Archive for January, 1998

SciFiAndTvTalk: The X-Files’ Tom Braidwood – The Industrious Gunman

??-??-1998 (Fall 1998?)
SciFiAndTvTalk
The X-Files’ Tom Braidwood – The Industrious Gunman
Steve Eramo

[Original article here]

I recently discovered several interviews I did a number of years ago that, for one reason or another, were never published. Rather than have them continue to gather “dust” in my computer, I thought I would share them with you. In this interview – Tom Braidwood talks about his work behind-the-camera on The X-Files as well as his recurring role of Melvin Frohike, one of the three Lone Gunmen.

When actor/director/producer Tom Braidwood was hired as the first assistant director for The X-Files he had no idea that one day he would be working in front of the camera as well as behind it. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time when it came to casting the character of Melvin Frohike, the brainy, balding and bawdy third of the paranoid but resourceful trio The Lone Gunmen.

“I was working as the first assistant director on an X-Files episode [E.B.E.] being directed by an old acquaintance of mine, William Graham. It’s the one in which The Lone Gunmen first appear. He had already cast Byers and Langly but couldn’t find anybody to play the part of Frohike. Apparently, he made a joke to the producers during the casting session about needing someone slimy ‘like Braidwood.’ So they came out of casting and asked me to do it.  I thought, ‘Why not?’ and agreed, never thinking that anything would ever come of it.”

Back in 1993 Braidwood’s friend, X-Files production manager, now producer, J. P. Finn, contacted him and asked if he would be interested in the job as first assistant director on the show.  He asked Finn for a copy of The X-Files pilot and, after watching it, immediately took the job.

“Right from the start the work was fascinating but very demanding,” says Braidwood. “The scripts are always filled with special effects and every one of them is a challenge. During its second season The X-Files really became popular as a cult show. In the third year, though, we started to go a lot more mainstream and from there the programme just continued to go from strength to strength.”

Braidwood makes his debut as Frohike in the first-season episode E.B.E.written by Glen Morgan and James Wong. Hoping to expose a government coverup involving an extraterrestrial biological entity (E.B.E.) FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) turns to a threesome of conspiracy theorists, The Lone Gunmen, for help. These eclectic and eccentric individuals, John Fitzgerald Byers (Bruce Harwood), Ringo Langly (Dean Haglund) and Frohike, pride themselves on being able to obtain the unobtainable when it comes to classified information. It was a short but memorable job for the actor.

“It was fun meeting Bruce and Dean,” he recalls. “We seemed to hit it off immediately.  The three of us just kind of jumped right into it and I think the scene really speaks for itself.  We did it, had a lot of laughs and then moved on to the next thing.”

Originally, this scene was to be the first and last contribution The Lone Gunmen would ever make to X-Files history. Morgan and Wong had written the characters into the story primarily for comic relief and Morgan was not very pleased with the end result. The viewers, however, felt quite the opposite. They loved these paranoid protagonists and wanted to see more of them, so Braidwood and his two colleagues were invited back to reprise their roles.

“We were all surprised that our three characters received such a positive response from the fans,” says the actor. “I think part of the reason behind The Lone Gunmen’s popularity is simply because we area bit weird and out on the fringe. Here are three odd fellows who have found common ground with each other. Also, the fact that Bruce, Dean and I get on so well helps. I know, for example, that there’s this sense of bickering that’s been built into the characters, particularly between Langly and Frohike, but that’s just something we have fun doing as actors. Certainly, on a personal level, we’re close friends and the fact that we’re so in sync with our characters makes the job that much easier.”

Melvin Frohike has definitely come a long way since he uttered the immortal line, “She’s hot,” when first setting eyes on Mulder’s partner Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson).  Thankfully, he has learned over the past five seasons how to express his fondness for the agent much more eloquently. During this time he has also proven himself a trusted and valuable ally in helping the agents in their search for the truth.

“I think he started off as being a little shy and somewhat of a loner as well as a bit lecherous,” laughs Braidwood. “As the show has grown so has the character, along with everyone else’s, of course, in becoming more a part of the fabric of the program. There’s a much stronger professional relationship between The Lone Gunmen and Scully and Mulder and also a friendship and respect that wasn’t as obvious early on in the show.”

Although The Lone Gunmen have so far turned up in fifteen episodes of The X-Files it is not until the fifth-season story Unusual Suspects that viewers finally learn how they met. “I thought it was so much fun to have a show actually written for our characters. It gave us the chance to really get into our roles much more seriously than we usually do. Normally, we just drop in for a scene or two and that’s that, but in this episode we are the featured players.

“One of the biggest inside jokes with this episode has to do with the actual filming,” he says. “They always design these shots where the three of us are in the frame. Because we are in so many scenes in this episode they had to figure out all these different ways of cramming us into the shot that worked technically and that also looked interesting.”

This story also marks the first time The Lone Gunmen come face-to-face with Mulder and Scully’s enigmatic benefactor, X (Steven Williams). “I had worked with Steven before on the series 21 Jump Street. I was as an assistant director on that program for three-and-a-half years and Steven was one of its regulars. He and I were old friends and it was terrific to finally work with him on The X-Files.

When his alter ego is not admiring Scully from afar or working with Byers and Langly to expose various government conspiracies, Braidwood has his responsibilities as the show’s first assistant director to keep him occupied. “Essentially, my job is to take the script and break down all its elements in terms of the actors, sets, props, etc.,” he explains. “You then sit down with the director and the heads of the various departments and discuss all the problems inherent to the particular story. From this you gather all your information and put it together into a schedule that will outline how to shoot the episode in eight days.

“You then take the schedule and do your best to organize it for the cast and crew in order for them to get the job done,” continues Braidwood. “So you’re really paid to be responsible for making sure that everyone’s time is being well spent, especially when it comes to David and Gillian. You have to try to keep their daily hours to a minimum when possible just because of the sheer amount of work they have to do.

“One of the toughest episodes we did was a second-season one, Dod Kalm, in which Mulder and Scully are suffering from dehydration and look as if they’re getting older and older. The problem with that show was that it called for David and Gillian to undergo a major makeup process. In some cases they ended up having to sit in the makeup chair for three to three-and-a-half hours and then they had to go to work on the set. So that one, along with the fourth-season episodes Tempus Fugit and Max, just because of the scenes aboard the airplane, were pretty challenging.

“It’s a difficult show for David and Gillian to do because it’s not really an ensemble piece,” he adds. “The show depends on the two of them so, again, they get the brunt of the work. To watch them carry it all through and support the series and keep on going is really something to their credit. They’re both really good to work with in different ways.”

Braidwood graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and four years later with a Master of Arts in film studies. In 1972 he joined the Tamahnous Theatre Workshop Group where he remained until 1978 working as a resident actor, writer, musician, director and technician. “Everyone eventually moved on to other things, so I decided to do the same and give film a try,” he says. “I had always been interested in that side of the profession, so I took the plunge and that’s where I’ve been ever since.”

Although he spends most of his time working behind the scenes, Braidwood is happy to take on the occasional acting job. He has appeared in the feature films My American Dream, The Portrait and Harry Tracy, Desperado as well as the made-for-television movie The Only Way Out. He has also guest-starred on such television series as Beachcombers, Mom P.I. and Grounds for Murder. The actor further enjoys having the opportunity to return to his theatre roots and counts a part he did back in the seventies as one of his most challenging roles to date.

“The play is called Liquid Gold. It’s set in a small coastal town in British Columbia [Canada] and is the story of a megalomaniac who has all the locals in the palm of his hand because his is the only place in town to shop. I played the shopkeeper,” he laughs. “It was a tough show to do – probably the biggest role I’ve ever had – but great fun as well as very rewarding.”

In 1984 the actor served as producer with writer Patricia Gruben to work on her independent Canadian feature film Low VisibilityThe project cost 166,000 Canadian dollars to complete and is a proud achievement for Braidwood. “We had to count on a lot of people to donate things,” he recalls. “Basically, we had the money to buy the film, process it and edit the thing – that was it. I enjoy working on independent projects such as these, though, because they’re always different and not commercially oriented. They’re usually personal films with personal visions so, in that regard, they give all those involved a wonderful sense of fulfillment.

“I think the challenge of getting something like this done is probably what I enjoy most about this business,” says Braidwood. “My roots are in the theatre, especially community theatre which is very people-driven. That same sense of teamwork is why I enjoy working on a television series so much. When you’re involved in a show for a long time, like The X-Files, for example, you get to know who wants to be there.  Those are the people you want to have around you because otherwise the job isn’t going to get done.”

When it comes to his career as a first assistant director Braidwood prefers to concentrate on television rather than film. Danger Bay, Mom P.I., 21 Jump Street and Wes Craven’s Nightmare Cafe are just a few of the shows on which he has worked. “I tend to like television series because you’re always doing something,” says Braidwood. “You just can’t afford to waste time; you’re on a tight schedule.”

Braidwood and X-Files costars Harwood and Haglund spent some time together in Los Angeles filming their scenes for the show’s big-screen feature which had its American release this past June. Unfortunately, now that production for The X-Files is based in Los Angeles, The Lone Gunmen will have to travel a bit further afield if they want to continue helping Mulder and Scully. How does Braidwood think the move will affect the show?

“One of the toughest things is going to be locations, so it’ll probably become more of an interior show,” he says.  “Vancouver [British Columbia] has such a variety of locations. You can get so many different looks within a half-hour or hour’s drive out of the city and I don’t think that’s the case in Los Angeles. [Series creator] Chris Carter has always said that Vancouver was one of the stars of The X-Files and I agree with him, it was. I mean, the lighting for the program and setting its mood can be done pretty much anywhere, but I think the whole location thing is going to drive them crazy. So we’ll just have to wait and see,” he muses.

As most fans of The X-Files know, Braidwood went on to co-star alongside Bruce Harwood and Dean Haglund for one season in their own spin-off series, The Lone Guman. Most recently, Braidwood appeared in the feature film Amazon Falls and served as associate producer on the 2009 short film Serum 1831.

GLARE: THE X-FILES: UNRESTRICTED ACCESS

??-??-1998
THE X-FILES: UNRESTRICTED ACCESS
GLARE (Gillian Leigh Anderson Real Ecclesia)

[Original article here]

uaccess

The truth is out there, but now, you could be closer to finding it than Mulder and Scully have ever been. The X-Files: Unrestricted Access CD-ROM gives you, for the very first time, the opportunity to freely explore the mysteries of The X-Files. Produced by Fox Interactive, in close cooperation with Chris Carter and Ten Thirteen Productions, a completely interactive reference product will soon be available that utilized the people, places and events from every memorable case of the worldwide hit Fox television series.

In The X-Files, the journey of Mulder and Scully is itself often more important and revealing than the destination. So, too, the primary goal of The X-Files: Unrestricted Access is to evoke the experience of the television series – not only the major narrative themes (such as paranormal phenomenon, alien existence, and illicit government activity), but also, and perhaps above all, mood and atmosphere – while not compromising functionality. All information in the product takes place within the X-Files *universe.* Rather than rehashing already-available large amounts of behind-the-scenes trivia, this product immerses the user in the conspiracy itself.

X Browser

This leads to the basic design concept of the *X-Browser.* By presenting content both locally from the CD-ROM and remotely via the World Wide Web, within a familiar browser environment which is robust yet transparent, the user will perceive the product almost solely as an ultra-high bandwidth Web experience. Accessing the product content through the X Browser will reinforce the effect of the television series – always feeling on the outside of the truth, no matter how deeply one has probed, while at the same time being absorbing. Simultaneously, a wealth of X-Files content will be easily and immediately accessible through powerful database functionally and an intuitive user interface.

The X Browser has customized functionality and a specialized user interface. All of the elements of the browser interface – the File menu bar, the tool bar, the location bar, the directory buttons, the logo graphic, and the URL display across the bottom of the page – are replaced by custom elements to maintain a unique look and feel.

The X Browser’s user controls, though customized in design, function similarly to familiar Web browser controls. These controls allow the user to navigate quickly and intuitively anywhere within the product, as well as to control the product’s general functionality parameters. The design is that of a functional home page, though, rather than a list-form main menu. It contains the following main features: Search surveillance communication Bookmarks Go Help Quit A clock A display area for e-mails/instant messages

Except for Search and Surveillance, all functionality is contained in frames on the main page. Distinct from these controls is a status bar which indicates the active/open/closed status of each type of Media window (see below).

Search

The search engine for The X-Files: Unrestricted Access consists of a single, easy-to-use screen containing both queries and results. Query functionality consists of a sequence of hierarchical categories and sub-categories from which the user can select via standard buttons and pull-down menus. The user can sort by case files, individual dossiers, or evidence, and then cross-reference selections by category of case (extraterrestrial, human enigma, government conspiracy, etc.).

The search engine also applies an alphabetical, geographical, or chronological sort order function to whichever of the above categories is selected. In addition to select/sort query capabilities, this area of the product contains a full keyword search facility.

The search engine enable the user to comb through top secret information contained in case files and assorted dossiers. Each case file provides links to other documents and evidence, and can also be cross-referenced to other related cases. You will be able to analyze, interpret and draw your own conclusions about every X-Files case that exists.

Complete case files and dossiers on every event or individual that has ever appeared in The X-Files are in this product. Photographs, documents, and audio/visual evidence are also available to inspect at will. Advanced FBI electronic tools such as Fingerprint Analysis, Voice Analysis, and Image Enhancement are included in a wide range of investigative assets. Physical evidence from each case is shown in three dimensional Quicktime VR, allowing you to rotate, zoom in, and examine them from every angle.

Surveillance

Surveillance functionality accesses a vast store of classified records kept on each person. Through the network capabilities of the X Browser, the user can access files which would ordinarily be off-limits. Assets are sorted according to a concept of file residence – different classes of assets are found in different places.

The “security clearance level” of users of this network is far above that of Mulder and Scully. It is beyond Deep Throat, X, or even the Cigarette Smoking Man. Not only Mulder and Scully, but many important people in the world of The X-Files fall under surveillance by the user ( and, it is implied, perhaps simultaneously by other unknown powers).

Surveillance exists in two forms – live and archived. Live consists of ongoing remote video stakeout (shown as navigable three dimensional Quicktime VR images) of certain places, including Mulder and Scully’s homes and office, A.D. Skinner’s office.

Archived material (clips and original assets derived from the show) includes video, stills, audio wiretaps and a chronological log that details the movements of each “target.”

The X-Files : Unrestricted Access features a much tighter link between its local and online content. Though “true” Web functionality will be immediately accessible from within the product, the user is not required nor expected to remain online whenever he or she uses the CD-ROM.

Therefore, online content falls into two main areas: (1) content to be integrated seamlessly into the local content by periodic downloads, and (2) supplementary content which is not designed to be integrated into the product. Both of these types of content will be maintained and updated after product launch from the dedicated host site, thereby reducing the problem of obsolescence i nherent in the CD-ROM medium.

Located on the X Browser home page is the Communication option. Clicking on this option will launch a dialog box asking the user if he or she wants (1) to go online or (2) to view the directions for installing a download, if the user has accessed the online site previously. Once on the “true” Web site, the X Browser remains fully functional as the user’s active browser. Back/forward is available on all online pages, as it has been removed from the X Browser functionality bar. All online content will reside on the server, and will be maintained and updated by Fox Interactive on a regular basis during Season Five of the show.

This area of the product will feature the following sections:

Updates –
downloads of new content relating to subsequent X-Files episodes, including video clips, audio clips, case files, character dossiers, 3D assets, etc.

Links –
to the Fox X-Files site;
to other X-Files-oriented sites;
thematically related third-party sites (e.g., paranormal)

Hints –
an area offering information to animate further exploration of both the CD-ROM and online components of the product.

Check back bi-weekly for more details leading up to it’s release this January!

Be sure to check out the X-Files Unrestricted Access Web Site by Fox Interactive!

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Tracks of Creation: Words from Mark Snow

??-??-1998
Tracks of Creation: The Dark Issue
Words from Mark Snow
Neil St. Laurent

[Original article here]

X-Files, The Score / Fight The Future
(c)1998 Elektra Entertainment Group

The music of popular television is certainly not what comes to mind when one thinks of dark music, but the most well known dark composer has to be none other than Mark Snow, for his electronic creations for the TV series The X-Files, and with even more brooding darkness in the sound for Millenium.

This CD is the score for the movie, sort of, much of the music on this CD never actually appears in the movie. Unlike the previous TV series soundtrack, “The Truth And The Light” (which is more recommended as a true selection of fine haunting dark soundscapes), the symphonic sound of the movie score better serves the movie’s interest than the independent listener. Nonetheless, the sound of this recording is much more complex than the series and definitely still very pleasing to sit around and listen to.

This release will likely be one of the most gentle introductions, and not a complete one, into the realm of dark music, where further adventure with the TV soundtrack is a true introduction and offers a very original haunting ambient sound.

Words from Mark Snow

How did you ever got started on the TV series of X-Files?

Chris Carter didn’t have any relative or friend he know that was a composer, so there were like fifteen guys that were put up for the job and luckily for I knew one of the other producers, this guy Bob Goodwin […] who was the producer in Vancouver, and he suggested the idea to Chris and Chris liked the idea that I lived in his part of town, so he didn’t have to travel way out somewhere else. Anyways, he came to my place, I was doing a low budget movie and he heard what I was doing and he liked it, I think he liked it, he didn’t say much, he was very polite and respectful, then he came back a second time and said “oh okay, oh well we’ll be talking, thank you very much for your time” and he left. Then two weeks later I got the call saying I got the job. When he left I didn’t know what was up. It easily could have been he hates you, or he likes you… he didn’t give any indication when he was around.

How did you get your first start in the movie industry itself?

My wife’s sister is an actress named Time Daily, who was in Cagny And Lacey, and […] her husband was another actor, doing a series for Aaron Spelling and was able to take some of my music to him, and he liked it, and I got to do an episode of this series which was called The Rookies, [1970] something or other, and then it just kind of went from there.

Up until X-Files my career was very solid, but unremarkable, I mean it was really solid in TV and a lot of TV movies and mini-series and I was always working and very grateful for that. When X-Files came around, that really sort of put me up in a hole other level.

Did you always set out to do scores for television and movies or did you look to do something else at some point?

I grew in New York city, and I went to Juliard, a school of music, I was an Oboe player and I all set to be [an] Oboeist in a symphony orchestra in America, and you know, maybe teach on the side and have 2.5 children, you know, a regular life. […] My roommate and I put together a band in the 60’s, a rock-n-roll band, and we toured for five years actually, with this group, and I really got into commercial music, recording of music, and still had my serious graphical background, and thought “boy, this would be great”. It seemed like a TV music and movie music, you know you had to had some sort of serious background, because some of that music sounded like Stratvinsky, Vartoch, you know, like that.

Was it a stretch to go from what you were doing to producing the sound required for the X-Files?

When I first started out there was no real… the electronic music world was [extremely] limited, and about ten years ago, or eight years ago, whenever it was, when I got my first home studio of stuff, that was a big depature for me, because up until then I did everything acoustically, with different sizes of orchestras and combinations of live instruments, there was never any electronic anything. […] Luckily I had my studio here for about three years before the X-Files came along, and when that came along I was prepared and ready for that other type of sound, luckily for me.

For the movie [you’ve] gone back to the symphony sound instead of the electronic sound, why did you choose that?

The movie is like a million times bigger in scope than the TV show, you’re doing things in the movie that they don’t possibly have the time or the money for, and it really needed the bigger sound, sometimes over-the-top melodramatic at times, but you know a lot of action a lot of running around. […] [The CD] is about 10 minutes too long, it starts out great, you’re into this thing and about half way through you’ve [had enough] of this just banging on your head. I think it sounds rather good, other than they having maybe been too much music. It fits the movie, it works great, it fits with the film.

You don’t think it has too much of the hollywood sound to it?

At times it does, when you see the movie, which I presume you will, you’ll see the connection… I hope. The thing is, that some of that sound we were using in a lot of those bigger episodes, and everybody seemed to be bored with that, it’s a big departure from the more evocative ambient atmospheric stuff. I just thought it was either no music, or that type of music.

[…] [EdNote: The discussion of the bees song is pointless to transcribe as Mark attempts to recreate some of the sounds from it vocally.]

Do you think the music compares then to the symphony music of others series like Hellraiser, which it seems very comparable to?

[…] I know some of the movies, but I’m not familiar with the music. I’m expecting every kind of review of that coming down, I haven’t gotten any yet, I’m expected to get this is over-the-top [crap] or this is grandious and great, or it’s okay, I wish there was less music, or I wish it was louder. I don’t know, anything is possible. But, I’m just hoping it doesn’t get [criticized] too bad.

Overall you feel that it worked very well with the movie and it was a success on that point?

Well the other thing that is unfortunate is that a lot of that music on the CD is not in the movie. […] I recorded the music first, before they dubbed the picture, then they dubbed the picture and we all decided to take some of this out, and thin it out, just have sort of more of the sound effects going, so it sort of does a disservice to what the real music score is, because it’s not as much music as what is on the CD.

That’s unfortunately what happens sometimes, even with Titanic there’s some queues in there, some pieces, that aren’t in the movie.

[…]

Being an electronica fan herself, does Gillian Anderson ever try to be involved in the music?

*Laugh* There’s one story where she sent a message to me, it was one of the shows, I think year two, where it was a predominantly harsh show, I think is was called “One Breath”, […], very emotional episode, and she got a message to me from someone, “you know I really liked this to sound like blah blah” whatever, a cut from some CD by someone, and it wasn’t such a bad idea, in fact I actually did it. But I told Chris Carter and he said “I’ll decide what music goes onto the show”. […] He doesn’t want anybody telling me what to do except him.

So there isn’t much involvement or influence from other people on the set for the music then?

None, none whatsoever, it’s him. It comes from him, Big Daddy.

[…]

What is like working for a show with such a large following?

Fantastic, it’s really great, but what’s really the best part of the whole thing is that the shows are really good and they’re not boring, it’s like doing a mini-movie every week. So there’s always something interesting about them, which makes my job a lot better. […] There are a lot of TV shows where the music is just sort of wallpaper that doesn’t do much.

How does working on Millenium differ from working on X-Files?

Well Millenium is sort of set up, a lot of it, a sound that is somewhat almost, it has sort, ancient religious type sound to it sometimes, with the violin solo and so many of the stories have sort of a primitive medieval ancient religious overtones and there is a simple sound that I came up with that I was hoping that would work, and I think that the majority of the music is like that. Sometimes it has to be big for some running and jumping, actiony stuff, but that’s much in the minority, it’s mostly a sparse, more cerebrial, thoughtful sound, than the X-Files mayhem.

What direction would you like to take the music for Millenium, the same thing, or would you like to change it now?

It’d be fun, [I] hear there’s a whole new direction that the show is going to go in, there’s almost going to be a mini X-Files or something, where Lance Hendix (the Frank Black character) moves to Washington D.C. and hooks up with the FBI there and gets paired up with two young FBI agents, a male and a female, does that sound familiar? You know, Mulder and Scully, of course it’s not them but something like that, so we’ll have to see what happens with that.

You think the atmosphere it going to stay rather dark though, in the music and everything?

I don’t know if it’s going to be the same brooding type stuff as before, or if it’s going to be more in the light of day.

Do you ever feel that after doing the X-Files and Millenium for so long that you’d like the chance to score something a little happier or lighter for a change?

Well I do that occassionally, but still, the shows are so interesting that there is still a good part of it [where] I can do some sweet music or lighter music [so] it’s not all just dark, bang-crash, heavy-duty stuff.

Do you consider your music to be dark music?

I think, in a funny way, I think it’s somewhat sad music I think it’s somewhat bittersweet, I think it has a sort of melancholy sound to it sometimes, and I feel very comfortable with that kind of stuff. So if it’s not just synthesizer sustains and dark chords, [this] other stuff seems to be more prevalent, it’s gotten more melodic, at the first they wanted it be very supportive and just sustain, not much. And now it’s gotten more traditional in a way.

What type of influences do you draw upon for this type of music?

Certainly a few film composer, Jerry Goldsmith is one of my favorites, Planet Of The Apes was one of my favorite scores, but besides that, you know, the great 20th century composers, Stratvinsky [and others] to name a few.

[…]

Any other comments?

Everybody is really really anxious about how the movie is going to do, you never know about these things, and I know that Fox is putting in tons of publicity on it, and we’re all hopefully it’s going to be a big success.

We’re all forbidden to talk about anything about the movie, as you can imagine, but the truth will be revealed on June 19th.

[…]

I thank you for taking the time out to talk to me.

Thanks very much.

Los Angeles Times: X Marks Its Spot

??-??-1998
Los Angeles Times
X Marks Its Spot
Greg Braxton

The cult series has already started shooting coming season episodes in its new Southern California base. But the show won’t reflect–or shed–any more light.

There goes that rainy day feeling again. And here comes the sun. As “The X-Files” moves into its sixth season, the Truth Is no longer Out There in dark and rainy Vancouver, the drama’s home base since its 1993 premiere. Series creator and executive producer Chris Carter, stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson and select crew members have all migrated from Canada to sunny Los Angeles, and are deep into production on new episodes.

But don’t expect Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, the two FBI agents portrayed by Duchovny and Anderson who hunt down aliens, conspiracies and unexplained phenomena, to burn their trench coats, put on Ray-Bans, hop into a convertible and launch into a chorus of “I Love L.A.”

Like “The X-Files” feature film this summer that was shot largely in L.A., Carter insists that the series will retain much of its dark flavor and foreboding despite the change in locale.

However, when “The X-Files” has its season premiere on Nov. 8, fans of the series will see the light–literally.

“In the first episode I wrote, we have a teaser where the first shot is of the sun, and we hold on that,” Carter said. “Then we pan down to a desert landscape, which we never would have had in Vancouver. It’s a wink to the audience that we are now in the land of sunshine.”

It’s also a move that has considerably brightened the dispositions of Anderson and Duchovny, who had been commuting to Vancouver since the show’s debut. Duchovny, who got married last year to actress Tea Leoni, had said repeatedly that he would leave the series if it did not move to Los Angeles so he could spend more time with his wife. (Duchovny declined to be interviewed for this story.) Carter took other considerations into account, but noted that all involved seem pleased with the new home base.

“Both David and Gillian are very happy to be able to go home after work,” Carter said. “There’s a certain entropic effect that you fight against, but we’re certainly not feeling it right now. Both of them have really risen to the challenge of what we’re doing.”

He added, “Now that we’re in a mostly urban environment, we’re going to have to tell stories using the landscape that is presented to us now. Before, we had rain and misty conditions. Now we’ll have to make them, without it looking forced. Directors are using angles to create the atmosphere that will keep the show what it is. And you can do good, scary stories anywhere if you do it right.”

Sandy Grushow, president of 20th Century Fox Television, which produces “The X-Files,” agreed.

“I really don’t think the change in locale will dramatically impact the creative look and feel of the show,” Grushow said. “There will be those occasions where we can actually take advantage of the best L.A. has to offer. But by and large, people can expect the same quality series that Chris has been producing for the last five seasons.”

“The X-Files” this week was in production at a typically Southern California location–the Queen Mary in Long Beach, where Carter was directing one of the series’ most ambitious episodes: an homage to “The Wizard of Oz” in which Carter is using a technique employed by Alfred Hitchcock in his 1948 film “Rope.”

The entire episode, which also was written by Carter, is being shot in continuous takes, with no cutaway shots, and will take place in real time. In the installment, Mulder’s boat capsizes during an investigation of the Bermuda Triangle. He is rescued and pulled aboard a boat that is stuck in the year 1939. He runs into various people from his life, including a woman who has an uncanny resemblance to Scully.

In one segment, a bewildered Mulder wanders into a ballroom on the ship that is filled with red, white and blue balloons and almost 200 extras in tuxedos and evening gowns dancing to Elmira Gulch and the Lollipop Guild as they play “Jeepers Creepers.” It’s the kind of scene that would have been almost unimaginable in Vancouver.

During a brief break, Anderson, looking radiant in a long red cocktail dress, said she was invigorated by filming in Southern California.

“It’s really been going great, and the episodes are really good this season,” she said. “It’s really made a difference for me being here. I have a lot of friends and a great support system.”

Anderson added: “The sunshine does have a lot to do with my mood, feeling healthy and whole. It’s nice to sit out in the sunshine with my daughter.”

But as for “The X-Files,” Anderson doesn’t feel that there will be a dramatic shift in the feel of the series.

“It will still be moody,” she said, adding with a smile, “there’ll still be a lot of smoke.”

Some veteran members of the Vancouver crew who have moved with the show say they also notice a difference.

“My job has become a lot easier,” said Anji Bemben, a lifelong Vancouver resident who does hair for Duchovny and Anderson and has been with the show for three years. “We’re not shooting in the rain, so I don’t have to work as hard. It makes it more enjoyable.”

Laverne Basham, who does makeup for the two stars, said: “Before, I would always have to worry about keeping David and Gillian dry. Now I have to mop the sweat off them.”

Paul Rabwin, one of the drama’s producers who specializes in post-production on the series, said: “The colors here have a whole different hue. We’re accustomed to a gloomy, dark look, so this presents many challenges for creating atmospheric conditions. The camera department is using different film stock, and we’re also using different cameras. We’re looking forward to creating a whole new look for the show without destroying its integrity.”

Sunshine will not be the only thing that will bring more scrutiny to the series this season. Fans and industry watchers will be analyzing the ratings of the series to see whether there was any boost from this summer’s heavily hyped feature version, which 20th Century Fox had been hoping to build into a franchise. The movie served as a link between the two seasons. In last May’s finale, the FBI bureau where Mulder and Scully work was burned down by the villainous Cigarette-Smoking Man (William B. Davis). The movie ended with the bureau being reopened.

“The changes aren’t going to be dramatic in the show,” Carter said. “The mythology will continue. Much has been explained. We’ve seen the aliens. Now how do we approach something that has been taken out of the bag?”

Carter also will be spending more time this season on “Millennium,” his Friday night Fox series about an investigator who can tap into the criminal mind. The edgy drama, which is based in Vancouver, has struggled its first two seasons.

“I’m back writing on several of the shows, and we’re going for good, scary movie mysteries,” he said. “We’re trying to get viewers back to the show.”

But for now, Carter is consumed with his directing assignment, which he called “fun, but very challenging–it’s what I call stiff-neck directing.” At one point during a rehearsal, Anderson stood still while Carter, silver hair spilling from under a baseball cap, silently circled her, imagining how the camera would move. The extras–including some in Nazi garb–quietly watched him.

It was a strange, almost surreal sight. And typically “X-Files.” Inside the ballroom, there was no shortage of smoke.

TV Guide: Q&A with Frank Spotnitz

??-??-1998
TV Guide
Q&A with Frank Spotnitz

TVGEN: Welcome to the TVGEN/Yahoo! Chat Auditorium. Our guest tonight is X-Files: Fight the Future’s co-executive producer, Frank Spotnitz. Frank has written over 13 X-Files episodes and served as co-executive producer on the first season of Millennium. Here we go folks! Welcome Frank!

Frank Spotnitz: I am very excited that the movie is about to be released, and very happy to be addressing the online fans of the show, because they’ve been so important in building the success of the show, and now, hopefully, the movie.

Blondguy2cute: Why do you think the X-Files has had such a tremendous following?

Spotnitz: There are a lot reasons why the X-Files is so popular. I think the first one is simply David and Gillian. That they both are incredibly talented as performers and carry the show week after week. And they have incredible chemistry which is undeniable. Beyond that I think the show deals with subject matter that is inherently fascinating to people, which is the unknown and the limits of our understanding. And it’s scary and simply fun to watch.

Curious_55421: Mr. Spotnitz, what makes the theatrical X-Files different from the TV series?

Spotnitz: Freedom! Our challenge every week in doing the television series is trying to get it on the air, frankly! We are always trying to be as ambitious as we possibly can and as visual as we possibly can and it’s very hard to do on a television schedule and a television budget.

So when Chris and I came up with the story for the movie we forgot about schedule and we forgot about budget, and we asked ourselves what X File would we tell if we could tell any X File we wanted. And I think when people see the movie, they’ll see the freedom we had physically to go anywhere physically in the world we wanted to go, and anywhere in time we wanted to go.

Elderess27: How did you first get in touch with Chris Carter?

Spotnitz: It’s funny, I had been a reporter, I wrote for the wire services, UPI and AP, and I came to L.A. over 10 years ago to make a career change. I wanted to become a screenwriter. So I enrolled at the American Film Institute and began studying screenwriting. But before I had written my first screenplay I was introduced through friends to Chris Carter, who at the time was writing television movies for Disney. And I kept in touch with him over the years, and he read my work. But when the X-Files went on the air, I didn’t feel I knew him well enough to call and ask for a job. So I watched the show as a fan from the beginning. But it wasn’t until late in the first year that a friend of mine asked me if I would call Chris on his behalf to see if he could get a job writing an episode. So I did, believe it or not, I called Chris and asked, “Will you hear my friend’s pitch?” And he said, “No, but I’ll hear yours.” So I did, and I ended up landing a job on staff just as the writing team of Morgan and Wong, who wrote many of the show’s best episodes, were leaving. That was the beginning of the second season.

Thekmaster: Will there be more “mythology” episodes this season than last?

Spotnitz: Yes, I guess there will. Simply because we only produced 20 episodes last year due to the movie. We’ve actually got a really big and interesting narrative arc carrying through from last season and the movie into the new season. So we’re very excited to get started.

Thekmaster: How will the show change, now that it’s moving to Los Angeles from Vancouver?

Spotnitz: The honest answer is no one really knows. I think the movie will prove that the X-Files works no matter where you film it, because the movie was not shot in Vancouver. But we’d loved the look of the show in Vancouver and want to keep it as dark and moody and atmospheric as it’s always been, even though we are filming in L.A. And while none of the producers wanted to leave Vancouver, the truth is filming here in L.A. gives us the opportunity to tell stories in different parts of the country that we could never have done in Vancouver. So I think fans can expect to see things like Area 51 popping up in the X-Files now that we’re in this part of the country.

Thekmaster: Who is your favorite X-Files character?

Spotnitz: Ha! Wow. That is a tough question. I loved the strong villains, and guest roles. I loved John Lee Roche in an episode called “Paper Hearts.” I loved Eddie Van Blundht in “Small Potatoes.” Both of those were written by Vince Gilligan. I also loved Clyde Bruckman, who was played by Peter Boyle. And Dwayne Barry, played by Steve Railsback. Those are the ones that come to mind. In terms of writing for characters, the hardest characters are Mulder and Scully. They are always hard and never seem to get easy, because their voices are very specific. But I would have to say that I loved writing X and still miss him as a character.

Thekmaster: Millennium had a change of focus this season to be less serious. What sort of plans are underway for this season for Frank Black?

Spotnitz: I think Frank Black’s world has been turned upside down, and there were strong indications that the Millennium Group was serving another agenda. I think you can expect to see a continuation of that story and a lot of surprising twists early in the new season. Both Chris Carter and I are returning to Millennium this year after leaving it in the capable hands of Morgan and Wong last year. And we’re very excited about it.

Evapilot01: What exactly do you do on the X-Files?

Spotnitz: I’m still trying to figure that out! I do a little bit of everything. My most important job is helping writers to develop their stories and I work as a team with Chris, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban to come up with all the stories and how they play out. But beyond that, I cast the shows, go into editing, work on the special effects, go to the music playback, and try to find time to write and rewrite.

There are literally not enough hours in the day to do all the work that a show like the X-Files demands. So I’ve pretty much surrendered my personal life the last four years. But I’m not complaining. All of us on this show realize how lucky we are and the fact that people recognize what we do is totally unexpected and very gratifying.

ARLO_STREET: Was there any difference between the movie and the show, acting-wise that is?

Spotnitz: No. Gillian said that early on she thought she had to make it bigger because it was a bigger event. But she very quickly realized that that would be a mistake. And I have to say that David and Gillian are as good or better in the movie than they’ve ever been in the series, and that’s saying a lot. The amazing thing to me was seeing them on a big screen after watching them on a small one for five years. It was really a shock. I think everyone, whether they’re fans of the X-Files or not, will agree that they both fill the big screen beautifully.

SKEPTIC01: Was writing “Memento Mori” especially challenging because of the emotional aspects?

Spotnitz: “Memento Mori” was challenging for a number of reasons. Most people don’t know that “Memento Mori” almost didn’t happen. John, Vince and I were still writing “Leonard Betts” and Darren Morgan was supposed to do the next episode. But he dropped out and we had no script. So there were literally only a few days in which to come up with a story and write a script. We had talked about the Scully cancer story for six months and very quickly decided that this would be the time to do it. So we wrote the story in a mad rush. The crew in Vancouver began prepping the episode right before the Christmas vacation. Over Christmas break, Chris Carter took it with him to Hawaii and did a rewrite of it which really made it into the script it was. And immediately after finishing that rewrite, I joined him in Hawaii and we came up with the story for the movie. All of us were amazed and relieved at how well “Memento Mori” turned out. And in retrospect I think it’s one of the episodes we’re most proud of.

Logan_666: Will there be a relationship between Mulder and Scully?

Spotnitz: There IS a relationship between Mulder and Scully! I go to expos and ask the audience do they want to see Mulder and Scully romantically involved. Invariably far more people say they don’t. I do think in the movie, without giving anything away, fans will see a deepening of that relationship. And we have no intention of stepping away from that deepening in the coming season.

SananMorganX03: Do you think the movie will become a franchise?

Spotnitz: I sure hope so! It just seems like a natural. And I can’t say we had fun doing the movie because it was so rushed and we had to go straight from doing the TV series to doing the movie to doing the TV series and finishing the movie, but there is an excitement about it. And the show seems to lend itself naturally to the bigger screen. I know David is very proud of the movie and his work in it. And he has said he would like to do another one.

Zhapharie: Will they give Scully more of central role than what Mulder seems to be playing? It seems that Scully is more on the sidelines.

Spotnitz: I don’t think that’s true. I think one of the keys to the show as a writer is that all of the stories are told from Scully’s point of view. She is the one that grounds the fantastic in reality. And I think all of us feel that it’s the interplay between Mulder and Scully that makes the show tick. And the movie is as much about the strength of that relationship as it is about aliens, conspiracy or anything else.

coleguest_4a05179: Having filmed the movie first, how did it affect filming the fifth season, essentially akin to reading the last chapter of a book first?

Spotnitz: It was very strange. I think we thought it would be easier to plot out the fifth season knowing where we would be the following summer. In fact, it proved much more difficult to decide exactly how much to reveal and how much not to reveal. And I think “Patient X” and “The Red and the Black” which are two of the most important mythology episodes we’ve ever written, were probably the hardest stories to devise and write.

Elderess27: Any plans for X-Files/Millennium crossovers next year?

Spotnitz: We’ve always said we would do it if we could find that right story. We don’t want to do it for the wrong reasons. That is for cheap promotional or commercial purposes. It seems like a natural but the truth is it’s harder to come up with a story that benefits both shows than you would think.

Logan_666: What changes have been made because of the change from British Columbia to California?

Spotnitz: The biggest change is the loss of our crew in Vancouver who were hugely important to the success of the show. These people worked night and day on this show and were incredibly proud of it. And to a large degree they carried the standard of excellence that was set. So the biggest difference and the greatest challenge in moving to Los Angeles is finding a new crew who can not only uphold the standard that has been set but surpass it. Because all of us want to see the show continue to get better even as it gets older.

Thekmaster: I heard there were three different scripts ready in case the details of one were leaked. Any truth to this rumor?

Spotnitz: Not to sound like one of the bad guys in our show, but I can’t confirm or deny that.

Thekmaster: Do you think the Internet has made this show more successful?

Spotnitz: I do. I think from the beginning the people on the Internet have beat the drum for this show and really made it their own. And I frequently lurk on line to see how people respond to episodes, particularly the mythology shows. The people that follow this show are so smart, it’s a challenge to stay ahead of them. And lurking on the net helps me see how much they’re picking up on, how confused they are, and whether they are confused about the right things. Having said that, I find it hard to read nitpicking, because so often the people who are picking the nits are wrong themselves. It also astonishes me how many people presume to understand the inner workings of the staff here, and what the various people’s strengths and weaknesses are. If people understood how close and collaborative all of us were, then I think that all of that chat would evaporate.

_spiffeYgurL_: Is it cool working with Gillian and David?

Spotnitz: It is! One thing people probably don’t think about is that for the past five years, they’ve been in Vancouver and we’ve been in L.A. So most of our contact has been electronically, watching them in dailies, or talking to them on the phone. But the best part about working with David and Gillian is that they invariably make the work better than any of us imagined it would be. And as writers, we are all incredibly grateful for that! Now that we’ll be shooting in Los Angeles we’re all looking forward to seeing more of David and Gillian.

Thekmaster: Is Agent Spender going to play a more important role in the next season.?

Spotnitz: Yes. Agent Spender has an important connection to the Cigarette Smoking Man, as we revealed in the last episode of last season. And there are many more surprises in store for that character.

Cape_Bretoner_: How long does it take to produce one show?

Spotnitz: We shoot the main unit for eight days. We then have a second unit that does additional photography for two, three, four, sometimes eight or 10 or more days. It varies, depending on how physically ambitious the episode is.

Mmbsmith: Will Mimi Rogers be returning next season?

Spotnitz: Yes, she will.

Nieng_: I heard C.C. say that the season six was going to have a different style in writing. Is that true?

Spotnitz: I think we will continue to do what we’ve always tried to do, which is tell good, scary stories. But I think what Chris was probably saying was that we will try to tell different stories, which is what we’ve always tried to do. I think one of the really smart things that the original writers of this series did in the first season was try to make every episode as completely different as they could from the one that preceded it. Which defies conventional wisdom on television. And I think one of the things that I have loved about this show, both as a viewer and as a writer, is that you never know what genre you’ll be watching from week to week, whether it’s horror, suspense, mystery or comedy.

Non_Smoking_Girl: What’s it like working with Chris Carter?

Spotnitz: LOL! Chris Carter is the most focused person I have ever met. He is incredibly driven and incredibly smart. And I have said before the best and the worst thing about working for Chris is that he knows exactly what he wants from the way a scene should be written, to how it should be lit, to what the music cues should be, to the sound effects. That’s a great thing because you have a leader with a clear vision. On the other hand, he sets the bar very high and it’s a constant challenge to meet that standard and expectation.

Butterfly_Handjob: Did you have to plan out a portion of season 6 to figure out the movie plot?

Spotnitz: No.

SSMelies: Do you feel more pressure because you worked on the story?

Spotnitz: No. I’m proud and thrilled that Chris asked me to work with him on the movie. And I guess the truth is, we have an enormous amount at stake with this movie. But when we were writing the story and when Chris wrote the script, we forgot about all that. We just concentrated on doing what we always do, which was telling the best story we could.

Blondguy2cute: The coming movie has been said to be more accessible to everyone especially the people who don’t follow. How did you achieve this?

Spotnitz: Every step of the way, we thought about how this story would reward fans of the show and still make sense to people who had never seen it. And there were some questions that couldn’t be answered in the movie because of that. And some characters who we would have loved to have featured in the movie, such as Alex Krycek, whom we couldn’t include because their backstories were too complicated. In the writing of the script, Chris came up with very clever ways of restating what you need to know about the characters and the show without boring the audience that already knew those things. I think we have done a good job of making a movie that can appeal to everyone, while still going deeper into the mythology, and most importantly, into the characters of Mulder and Scully than we’ve ever done in the stories. I appreciate all the support and interest in the show and the movie. We have worked hard to meet everyone’s expectations. And I hope everyone enjoys it!

TVGEN: Goodnight everyone!!!

Variety: ‘X-Files’ creator signs major deal with Fox TV

??-??-1998
Variety
‘X-Files’ creator signs major deal with Fox TV
Jenny Hontz

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) – “The X-Files”‘ creator Chris Carter has signed a production deal with 20th Century Fox TV, which sources said was worth $25-$30 million over five years.

The exclusive pact includes a first-look feature component and calls for him to develop at least one new series for Fox Broadcasting Co. next fall. He will remain as executive producer of “The X-Files” for at least two more seasons and “Millennium” for at least one more, while he develops new projects for Fox under his Ten Thirteen Prods. banner.

In valuing the deal, sources said it was about on par with the deal Warner Bros. TV made recently for “ER” executive producer John Wells. When the film and TV components and “The X-Files” profit advances are factored in, sources say Carter could take home more than $100 million. Neither 20th nor Carter would comment on terms of the deal.

Carter’s next series for fall 1999 is likely to be a sci-fi drama based on a comic book called “Harsh Realm,” which Carter is expected to write and Dan Sackheim (“The X-Files”) will direct, Carter said.

Fox would actually like Carter to develop a second new drama for next fall, if he has the time, but Carter called that “wishful thinking.”‘

“There are other things I want to do,” he told Daily Variety. “But it’s really about the workload and not forsaking the shows that are already dear to me.”

Carter’s feature deal with 20th Century Fox makes a reality Fox’s desire to turn “The X-Files” into a feature film franchise, much like “Star Trek” is for Paramount. This summer’s “X-Files” feature has earned nearly $150 million in worldwide grosses, and sources say “The X-Files” stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have already agreed to star in the next feature, intended for a 2000 release.

Carter joined 20th Century Fox in 1992, and his deal resulted in one of the company’s most-profitable franchises and earned him multiple Emmy nominations for his writing and directing on “The X-Files.” As it enters its fifth season, “The X-Files” is still Fox’s highest-rated series, and its value to News Corp. is estimated more than $1 billion.