saw what I was going to be doing I thought what a great opportunity to be doing that kind of thing.”

Once upon a time, it was almost inconceivable that a young, good-looking American actor-about-town would want their appearance to be soured by unkempt hair and untidy stubble, but Nic believes that times have changed since then. Asked why he feels that is, the actor holds up a copy of a recent SHIVERS that conveniently happens to be lying nearby; one featuring a cover shot of Brat Pitt in SEVEN. “I have respect for [Pitt] because he takes chances in the things that he does,” Nic states. “In TWELVE MONKEYS a lot of that look was his own idea — cutting the hair and the contact lenses, all that business.” Certainly, Nick is happier working in a profession where appearances are beginning to matter less and less. “For me, it’s not so much about looks as it is about hopefully representing the character properly or doing an interesting job on screen,” he says. “I’d much rather do something interesting than look good. Certainly, there’s some concern sometimes because you want to be seen in a leading man role or whatever, but it’s more important to me to do something interesting than to look good.” Taking that sentiment to the extreme, Nic says he was thrilled by Krycek’s final scene in THE X-FILES to date. “Did you see ‘Apocrypha’?” he asks. “At the end of that episode, in the missile silo, it was not attractive at all, but I loved doing it.”


In “Piper Maru,” Special Agent Fox Mulder once again becomes entangled with his nemesis Krycek after discovering that it is the latter who is behind the selling of government secrets in Hong Kong. Their re-encounter leads to another exhilarating fight scene which, like that in “Anasazi” at the end of the previous season, was jointly choreographed by Nic and David Duchovny. However, the fight sequence in “Piper Maru” was put together under somewhat different circumstances from the characters’ first set-to. “The first time that we did a fight, the stunt man turned up late, so David and I choreographed that one,” Nic explains. “Then this time, they didn’t even think of having a stuntman for the scene, they just let us go ahead and do it ourselves. We added all kinds of things that they hadn’t really thought of: the head butt and all that business; his hitting me with the phone was something we also thought of while we were there and actually when I walked past him on one of the takes, he actually whacked me on the head with the phone and I had a big egg on my forehead. And he felt horrible about that!” But Nic still feels that such risks of minor injuries are still worth taking. “It’s great, because he and I both really love doing that sort of thing; it’s great that we can get involved.”

Then in one of THE X-FILES’ most “Sci-Fi” plots to date, Krycek is possessed by an alien who is leaping from one human body to another to enable itself to return to its buried spacecraft. Nic says that playing the possessed Krycek provided him with one of his greatest acting challenges to date. “What they said they wanted was emotionless,” he reveals, “and I mean, How do you do emotionless? Whatever the situation you’re in as an actor, there’s some sort of emotion. So it was kind of a challenge, but then I watched TERMINATOR 2 and I watched Robert Patrick do what he did, and it was really icy and really cold, and I tried to that a little bit. Then in the scene where I drop the tape on [the Cigarette Smoking Man’s] desk and I say, “Where is it?” I was trying to think of how Laurence Olivier did it in MARATHON MAN — how cold and scary that was, and I just tired to feed on kind of those things. They told me that they were really really happy with the way that ended up. There’s also this scene where we crash and they pull me out of the car,” he adds, “and they wanted a snakey sort of body movement. That was fun, too, although at the time you do it you’re not really sure if you’re giving them what they want, if it’s way over the top or not enough.”

The only indication that Krycek, and the other hosts, have been taken over, is an oily sheen that comes over their eyes. This, though, was an element that Nick didn’t have to concern himself with. “The eyes were all done in post-production,” he says. “I had no idea how they were going to achieve that. They shot a white screen and injected balsamic vinegar or oil into it and matted it onto my eyes. It was pretty clever.”

Next month: Nic’s X-FILES memories continue.

(Note: the second part of this interview actually did not appear until the next year, October 1997.)