Archive for 1998

The Millennial Comet: Interview with Mark Snow

The Millennial Comet [Vol. 2, No. 5]
Interview with Mark Snow
Brian A. Dixon

Interview conducted and edited by “Millennial Comet” staff writer and Editor-in-Chief Brian A. Dixon (

Here is a man who, to X-Files and Millennium fans, requires no introduction. From day one of both series he has been composing some of the most powerful underscore music we could ever hope for. He’s used sounds in some of the moodiest, most atmospheric, and most frightening manners possible. That man is, of course, Mr. Mark Snow.

You’ll find his name in the credits of every Millennium episode made. A powerful part of the Ten-Thirteen crew, Mr. Snow is the creator of the wailing violin sounds that are the very soul of Millennium’s onscreen presence. He’s given passion to Frank and Catherine’s most emotional scenes and added an edge of excitement to each serial killer show-down. Without the sounds of Mark Snow running underneath it all, Millennium would NOT be the show it is today. It would not be the series we’ve come to know and love. To say that his creation influences Millennium’s very being would not be an exaggeration. The element he adds to the dramatic events is invaluable.

So, without further introduction, I proudly present my recent conversation with the man responsible for giving so much to Millennium….

MC: “Millennial Comet”
MS: Mark Snow


MC: What is your official title when working with Millennium?

MS: Mark Snow – composer of the underscore music for the TV series Millennium.

MC: You had already been working with Chris Carter and 1013 for some time on The X-Files… what was your first reaction and initial thoughts when Millennium was first proposed to you as a new series and began undergoing development?

MS: Chris Carter wanted a feeling of hope and horror for the Millennium theme and underscore music. So, I thought a melancholy, celtic feel would be right since so many of the first shows had an early or medievil religious themes… and for the theme, the contrast of the solo violin (Hope) over the dark sustains and percussion (horror) of the accompianment.

MC: Was there any specific inspiration for the “Millennium” theme song? How was it recorded?

MS: Chris Carter sent over a CD of Kiley Minogue (Celtic fiddle stuff), so that was my initial inspiration. I had a live violinist play over my electronic track.

MC: What sets the overall tone or musical feel for the series when you’re writing a piece of music for Millennium?

MS: The slow, deliberate brooding Frank Black seems to set the tone of the action and therefore the music tone.


MC: How, if at all, do you try to separate your work on Millennium and The X-Files?

MS: The Millennium music is simpler and more folk, celtic, modal ancient sounding music than X-Files. X-Files in general is more modern avante garde sounding, with symphonic traditional overtones.

MC: What other shows or movies have you worked on recently?

MS: The X-Files movie and Disturbing Behavior directed by David Nutter, who directed the pilot of Millennium.

MC: Is it difficult to work on two or more television series at a time? Do you find that it limits or stifles your creativity?

MS: No, the shows are so different, and basically very well done (some of best on TV), that they’re usually very inspiring and different from week to week. They also seem to be shows that count on the music for its complete effect, unlike a show like L.A. Law which relies on dialogue mostly. Working on both shows does not limit my creativity but actually inspires it.

MC: Who are your favorite musical groups or artists to listen to?

MS: Eagle Eyed Cherry, Metallica, Foo Fighters, Suzanne Vega, Natalie Merchant, Crash Test Dummies, Chumbawumba, Tracy Bonham, to name a few.


MC: I know that one of the pieces of show music you’ve composed which will always stand out in my mind is the exciting and very different chase music from the climax of The Thin White Line. Do you have a personal favorite piece of music from an episode of Millennium?

MS: The show “Luminary” was a favorite of mine for the music, and more recently “Closure”; the montage cue with Emma at the computer cutting back and forth with Frank at the computer, and the black and white flash backs of Emma as a young girl!

MC: Did you enjoy writing the lighter, more humorous scores for the Darin Morgan comedy episodes of the second season?

MS: Yes! That was a fun change of pace for me, and very enjoyable! Sort of going on a mini-vacation!

MC: With season three we not only got new opening credits sequence images but also a slightly tweaked version of the Millennium theme song. Why was the decision made to alter the theme music for the third season, and how exactly was it changed?

MS: I just added a choral countermelody that was to announce the arrival of the Emma character. Chris Carter’s idea, but very subtle. I don’t know if all listeners hear the differance, but obviously you do! Bravo!

MC: Popular music, in addition to the underscore, has become very important to Millennium. We’ve heard such artists as Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, Patti Smith, America, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, the Talking Heads, and Zager & Evans highlight some of the most important scenes of the series. What is your view concerning Millennium’s artistic and dramatic use of music?

MS: I think it’s very cool and helps maintain the edgy, fresh hip tone that the creators hoped for. And the fact the these source pieces are so eclectic is a cool thing!

MC: On The X-Files movie you were given the chance to utilize a full orchestra for your soundtrack. How did it feel to use the orchestra, and do you think you’ll be given the same opportunity again anytime for Millennium or X-Files series work?

MS: The big orchestra was a thrill, but absolutely impossible to do on a weekly basis because of the time constraints. Watch for it on next X-Files feature film!!!

MC: Any personal views on Frank’s musical obsession with classic swinger Bobby Darin?

MS: I think that comes from Glen Morgan, he’s the big Darin fan. It also seems consistent with Frank’s generation.


MC: A lot of rumors and strong anticipation follow the idea of a Millennium soundtrack CD similar to The X-Files album “The Truth and the Light”. Can you shed some light on the situation concerning a potential Millennium soundtrack CD?

MS: Two labels are interested in releasing Millennium music. Electra, which did the X-Files score and pop albums, and Sonic Images, a label that specializes in soundtracks. Stay tuned for updates. That’s all the information that I have now.

MC: In regards to the future of Millennium in season three… any special musical pieces you’ve recently composed for upcoming episodes we should be listening for?

MS: Yes… in “Omerta”, the Millennium Xmas show, I really push the envelope by incorporating elements of Opera and classical Choral elements, soloists and groups. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done on this episode, and hope you all enjoy it!

MC: Thank you very much, Mr. Snow, for taking part in this interview and being willing to speak with the Comet. Both myself and all of our fan readers extend our gratitude for being able to look into your world.

MS: Thank you, Brian, and I apologize for taking so long to get this to you!!! I hope you find it interesting and informative!

Source: Brian A. Dixon, The Millennial Comet Vol. 2, No. 5 [], Dec. 18th, 1998

The X-Files Magazine: Heart and Souls

The X-Files Magazine [US, #8, Winter 1998]
Heart and Souls
Gina McIntyre

The Cool View Motel is not the kind of place you would expect to find outside the balmy, bustling activity of Los Angeles. A breeze rustles leaves belonging to a thick stand of trees nearby. The gravel lot shifts uncomfortably as the occasional truck rumbles over its skin. The decor is anything but trendy. The Cool View us a rustic stop somewhere in the middle of nondescript territory. Its only distinguishing feature on this mid-October evening is the remarkable sunset consuming the Western sky, an explosion of red hues that is the inadvertent result, a random passerby mentions, of the brush fire that erupt from this site earlier in the day.

Outside the building’s perimeter, people assemble. The chattering of countless walkie talkies drowns out the night’s more natural sounds. Spectators gather in the artificial illumination originating from sets of powerful lights. It could be anywhere, but this rural locale is actually the location set of The X-Files’ first foray into romantic comedy, an episode called “The Rain King” penned by Season Six writing recruit Jeff Bell, that just might ruin producer/director Kim Manners’ reputation as “The Horror King.”

Manners, renowned for gruesome offerings such as the now famous Season Four outing “Home”, is unconcerned. In fact, he’s pleased to contribute to the eclecticism that is rapidly coming to define the series’ Sixth Season.

“It’s a sweet little story,” he explains. It’s got a lot of compassion, a lot of pathos, and it’s very funny. We’ve got some great characters. It all revolves around this weather man, Holman Hardt, who for 20 years has repressed his feelings for Sheila Fontaine. You know how people’s emotions and how they feel are affected by the weather, well it’s just the opposite here. The way Holman feels affects the weather. It’s really quite a clever script.”

Clever and different from traditional X-Files subject matter, “The Rain King” is indicative of the kind of unexpected episodes in store for the show’s devoted fans. Never afraid to take risks, Chris Carter and his new Los Angeles based crew have challenged themselves to push the series’ boundaries even further this year to deliver the most compelling television possible. So far, they’ve tackled car chases, time travel and body switching with equal aplomb; with the Valentines Day episode “The Rain King” and the Chris Carter brainchild “How The Ghost Stole Christmas,” they turn they attention toward creating paranormal greeting cards for the holidays.

Even as Manners is putting the finishing touches on his remaining second unit work, X-Files mastermind Carter is himself toiling inside the confines of a supposedly haunted house (no, really) in out-of-the-way Piru. A comedy of errors of sorts, the imaginative episode takes place on Christmas Eve and features only four characters: Mulder, Scully and two mischievous characters played by guest stars Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner.

The differences between the two episodes, which were shot in sequence, even though “Rain King” will not air until next year, were not lost on the crew. The first episode required them to find dozens of locations, build and decorate a number of sets, not to mention create snow and hail storms and stage a car crash on a deserted stretch of highway.

“We have to make it hail on the entire roadway while a guy’s driving a car and loses control and crashes it in a hail storm,” Manners sighs, largely unaffected by the daunting task. “This is my 27th one of these. I kind of giggle because it’s always big. We’ve done it. Nothing scares us anymore. You get a huge ice-chipping machine, then you get three of them. We put them on 40-foot flat bed trucks. We use 300 pound blocks of ice. It’s like a wood chipper. You throw it into the chipper and it blows then up into the air and it lands on the cars and you have to drive these machines along with the car. They’ve got to get the hail between the camera lens and on the car and in the foreground. As it doesn’t work, my lenses get tighter and tighter and tighter, so I’m shooting narrower and narrower and narrower. You get very wet, very cold and the ice hurts when you’re driving in it and it’s hitting you in the back of the head.”

Jeff Bell admits he was astonished at what it took to realize his creative vision. “Frank [Spotnitz] really encouraged me to be on the set the whole time, which has been a great learning experience, seeing how they do it, seeing how big it is,” he says. “I had no idea it was this big. Here’s one example. We make it rain one day, and so you write the word ‘rain.’ You don’t think it takes 25,000 gallons of water and three cranes to do that. You don’t think it’s 50 tons of ice, three ice chippers and about 40 guys throwing ice, staying up all night as you do it. Sort of the reality of how a simple word can become [something that] takes a lot of labor, it just makes you think about what you write next time.”

Watching as his script was carefully shaped into being, Bell says, was ultimately more rewarding because he had poured so much effort into painstakingly crafting the quirky story. “This is so specific,” he explains. “To balance two points of view, the paranormal with the rational, have them both sort of half right, is incredibly difficult. I had no idea it was this hard. I think the writers/producers here are terrific, and now I see how hard they work to make it that good.”

As Manner’s team bravely suffered the barrage of their own ice storm, the first unit crew preparing Carter’s episode had somewhat the opposite problem. The day before the episode began filming on location at the Piru mansion, a sizable California brush fire broke out.

“It was like Vietnam because there were six of those big yellow and red water dropping planes circling around dropping water on the hillside and then there were about six helicopters doing the same thing,” marvels location manager Ilt Jones. “At one stage, the fire got within 500 feet of the house and we were standing in the backyard with Venture County fireman watching these huge 30-foot flames leaping up behind the eucalyptus trees and saying, ‘Are you sure this is going to be O.K.?’ They said, ‘Oh sure, it’ll burn itself out in an hour’ Sure enough that area right behind the house burnt out within an hour or two, so the house was saved. It was amazing because the whole of the hillside was lit up, only half a mile away.” “After something like the fourth episode, Frank Spotnitz called and said, ‘Great work guys. It’s amazing what you do.’ I said, ‘Yeah, they’re pretty exhausted but happy.’ Joking, I said, ‘You could do us a favor and do a “My Dinner with Scully” [episode]. Let everybody have a break.’ If you’ve ever seen the movie My Dinner with Andre, it’s one set. So Frank said, ‘You know thats a good idea.’ They call this Christmas episode ‘My Dinner with Scully.’ This is the break. When I found out this was the episode, I said, ‘Well, there’s one small catch: The only people who didn’t get a break were the art department because they had to build this house!”

The house in question is the beautifully recreated library, complete with working fireplace, of the Piru mansion. All teasing aside, Kaplan says she and her team are happy to have been able to collaborate on such an elaborate set. “To be honest with you, the art department is so pleased to have had a chance to put so much quality woodwork into a set. Everybody feels proud. They take a look and it feels like an art piece.”

Construction coordinator Duke Tomasick echoes her sentiments. In only eight days, a crew of roughly 50 people-painters, plasterers, carpenters, laborers- built the library from scratch. “”we’ve got a good crew who came in and got it done. It’s a beautiful set. I knew it would be. I couldn’t wait to do it. I was hoping we would build something. At first they were talking about finding a practical location, but I think Chris wanted a lot more ability to shoot it and with all the trick stuff I don’t think they could have found a location that would work, so we created it.”

Mid-Afternoon, mid-week on Stage Six. Chris Carter walks through the replica library ensuring that everything will be ready when David Duchovny and Lily Tomlin arrive on set. Nearby, visual effects supervisor Bill Millar stands waiting to answer any questions about how to adjust camera angles or lights to make Tomlin’s entrances and exits more dramatic and spooky.

“We decided that [she] appears usually in flashes of lightning, which is obviously practical, so we shoot background plates different frame rates, different camera speeds, then shoot the production plates to match those and introduce [her character] selectively in post-production. Most effects on this series are acquired as 35mm images and then scanned into the digital domain and we manipulate them there. Even the effects we plan wholly as production visual effects we tend to enhance a bit later on,” Millar explains.

Last minute changes, which are not out of the ordinary, require Millar to stay close by as the shots are set up and completed. Even before the actors arrive on set, the effects supervisor spends time discussing new ideas with perfectionist Chris Carter. “We have Lily disappear in one shot and she’d been holding Mulder at bay with his own service revolver,” Millar says. “Now rather than just disappearing, he wants her to disappear selectively, a little bit at a time, leaving the gun hanging in the air, which will then drop and Mulder will catch it. The original script idea was that she would just disappear and take the gun with her. It’s a nice idea. It just means we have to rig things slightly differently. We need to be able to isolate the gun on the set so that we can move the actors independently of it.”

Costume designer Christine Peters explains that it was her job to construct Tomlin’s replica turn of the century gown to enhance her antique look. “Lily’s [dress] had to be made,” she explains. “She had to be [dressed in turn-of-the-century [garb], and we couldn’t exactly find that anywhere, so we had to make it and we had to have doubles, so it had to be made. We couldn’t just rent it from a costume house or something. It’s a direct copy of two separate pieces. We used the back of one gown I found and the front of another. The sleeves and the front are a copy of an old silk piece that’s from the 1890’s and the back is a copy of a separate piece.”

Complicating matters further, Peter’s continues, was the fact that Tomlin’s guest-star role was not finalized until the day she was to begin shooting. “She came in Friday night for a fitting to work on Monday afternoon,” she says adding that the consumers took the liberty of working ahead to ensure that the costume was ready. “We decided what the costume was going to look like before the actress was even cast. We cheated and called another costume house and got [Tomlin’s] measurements. We pretty much knew it was going to be her, so we started without her. We decided if anything changed, we’d change accordingly.”

As Lily taunts a bewildered Mulder over and over again to capture just the right camera angle and just the right vocal intonation on film, the busy second unit team assembles a high-school gymnasium set for the final day of shooting on “The Rain King” on adjacent Stage Five.

What that means for set decorator Tim Stepeck and his crew is recreating piece by piece the set that they first built on location, much as they were required to do for “How the Ghost Stole Christmas.” When the set is as elaborate as a high-school reunion, though, that prospect can be more difficult than it sounds. “Half of that gym is being re-shot, and we had to build the gym on that stage,” he explains. “The Rain King” was actually the hardest episode for my department. I think that it was dressing all whole big high school reunion dance and then doing the corridors here on stage on top of doing the bathrooms on stage. It was like eight sets a day. The good thing is with the crew and I have, pretty much anything these writers throw at us, they seem to surpass it.”

That tireless dedication is something Manner’s is also quick to praise. “It’s really a good crew,” he says. “I think part of their stamina comes from being part of the excitement in being part of the best show on TV. We thought that there would be a longer learning curve in getting the crew hip to what we do here on The X-Files, and as it turned out, boy, by the end of the first episode, they knew very quickly what they were up against and they responded.”

When second unit shooting at the reunion wraps in the wee hours of the morning, the actors will depart, the crew will travel home for some much deserved rest and Bell’s script will be complete, sending the writer back to the storyboard to brainstorm a concept for his next episode. For the time being, however, Bell is just happy that he could contribute a script that would add a new dimension to the series he’s watched for so long. “It’s an X-File/Love Story. Of course when Mulder and Scully sleep together in my episode, I think it’s going to shock everyone,” Bell dead pans, trying to stifle a sly smile. “And then the fact that everyone dies is probably more shocking. But isn’t that what a great X-File is? Anyone can die at any moment?”

Sci-Fi TV: Gilligan’s Files

Sci-Fi TV
Gilligan’s Files
Bill Florence

[Transcript by Alfornos]

Episode by episode, writer Vince Gilligan assesses his part in the conspiracy.

After contributing one episode each for TXF seasons two and three, VG graduated to co-producer, writing five episodes for season four and six entries during season five. And he has already penned an early episode of season six. His 13 episodes made him, in the first five years of TXF, a collaborator behind the conspiracy.

Soft Light, which aired May 5, 1995, told the story of a man whose shadow could kill by reducing matter into pure energy. “I wrote this one BEFORE I was on staff,” VG says, “and it was the one I had the least to do with. When I did my first draft, I didn’t really understand the TV budget. I thought, from watching the show and being a fan, that they could do anything. The first draft I turned in probably would have cost $13 million to produce. TXF regularly costs between $2 million and $2.5 million a week.

“My first draft had the shadow growing and growing. It moved independently of the guy, and it would go after people. In the end, in the big neutron accelerator room, this thing went crazy and grew even larger, and Mulder had to jump from a chair and hang from a pipe in the ceiling to avoid it. The Cancer Man locked it up in that Pentagon storage area. It was sort of crazy. Chris Carter and the other guys did a good job of reeling it back in to reality.”

His next script, Pusher, aired a year later (2/3/96) and featured a mind-controlling killer who picks Mulder for a deadly contest of wills. “I’m really proud of Pusher. [Director] Rob Bowman really nailed it. For a little while, we were going to get Lance Henriksen to play Robert Patrick Modell,” VG reveals. “Chris was interested in him and wanted to know what he was like to work with. That was before Millennium [where Henriksen stars as Frank Black]. Then, we had a guy we had cast in LA, who did a very good reading for us, but crapped out at the 11th hour. He accepted the job and then took some role in a TV movie instead. His agent said, I m so sorry you have to use him again sometime. We were like, Oh, yeah, THAT’s going to happen. So at the last minute we got Robert Wisdon from Vancouver. It was so important that this actor do a great job. We were going out on a limb, and it could have been an epic nightmare. But Robert did a wonderful job. I hope he has a successful career ahead of him.”

A criminal’s mind produces horrifying photographic images of his impending victims in Unruhe (10/27/96).

“I wrote the part of Jerry Schnauz with Pruitt Taylor Vince in mind, and we got him, because he’s a big X Files fan. He and Gillian Anderson had to learn a few German lines, and neither of them speaks any German. We had to play that like, We never knew this about Scully, but she took German in college, so she speaks German fairly well. I always knew that was a bit of a stretch, but you have to just go with it,” VG says. “I wanted Scully’s final speech in German to be a little rusty, though, so that the subtitles would come up and instead of Scully saying, I have no unrest! it should have said, I am have no unrest. She was SUPPOSED to get the tenses all wrong, so her meaning would come across but the grammar would not be correct. That would have been more believable. But there was a miscommunication between us and our German translator, who turned it into perfect German.

“Also, if I could do it again, I would lighten up on the plot a tiny bit. Less plot and more time with Jerry Schnauz would have been fun.”

Paper Hearts (12/15/96) featured a serial killer imprisoned by Mulder who leads the agent to think his sister Samantha was a victim of the killer years before. “The red laser dot in Mulder’s dreams was originally a blue laser dot in the script,” VG says. “Blue, green, red and yellow lasers all exist, but I found out from the prop guys that red lasers are the easiest to procure. Blue lasers are more expensive and more fragile, and the prop guys figured that if they were tromping around out there in the woods shining a blue laser, they would probably break the thing, and then they would be stuck. So they asked if we could use red instead. Red shows up better than blue on the film stock, anyway.

“That idea come from a completely different story I had for Mulder being led around by a mysterious laser beam. That story never really amounted to anything, and I wound up using certain scenes in Paper Hearts instead.”

Leonard Betts introduces a man who regrows body parts and consumes cancerous tumors. VG co-wrote the episode (1/26/97) with John Shiban. “The whole time we were writing that one, I was shaking my head saying, This is ridiculous, it’s so crazy! A guy gets his head cut off and then it grows back, and then he’s made of living cancer, to boot! To his credit, John said, No, it’s going to work! And I believe it does,” VG says. “I m particularly proud of this one, because it’s as out there as any X Files we’ve ever done, as far as the pseudo-science. Still, we explained it as well as we possibly could, and also there’s a certain tongue-in-cheek feel to the whole thing – a wink at the audience, and that lets us get away with it. There are certain moments when the pseudo-science gets particularly ridiculous, and Mulder or Scully comments on it in such a way that helps make it work. That was fun.

“It was either John or John and Frank Spotnitz together who came up with the idea to give Scully cancer. As time goes by, I forget who came up with what. And it doesn’t really matter, because it’s such a group effort. But Chris has to approve that, of course. That’s why Chris is a good guy to work for. When he heard the idea, his reaction was, That’s pretty ballsy, but let’s do it. ”

The collaboration of VG, CC, JS and FS produced Memento Mori (2/9/97). In it, Scully confronts her cancer while Mulder investigates the bizarre circumstances surrounding her abduction two years ago. “I had less to do with that one, but I would like to say I had more to do with it, because it was nominated for an Emmy. We were in a rush, and I think I stayed on Leonard Betts to take a final pass on it, while the others got to work on Memento Mori.

“None of us had really collaborated before, until Leonard Betts. Our collaboration worked pretty much the same way on this one, and it still works well for us. First, we go sit in a room together and figure out the story, putting index cards on a big bulletin board for the teaser, Act 1, Act 2, and so on. We hash it out, scene by scene, throwing around ideas, and then once we have a story from start to finish that we like, one that Chris has signed off on, we start writing. That much is true for just about any episode, but in the case of a collaborative episode, we assign different acts: I might do the teaser and Act 1, John might get Act 2, and so on. Then, the three or four of us together sit in a room with a laptop computer hooked up to a monitor, and we’ll all do Act 4 together. Then, we go back and rewrite the whole script, all of us together.”

A series of bizarre pregnancies leads Mulder and Scully to a man who can change his appearance at will in Small Potatoes (4/20/97). “I got a big kick out of that,” VG admits. “[Director] Cliff Bole is a great guy, and I love working with him. He has done more than 300 hours of TV as a director, and before that he used to be an actor, a stuntman and a whole bunch of other stuff. He has done everything. He’s a real asset to the show, and I m hoping he’ll do at least one more of my segments this season.

“I had a good time writing that scene at the end where Scully almost kisses Mulder. Of course, it’s not really Mulder, it’s Eddie Van Blundht. Both David and Gillian really enjoyed doing the episode, because it was a change of pace for them, and they have fun doing comedy. But as I recall, Gillian was a little reluctant about the kiss, because she was fearful for the franchise. In other words, she worried that we were taking the show too far. She wasn’t sure Scully would actually do this with Mulder, which I think is a smart consideration. But in the end, when she saw the whole thing cut together, she was fine with it, and it didn’t hurt the show at all. That episode is such a little piece of craziness.

“I was about 10 pages into the script when I realized that Darin Morgan would be great as Eddie Van Blundht. I wouldn’t have cast him in that part if I had not seen him in another role first, which was in a student film he and a friend did. Darin starred in this 15-minute film, and he was wonderful in it. He did a great job for us in Small Potatoes. When I called to ask him if he would do it, I said, I’ve got this great part for you. You play a fat, ugly loser. He always tells that story now.”

Season five began somewhat short on Mulder and Scully.

Unusual Suspects (11/16/97) details the Lone Gunmen meeting for the first time to assist a woman whose paranoid claims about the government may be true. “That episode was a real challenge, but it wound up being a lot of fun,” VG says. “I got the assignment to write it because David and Gillian weren’t going to be available at the fifth season’s beginning. They were still shooting the X Files movie. We had to get production rolling, but we needed an episode without Mulder and Scully. Chris decided our best bet was the Lone Gunmen. He gave the assignment to me. I was flattered, but I didn’t know what the hell I was going to do with it. I came up with an entire board, with John’s help, that was a pretty cool story, and we’ll probably use later, but we didn’t use it for Unusual Suspects. It was a contemporary story starring the Lone Gunmen, and it took place in the present, rather than telling how they met each other. I pitched it to Chris, who said, Maybe you ought to go back and try again. A lot of work had gone into it, but he was right, and I knew it even then. We sat there for a few minutes and talked about it, and Chris said, Why don’t you just show us how they met? Go back in time and show us the particulars of their meeting and becoming the Lone Gunmen. That’s when it all clicked. After that, coming up with the particulars with pretty painless.

“The information these guys have about the government told me that one of them worked for the government in some capacity in the past. As the clean-cut one, Byers had to have the government job. And what’s a cool job that’s sort of geeky and yet kind of on the inside? That would be working for the FCC. Then, it quickly followed that this guy is a straight arrow who loves his government, and the episode is his journey from straight arrow, government guy to a guy whose whole world crashes down around him. Everything he held dear turns into a travesty. I m really proud of the episode. Kim Manners did a wonderful job directing it, and he got great performances from those guys.”

The Christmas Carol/Emily two-parter (12/7/97 and 12/14/97) had Yuletide cheers – and tears, especially when Scully discovers a mysterious young girl who turns out to be her daughter. “I m very happy with these two episodes, although when you end part one with Scully saying, This is my child! where do you go from there?” he asks. “I had a feeling, I think we all did, that we were doing something dangerous as far as writing ourselves into a corner. Part two was very good as well, and we did the best we could with that situation. But you can’t just drop a child into The X Files. You can’t suddenly make Scully a mom and have her investigating crimes while taking care of this young child. So we had to get rid of the child, and we got in [sic] lot of trouble for that with viewers. Some hated it. I don’t blame them. Everyone loves Scully, and we have put her through a lot in the past few seasons, not because we WANTED to torture her, but because Gillian’s such a wonderful actress. We wanted to give her some great stuff to play. Christmas Carol and Emily were meant to be heart-breaking.”

Pusher returns in Kitsunegari (1/4/98). Co-written with Tim Minear, it features Robert Patrick Modell escaping from prison to taunt Mulder once more – or warn him of another danger. “That one made me a little gunshy about sequels, because sequels to favorites are very tough, as are sequels to hit movies. What do you do as an encore? How do you top the first one? What I like about Kitsunegari is that we didn’t give the audience the same thing twice. We TRIED to throw viewers a curve ball,” VG says. “Robert Modell is actually a good guy in this episode. But I don’t think that approach was well-received, because the audience was probably hoping to see one of their favorite villains, Modell, do more of the stuff that made him famous in the first place.”

Horror gave way to humor in Bad Blood (2/22/98).

It’s a he said/she said piece with M&S offering contrasting views of their adventure in a vampire-infested Texas town. “I did quite a bit of research into vampires, and I got it all from one book, an encyclopedia of vampires,” VG explains. “All that stuff in the episode is supposedly true – the seeds and the obsessive-compulsive behavior. Reading all that, I felt like I had struck a gold mine.

“Plus, the actors had a field day with the odd way we told this story. I have to give credit to Frank and John, because they helped me come up with the unusual structure. They both remembered this old episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show, were Rob and [sic] Mary had a big fight and a neighbor came over to ask why they were mad at each other. One of them told the story the way he thought it happened, and the other told the story the way she thought it happened. The structure for Bad Blood was borrowed from that, and from the classic film Rashomon before that.”

Something is bugging M&S in Folie A Deux (5/10/98) when they encounter a telemarketer who believes his boss is an insect monster. “I was happy with this one, even though we were all a bit burned out at this late point in the season. Probably, if it had been earlier in the season, there would have been more energy to it. But Kim did a terrific job directing it. The effect for the bug was created with a combination of prosthetic makeup and a big suit, and also some weird post-production CGI effects.

“This one uses the idea of making the mundane scary. Everyone knows what it’s like to be interrupted at dinner by an annoying call from a telemarketer. What if all this craziness is going on, that we don’t know about? What if a monster is running the telemarketing firm? The boss is a bug, but he’s this really nice guy when he’s in human form. He would probably not be a bad guy to work for. And also, there’s something really interesting and creepy about someone who speaks the truth or knows the truth, but is not believed by anyone. That’s what Mulder has always been,” VG concludes. “It’s a very basic idea, one that’s always good to go back to, because it’s the heart of the series. Mulder is the guy who sees what’s going on, and no one believes him.”

Sci Fi TV: Conspiracy Kingpin – Mixing truth with lies, Chris Carter fashions The X-Files

Sci Fi TV
Conspiracy Kingpin – Mixing truth with lies, Chris Carter fashions The X-Files
Ian Spelling

[typed by alfornos]

CC, master of the X-mythos, keeper of the conspiracies, sounds quite pleased with his first cinematic X Files.

“I am very pleased. I thought that The X Files translated wonderfully to the big screen,” he enthuses. “I thought the story worked. I thought the special effects were really nice, that they serviced the story well – you wouldn’t call this an FX-driven movie. I felt the scares were there. People jumped and they laughed and, hopefully, they were moved. It also sets up season six of The X Files beautifully. It did all I could ask of a first X Files film. It took the theme that has been central to the show – the government conspiracy to prevent us from knowing the truth about the existence of alien life – and set many of those elements in stone.

“We had previously taken those same elements,” continues CC, “and played with them – hinted at, hid, answered and/or lied about them. The X Files writers are already dealing with what was revealed in the film and how it will impact on the series. It will give us many new and interesting opportunities to tell stories. The movie really did what I hoped it would do, which was, in a way, to EXPLODE the series. We’ll have new pieces to deal with now, new angles to explore.”

By now, everyone knows that TXF: FTF propelled FBI Agents Mulder (DD) and Scully (GA) through a series of escapades involving deadly bees, doomsday scenarios, alien spaceships rising out of the ice, government conspiracies, Black Oil, bombing cover-ups, and the pair’s feelings for each other. It spotlighted several familiar characters, among them CSM (WBD) and AD Skinner (MP), and such newcomers as Strughold (AM-S), Kurtzweil (ML) and FBI AD Cassidy (BD). And it did, as promised, answer some questions – while posing others.

CC both produced the XF film and penned the screenplay based on a story co-written with FS. He admits he was personally most satisfied to “finally being able to have someone explain WHAT the conspiracy is about, what it’s attempting to do, where it came from, what its historical roots are, and what its biological roots are. I was also happy that we could show there’s a real defense against it, a way to fight the future. Again, we’ve done some of that in past episodes, but only in bits and pieces. Here, in the film, it was much more of a concentrated story.”

Asked how different was the feeling of producing a film vs. the show, CC avers, “It’s hard to say which was more satisfying. I like the pace of moviemaking, but I like many of the things TV allows you to do. You can have a not-so-great episode one week, but make up for it the following week. You don’t have that luxury with a film. TV allows you to explore things that a movie doesn’t, in terms of relationships, tangents or whatever. It’s much more forgiving in creating small, interesting avenues of discovery and character development than a movie is. But a movie is a movie, and there’s something to be said for that, too.”

The sinister secrets of season six will soon unfold.

There are several specific points worth exploring thanks to the film. First, there’s the matter of M&S possibly delving deeper into their romantic feelings for one another, a topic CC won’t even touch. He is, however, more willing to contemplate how Mulder and, particularly, Scully, return to dealing with killer trees, inbred families, vampires and the like after they’ve seen what they’ve seen, after they’ve come to realize what”s at stake regarding the conspiracy. “Well, Scully was pretty woozy,” CC says, “and it will be very hard for Mulder and Scully to prove what they witnessed or get anybody to listen to them. That will become part of their agenda now, getting people to listen to them and to take them seriously. That has always been Mulder’s thing, [though less so for] Scully, who has seen less.”

It looked as if WMM (JN) fell victim to a wrathful Syndicate when his limousine blew up. Is he really dead? “Stay tuned,” CC replies with a mischievous laugh. Might audiences see more of AD Cassidy or Strughold in the future? “I would hope so, but we had some very pricey movie stars in the film,” he notes. “So, it’s a matter of money, time and desire on the parts of the actors.” And what of CSM and Mulder? A scene between them at the film’s end was dropped and re-shot because, during test screenings, non-fans expressed confusion as to why two characters who had no contact with each other during the film would suddenly converse. “CSM has obviously decided to favor this ‘son’ of his and, in doing so, has set up a political situation so that Mulder can SURVIVE,” CC notes. “What CSM’s agenda is, what his motives are in furthering and fostering Mulder’s career are interesting, but still not established.”

Season five witnessed contributions by writers William Gibson (with Tom Maddox) and Stephen King, who delivered Kill Switch and Chinga, respectively. Both Gibson and King may write further scripts during season six, CC reports. Also waiting in the wings is Harlan Ellison, although his scripting contribution is less certain. “Harlan is a busy man,” explains CC, who participated in a recent Sci-Fi Channel tribute to the writer. “He has always said he has wanted to write an X Files episode for us. The day he actually WANTS to do it, I’m sure he’ll give us a call.”

When season six begins on November 8, one familiar name will no longer appear in the credits, and that’s R.W. Goodwin. A longtime XF executive producer/director who has helmed previous season openers and finales (Anasazi/The Blessing Way and Talitha Cumi/Herrenvolk), RWG represents one of the casualties of the series’ relocation from Vancouver, British Columbia to LA. “We really kind of left Bob, in a way,” CC explains. “Bob decided to stay up in Vancouver. He lives there. He has a kid in high school. He really couldn’t make the trip to LA with us. His contribution to the show was in never, ever, flinching or blinking when we gave him something impossible to do. Along the way, he directed some [sic] our most important episodes. So, we’ll miss him.”

Looking even further into the future, there’s season seven of TXF as well as additional features to consider. “I imagine that the show will go through the seventh year, which would be the 1998-99 season and the year after that. Anything beyond that would be gravy,” CC says. “I have no idea if David and/or Gillian would be interested in staying BEYOND a seventh season. We’ll have to see what happens. I just signed my own contract, so I’ll be around for a while. If the movie is [regarded as] successful, we’ll get to do more movies, and we’ll get the chance to continue on the big screen as a series after the show ends. I don’t know how many films we’ll do, I just hope there will be more.”

CC, as most everyone knows, rules more than just the XF Universe.

He’s the mastermind of Millennium, which is also returning for another season. Though the show had a commendable fall 1996 debut, its ratings had declined, prompting most people to assume that Fox would not pick up the dark, somber series for the 1998-99 season. The network, which also airs TXF and thus probably wanted to keep CC happy, elected to bring back the Lance Henriksen vehicle. “I will be more active in the show this season,” promises CC. “I think you can expect us to turn a corner. We have some really good ideas for the new season. I’m really excited about what we’re going to do with Frank Black [LH] now that he has lost one of the most important things in his life. The stories will deal with that this year.”

When Millennium debuted two years ago, much was made of the fact that it was the new series from the creator of TXF. CC himself doesn’t deny that Millennium has suffered from the comparison to TXF, and that people were tougher on Millennium because of their great X-pectations. “I never wanted to make Millennium like The X Files,” CC argues. “I really loved the original concept of Millennium. It has strayed a little bit from that now. In some ways, that has been good and in some ways, bad. For season three, I have really exciting ideas that I’m looking forward to incorporating into the series. I’ve had long meetings with Lance, and we’re all very excited about season three. I hope people will come to the show again and see what we’re doing. Frank will ultimately end up affiliated in some way with the FBI, which is where he began his career.”

Returning to TXF, CC insists that even after 117 hours of TV episodes and a two-hour movie, there’s still plenty left to uncover about the mythology and about M&S, CC insists. “They are VERY complex characters. We played with Mulder and Scully’s belief systems in the fifth season. They’re both unmarried. They’ve both lost parents, and they’ve both lost them in a tragic way. Mulder and Scully have a lot to learn about life, I think, and they’re things that people have to learn as they move through their 30s and on into their 40s,” CC observes. “So, I really do think we’ve got a lot more to learn about our characters and about the conspiracy. I don’t think we’ll run out of ideas anytime soon.”

Vancouver Sun: X-Files producer can’t let go of Vancouver

Vancouver Sun
X-Files producer can’t let go of Vancouver
Alex Strachan

Director Chris Carter may be busy giving a new look to his famous TV series in L.A., but he hasn’t forgotten his roots in Vancouver.

The X-Files may have fled the rain but Chris Carter, the southern California-raised surfer dude turned pop-culture savant, has quietly donned his hipwaders for more wet nights in the city that gave The X-Files its dark, brooding look for five years.

On Sunday, Carter’s most ambitious X-Files yet — an episode called Triangle, a loose amalgam of The Wizard of Oz, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope and Casablanca revisited on acid — will mystify viewers as few X-Files segments have.

Those who have seen the episode — filmed in real time aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif. — are describing it as everything from an incoherent, self-indulgent mess to a tour de force that will guarantee writing and directing Emmy nominations for its creator.

The X-Files’ new California look has grabbed the U.S. media spotlight in a way few off-camera TV stories do.

The larger picture — where Carter goes from here — has eluded attention, but all indications point to a wet and promising future for Vancouver crews and the city’s profile as a production centre.

Carter’s recent contract with 20th Century Fox Television — a deal some industry analysts have said could net him $100 million US over its five-year term — puts him in a very select group of TV producers that includes Steven Bochco, David E. Kelley and John Wells.

While Carter has been preoccupied with The X-Files in Los Angeles, he has quietly bought a home in Vancouver and has made regular visits to the city — at least one a week — for the past several months, sitting in on story meetings for Millennium, in its third year at Lions Gate Studios, and laying the groundwork for his new series, Harsh Realm, based on the darkly foreboding series of underground comics. Harsh Realm is being considered for the Fox network schedule next fall.

Those who have worked with Carter in Vancouver say it is not surprising he has chosen to reaffirm his ties to the city.

They describe a producer who has never forgotten his blue-collar roots — Carter, 42, grew up in the working-class neighbourhood of Bellflower, Calif. — and who is soft-spoken and gentle as well as single-minded and uncompromising in his vision.

Carter has a reputation as a demanding boss who will not hesitate to remove people he believes are not up to the task (an Internet chat group called “the ex-Files” includes several disgruntled former writers for the show).

But many who have worked with Carter in Vancouver paint a very different portrait from the popular conception of the foreign producer as Ugly American.

Set decorator Shirley Inget, a five-year X-Files veteran who won back-to-back Emmy Awards for her work on the show and who is now working on the feature film Dudley Do- Right, recalls an incident from The X-Files’ first year which, she says, offers great insight into who Carter is as a person.

Carter drove up to the main gate of North Shore Studios, as it was then called, on a Sunday, when nobody was supposed to be working, Inget recalls. The security guard did not believe Carter was who he said he was and refused to let him in.

Instead of digging in and throwing a tantrum, as most producers would have done, Inget says Carter parked his car at a nearby mall, hid in the bushes behind the studio and crawled in under the fence when the guard wasn’t looking, sparing the guard the embarrassment of a confrontation.

When word of what Carter had done spread through the crew, morale skyrocketed, Inget recalls.

Vancouver actor Chris Owens, who has landed an 11-episode gig in Los Angeles as a recurring character in The X-Files, recalls that Carter went out of his way at last September’s Emmy Awards to pick him out of a crowd of celebrants and thank him for his work, even though Owens had only done some bit parts at the time.

One former X-Files technician recalls that when Carter had to announce to the crew that the show was leaving, on a rain-soaked night earlier this year at a Kingsway Street motel, he deliberately waited until David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were off the set before breaking the news. Carter wanted to spare his actors the embarrassment of seeing him break down and cry in front of the crew, the technician recalled.

After a late-night shoot on the Burrard Street bridge for the Millennium pilot two years ago, Carter felt he needed an extra night’s filming to get the scene to look the way he wanted.

Fox refused to authorize the additional cost; Carter paid $65,000 out of his own pocket to complete the scene. (Shamed, Fox later reimbursed him.) Millennium crew members say it is those kinds of gestures that endear a producer to his crew.

For his part, Carter has never withheld praise for his Vancouver workers, who he often refers to as “my Canadian colleagues.”

Carter’s hand was forced on The X-Files’ move to Los Angeles, but he now says the new look will breathe new life into a show that, while it benefitted from five strong years in Vancouver, needed a fresh outlook.

At the time of the move, Carter reaffirmed Millennium’s place in Vancouver and said he had ideas for several new series, all of which he will consider doing here.

Despite the success of last summer’s X-Files feature film — it grossed $85 million US in Canada and the U.S. alone – Carter feels a passion for dramatic series and will divide his time in the foreseeable future between TV and writing novels.

Another X-Files film is in the works, probably to coincide with the show’s end — which looks increasingly like the end of next season.

For now, though, Carter has no plans to forsake either the medium that made him famous or the city that made it possible.

Sci-Fi Age Magazine: As The X-Files moves to L.A., the series’ stars consider season six

Sci-Fi Age Magazine
As The X-Files moves to L.A., the series’ stars consider season six
Melissa J. Perenson

Where does a television show go when it’s coming off a summer that saw the release of a successful feature film, the relocation of production, and a whopping 16 Emmy Award nominations? Well, when you’re the X-Files, you keep on doing what you do best: Throwing curve balls to your audience while striving to reinvent yourself and raise the creative bar even higher.

The X-Files is due for a shake up. After all, the series is entering its sixth season, a time in any show’s life span during which lethargy can set in and stories can become stale. But the series’ new Los Angeles home base, coupled with the events of The X-Files movie, which answered some long-standing questions as well as raised a host of new ones, have ensured that The X-Files is in no danger of succumbing to the perils that afflict long-running series.

The movie may have focused on the black oil, but the coming season will explore the conflicting alien factions introduced in such episodes as “Patient X,/The Red and The Black.” “We’ll see a lot more of that,” promises series creator and executive producer Chris Carter. “Now that we’ve set it up with the black oil, we can explore that.”

Meanwhile expect intrepid FBI Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) to come to terms with their experiences in Antarctica, and to convince others of the fantastical events they witnessed there. “It will have to be dealt with as the series goes forward. But that’s the fun of the series. It’s going to be getting people to believe that this is, in fact, going to happen,” Carter offers. “And Mulder and Scully still may have been told some lies. We still don’t know. We’ll play with this and continue on with that conspiracy.” A central component of the mythology thus far, Scully’s abduction back in season two and the consequences of that abduction, will be addressed in the coming year, as will questions surrounding what really happened to Mulder’s sister, Samantha.

Originally, the truth about Samantha had been addressed in the movie’s limousine scene with Mulder and Well Manicured Man (John Neville), but it quickly became lost within the context of the film. “We realized that there was a lot of information to digest in that part of the movie, and it ended up coming out of the blue in a way that made the scene less easy to understand,” explains Carter. “So we decided to take out that scene and play with it in season six.”

Even though it was Scully’s evidence that convinced the FBI to reopen the X-Files, early word about the coming season is that Mulder and Scully are off the X-Files and have a new boss, although their former superior, Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), will continue to help them off the record. Two characters introduced in the fifth season, Agents Spender (Chris Owens) and Fowley (Mimi Rogers), have been assigned to the X-Files instead. Picking up on the story line from the fifth season’s finale, the first episode jumps right in by revisiting Gibson, the chess playing child prodigy whose ability to tap his brain’s God module could hold the key to explaining the nature of paranormal phenomena.

That’s not all that’s revisited. “We’ve established Mimi Rogers as an old flame coming in, so I think that [the audiences] are going to have to accept it, [allow us] to play that out,” Carter says, presumably well aware that he’s broaching dangerous territory in the eyes of both those that wish to see Mulder and Scully move their relationship to the next level, and those who wish to avoid the series deteriorate into a soap opera.

The direction of Mulder and Scully’s relationship is a topic of hot debate. “From day one we’ve been talking about the fact that it just wouldn’t work in the series,” remarks Anderson, “but I’m curious as to how, after the movie and the extra zing that’s in the film and whether it should or shouldn’t influence how we are with each other in the series. If it does, how will it influence the work that we do? I don’t know.”

Duchovny is equally unsure of what’s right for the show. “It’s hard to say what would ruin the show, or what would make it good, without actually doing it. But [a relationship] could be interesting. If we had someone come in who wrote beautifully in that direction I’m sure it would work, but I don’t see that happening.”

Although the X-Files will always be defined by its eerie look, that look is bound to change now that the show has moved from dark and atmospheric Vancouver to bright and sunny Los Angeles. “It’s obvious it will change,” affirms Carter. “I’ll have a new crew. I’ll have a new environment to shoot in. We’ll have bright sunshine in the daytime, although if it’s anything like last year, it will be just like Vancouver; the weather in Los Angeles was so bad last year.”

Shooting in LA’s environs presents a new creative challenge to the production, and not just to avoid inadvertently getting palm trees into scenes that are supposed to be set in Maine. “It’s going to be different because you’re not going to get the diffuse light every day, you’re going to get hard sun and you’re going to get LA sun,” explains Rob Bowman, who’s directed over 25 episodes as well as the movie. That’s different from what we’re used to.”

Look to the bright lighting seen in the film for an example of what the X-Files may look like in the future. “[The movie] certainly was harder because day exterior in the Mojave desert is about as hot a light as you can get and about as far from Vancouver as there is,” says Bowman. “But the movie couldn’t all of a sudden look like another show. I had to make it look like The X-Files.”

Bowman has a similarly positive spin on the impact the movie will have on the series. “I think it might be farewell to an old friend and hello to a new one. We’ll find a new look that takes the old one and goes a little further with it,” he says confidently. “That’s what we must do because we certainly can’t go backward.””

Adds Carter, “We’ll just use the new environment to our advantage. Just make a virtue out of the problem, which is that we’re now shooting in sort of a concrete jungle. [we’ll] tell stories that we wouldn’t have been able to tell in Vancouver, so I think it’s going to be an interesting opportunity.”

Carter draws on reality for many of the ideas for the series. “People say, ‘Where do you get all these wild ideas?’ Many of them come directly from science. The show needs a scientific foundation, because that is Scully’s point of view. Without a Scully point of view, you’ve got no point/counterpoint. So it’s important the science be accurate, and it’s important that the science be good, because it provides the leaping-off point for the rest of the show,” maintains Carter.

When conceiving the series pivotal mythology episodes, Carter knows where he’s ending up, but not necessarily how he’s going to get there. “I have a big general idea of what the conspiracy means and what the conspiracy is,” he explains, ” but as we go forward, we find new little things to do to add to it. And so that’s the fun of it. If you set everything down too clearly for yourself in the beginning, I think you end up without the sort of wonderful discovery of new things to add in. So, I think flexibility is important in this kind of storytelling. Also the faith that you’re going to make the right choices as you go forward.”

“We don’t have ending points. Sometimes we don’t know, and that’s part of the excitement of the show to us, too, [as writers],” contributes Frank Spotnitz, co-executive producer on the series. “Chris is very specific on where he wants the show to be and he’s not willing to say, ‘okay, that’s close enough to what I had in mind.’ He won’t do that.”

The series’ intelligent, and at times convoluted and contradictory, stories often subscribe to the tenet that less is more. “I think far more often that approach is appreciated by the audience. That’s one of the reasons why the show is so successful,” reasons Spotnitz. “You’re left to put the pieces together yourself in order to understand the conspiracy. It’s a jigsaw puzzle, and we keep adding new pieces and taking pieces away. There’s an awful lot of questions that aren’t resolved and that’s what makes the show interesting.”

“You know, you make a mistake in thinking the audience is not as smart as you are. I think the audience is very smart,” elaborates Carter. “I think the audience is very sophisticated. We have so much information these days. Everyone knows about the human genome project now that’s going on; it’s in the paper every day. While the dialogue [of the show] is sophisticated, it also never attempts to confuse or baffle.” Well, perhaps not consciously, at any rate.

Another unusual thing about The X-Files is the show’s application of a cinematic approach to making television. “We try to tell our stories visually and we use a lot of movie conventions in the telling of our stories. It just feels like a movie most weeks, anyway. And that’s our goal,” says Spotnitz.

“Now after having made the movie, I know whatever you do in television isn’t quite cinematic because making a movie is a much more elaborate process than making a television show,” admits Carter. “But, we tell the stories as if they were little movies, and we take a big screen approach on the small screen in the way we tell our stories and the way the shows are directed, certainly, and in the way the stories are very plot driven. They are good, round mysteries, and a lot of television gets by on character development ensembles, a-b-c-d-e-f-g stories. The X-Files tells one good, strong story every episode, and I think that’s much more of a movie approach.”

Even the series’ recurring, mysteriously named characters have come to life. “After working with so many scripts and telling so many stories with these ancillary characters with names, if there’s more than three of them, you’ve got your work cut out for you just to remember who these people are,” explains Bowman of the nomenclature system developed. “So Chris’s approach was: He’s just a guy smoking a cigarette, that’s all he is. So, he’s Cigarette Smoking Man. When CSM started the series, he was leaning against a filing cabinet listening to a conversation and not reacting at all. He was a paper figure. Then you start to learn more about him. It’s funny because on the set we’re always making up new ones. And we’ve been through Plain Clothes Man, Red Hair Man, and Black Tie Man, but it makes it easy for identification.”

The X-Files’ real ace in the hole, however, lies in the chemistry between leads Duchovny and Anderson. Together, Duchovny and Anderson have taken the art of subtlety to new heights. Certainly, these two roles, like the cases the duo investigate, have proven to be anything but ordinary over the years

“It’s incredibly gratifying,” says Anderson of what it’s been like to play Dana Scully. “It would have been harder to stick with it were I not playing such an intelligent, such an interesting, and multidimensional character as Scully is. When I read the pilot, I was struck how unlike a TV script it was and, also, by how complicated and interesting the relationship was between Mulder and Scully. I think that more than anything,” she continues, “[it was] her intelligence and her strength in standing up to Mulder and feeling confident about expressing her beliefs in front of somebody who was touted as being near God in terms of his work at the FBI.”

From Duchovny’s perspective, Mulder is perhaps the hero who’s best described as the anti hero. “He is a loser. He just never succeeds, basically. He doesn’t get what he wants. He doesn’t win fist fights. He doesn’t get the girl,” notes Duchovny. “I like him as a hero because I always intended to play him as a guy who doesn’t win but who seems to win. That is, I think, a difficult thing to do. People at home see that Mulder is right, so it’s all kind of skewed in his favor. We’ve seen what he sees. We know that he’s right, that his quest is good and moral and all of that. In that sense he’s more of a straight-up hero.”

As stimulating as the characters are, though, both actors admit to feeling the strain of The X-Files’ intense grind, a strain which was only amplified by spending the hiatus between the fourth and fifth seasons filming the feature.

“Some days it’s not fresh and it’s not exciting. Some days it is. It usually has to do with the challenge of the material. If there is a difficult scene to do or a fun scene to do or a challenging scene to do – then it’s fresh and exciting. If there are just five pages of back story, dates, figures, numbers, or names, then it’s just hell,” explains Duchovny. “It’s not really the show or Mulder. It’s the bare fact of doing the same show and the same part for five years.”

“I think that these survivor mechanisms just poke up and rear their heads,” Anderson muses of the relationship between the grueling hours on the set and her performance. “Sometimes – a lot of times – I’m dead on my feet, and sometimes I phone it in and sometimes I have the energy to keep going and be better and better. It just depends.” With all the key players, including leads Duchovny and Anderson and Carter, signed through seven seasons, the current expectations are that The X-Files will continue its fast track run on television before releasing a second feature. in the meantime, the show will strive to improve upon itself, completing its evolution from cult hit to mainstream phenomenon. Notes Duchovny, “It’s fairly unique in the fact that it takes 100 clichéd elements, puts them all together and makes something new. It is the Night Stalker. It is sometimes a medical drama, as bogus as it can be. It’s bogus in its chastity and its repartee between Mulder and Scully. And it’s creepy for the kids. You take all of those things together and, somehow, it comes off as being fresh, unique and original. You could never have sat down and predicted it. It wasn’t in the pilot I read. It’s something that has grown of as all of the ingredients in the show have grown, as Chris, Gillian, Rob, and myself have grown as performers, directors, writers, whatever. It just becomes better and better.”

Kevin & Bean: Interview with Chris Carter

Kevin & Bean
Interview with Chris Carter

Transcript from PA X-files site
K/B: Kevin or Bean (can’t tell these guys apart on the show)
LM: Lisa May (traffic girl/girl in the two-guys-and-a-girl formula used for any kind of show these days)
CC: Chris Carter

K: …people who haven’t met him, think a guy who writes all this, just, bizarre weirdness, is… He’s just, like, a — he’s just, like, a… easy-going…

LM: …surfer dude…

B: …surfer dude, yeah.

K: Like, a nice, just a really nice — doesn’t want to upset any-anybody — kind of a guy.

B: Yeah.

K: It doesn’t make sense. [gives off an abrupt puff of amusement]

B: People who are famous in horror are — I mean, you expect when you meet Wes Craven, he’s gonna have fangs.

CC: Right.

B: You know what I mean?

CC: But he doesn’t either.

B: He doesn’t either. He’s a very normal nice guy. Yeah, exactly. It’s a surprise. I guess it all, it just comes from the mind. Did you — Was Halloween fun for you when you were growing up? Was that a holiday you enjoyed?

CC: [says this in the middle of starting to laugh] I, actually, I hate Halloween. [KBL chuckles]

B: No! Really?

LM: [in a mocking tone] …don’t want to dress up…I hate the pumpkins…

CC: It’s-it’s like a-a, uh, day for closet drag queens. [KBL crack up]

B: So the people who are doing Halloween year ’round, those are your folks.

CC: Yea-heh-heh… [KBL still chuckling]

K: [chuckling] …closet drag queens, I like that.

B: So how you’ve been? How was your summer? How’s your fall been?

CC: Uh–

B: Just crazy? Busy?

CC: — It’s been busy…with two shows again now and uh, (takes a breath in) travelling to Vancouver now and again. It’s just been a, uh, whirlwind. (lets the breath out)

K: Oh, you’re gonna forget about all those Vancouver people. [C chuckles]

K: What the hell, you’re back in L.A. now.

CC: I-I– Millenium’s still back there. So I still…

K: Oh, it is…

CC: yeah, yeah

K: I didn’t even realize that. No wonder you go back and forth.

CC: Yeah. And I love it actually.

K: Yeah, well, it’s a great city.

CC: yeah, yeah

K: Been up there a couple different times. It’s a great city.

B: What–

K: You have a lot–you have a lot, uh, to do with Millennium, too, this season again, right?

CC: Yeah, I’m back on the show. I-I left the show last year to do the X-Files movie. But I’m back in full force this year.

B: We love that show so much and you, you probably know this, but every week, we talk about it and every week, we urge people to check it out.

CC: thank god

B: Cause it’s on, I mean, let’s be honest, it’s a tough time slot, as you found out when The X-Files use to be on Fridays.

CC: yeah

B: It’s just a tough time slot.

K: I tape it every single week and watch it over the weekend.

CC: Although, we’ve hung in there. This is year three and, uh, last-last (?) we got a big victory over, uh, some new shows. So we’re still [some more proverbial CC-stutters here] we’re, uh, uh, still, uh, a strong show on the Fox network.

B: Alright let me ask you this because I know they’re a lot of Millennium fans who are wondering. You made quite a few changes in the off season

CC: mm-hmm

B: with, uh, with, uh, Frank Black and his family–situation. What was the, uh, what was the, uh, impetus behind jettisoning the wife?

CC: uh… [CKBL chuckle]

K: Do you consider it jettisoning the wife?

CC: The, uh, the truth is that she was a terrific actress and we just could never write enough story for her, uh, because Frank Black tended to, uh, get all the, uh, all the, uh, drama. So, uh, it was an over-idealized marriage, uh, he loved his wife, there wasn’t, there were no issues and so, uh, it was something that seems like it was time to go.

K: There wasn’t, uh, there wasn’t enough for her to do.

CC: Yeah, exactly.

K: Which is what– When we’ve had Megan Gallagher in here before, I mean, that was her fear that when she first signed up was just cause she knew it wasn’t gonna be a traditional relationship show, she was afraid she would be squeezed out.

CC: And I-I promised her otherwise but [L chuckles]

CC: in the end [starts to laugh] I couldn’t do it. [CKBL laugh]

LM: oh, well. heheh…

B: Let me, uh–

K: You’ve had a lot of these problems lately, Chris.

B: what–

K: Chris has convinced everybody in Hollywood that he’s the King… [CKBL chuckle]

K: …and now he’s got, like, 75 different projects to do… You gotta come through on them — that’s kinda tough.

B: Hey, let me read this, uh, email, because, uh, Chris, uh, wrote in yesterday with this question for you, Chris Carter. “As a loyal Millennium fan, I was glad to see Megan Gallagher’s character eliminated as the character grew tiresome for me. Ask Chris why we didn’t get to see her death though. It left this viewer really cold.” [CKL chuckle]

B: “Is there some way you could do some flashbacks? I understand she may not be under contract anymore, but someone dressed up as her should suffice.”

K: Cause we never actually got to see what happened to her. She just kinda wandered off into the…

CC: This-this guy wanted to *see* her die. [L laughs]

K: Yes, he wanted to see her.

CC: He really didn’t like her character. [KBL laugh]

K: I guess not. But, uh, there’s probably no plans for a flashback or anything of that, uh, sort at all, right?

CC: You never know, I mean, uh, the truth is I’d really like to get Megan back on the show and she is part of the mythology, if you will, of the show so, uh, I think there is reason to bring her back.

B: She should come back as a member of the Millennium group.

K: Yes, exactly. That’s right.

B: Dude, and Frank sees her and says, “What’re you *doing*?”

CC: Can I–

K: “I’m a member of the Millennium group.”

CC: –can I have a pen? [KBL crack up]

B: And then it’s a big end-of-the-season show-down between Frank and her! [pause]

B: You know, Chris can have this written by nine a.m., Lisa? (It’s 8:15) [K cracks up]

LM: I know, he’s that fast. [K still laughing]

B: Alright, now, what– Can you get rid of the, uh, the kid, though? Can you get rid of the annoying little girl? Is that possible? [K chuckles]

LM: She *is* annoying.

CC: I-I– She’s great. I like her.

B: Nooo. Nooo.

LM: in an annoying way

K: Bean doesn’t like kids at all. So you have to know that… [C chuckles]

B: She’s really annoying, Chris. [K chuckles]

B: What is she doing for ya? Does she just give– Is she supposed to give Frank some humanity? Is that why…?

CC: E-exactly. And it-it’s what grounds him. And it’s his reason for, you know, for doing what he does.

B: I wanna see her hit by lightning or something cool. [KLC chuckle]

B: Alright, now, uh, so now tell us about, uh, now on Millennium, Frank has kind of-kinda an unofficial partner…

CC: Right, right.

K: Let’s take a phone call about that real quick.

B: Oh, we have someone…

K: Right, we have Keith. Hello Keith.

Keith: Hi, I have a question about, um, someone who I really liked, was C.C.H. Pounder

CC: yeah

Keith: I know you made her, uh, a bad, uh, guy, as it were a bad woman,

CC: uh-huh

Keith: but I would’ve loved to see her becoming the new partner or something.

CC: She-she’s coming back this year.

Keith: Oh great.

CC: Yeah. So, uh, stay tuned.

B: Alright, what is the, uh, so, why does Frank now have, a, kind of a partner? Why did you decide to do that? Cause he’s kind of famous as a, as a loner.

CC: Right. Well, I-I didn’t want to do another cop show with Millennium so I wanted to do something different and I-I went outside of the-the typical t.v. franchise thing with the show and, uh, what I found was that, uh, moving to season three, we needed that franchise again and so we brought Frank back to the FBI again and gave him a partner, a woman, we didn’t want to do the Mulder-and-Scully relationship, um, so we gave-made it more of a teacher-student relationship and I think it’s worked out really nice. She’s a terrific actress and she’s really fun to write.

B: She is good.

K: yeah

B: She’s real good. And tonight you have KISS on the show?!

CC: Yeah.

B: Now you don’t picture a lot of stunt casting on a show like Millennium. [KL chuckle]

B: I was really surprised–

K: Would you consider this stunt casting?

B: When I saw this in the promos, I thought, well, it’s Halloween weekend. It kinda makes, uh, sense. We talked to Gene and Peter from-from KISS, earlier and they were telling us from their perspective. Now tell me where the idea came from.

CC: Um, Fox told me they were doing some promotional stuff with KISS and would we consider putting them on the show? And my first response was “You-you must be kidding.” [KB chuckle]

CC: Then we sort of tossed it around and thought why don’t we do a sort of spoof, a Halloween spoof, for, uh, Millennium, for, you know, Halloween, and, uh, uh, and so that sort of, uh, gave us an idea to use KISS. And, uh, they need the money. [KBL crack up]

K: Oh yeah, KISS really needs the money, alright. Did they need to do any sort of acting? Or are they pretty much playing themselves?

CC: They have cameo roles and you might not recognize them out of make-up, uh, we certainly didn’t. [K chuckles]

B: They are really *the* most unattractive band–of all time.

K: They’re the four ugliest guys in America.

B: I mean they really are.

CC: They’re hanging in there.

K: But they were good on the show then?

CC: yeah

B: They’re alive if that’s what you mean by ‘hanging in there.’ They are alive…barely. [K laughing]

K: Uh, so they’re, uh, so they’re playing themselves. And they– Did they perform on the show?

CC: They perform on the show too.

K: Wow, that’s wild.

CC: yeah

B: Now what if Fox had come to you and said, you know, “Hey, we’re doing a big Celine Dion pay-per-view.” [KL chuckle]

B: “Can you work” there? Would you have done that? I mean, are you a whore now? You sell yourself out? What’s the deal here? [CKL crack up]

B: Whatever Fox says, you know, you do?

CC: (chuckling) I-I actually like Celine Dion. (chuckling)

K: Oh!

B: Chris!

K: for god’s sake!

B: Dude, you could kill her on the show though. That’d be cool. [C still chuckling]

B: W’ that be neat?

LM: Drown her.

K: Come on, kill Celine. [L cracks up]

B: You’ve got the power to do that, Chris… [C still making little chuckles in the background]

B: Alright, we need to take a quick break. Uh, so, Millennium, nine o’clock tonight with the big Halloween spectacular, uh, with KISS on the show. We want to take a break. We want to find out some more about what’s coming up with The X-Files this season. And uh–

K: If it’s ever gonna start. [CC chuckles anew]

B: As the, officially, the last show *ever* to premiere, with the new season. The first show is the Christmas episode, right? [K chuckles]

B: …the way it’s going? And we’ll take some phone calls if you want to speak to Chris Carter.


K: Chris Carter is in the studios. Millennium tonight, nine o’clock. Uh, X-Files is returning on the…eighth? Is that right? The eighth of November?

CC: Yes.

K: Coming up a week from–a week from Sunday, it’ll be coming up. Uh, let me ask you a couple X-Files questions and then we’re gonna take, uh, take some calls for you, Chris. First of all, we had an interesting conversation on the air last week when FX re-aired the incest episode.

B: Oh man, that was ‘f’-ed up.

K: Which is one of the all time great hours in the history of television. [KBL chuckle]

B: You wrote that?

CC: No.

B: Oh, thank god.

K: Uh, here’s the question, is it true or is it just hype: Does that one not rerun on Fox?

CC: Yeah, the, uh, network will not, uh, will not rerun the show.

B: That’s the one where the mom is kept

LM: …under the floorboards…

B: under the floorboards.

CC: It’s funny cause it’s one of the all-time favorite episodes for, uh, for fans.

LM: oh yeah

CC: And yet there were enough complaints that…

B: And rightfully so. That was ‘f’-ed up. [KB chuckle]

K: When-when the thing– I-I wanna hear cause you were there at the time, when the episode was turned into Fox

CC: yeah

K: was there a phone call made to you from some big-wig at the network who said “Listen, you know, Chris, we love you, man, but we can’t–with the woman–and the–under the floorboard–and the kid–” Did they make a call to you and say “Don’t make us air this.”?

CC: There was a lot of nervousness before it ever aired, um, uh, just even in script form. Uh, Standards and Practices had a little, uh, problem with the, uh, scene where the son gets into the trunk with his mother–

K: yeah [KBL laugh]

B: But isn’t incest one of the great American values though?

CC: But it leaves a lot to the imagination and, uh, actually, people thought it was a very violent episode but if you look at it carefully, um, the violence is all imagined

B: yes

CC: it-it’s actually edited in such a way as to, uh, uh, you know, make the violence, uh, implied.

B: Mm-hmm. And, uh, did they ever, did they run it again at all? Or did they just run it one time on the Fox network?

CC: It aired one time and, uh…

B: It didn’t even come back for repeats.

CC: nope [K chuckles]

B: Wow, but, but FX, are they not getting the same complaints when they air it?

CC: Uh, they, they may be. Actually they asked us to edit out, uh, for network run again, scenes that we decided we didn’t want to edit out, so I-I don’t know what’s been edited out of the FX version, but, uh, all those FX episodes have at least a minute edited out of them. so.

B: oh I see

K: oh they do

B: We, uh– I hope you won’t be offended by this, but I taped it when it was on last week and now I’m selling copies to my friends for ten bucks a pop. [KL chuckle]

B: Uh, and this was weird. I had never seen the black-and-white episode

CC: yeah

B: that aired this past week, which was your Halloween show.

CC: yeah, yeah

B: That was *very* funny

CC: thank you

B: very funny. And Jerry Springer was on the show.

CC: Jerry Springer

B: The last person you’d except to show up on an X-Files but he was very funny on that thing. That was cool. It was a good episode.

CC: thank you

K: Alright, let’s take a few phone calls. Ted?

Ted: Good morning.

K: Say hi to Chris.

CC: Hello.

Ted: How are you?

CC: good

Ted: Good. Um, I was wondering about the X-Files expo. Are you gonna make it more intimate? It just seemed kind of…not as intimate as the previous ones.

B: Are you having trouble stalking Gillian? [KL chuckle]

B: What’s the problem here?

Ted: No, actually, thanks to KROQ, I got to meet her at the, uh, X-Files post party. So thank you.

K: okay

B: I don’t know but, Chris, you don’t have much to do with the expos, do you?

CC: Um, we do but, uh, I think right now they’re on hold, uh, until we figure out how to do them a little bit better.

B: Because they were getting a little too big?

CC: It-it-it’s just, uh, uh– We-we went around the country, uh, last year, and, uh, there were places where the expos really were, uh, big turn-outs for the expos and some places, they weren’t so we have to figure out where to do them again.

K: Oh I see. Okay. Hey thanks for the call. By the way, we talked to Gillian a, uh, couple of weeks ago. She seems real happy about being back here in Los Angeles.

B: yeah

K: She sounds like she was just having the time of her life.

CC: Both Dave and Gillian, I think, are very happy to be close to home.

B: How has it been for you, uh, envisioning the show, here in Southern California.

CC: It was a lot of work for me because we came back here and I had to hire a whole new crew and figure out how to do the show in Los Angeles. I’m still figuring it out and we’re in episode–doing episode nine.

K: yeah

CC: So, uh–

K: Where the aliens come on to the beach surfing? [KB laugh]

CC: Yeah, exactly. [C chuckles]

K: I mean, that’s kinda tough, isn’t it?

B: You’re just, uh, you’re just, uh, you just have to look at everything a little bit differently. I mean, that’s what Gillian said

CC: yeah

B: is you’re just doing a lot of deserts

CC: yeah

B: and stuff like that.

CC: David was funny. We were out in Lancaster for, I don’t know, a week straight or something. He said, “When’s the show coming back to Los Angeles?” [KB chuckle]

K: Alright, let’s, uh, say good morning to Ron. Hello Ron.

Ron: Good morning.

K: You have a question for Chris?

Ron: Yes, Chris, I, uh, was just wondering now that Frank is involved with the, uh, FBI,

CC: mm-hmm

Ron: is there a possibility of a Millennium/X-Files crossover?

CC: Yeah, this is the year to do, if we do it.

Ron: Yeah, oh great.

K: Wow, that was kind of a non-answer answer. [C chuckles]

B: Wouldn’t that be funny though if Frank’s walking down the hall of the FBI and, uh, Scully and Mulder just walk right past him and they don’t say anything, they just see him…

K: bump into him

CC: That would be the [chuckles] easiest crossover.

B: yeah, no kidding

K: Like, these guys, like, your staff has any more time to do a crossover, right?

CC: yeah, yeah. Well now, of course, you’d have to either get the Millennium people down to Los Angeles or the, uh, David and Gillian back up to Vancouver.

K: Now you said this year would be the year, if you were going to do it. Are you thinking of doing it?

CC: Yeah, actually, I thought about it but, um, I’m still trying to figure out the best way to do it, so it doesn’t just seem like some, sleazy, you know, ratings–

Ron: Hey Chris–

CC: yeah?

Ron: How ’bout, you know, um, uh, Scully and Frank kind of getting a thing on for an episode or two? [B chuckles]

K: Yeah, that’s not a sleazy, uh, ratings thing.

B: No, no, no, that, uh, that Lance Henriksen, man, he’s, uh, he’s a sexy guy. [CKB laughs]

K: I could certainly see that one working out. We had the director of your movie, Rob Bowman, in a little while ago and he was telling us that there’s additional footage on the home video too.

CC: yeah

K: What, uh, what kind of stuff did you leave in that was not on the, uh–

CC: There was some stuff to do with, uh, Mulder’s sister that was explained, and, uh, we just thought it was too much information for the, uh, for the movie, which was, uh, pretty complex. So we decided to take it out and deal with it in season six of the show, but, uh, we put it back in for the widescreen movie version.

B: So for folks who’re watching on the t.v. show, they’re not gonna get that, they’re not gonna know what that information is. You’ve gotta see the movie on home video, right?

CC: Yeah, you can get it in the movie or, you know, season six will explain a lot that, uh, was set up in the movie.

B: Yeah, if season six ever starts, dude. [CKB crack up]

B: Come on, get with the program.

K: Chris Carter’s in the studio. Can you stay for one more?

CC: Yeah, yeah.

K: Do you mind? We’ll take some more phone calls.

B: We have our big interview with the Los Angeles Kings coming up next. That’s my only fear with Chris.

K: We can move that.

B: Okay, I didn’t know that.

K: Yeah, we can move that. Trust me. Everything can be worked out.

CC: Trust no one. [KB crack up]


B: Hey, speaking of Billy Corgan, by the way, Chris, you know him, right?

CC: Yeah.

B: Hasn’t he been up to the set of The X-Files in Vancouver?

CC: He spent some time on the set but I got to see, uh, one of his shows up there and go back and meet him and he was cool.

B: He’s a hell of a guy. I can’t remember if it’s–if he told us this story or Duchovny told us this story, but somehow somebody got somebody’s watch. Do you know anything about that?

CC: Yeah. He got–[chuckles]

B: He got Dave’s watch.

CC: I-I was informed that an X-Files watch had disappeared, uh–somehow, someone had stolen [chuckles] it and then I later learned that David had actually just given it to Billy.

K: Given it to Billy. [B chuckles]

K: Well, we can, you know, we can ruffle him up and get it back for ya if you want–we’re gonna talk to him in, like, thirty minutes here or so. Alright, Chris Carter is in the studio, with two great shows, uh, on the Fox network. Millennium, tonight, nine o’clock. It’s the special Halloween episode. And then The X-Files premieres a week from Sunday. By the way, before we go to some more phone calls here, what did I read in the paper about you, uh, signing, uh, a big contract for some–to write some books.

CC: Yeah, it’s a little premature. It’s not finished.

B: It’s not gonna happen.

CC: yeah, yeah–well, it may happen.

K: Have you written books before?

CC: Uh, not books. [pause]

B: But there’s *nothing* he can’t do. [K chuckle]

K: What kinds of stuff are you interested in writing?

CC: It-it actually has to do with, a little, with the supernatural but they’re period pieces–something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. And just an opportunity arose.

B: Could there–could this be the, uh, could this be, the, the, genesis of some new series down the road, maybe? Or–

CC: Quite possibly.

K: Who knows.

B: Wow.

K: Man, you’re just, uh, you’re a tumultuous (?) machine.

B: Well, with all your spare time, you think you gotta write books, right? You gonna do a Broadway play? [CKL chuckle]

B: A one-man Broadway play?

K: Why not. Alright, let’s take a few more calls. Cathy in Pico Rivera. Hello.

Cathy: Hi. Hi Chris.

CC: Hi.

Cathy: I wanted to know how can you, um, cast your extras. It would be kind of fun to be a creepy person on one of your shows.

K: Now that you’re down here.

B: Well, they let Tad audition for the show before. (Tad is an intern on the show who tried out for the part of the pizza boy in Bad Blood.) So there’s not much of a process. [K chuckles]

Cathy: Yeah, that’s scary.

CC: I think you have to be a member of the, uh, Extras Guild, which is a part of SAG now, so you actually have to go through a process to, uh, be, um, considered.

B: Is that true? Even to be on just one time?

CC: Uh, no, you could, you, I mean… if-if you know me [chuckles] you could be on– [CKBL laugh]

B: Alright, then let’s dust Cathy and let’s hit up Chris again. And how many times have we said this to him? Kill us on The X-Files.

LM: Yes, kill them.

B: Chris, you’re here in L.A. now.

K: You got some kind of scene where we flash onto the screen for maybe two seconds, and then a train, and then just, like, a train hits us. [C chuckles]

K: Come on.

CC: It’s a deal.

K: We’re not asking for that much.

LM: Whoa, whoa. Did you hear? It’s a deal.

K: Are you gonna do it though?

B: Yeah, but he’s said that five times last time.

LM: Oh he did?

K: And he’s already, he’s already in episode nine for this season. You’re telling me you haven’t killed *anybody* in the first eight episodes?

CC: We have, uh, a year and a half to go.

B: alright. [K chuckles]

K: Chris… [L groans]

K: Don’t be stretching it out ’til the last episode. We’ll have to hunt you down.

B: Chris–

CC: Let me know if your ratings are descending. [B chuckles]

K: Dude, we want you to put us on the show as bodies, as corpses. [C chuckles]

K: seriously [C chuckles]

K: we’re not joking here, pal

CC: Don’t-don’t you want do something else besides be corpses?

K: No, we just–

LM: –wouldn’t look good as anything else. [C chuckles]

B: Well, we want the audience to see the process of going from human beings to corpses.

K: We wanna die.

B: I mean there are times when people, uh, uh–very brief roles where people get killed on the show.

CC: That’s true.

K: That’s all we’re asking. I mean, we can be bad guys who get shot or something. We don’t care how we die. We leave that up to you. We just wanna die.

CC: Okay.

K: Alright.

B: It can be like an Airplane, uh, scene, like the movie Airplane, where Dave and Gillian drive up in a car, and they just hit us for no reason. [CL chuckle]

B: Alright, let’s say good morning to JoAnna. Hello.

JoAnna: Hello my funk soul brothers. [B chuckles]

K: Yes, JoAnna, you’re on with Chris Carter.

B: I think Chris Carter would, uh, would be, uh, a funk soul brother too.

K: I think so.

B: If I’m not mistaken.

K: Alright, go ahead JoAnna.

JoAnna: Uh, I had a question about the movie.

CC: mm-hmm…

JoAnna: Where is that in the planning stages right now? Is it being shot? Is it still being written?

CC: You mean the next movie?

JoAnna: Yeah.

K: Oh, your staff is gonna commit suicide if you get them on another movie right away.

CC: Yeah, we’re think–it’s in the thinking stages right now. Uh, there was some talk about trying to do it, uh, this coming summer so it would come up at the end of the X-Files series, which would be after season seven but, uh, that’s not gonna happen.

JoAnna: What ever happened to the last movie that came out? The rumors were it was supposed to pick up where the season finale ended and that didn’t happen.

CC: It-it kind of did. Um, the X-Files had been closed and, uh, Mulder and Scully began anew in the movie. So that was really where one picked, uh–left off and one picked up. Um, but now when you watch the season opener this year–November eighth–um, Sunday night [KBL chuckle]

CC: uh, you will see that, uh [ching sound] [C chuckles]

CC: it emphasizes both the season finale and the movie, and, uh, we pick up from there.

K: Was the plan when the movie came out–and was obviously very successful–is that when you started thinking “hey we should do some more of these, you know, every couple of years maybe. I mean, even perhaps like they did with the Star Trek movie where the show is not on anymore but the movie’s still come out.

CC: It’s kind of the idea. I think it’s a chance for us to get together and do some, something every year or two. Uh, and, um, the t.v. series will become the movie series, I hope.

B: How do, uh, how do your actors feel about that in terms of the long-range plans?

CC: I think they’re cool with it. Uh, I think everybody’s going to be, after season seven, happy to, uh, you know, call it quits for a time. But, uh, I don’t know, we have fun working together I think, so, um, I look forward to it.

K: It’d be cool to have a new X-Files movie every year or two.

B: In your mind–so you have two seasons left, right–in your mind, do you already, kind of know, where it’s all, uh, going? Are you already now starting to put the pieces in play?

CC: For this year, I do. Uh, next year is a big year, of course, because, uh, we’re headed toward, you know, the, uh, the end

K: millennium

CC: the finale and so–yeah, the millennium, exactly–so there’re lots of questions to answer.

B: Do you know what the ultimate end is going to be? You just don’t know how to get there?

CC: I-I’ve had some ideas and they’ve changed over time but, but uh, I have a rough idea. I’m not telling anyone of course.

LM: Of course. [K chuckles]

B: I think that’s wise. [CKBL chuckle]

B: I can’t disagree with that as a strategy really.

K: Where you want to go to here?

B: Uh, let me see–blah…blah–I don’t know what Lisa’s calling about. Let’s try Lisa.

K: Lisa? Hello?

Lisa: Hello?

K: Hi. Lisa, are you west L.A.?

Lisa: Uh, yeah.

K: Go ahead. You’re on with Chris Carter.

Lisa: Oh, hi, um, actually, I work for Scientific American magazine…

CC: oh yeah?

Lisa: and we had read somewhere that you sometimes use the magazine as a background for some of your storylines.

CC: uh-huh

Lisa: Is that true or–?

B: Are you calling to sue? [CKBL chuckle]

Lisa: Oh god, no. [laughs] No, no, I’m just a listener of the show and I’m on my way to work.

CC: Actually the show has, uh–If it weren’t for, uh, Scully’s good science, uh, the show wouldn’t be, uh, would have no counterpoint to Mulder’s weird science. So we use, uh, magazines like Scientific American, journals and all sorts of really good, uh, scientific foundation to, uh, to do our stories.

Lisa: That’s great.

B: That woman that was profiled in People magazine as being kind of the science–

CC: yeah

B: We had her on the show.

CC: Dr. Ann Simon?

B: Yeah, yeah. She was terrific.

CC: She’s great.

K: She is a party waiting to happen. She, uh, she says she just does it for the love of science. I mean, she’s not interested in showbiz really and she didn’t really know much about the show. She just said “hey I’m just happy to be able to spread good information.”

CC: Yeah, she’s been great. Uh, anything to do with genes or viruses.

B: Yeah, yeah.

CC: she’s an expert.

B: She seems like a nice lady too.

CC: very nice

B: Alright, do we have one more, our big closer?

K: We’ll try Jeff.

B: alright

K: See what he’s got. Jeff in Tustin.

Jeff: Hey, how you guys doing.

K: Good, thank you.

Jeff: Chris, just want you to know that I’m a huge fan, right off the bat, of X-Files.

CC: thank you very much

Jeff: Yeah, and the Peacock episode was awesome, unbelievable. But, um, one of my favorite things about The X-Files is the use of a lot of your hidden meanings and stuff. How you use a lot of your relatives and influences’ names and characters and birthday numbers and file numbers and just any type of number, anything that comes up, sometimes have meaning behind it.

CC: uh-huh

Jeff: And I was just wondering if you could give examples of upcoming or unknown ones in future episodes or maybe where we could find out more about that.

B: He wants to know if there’s a key to crack the code of what everything means. [chuckles]

B: The internet is your friend, Jeff, I’m telling you.

Jeff: –behind it and a lot of information that you put out there.

K: Wow, this guy frightens me.

B: Yeah, it’s very scary.

K: I don’t care where you come up with your numbers. [L chuckles]

B: I’m a big fan of the show. I didn’t know all that stuff.

CC: Neither did I. [KBL crack up]

K: Do you do that? Do you put relatives’ names–

CC: Uh, yeah, there’s lots–there’s relatives’ names. I’ve got, uh, dead girlfriends, uh, strewn across the, uh, five years of the show. [CKBL chuckle]

K: Is that right?

B: Wow, how many dead girlfriends do you have, Chris? That kind of concerns me. [K chuckles]

CC: Um, I got a letter from, uh, an old friend high school who thanked me for being a dead person on The X-Files. [L chuckles]

K: Oh very nice.

B: Hey, uh, wouldn’t it be great to see Kevin and Bean get killed on The X-Files? [chuckles]

B: Alright, here’s one more plot idea, Chris. And I know you get tired of this because everywhere you go, people, I’m sure, everywhere you go, people go “dude, I got this great idea for the show.”

K: But we really do.

B: This is, no, seriously, I know this sounds fantastic, unbelievable, it could never happen, but I think you could pull this off on X-Files. You got a guy who’s running for sheriff, okay, but here’s the thing: he’s dead but he still wins. (This is a real news story in California right now.)

CC: That story is…too weird for me. [CKBL chuckle]

K: Isn’t it though?

LM: It could never happen.

CC: That headline this morning was unbelievable.

B: Here’s the headline in today’s Los Angeles Times. Tell me if you’ve ever seen anything stranger in a newspaper. “Sheriff Block Dies, His Campaign Still On, Backers Say.”

K: Everybody wants to vote him, still, sheriff.

B: Seriously, that’s the weirdest thing–it is stranger than fiction. [chuckles]

K: Alright folks, let’s say goodbye to our friend, Chris Carter. Millennium, tonight, nine o’clock on Fox, the big Halloween show. That is a terrific program. Lance Henriksen is one of the finest actors on t.v. It really is a great show. We’re so proud of that.

CC: Thank you very much. Thank you.

K: And we urge everyone to watch that. Then on The X-Files, premieres, like, in eight weeks or so.

B: I think it’s Valentine’s Day. [L chuckles]

K: That’s right. Valentine’s Day is gonna be the first one of the season.

B: No, actually, it’s gonna be a week from Sunday. It’s finally here–a week from Sunday.

CC: That’s right.

B: We can’t wait. Chris, say hi to the cast for us–

CC: Uh, David and Gillian and Lance and Claya–and–

B: everybody, everybody you know

CC: I want to say hi to my wife too cause I know she’s listening.

B: Okay, you can call her on the phone too, you know. [CKBL crack up]

B: We’re trying to do a radio show here, Chris. You can take care of your personal business– No, I meant, *when you see them,* when you see them: Hey, Kevin and Bean say hi.

K: We can say “Hi Dave” now, ourselves.

CC: I gotcha. [CKBL chuckle]

K: Chris Carter, everybody.

CC: Thank you.

The X-Files Magazine: L.A. Story

The X-Files Magazine [US, #7, Fall 1998]: L.A. Story
The X-Files embraces its new home–sunny California
Gina McIntyre

While driving down busy Southern California Streets, you might notice brightly colored sings sporting random nonsensical words affixed to the odd telephone poll. The markers are written in a secret code that only those well-versed in Industry Rhetoric can decipher-weird alien sounding abbreviations for film or television location shoots that transform neighborhood streets and store fronts into something more or less glamorous, depending on the day. Occasionally, between curses and head-shaking, grid locked drivers will glance across the street at the cardboard herald. But more often, the signs, gateways to what some media buffs would consider nirvana, or else a really great story to post on the internet, remain on the periphery. They’re only another part of the West Coast landscape.

So it happens that these irritated motorists, trapped in their sport utility vehicles, pass right by any number of the sites The X-Files is employing for its sixth season episodes. Little do they know that the new production team assembled to take the weighty reins , once handled so competently by the Vancouver crew, labors nearby to craft their own take on the moody, compelling series. Or that two of televisions brightest stars, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson , are only minutes away, preparing to bust conspiracies and capture monsters. Then again, it might not matter. After living in a town where camera crews are a regular feature of the landscape, long-time Angelinos might not even bat an eyelash if they encountered a UFO.

Those willing to follow the paper trail, however, would find so such apathy awaiting them on the set of the show. An energy rises through the air, a culmination of the frenzied buzz of technical personnel shuttling back and forth, determining how to capture just the right lighting effect or the proper sound quality. Watching the members of the dedicated (and terribly friendly) crew give their all scene after scene, you might not realize that anything has changed since filming of Season Five wrapped in British Colombia last May.

Until you walk outside. Just down the street from The X-Files’ new production facilities, nestled deep inside the winding labyrinth of identical white trailers that comprise the 20th Century Fox lot, are luxury hotels, posh restaurants and even Rodeo Drive itself, quite a departure from the suburban strip mall that abutted that series’ studio home in Vancouver. As far as the eye can see, warm unfiltered rays of sunlight bathe the mid-August landscape. A gentle breeze blows in from the Pacific Ocean; it is a comfortable 80 degrees. And of course, there’s a lot of traffic.

Yes, things are different in the world of The X-Files, but series creator Chris Carter isn’t one to let things like relocating the show to another country, hiring an almost entirely new staff and encountering a little sunshine stand in the way of his vision. In fact, the sweeping changes only served to stimulate Carter’s imagination, judging from the first few episodes of the highly anticipated Season Six

So far, he has crafted a season premiere, aptly titled “The Beginning,” that picks up where both last season and the film left off, promising a host of professional and personal changes for Mulder and Scully and introducing at least one new recurring character, Assistant Director, Alvin Kersh, played by James Pickens Jr., to the show’s roster. Cater also handily managed to transport all the series’ key players back in time 60 years for an epic, “alternative reality” episode, which he wrote and directed.

Filmed aboard the historic ocean liner Queen Mary, anchored outside of Long Beach, Calif., the show features hundreds of extras, dozens of Nazis and is staged so that events seem to take place in real time, similar to Alfred Hitchcock’s film, Rope.

Such a full plate might make the new crew wonder what they had gotten themselves in for. Obviously, The X-Files expects-and receives-miracles from its production team, by the beginning of Season Six is formidable even by the show’s own high standards. When asked about the workload, though, none of the behind-the-scenes players seem surprised. Those kind of never ending challenges, they say, attracted them to the series.

“The X-Files gives you the opportunity to try different things. Every show’s different. Every show’s different looking,” says director of photography Bill Roe. “Chris Carter loves to take it to the limit.”

That’s what we know how to do,” offers construction coordinator Duke Tomasick, whose team had only five weeks to reconstruct the standing sets for the show (including Skinner’s office and Mulder and Scully’s apartments) and build at least one elaborate set-the interior of a power plant-for the season premiere. “We’re used to doing that kind of stuff. Hopefully, we get a lot more time to do it in. You know, the more time you have, the better the quality, and you don’t wear the guys out as much. These guys are working seven days a week, Saturday, Sunday, just to get everything done in time. It’s a little exhausting, but everything’s coming together.”

Things have been just as hectic for set decorator Tim Stepeck, who says The X-Files is just about the only show he watched faithfully before landing his new job. So far, working on the series has been just as rewarding as tuning in every Sunday. “You never really know where it’s going to go,” Stepeck says, “It’s not like you’re going back to standing sets of anything like that. We’re always on the road. [Every episode is set] in a new state, so we’re constantly researching out each place we’re going to be in. This show, the pace never slows down. It’s like shooting a movie in a week. The pace doesn’t bother him; in fact, he says it’s rewarding to accomplish so much in such a short time frame. “It’s nice to work on [a series] you really enjoy watching,” he says. “That’s kind of hot.”

Prop master Tom Day echoes Stepeck’s sentiments. “What I was looking forward to the most was the difference in the shows,” he explains. “It can go from anything with period stuff to way-out there futuristic. The storylines always change. They aren’t always difficult. Even the continuing ones, they go somewhere. Then there’s the stand alone ones. They can really take you in a different direction.”

It didn’t take long for an item to surface that made Day scratch his head. Even before he finished the first script he was almost stumped. “One of the very first props in the very first episode this season was something that I read on the page and said to myself, ‘Oh my goodness, where am I going to come up with that?’ It was a special piece of forensic equipment that is only in forensic labs,” he says. “I thought, ‘I’m going to have to go home and take those little sugar cubes that kids make their little projects out of and build one of these things.”

Never losing his cool, Day demonstrated the resourcefulness necessary to survive the world of The X-Files. “I was able to contact the company that manufactures this thing in England. We wound up having a representative fly into Los Angeles with this machine and set it up for us.”

The business as usual attitude isn’t confined to the crew, either. Chris Owens, whose Agent Jeffrey Spender is treated to a big promotion in the season premiere, admits e is surprised every time he reads a new script: By now, he has learned to be ready for anything. I never know where it’s going to go,” Owens says. “It’s almost like watching the show from week to week. You really don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Case in point: Owens never thought he’d be traveling to historic locations, such as the Queen Mary, to film an episode, the third of Season Six. “It’s great shooting on the Queen Mary and being able to walk around the boat,” Owens says. “I’ve never been on anything like it. Walking around the state rooms you get the complete feel of the era. Then you get into the costume and before you know it, it’s all working.”

Which is exactly how things are supposed to happen, according to co-executive producer Michael Watkins. Another recent addition to The X-Files team, Watkins, in a matter of weeks, has managed to attain the quiet dedication the rest of his production team possesses. Like his co-workers, he signed up for duty well aware of what was required. If that means making sure cast and crew are shuttled from the Fox lot to location shoots–which can sometimes be two hours outside of Los Angeles–or that equipment crises are averted, or that the series continues to accomplish what no other television show has yet done, all the better. The challenges just make braving the traffic of his daily commute to the office (or to some secretive location) worthwhile.

“My goal is not to give up, to maintain the good fight, “Watkins explains. “It’s a huge show and you expect nothing less. We have to be clever and very finessed and efficient in how we do everything. [My job] is to make sure we get on the air for the fans, and that’s by God, what we’re going to do.”

The X-Files Magazine: World War X

The X-Files Magazine [US, #7, Fall 1998]
World War X
Gina McIntyre

No one could have predicted that Spender, or the Cigarette-Smoking Man or even Skinner would don Nazi uniforms during Season Six, yet, that’s exactly what happened. Chris Carter’s imaginative narrative for his groundbreaking “real time” episode sends Mulder to the Bermuda Triangle where he boards a ship missing since 1939. On board, he encounters all the show’s characters — only they are not themselves but strangers from another era.

The beautifully restored Queen Mary, which is also an operating hotel, provided the ideal location for the historic episode, explains location manager Ed Lippman. “Chris Carter knew he needed an old ship and asked us what we knew of up front. We said the ‘Queen Mary,'” he says. “[Carter] actually came down and spent a long time walking the ship before he even wrote this episode, so he specifically wrote it to the location. Quite frankly, with this kind of location there’s nothing else in town that could have matched it. There’s only a few places in the country you could have pulled this off.”

Despite the authenticity of the ship, the production team still had their work cut out for them. All of the ship’s modern aspects, everything from painting to doorknobs, had to be replaced to fit with the period setting of the episode. Extensive exterior sequences required the crew to shoot the ocean vistas with no signs of civilization. Since views from the Queen Mary include the skyline of Long Beach, some special effects magic was required.

“We’re hanging a 30-by-80-foot green screen 20 feet out that will block out the city of Long Beach, so that when we pull [Mulder] up over the edge, we’ll have the option of seeing straight out with the camera and matting in our storm effect and not having to deal with the city of Long Beach,” Lippman says. “With a little luck in post-production, people will go, ‘Where in the hell did they do that?'”

The interior shots were equally complicated: The Queen Mary’s confined hallways and low-ceiling rooms needed to hold a larger-than-usual cast, which included hundreds of extras recruited to appear as the participants in an elaborate ballroom brawl. Extras casting directors Bill Dance and Terrence Harris hand-picked all of the people for the scene.

“We sculpt [the actors] together in terms of, “What do you think of this person? Do they have the right hair? Does this person look Nazi?” Dance explains. “The hair cannot be streaked or anything like that. It has to be either to the mid-neck for the ladies or long so we can make it look period. [When casting] the dancers, we had people come in [and asked them], ‘Can you do the Lindy Hop or the swing?’ Not professional dancers where it looks too showy, but people that can do it very naturally, yet have the period look, the pale complexions.”

It was up to costume designer Christine Peters to find all the period garb for the dancers, as well as uniforms for the ship’s crew and the Nazis who storm the boat. Such a task required locating existing costumes, some of which might seem familiar to viewers. “I managed to get costumes from Titanic for the British naval crew,” Peters says. “We’ve got probably 150 uniforms. It’s not the sort of thing where you can just fill a truck up on the day and just hand them things. Every extra for this episode has been pre-fit, the ballroom dancers, everyone.”

During the brawl, those carefully selected costumes took a beating. Some 50 or 60 extras were involved in a melée with 13 professional stunt people, according to stunt coordinator Danny Weselis.

“It took a few hours to choreograph and block out every move [because of] the way we’re shooting this episode with hardly any cuts. We just had to pay attention to where all the cameras were and make sure all the hits were hits and there were no misses.”

The unusual shooting method for the episode was foremost in the mind of director of photography Bill Roe, too. Generally, cuts or pick-up shots are inserted during editing to make scenes flow more smoothly. Because of the way this episode was shot, everything had to be perfect when director Carter yelled “Cut” for the final time. “You can usually get away with things, help things as you go, with different cuts and different shots, but when you’re doing it all in one [continuous take], it requires a lot of planning,” Roe says. “The hardest part is trying to find the right place for the light and still make it look good. Working at a practical location doesn’t help, especially when they don’t want you touching the Queen Mary walls. No drilling, no taping, no nothing.”

The secret to accomplishing such an extraordinary task, according to co-executive producer Michael Watkins, likes in extensive planning and a ready-for-anything attitude. Plenty of rehearsal time doesn’t hurt, either.

“All the actors have to be on board. It’s like comedians will tell you, it’s timing. We rehearse seven, eight, nine, ten pages in a row, and then walk through, change the lighting, move the actors. It becomes a series of events that all have to take place not unlike a live theater. The performance has to continue and go on from one venue to another. There’s no going back for inserts. It has to be complete and total. The sphere has to be an enclosed world by itself.”

The X-Files Magazine: The Next Files

The X-Files Magazine [US, #7, Fall 1998]
The Next Files

As busy as ever, co-executive producer Frank Spotnitz graciously stepped away from his typewriter to fill us in on the latest happenings in the world of The X-Files. Here’s what he had to say.

The X-Files Official Magazine: Congratulations on 16 Emmy Award Nominations.

Spotnitz: All of us were really pleased and honored. It sounds trite, but it really is an honor. To get so many nominations in the fifth year of a television series is really gratifying and surprising.

The X-Files Official Magazine: Did that help generate a positive atmosphere for the beginning of Season Six?

Spotnitz: It sure did. The timing really could not have been better. The Emmy nominations were announced, and the very next day we had our first production meeting with our new crew in Los Angeles. It was just a great tone set for the beginning of the new year. they’d heard from us all along how much they had to live up to because we all love the crew we had in Vancouver so much. It was a confirmation to them how important the work is that they do.

The X-Files Official Magazine: Are you settling into the L.A. Set?

Spotnitz: We’ve met the challenge of being here head on. We’re not pretending we’re somewhere else. We’re writing, at least in the beginning, to this part of the country. It’s been a little startling. There’ve been some shots where it’s like, “My God, sunlight!” We’re making it part of the story and part of what’s scary about the story. I think it’s been successful so far. I must say it’s been nice having David and Gillian and Bill Davis and all the other actors a stone’s throw away. Walking over to the set, we’ve been able to talk to them about stories and actors and things like that.

The X-Files Official Magazine: Is there a different sort of atmosphere than in Vancouver?

Spotnitz: I think so. When you work with a crew closely, they become a second family. It really was a family in Vancouver. We were all sort of the little engine that could up there because we were in Vancouver and because The X-Files started from nothing and grew into what it is now. Everybody felt like we’d built this together and we had. Here, we’re coming in a well established hit and a mature series in its sixth yea, but everyone that got here had to beat out a lot of competition to be here. We had the finest talent in Hollywood vying to work on this show, so they feel like they’ve made the cut. They’re very motivated, very excited. [They] recognize what great work was done in Vancouver the last five years, and they’re determined to meet or exceed those standards. So far there have been very few growing pains.

The X-Files Official Magazine: It sounds like Season Six is going to be even more diverse than Season Five was?

Spotnitz: I think it is. All of us keep thinking, “How strange can we get?” It keeps it interesting.