Frank Spotnitz Online Chat
Hello and welcome to the live chat with — Frank Spotnitz, — the Executive Producer of “The X-Files” and the President of Ten Thirteen Productions. Hopefully you will have all seen last night’s episode, “Sein Und Zeit,” and will have plenty of questions for Frank about these two-part mythology episodes, as well as the direction “The X-Files” is headed this year. I know you are all eager to talk directly to one of the show’s writers, so let’s get to it. Please welcome — Frank Spotnitz
XFILEKATE: What was it like to make the 150th episode? Did it feel like a milestone, or just another hard day at work?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: It’s a little unreal to think about having done 150 episodes. On the other hand, just when I stop to think about it, I have to get right back to work.
ADAMRS: Is Chris Carter creating the Lone Gunmen series, or are you developing the series too?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: It’s the four of us together that are creating the series. The characters were originated by Glen Morgan, and James Wong.
LAURACAP: When you and Chris Carter co-write an episode, how do you decide who will write what and do you have any preferences as to the type of scene you like to write?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: It’s never that organized! What usually happens is Chris and I discuss the story concept, then I go off and develop it more specifically. Then we split up the acts, or oftentimes I haven’t finished the story in time to even start writing, so he’ll be writing while I’m working out the rest of the story. But his is always the final typewriter.
LAURACAP: Have you personally made any plot decisions you’ve regretted in hindsight?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: No, I’m happy to say I have not. In fact, I’ve been amazed at how plot decisions from early seasons have borne fruit years later, in ways we never would have anticipated.
ADAMRS: Will the final episode be multiparted or a single episode? If this is the last season…
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I won’t know until I know if this IS the last season. I would imagine whenever the end comes, it will be hard to conclude in a single hour.
LAURACAP: What aspect of your Executive Producer job gives you the greatest satisfaction?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Hmm. I always say my favorite part of the job is going to the house of the composer, Mark Snow. That’s because the show gets so much better, and all I have to do is sit and listen 🙂 I enjoy so many parts of my job I get great satisfaction from working with the writers, to help them develop their stories. But the best feeling is when I watch it on the air, and feel it’s turned out well. And I always do watch it on the air, even if I’ve seen it 100 times, because seeing it broadcast is like watching an opening night.
LAURACAP: “When “The X-Files” is over, what do you think will be your fondest memory?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Wow! There are so many things that I will remember fondly about doing the show. I can say already that fortunately the good memories last longer than the painful ones. But I guess the true pleasure, if there is such a thing, will be in watching shows years from now and still being proud of the work.
ADAMRS: Will Scully’s religion and spirituality be explored further after such episodes as “Orison” and “Amor Fati?”
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Do you want it to be explored further? I feel we have mined Scully’s Catholicism quite a lot. You’ll see Scully’s belief system examined in a way unlike any we’ve done before.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The question to this answer was lost. However, FS provides some nice insight to the television-making process — NLYNN
FRANK SPOTNITZ: … because you have to have a new episode every 8 business days, or this big machine shuts down. So there’s always a challenge, and the storytelling process is so complicated you can never master it. So, in that sense, you usually feel that you’re falling a little short. But that’s a good thing, because it keeps you working hard.
CLARISSE: I want to believe that the answers to all Mulder’s questions about what happened to Sam are going to be revealed next week. Are they going to resolve the previous appearances of Sam (the bee colony clones, the grown up Sam who appears with CSM) are will that just be left “out there”?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: As anyone who has watched this show knows, information comes out slowly. Having said that, a lot of the important questions about Samantha will truly be answered next week. But, as is so often the case, it’s usually more interesting to ask questions than to answer them.
PATSANDIEGO: It seems Samantha would have much insights to the Aliens. Is there a chance of her becoming a more visible character?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Wait till next week!
LAURACAP: What types of shows is Ten Thirteen now looking to develop?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: We are going to do a spin-off of The X-Files, featuring the Lone Gunman. Hopefully, that will keep us busy for a while, or at least longer than Harsh Realm did.
ISAUO: I am confused as to what happened to the adult version of Mulder’s sister. Last we heard she didn’t know if she wanted contact with Mulder. And now in last night’s show we are again wondering where she is. Can you explain that a bit?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: How can you be sure? How do you know that adult really was his sister? It may well be that was just another clone using Samantha’s genetic material. Again, wait until next week 🙂
KRYCEKSARM_2: Do you have big plans for Mulder and Scully’s personal relationship?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: LOL! Yes.
AMY: Scully was a little harsher than usual in last nights episode, she wasn’t as compassionate towards Mulder as she usually is, do you have any insight as to why that is and if it will continue next week?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I didn’t see it that way, although I can see why some viewers might. I thought Scully’s anger stemmed from the fact that Mulder was involving murder suspects in what she saw as a theory, colored by his own emotions.
AGENTFISHGIRL: Why are Mulder and Scully acting so strangely toward one another lately?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I don’t know! LOL. They kissed on New Year’s Eve – I thought that was a good sign!
TINA670: It doesn’t make sense in “Sein Und Zeit” that Mulder suddenly believes that his sister wasn’t abducted by aliens after having it confirmed by WMM in FTF, Cassandra Spender in “Two Fathers” and CSM in “One Son.” For what reason would he suddenly change his mind?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Mulder doesn’t know what to think or believe. In the scene you’re talking about, he’s trying to make sense of his mother’s death and what she was trying to say.
MIKE_X: When you are writing an episode do you ever consult the main characters for insight or input into the script?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Yes, although almost always after the first draft has been written. We are blessed with very bright perceptive actors who invariably make our scripts better.
JAMIERUBY: The episode’s mythology is very different. Is it going to still have a connection with the colonists/hybrids?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Wait till next week!
HOT_TODDY: Assuming that there is no season 8, do you think that there is enough time left to wrap up the mytharc in a full and satisfying manner? Including any future movies, of course…
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I hope so! LOL one thing I have noticed is that everybody who follows the show closely has a completely different set of burning questions that we MUST answer before it’s too late. I know we’re going to piss off someone! We’re probably going to piss off a lot of people. But I think when the end comes, we will have answered all of the most important questions and probably raised some new ones.
MOX: Is there a particular character you want to bring back before the series’ end?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Krycek.
IKKLEOSU: Do you ever worry when pitching a story that it sounds a tad cheesy when described, but you know it’s brilliant in your head? 🙂 it’s the dilemma some fans face in describing eps to non-fans .
FRANK SPOTNITZ: LOLOL!! Usually I think it’s brilliant, and other people tell me it’s cheesy.
GWOMANSTAR: How do you write the episodes? Do you always write them in screenplay format?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Yes, we do. We have a very specific neurotic format that we adhere to. We find that being extremely controlling in this way somehow gives us a higher degree of success.
TRUBLUE: For as much as Fox Mulder says to “trust no one,” he is often credulous of everyone, even those he shouldn’t be. How do you balance both aspects of his nature so believably?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: David Duchovny helps a lot, because he gives reality to whatever is written. Beyond that, I think we have so internalized Mulder’s character that we don’t need to think about it consciously very often. We just have a sense of what sounds like him, and what doesn’t.
BROCK: Would you ever consider doing a prequel to the X-files in a motion picture say centering it around Fox’s father and his early X-files experiences?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Do you have any financing?
DKS916: Are you happy with the way the show is progressing?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Yes. I think we do a good job of not repeating ourselves, and I am frequently amazed at what a versatile framework the X-Files is for storytelling. There are so many different types of stories we tell, and for us, the characters never seem to get old.
MELISSA: Is there any other stand alone episodes that you would like to do a follow up episode on (like Orison)?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: There are characters from past episodes I would love to revisit, because I loved those characters so much. But it’s very hard to even come close to the first time, both because you’re probably already said everything fundamental about that character the first time around and because nostalgia inevitably taints your second attempt.
LORI925: I especially enjoyed the spiritual exploration of both characters in “Signs and Wonders.” Will there be more of this character development?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Yes, but without snakes!
HENRY: Frank, about Diana Fowley. Her character seemed disappointing because she seemed nothing more than an obstacle in the M/S relationship. Were you hoping for more?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I thought Diana was deliciously threatening and the turns she took from appearing to be nothing more than Scully’s rival to being CSM’s ally, to finally betraying CSM, were interesting. I know a lot of people hate her character, but I think a lot of that is because they love Scully. I’m always interested to watch how opinion changes over time. When I joined the show, nearly 6 years ago, everyone hated X and wanted us to bring back Deep Throat. Now, more people know who X was, than Deep Throat so I’ll be curious to see what people think of Diana in a few years’ time.
CAROJC: Any plans to bring back Mrs. Scully or any of the Scully family this season?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I would love to bring back Mrs. Scully, and even another hated character, Bill Scully, but there are no plans of yet.
WATCHER: The Smoking Man’s role seems diminished. Will he become more prominent ? Will we see a clear connection between him and Mulder’s mother?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: That depends on whether this is the last year.
CHARLES: Do you use story lines submitted from other people?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: No. We only accept submissions that come from agents, and we never read fan fiction because our lawyers tell us not to. We’ve had a few outside writers, most famously William Gibson, who has another episode at the end of this month.
FOXYTIME: Will you be writing any episodes on your own this season?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I doubt it. I find it is nearly impossible to make time to write alone. And whenever I have done it in the past few years, I have suffered so much in trying to complete my other duties, that I found it’s not worth it.
LILSCULLY2: Do you feel your writers have the energy and freshness to produce new material as good as last night’s IF the show continues for another season?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: God, I hope so!
GUEST-RZD: How important is the post-episode fan reaction to you? Does it EVER help?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I used to log on religiously when the mythology was developing to see what was understood and what was misunderstood. Now, people know a lot more than they think they do, and I rarely get anything constructive out of it. So as a result, I do it much less often.
DOJO: Any plans on doing episodes that take place in the past?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: We’re open to that. The problem has been that time travel is a very well worn science fiction idea, and we have not yet found something fresh to do with it.
MOMSHERE: Will you guys respond to fan pressure to put Mulder and Scully together romantically?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Never!! Over my dead body!! (Which doesn’t mean it won’t happen)
FOXPHILE: Can we expect to see more of AD Skinner and Krycek regarding their strange tie?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I don’t know what tie you’re referring to, other than the fact that Skinner hates Krycek, but I would hope you would see more of both these characters. But again, if this is the last season, we only have a few more episodes to go.
BROCK: If this isn’t the last year of the show, is there any chance we could see The Smoking Man get waxed?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I’d say that’s an occupational hazard. Keep watching.
FANNIN: Hi Mr. Spotnitz, thank you for the best seven years of television. Can you tell us if there will be anything on Gibson towards the end of this season?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: It’s entirely possible. He’s one of those characters I was referring to earlier, the ones I’d like to bring back. I don’t mean to be evasive, but so much depends on whether this is the last year.
SAULTOPAUL: I don’t think I have ever seen Skinner move as fast as he did in Sein Und Zeit….Can we expect to see him out in the field more??
FRANK SPOTNITZ: How come he still couldn’t outrun the fat guy? Just kidding 😉
AGENTDANASCULLY: Do you think there is any chance of Harsh Realm being put back on the air?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Never say never! The show will get a full airing on FX starting March 24th. All 9 episodes, including 6 that were never broadcast. It would be a Herculean task to reassemble the cast and crew, but you never know…
CHANCE_171: Do you think that anything that happens in the show could possibly be true?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I was once approached by a fan late in the third season who asked me when we were going to run out of true stories!! A lot of the things we write are based on real science and even more are based on actual mythology. So I think there is usually some basis in reality for our stories.
ZOLA: If this is indeed the last season of the X-Files, what do you think the atmosphere will be like on the set that final week?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I think it will be very emotional and bittersweet. I think everyone who’s been with the show has loved working on it. But when the time comes, I know they will all be excited about the opportunities facing them ahead.
MYSTY: When will there be a decision reached about the fate of the show and the last season?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I wish I knew! No-one is asking me. It’s entirely a question of negotiating new contracts with Chris Carter and David Duchovny.
JAX-GUEST: What do you guys have planned for the February sweeps episodes?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: This Sunday is the conclusion of the two-part episode in which we really, truly, honest-to-God find out what happened to Samantha. Then, there’s an episode written by Vince Gilligan that is shot exactly in the style of the Cops TV show and finally, there is an extremely visual science fiction episode written by William Gibson and Tom Maddox, directed by Chris Carter.
BACKITUP17: Do u ever sit back in amazement that you are one of the leading people of the x-files, one of the most popular shows on television?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I am??? I’m often amazed by myself, but rarely for that reason 🙂 No-one I know treats me like I’m one of the leading people on one of the most popular shows on television, although I wish they would!!
LILSCULLY2: Without giving any specific details, how would you like the series to end? I hope it’s not a Newhart ending where Mulder wakes up and the whole series was a dream!
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Darn!! I have some very specific ideas, as you might imagine, as does Chris Carter, who thought about the ending of the TV series when he created it so long ago. But I think the catch phrase of the show, ‘The truth is out there’, will mean a lot in its conclusion.
MATT: How do you keep track of the mythology, and not contradict yourself? How much was planned from the beginning?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Some people think we DO contradict ourselves, although really we don’t; it’s just that it’s all so complicated that you’d have to devote your life to studying it as I have.
LALA: Which of the two characters, Mulder or Scully, that you feel closer to, or more supportive for?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: When I joined the show, I was a Scully in temperament and outlook. But I have become much more like Mulder. I think the beauty of these characters, and indeed of this series, is that you need both characters to get a complete view of the world. In a lot of ways, Mulder and Scully together make one whole person. And so, I’m not exaggerating when I say that I love both of them.
MFLUDER: Who came up with the idea for “The Amazing Maleeni”?? I love that one!!
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Thank you. I had wanted to do a magic show all by myself, starring Ricky Jay, for years, and this is what I was talking about earlier – I couldn’t possibly do it by myself, and we needed a script. So John, Vince, and I scrambled to develop the story together, and wrote it amazingly fast. We were desperate to get Ricky Jay, and begged him for weeks before he finally agreed. As far as we’re concerned, that’s what made the episode. But we liked it too.
DJXMAN982: What inside secrets can you reveal to these audiences about the shows plot twists involving the alien invasions?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: None!
T-PREECE: What are your plans if xfiles ends?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: I hope The Lone Gunman TV series will be a massive success that writes itself and requires no effort on my part. Even if it does require some work, I hope to do that show and continue to develop movies and new TV series with Chris Carter.
GUEST-REALITY: What is it like to work on one of the most loved series ever made?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Believe it or not, you rarely feel that love on a daily basis. It’s like a lot of jobs – it’s a great way to make a living, I like the people I work with very much, but most of the time, all I see are the problems that need to be overcome if the show is to be any good. It’s only at moments like this, where I get to pause and enjoy the fact that other people enjoy the work.
QUESTION: Do u like resolution in story lines??
FRANK SPOTNITZ: LOLOL!!!! That’s a very subtly worded question, I think! Yes, I do, but I think it’s important to answer the important questions, and only those questions so the viewer has something to think about after the show is over.
RDYFRDE: Is the season finale going to lead to the movie or will the movie be a self contained plot?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: If there is another movie, it will in some way be connected to the end of the television series. But I think both Chris and I would love to do a stand-alone movie not connected to the show’s mythology.
GUEST-RZD: How many episode of the year do you have left to film? How many left to write?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: We are about to start shooting episode 16, and we’ll be doing 22 this year. Right now, we’re working on the story for episode 19.
GUEST-RZD: have production difficulties or expense ever prevented you from doing something special? any regrets along that line?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Frequently! It’s a constant balancing act, trying to be as ambitious as possible and still deliver the show for a price. It’s become much more difficult since we moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles, but we’ve tried to disguise that as best as possible.
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Thank you all for the great questions.
FOX Well that about wraps it up. Thank you to — Frank Spotnitz — for providing some insight into THE X-FILES as well as giving the fans a direct link to one of the minds behind the show.