Archive for 2008

Sci Fi Wire: Duchovny Still Believes In X-Files

Dec-11-2008
Sci Fi Wire
Duchovny Still Believes In X-Files
Staci Layne Wilson

[Original article here]

The X-Files: I Want To Believe didn’t do blockbuster box office, but star David Duchovny still wants to revisit the role of former FBI agent Fox Mulder, whom he refers to as “mine.” He adds that he wants to believe that The X-Files could live on in a spinoff TV series.

The movie–the second based on the long-running Fox TV series–is out now on DVD, and it is hoped it finds the audience that eluded it in movie theaters over the summer.

That includes Duchovny himself, who confessed that he never saw the film on a big screen. “It’s not a special-effects movie,” he says. “It kind of was coming out in a time when you expected it to be–in the summer. To me, it was more a fall movie.”

Duchovny adds: “It’s a beautiful-looking movie. The location, the glow of the snow and the eeriness of that part of it, I think that looks great on the big screen. Everything looks better on the big screen, but I think that, yeah, it’s less of a popcorn movie than it is a fall movie, … for lack of a better term.”

Duchovny, who is undeniably an SF icon, says that he’s not looking for any more fantastical roles. “I don’t feel a need to score in any sci-fi movie or television show for the rest of my life,” he says. “I think that we can check that one off for me. But I don’t choose genres. I choose characters, so I would never rule out a science fiction movie just because it was the genre. If it had a character or a story that I thought was really interesting, I would do it.”

As for The X-Files, Duchovny says, “I never thought of The X-Files as science fiction. I always thought of it as playing this character in this world. The world was recognizable to me. It wasn’t The Jetsons. It was present time. You couldn’t fly. You couldn’t transport our bodies over a teleport and all that stuff, so it was the real world, and it didn’t feel like sci-fi to me.” Following is an edited version of the rest of SCI FI Wire’s interview with Duchovny.

Do you suppose that the Fox Mulder character could somehow endure along the lines of a Sherlock Holmes or a James Bond? Do you think that other actors could play him, and how would you like to see him go in the future?

Duchovny: I’m sure that someone else could play him, but I’d like to play him for a little while longer. I certainly think it’s a pretty good idea to try to make another X-Files-oriented show on television. I wouldn’t be an actor in it, but I’ve always thought it was a great plan. But I would like to continue on as a movie serial. As far as what actors … I’m not ready to go out to pasture just yet.

What is it about Mulder that keeps you coming back?

Duchovny: He’s mine. I feel protective of him and of it and of all of us. It was the first real, real success of my career and will always be a cornerstone of my life in many ways, the creative endeavor it is. I feel protective of the character and of the show in many ways, and I’m proud of it. I think that it can expand and grow, and .. I find that we have bonds.

I guess Indiana Jones gets aged, but it remains the same movie even though he’s aging. Bond doesn’t age, and I find that a little less interesting, at least for me. I’m not just saying this because I would like to keep doing it, but I always talk to [X-Files creator] Chris [Carter] about how fascinating today it would be to take this guy from his early 30s and let’s take him into his mid-50s, late 50s. Maybe nobody wants to see 60-year-old Fox Mulder, but we can grow him. We can take him through life’s hardships and changes. It doesn’t have to be this cartoon where nothing changes. You can actually form the flow of this movie and the expanse of this show to embrace actual passage of time and what that does to a person and relationships. To me, that’s interesting as an actor and as a person. As an intellectually based character, you don’t give a damn what he looks like.

Since The X-Files: I Want to Believe may not have been the huge blockbuster that everyone was hoping for, we’d like to know: What is your own measure of success for the movie?

Duchovny: I guess it’s always the first time I see the movie. What’s my feeling when I come out? I always felt like the subject matter of this particular movie was limiting. It was dark, and it wasn’t going. I mean, it could always bust out and become something huge, but as you recall, Batman was just suffocating everything at the time. Even so, it was also a $29.9 million movie competing during the summer. It had some stuff going against it in terms of me thinking it was going to break out. I didn’t think that it actually would. It was very dark. The subject matter was limiting in that way. Even though I would hope any movie I do would do the best business it can, that was never going to be a measure of this particular film.

I’ve only seen it one time, and I was sitting in Chris’ editing room. I watched it on a little screen. I guess I missed the chance to see it on the big screen, and that’s too bad, but when I left that initial screening at Chris’ house, the film was pretty much almost done except for some special effects. I just felt like it was really strong and kind of a strangely moving piece of work. Still dark, and still, I thought, limited, but the way that the movie performed did not surprise me so much, and I think that if we do get a chance to do another one … what I always really liked about the show was that it had a dark vision, but at the heart of it being driven by Mulder was this real optimism or wonder or sense of belief, and then it would kind of open out. Most of the best shows that we did would open out into real wonder at the end, if only because you didn’t have an answer, which was the mystery of it, but the wonder.

Mulder’s quest, to me, is a very positive one. If we get a chance to do another one, I think because in this movie Mulder kept getting reinvigorated, Mulder was in a down place for much of this film; he wasn’t driving the way he drives, the way he drove everything before that. In a way, the nature of how we had to get back into the show, which was to take the guy out of his job, also deprived the movie of some optimism and wonder and enlightenment that occurs when you’ve got this unhinged guy trying to prove wonderful crazy things.

MTV: ‘X-Files’ Producer/Director Frank Spotnitz Makes The Mythology Matter In New Wildstorm Comic Series

Oct-22-2008
MTV
Permanent Link to ‘X-Files’ Producer/Director Frank Spotnitz Makes The Mythology Matter In New Wildstorm Comic Series
Kiel Phegley

[Original article here]

X-Files comic books — in the ’90s, four color tales of Agents Scully and Mulder heated up the comics charts and nabbed scores of cash on the back issue market before the comics industry and publisher, Topps, took a turn for the worse…along with the whole “X-Files” franchise (check out Kurt Loder’s visit to the “X-Files” set here). Now in November, DC’s Wildstorm imprint looks to reignite the series’ comic popularity with a miniseries featuring something the ’90s comics never had: a direct tie to the show’s overarching mythos.

“They are connected with a part of the mythology that we introduced but did very little with at the beginning of season five,” said writer Frank Spotnitz, a longtime scribe for the series and co-writer of July’s “I Want To Believe” film. “We introduced this corporation Roush and so that was part of the mythology that we could have gone a lot deeper with but never got the chance. So the next two books connect with Roush. And I’m going to take a little break from writing comics after this and get back to my screenwriting career, but at some point I hope to get back to write more and do more with the mythology.”

But while Spotnitz’s direct exploration of the show’s most successful period will only last a few months, the series will continue for five issues after that, presenting new stories of Scully and Mulder in classic form mixing it up with FBI Deputy Director Skinner, conspiracy nuts The Lone Gunman and the villainous Cigarette Smoking Man, all of whom appear in upcoming issues.

“It’s just fun to play with again,” he explained. “This is kind of an interesting thing about the comic books – in my imagination anyway – [it’s] that they’re sort of ‘out of time.’ The situation is the situation that we found between seasons two and five of the series. And yet, they’re wearing clothes and using technology that is contemporary of today. It’s not like they’re period pieces. It’s sort of like they’re unstuck from time. I look at them as if that situation in ‘The X-Files’ were still going on today; a sort of parallel universe to the one that we have in the movie.”

With that last movie underperforming at the box office this summer, long time X-Philes will be glad to know that the creator’s plans for future comics series will continue to play in the show’s glory years with new stories focusing on various mythological elements not fully developed in the show. And if Spotnitz has his way, those tales will be penned by both past “X-Files” writers as well as some of his big name comic writing pals, including Brad Meltzer and Brian K Vaughan.

“We have some writers from the TV series who have expressed interest like John Shiban and David Amann, but they all have busy television careers. But in the meantime I’d love to see some other established comic book writers try their hand at the ‘X-Files.’ And that’s what’s great about comic book series is you’re a lot freer to explore and experiment and do things that are out there.”

And if readers get behind the expanded in-continuity comics treatment “X-Files” is getting, Spotnitz doesn’t rule out more series based on his friend Chris Carter’s universe of TV series. “I think it’s a great idea; I still love all those titles. Every single show we did with Chris at 1013 I have great affection for. Especially ‘Harsh Realm’ and ‘Lone Gunman’ I think ended before their time. And I have to tell you, everywhere I go people are always asking me if there’s going to be a ‘Millennium’ movie or something, so I suspect there’s a hardcore audience out there that’s still wanting it.”

Zone Horror: Exclusive Interview With Millennium Co-Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz

Sep-28-2008
Exclusive Interview With Millennium Co-Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz
Zone Horror

[Original article here]

On October the 4th cult television series Millenniun comes to Zone Horror. This terrifying drama series horror in its purest form with a leading man that really knows how to make the skin on your neck crawl, Lance Henriksen. Here we speak exclusively to Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz about his involvement with a series that changed TV drama forever.

Zone Horror: Is it true you began your working life as a journalist?

Frank Spotnitz: Yes. I was editor of my college paper at UCLA, then went to work for United Press International, first in Indiana, then in New York City. I later wrote for the Associated Press in Paris and freelanced for a number of magazines, including Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone.

ZH: How did you get into television work?

FS: I decided I didn’t want to be a journalist anymore! I moved back to Los Angeles from Paris so I could study screenwriting at the American Film Institute. The X-Files was my first job in Hollywood.

ZH: When did you first meet Chris Carter?

FS: By chance. I met Chris in a book group shortly after I moved back to L.A. This was years before he created The X-Files.

ZH: How did you become involved with Millennium and can your recall your reaction when you first heard the basic outline for the series?

FS: I was very flattered that Chris asked me to work on Millennium as well as The X-Files – flattered and, in short order, exhausted! It was very tough doing double duty on the first season of Millennium and the fourth season of The X-Files. I remember that I only vaguely understood what Millennium was going to be about before Chris let me read the pilot script. I read it on the laptop computer in his office right after he finished it. I was, quite simply, blown away. I still think that pilot is among the very best things he’s ever written.

ZH: Is it true Lance was the first choice for Frank Black? If not who else was considered? (Personally I can’t think of anyone else who could bring his quiet intensity to the role)

FS: Yes, Lance was Chris’ first choice. There were other actors considered for the role, but I don’t want to risk making them uncomfortable by giving their names.

ZH: What was it like to work with Lance Henriksen and Megan Gallagher, two very different actors?

FS: It was great, although I have to say I didn’t really work “with” them very much. On Millennium, nearly all of my work was done in Los Angeles — breaking stories, writing scripts, editing episodes and so on. Occasionally, I’d fly up to Vancouver to help prep an episode, but usually I’d only see Lance and Megan when they were in Los Angeles (or during crew parties!).

ZH: The two leads brought so much depth to their respected roles, which other actors that appeared on the show stand out for you?

FS: Terry O’Quinn was, of course, amazing, just as he now is on Lost. I also thought Birttany Tiplady was an astonishing little actress, Sarah-Jane Redmond was fantastic, as always, and Klea Scott is one of my all-time favourite actors, period. There were too many wonderful guest stars for me to mention.

ZH: As Millennium was based totally in the real world how did you approach writing your episodes, as they were far different to what you were creating for The X-Files?

FS: It was very easy for me to get in touch with my fears on Millennium, because the things that scare me most are things that can happen in the real world. The challenge for me was finding interesting ways to involve Frank’s family in the stories. And I was also always looking for ways to find hope amid all the darkness. The things I would say The X-Files and Millennium had in common were our focus on tight plotting, and wanting to find interesting reasons for why the bad guys were doing what they were doing.

ZH: Why do you think the series has continued to generate interest and debate with the viewing public?

FS: I think it’s because it was very intense and uncompromising. That turned off some viewers, but the people who liked the show, really liked it. I remember the earliest meetings with the network concerned how dark the show was. They kept asking us to lighten up, to find more humour. But Chris had a vision for the series, and it was pretty intense. I also think the show touched on something fundamental about life – the split between the darkness of Frank’s work, and the lightness of his family and home life. Frank struggled to protect his family from the darkness – of the killers he hunted, and inside himself. That’s a very powerful idea to me, and I think it resonates with a lot of other people, too.

ZH: I know some critics disliked the show for its violent content but do you agree it needed to show the horrors of real life in such a graphic manner?

FS: I think there’s an even greater danger when you sanitize violence, or make it less disturbing in some way. I think the most responsible way to depict violence is to make it horrific, because that’s what it is in real life.

ZH: Do you have a favourite episode of Millennium?

FS: The Pilot episode and Lamentation. Among the ones I wrote, Sacrament.

ZH: There’s a legion of fans waiting the return of Frank Black, is there any chance?

FS: I’d say a small chance, getting smaller every year. We’d still love to revisit the character, but at this point I think someone would have to light a pretty big fire under the Fox executives to make it happen.

ZH: Congratulations on The X-Files – I Want To Believe, an intelligent and refreshing break from predictable CGI drenched blockbusters. Can we expect more?

FS: It’s too soon to say.

ZH: What other projects are you working on at the moment?

FS: I have a couple things in the works I’m very excited about, but the deals aren’t done, so I can’t announce them yet. Soon, hopefully!

ZH: Frank Spotnitz, thank you very much.

Los Angeles Times Hero Complex: Chris Carter hospitalized

Sep-04-2008
Chris Carter hospitalized
Los Angeles Times Hero Complex
Geoff Boucher

[Original article here]

-

I just saw that Chris Carter,the mastermind behind “The X-Files,” is reportedly getting medical care for exhaustion and “an acute sleep disorder.” Whitney Pastorek at EW.com has this brief item:

Chris Carter, writer, producer, and director of “The X-Files: I Want to Believe,” was hospitalized on Tuesday due to “physical exhaustion and an acute sleeping disorder,” a source close to Carter tells EW.com. The source says the hospitalization stems from Carter “working on multiple films back to back over a two year period” — the recently released “X-Files” sequel and “Fencewalker,” a covert project he is rumored to have begun shooting earlier this year. He is expected to recover quickly.

This news follows the announcement last week by David Duchovny’s attorney, Stanton Stein, that the “X-Files” and “Californication” star is in rehab to deal with his sex addiction. Roger Friedman at FOX is reporting that Duchovny was in a program to deal with his pornography addiction and went public with it because a fellow patient took that tidbit to the tabloids, which were about to pop the story. Friedman has been wildly wrong before so I would take that with a grain of salt.

 It was a grim summer for the X-folks. “X-Files: I Want to Believe,” was an afterthought even among sci-fi and genre fans because of the massive competition in the sector this summer. The $30 million film pulled in about $21 million in the U.S. (and about $57 million worldwide), far below expectations. I think it will do quite well as a DVD (people are accustomed, after all, to watching Mulder and Scully on the small screen), but I can’t imagine we’ll ever see another “X-Files” project at theaters.

I interviewed Duchovny over coffee a few months ago for a feature on the film and he was great, very droll but bright and engaging. I wish him well with his efforts to keep his marriage and family intact. I’m sure he loathes that this happening in a public space now. It’s hard to tell if there is some Hollywood code-talk at work, meanwhile, in the announcement about Carter’s medical treatment. I hope things go well for him. I absolutely adored the early seasons of “The X-Files,” and Carter has always seemed like a cerebral innovator as a storyteller.

Access Hollywood: Celebrities Uncensored: David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson

Sep-??-2008
Access Hollywood
Celebrities Uncensored: David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson

[Original article here]
[Youtube version here]

http://widget.accesshollywood.com/singleclip/singleclip_v1.swf?CXNID=1000004.10035NXC&WID=482a0d55893fbe3f&clipID=277667

Los Angeles Times Hero Complex: Spotnitz on ‘X-Files’: ‘If this is the last time we see Mulder and Scully…’

Jul-31-2008
Spotnitz on ‘X-Files’: ‘If this is the last time we see Mulder and Scully…’
Los Angeles Times Hero Complex
Geoff Boucher – Gina McIntyre

[Original article here]

I haven’t made it yet to see “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” (I’ll blame those five days gobbled up at Comic-Con) and I think a lot of other longtime X-fans fell into that category on the movie’s first weekend of release. Maybe it’s the passage of time or this summer’s glut of must-see genre fare, but I just haven’t felt a great sense of urgency to get out to see the movie.

Gina McIntyre, one of my colleagues here at The Times, had a chance to sit down recently with Frank Spotnitz, the producer of the film and longtime creative presence in the franchise’s history, and here is her Q&A with him, appearing for the first time anywhere. Reading it does make me want to see the movie — not unlike reading a letter from an old friend — but it’s still a surprisingly faint urge.

You’ve said that the movie is a standalone story that doesn’t require people to be all that familiar with the show. Was there a sense that the mythology became too complicated to update or were you looking to create something outside of those narrative constraints?

If we’re lucky enough to be able to do more movies, at some point, we will be revisiting that mythology. In the show, we said that Mulder believes the aliens are coming in December 2012, so that’s a date we’d certainly hit if we’re fortunate enough to keep making these. But for this movie, from the very beginning, when it was first discussed six years ago, we wanted to do a standalone. We had to do a mythology movie last time. We were in the midst of the TV series, and the studio wanted a big event movie that would clearly be something you couldn’t get at home for free. This time around, we didn’t feel any of those constraints. We felt we could really do what the show did most of the time, which was deliver a scary supernatural mystery.

You’re keeping the film’s plot secret, but can you give any sort of broadstrokes description of the story?

It’s real time, six years from where we last saw Mulder and Scully. It’s a scary, creepy intimate story, a mystery obviously. It’s really more about them and their relationship than the show usually was. When you’re doing a TV show, you’ve got to do so many episodes that unless you want to risk becoming a soap opera, you really can’t spend that much capital on their personal lives week in and week out. The audience would get compassion fatigue after a while. So, we were very stingy about that in the TV series.

What’s the nature of their relationship in the film?

It’s obviously one of the big questions fans want to know — are they together? Have they been seeing each other these past six years? If they are together, what’s the nature of their relationship? Is it romantic or not? That’s one of the big cards that we’ve been trying to keep hidden until the movie comes out. But we didn’t want to take for granted that there would be any more movies after this. This could be it. If this is the last time we see Mulder and Scully, we didn’t want to leave anything on the table.

Since the last movie was released and the series ended, there’d been talk of doing another film, so you must have had ideas in mind. Is this film based on one of those ideas or did the story emerge more recently?

We spent weeks in 2003 working on this. It actually was quite difficult to come up with something that was sufficiently different from anything we’d done on television. We came up with something that’s not 100% unlike anything we’d ever done before, but we felt it was different enough to justify making a movie about. We pitched the story back then to the studio. Deal-making started and then there was the threat of a lawsuit that stopped everything dead cold for four years. The issue got resolved in 2007, and suddenly we were back at work and we’d lost all our cards [plotting out the story] from 2003. At first it felt like a disaster, but it ended up being a real blessing because we had to start from scratch on Mulder and Scully and on the personal part of the story. In those four years, we had changed. We realized Mulder and Scully would have changed. We found we had a lot of stuff to say that was completely new and unlike anything we’d done before.

Have the intervening years affected the ways in which you and Chris Carter collaborate?

I’d say what was really different was the pressure was very different. There’s a certain amount of pressure you put on yourself all the time, the pressure to do good work. But it wasn’t like doing a TV show, where it’s not just this script, it’s the five others that you have to be working on at the same time. We sat for days at Pete’s coffee in Brentwood before we even started to work on the story again, talking about life and ideas. Then we spent weeks and weeks in his office in Santa Monica outlining the movie before we started writing. The writing we didn’t do together — Chris would write and send me his files from Santa Barbara, and I’d go over them and send them back. It reminded me of going back to my earliest days when I was new to television working with Chris on a story.

Can you describe the atmosphere on set?

It was a really nice atmosphere on set because everybody wanted to be there. David and Gillian wanted to be there, they focused so hard, especially on their scenes together. We had a great guest cast that were so much fun. We were laughing all the time. The hard part was being in the snow because we were in Pemberton, north of Vancouver, subfreezing temperatures, 14 hours a day for three weeks, often through the night and that was challenging.

Chris and I developed a great affection for a place called the Mount Currie Coffee Company. They make something there called a Canadiano, which is an Americano with maple syrup in it. After about a week, they ran out of maple syrup because they were not used to selling so many Canadianos. So we bought our own maple syrup and we stuck it under the counter and if you had the password, then they would bring out the maple syrup for you. The password was Peter Nincompoop.

Why did you decide to keep the film’s plot so tightly under wraps?

We realized early on that we were in an extremely unique position because it would have been six years since people had seen these characters and there was going to be many, many questions people would be asking about what Mulder’s been doing, what Scully’s been doing, the nature of the relationship. It seemed a shame to spoil everybody’s fun by telling all that before the movie has opened. There’s nothing like the experience of sitting in a theater and watching a story for the first time. It is not the same if you know in advance what’s going to happen. And everybody knows that. I have to say the attitude of the fans out there has been entirely supportive.

Having said that, it has been extremely challenging trying to keep it secret. We realized pretty early on that we actually had to engage in disinformation. What happened was we put out enough disinformation that even if something genuine did leak, no one would know the difference between what was fake and what was real so everything became suspect. We didn’t do that to mess with the fans. The one risk we had in the disinformation we put out was you don’t want to put out a false story that people get so excited about they’re disappointed when that’s not what the movie’s about.

How do you plan to appeal to new audiences who didn’t watch the series?

I don’t know. We’re certainly trying, and we’ve certainly written the movie to work for people who have never seen the show before. I still believe in these characters and their appeal and the power of this fictional world that Chris created, so I do think it’s a natural for audiences of any age, not just people who were born before 1980 or however old you would have had to have been to watch it when it first came on television.

The interesting thing is that “The X-Files” is its own little sub-genre. It’s such a specific thing the way these two characters go about investigating things. It’s not just the relationship between Mulder and Scully personally, but the fact that one is a believer and one is a skeptic and they’re such super-smart people. These stories can’t help but be smart and work on that level. I continue to find it fascinating and just hope other people do too.

TV Guide: Why X-Files 2 Nearly Didn’t Happen (Frank Spotnitz)

Jul-28-2008
Why X-Files 2 Nearly Didn’t Happen
TV Guide
Frank Spotnitz

[Original article here]

Frank Spotnitz, The X-Files: I Want to Believe

It was January 2007, and I was about to give up hope.

It was six years since 20th Century Fox called, asking if we were interested in doing another X-Files feature film. Five years since the television series went off the air. And four years since creator Chris Carter and I labored over the story for the new movie and pitched it to the studio.

That was back in 2003. Since then, I had negotiated a deal to cowrite and coproduce the movie, and waited for David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson to close their deals — only to have the whole process derailed when Chris and the studio got into a legal dispute over profits from the TV series. Fans and reporters kept asking me when the movie would finally be made. And I kept saying I was sure it would happen, just as soon as Chris and the studio resolved their differences. But by last January, it was starting to feel like that day would never come. And then…

The phone rang. It was Chris. His dispute was settled, and the studio was asking about the movie. “It’s now or never,” he quoted them saying. Back to work.

Which turned out to be a little difficult. We’d figured out the story by writing a description of each scene with a Sharpie pen on 4 x 6 index cards (just as we had every episode of the TV show). But now those cards were nowhere to be found. That story we’d worked so hard to figure out four years ago? We’d have to figure it out all over again.

Of course, we remembered the heart of it — a creepy, disturbing murder mystery that was different from any we’d told before. But we’d have to reconstruct the plot from scratch.

There’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind, and so — fortunately, I guess — we had to work diligently to make sure the script was finished before the impending writers’ strike began last November. Reconnecting with the characters proved effortless. It was like they had been waiting there, in our unconscious minds, the whole time. I felt a kind of opening-night excitement as I drove up to Chris’ house in Malibu on the sunny morning of October 26. David and Gillian were casually standing in his living room, about to do a “table read” of the script. We quickly realized we had a problem, however: Security on the top secret script was so tight, we didn’t have enough copies for all of us to read along. Chris and I decided we could follow along by reading the files in our laptops.

So we all sat down at the table, they opened their scripts and… it felt more like a seance than a table read. That mysterious chemistry between Gillian and David was instantly back, as if summoned from beyond. But I didn’t get the chills until two days later, when they returned for camera tests. David now had his hair cut like Mulder, and Gillian’s hair had gone from reddish-blonde to Scully-red. Forget the seance — this felt like a genuine X-File, resurrecting the dead.

Filming began December 10 in Vancouver, where the series started so many years ago. We assembled as much of our old crew as we could; it felt like coming home. Although we’d written the movie specifically for Vancouver, much of the story takes place in the snowy countryside of West Virginia. So for three weeks, we filled up all the hotels and motels around Pemberton, a ruggedly beautiful valley north of Whistler, British Columbia.

Pemberton provided incredible scenery, but shooting in below-freezing temperatures 14 hours a day was hard on the crew and the actors, whose on-camera wardrobe wasn’t as warm as ours. “Next movie takes place in Hawaii,” became a common joke on set.

Reconnecting with Mulder and Scully proved more challenging for David and Gillian as actors than it had for us as writers. After all, they’d spent several years trying to be anyone but Mulder and Scully. Now they not only had to embrace the characters again, but imagine them six years later, living under very different circumstances.

However, I think their scenes together became even more powerful because of their long separation. David and Gillian have always been incredibly disciplined, focused actors. But this was different. After so long an absence, they were determined to bring everything they could to their work together. Never more so than in their final scene, which was so powerful that it hushed the crew and brought tears to my eyes.

As I worked to finish the film these last few months, watching these same scenes literally hundreds of times, I continued to be impressed by the enduring power of these characters. I was also struck by the thought that this whole movie seemed so close to not getting made. And grateful that we never did give up.

Writers Guild of America, West: Something to Believe In

Jul-25-2008
Something to Believe In
Writers Guild of America, West
Denis Faye

[Original article here]

Since The X-Files ended its decade-long television run six years ago, our world has only gotten weirder. So hopefully, when The X-Files: I Want to Believe hits the big screen this week, FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully will yet again clear up a few things for audiences and finally prove that “the Truth” is indeed out there.

Among those cheering the characters return are series creator Chris Carter and series executive producer Frank Spotnitz. “I really had missed them,” confides Spotnitz, who co-wrote and produced the new film with Carter, who also directed, “which is a funny thing to say about make-believe people. We had spent thousands of hours writing these characters and then they were just gone when the show ended.”

Carter and Spotnitz talked to the Writers Guild of America, West Web site about returning to these long, lost friends and the realization that the more they help Mulder and Scully find their answers, the less they know about the world themselves.

What keeps you coming back to The X-Files?

Frank Spotnitz: I think it’s incredibly rich for storytelling. The subject matter is about the limits of what we can understand about the world around us. I think all of us, whether we are skeptics or believers, sense there is more to the world then what we know. Even the most ridged scientist is humbled by what science has not yet conquered. So it’s endless the stories you can tell about what’s beyond our understanding. And then Chris created such really beautiful characters, especially in Mulder and Scully who are perfect opposites and such a great vehicle for telling these stories about the supernatural, but also embody this incredible love story.

Chris Carter: What kept me coming back were the characters as they had aged and the time we had been away from them.


Photo: © 2008 Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

Frank Spotnitz: I realized how fortunate we were and how unusual it was to be able to return to characters you love in Hollywood. Instances like that are so few.

What’s the difference, creatively, between having years to work on a movie script and having to bang out a new television script every week?

Chris Carter: When you do a TV series, you must parcel out the personal and professional relationships carefully or you’re going to tire the characters out, you’re going to tire yourself out, and you’re going to tire the audience out. Then it turns into something we never wanted to turn it onto, something more melodramatic then The X-Files wanted to be. We explored these relationships through the episodes now known as the “mythology” episodes, which represent a third of the 200-plus episodes. That was our chance to do what I think what made those characters very, very popular and what gave them depth that the stand-alones couldn’t — but the stand-alone episodes still made up most of The X-Files. What we’ve done with this movie is a stand-alone story, one that doesn’t depend on knowing the series or the characters, and yet we still wanted to do what we’ve done with those mythology episodes, which is explore the characters’ relationship in a new way.

Frank Spotnitz: The pressure in television is incredible because you’ve got to keep coming up with another script, another script, another script. The movie was completely different. We started work on the story in 2003, and then got derailed for four years by deal-making and the threat of a lawsuit. Then when we returned to it in 2007, we’d lost our notes.

Lost your notes?

Frank Spotnitz: We’d put them on note cards to pitch the studio, and we couldn’t locate them. At first, we were very unhappy, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise. We remembered what the case was about, but the emotional beats, the personal beats between Mulder and Scully, we had to start from scratch, and we had changed. Four years had gone by since we had last tackled the story and five years since the show had ended and we had different things to say about these people and about life — and it made it so interesting.

How important is it to appeal to the fans?

Chris Carter: We always listen, but we’ve always done what we think is the right thing. If you are driven by so many voices — and it is a large chorus out there now — if you’re driven to satisfy every one of those people, you’ll never satisfy anyone. You have to satisfy the characters — that’s who you have to satisfy.

How do you make the movie relevant to new audiences yet still appeal to seasoned fans?

Chris Carter: I’m talking to kids in college who say, “What’s the X-Files?” They were four or five when it first came on. We tried to do a popular movie, but the reason for doing the movie was the enthusiasm of the hardcore fans. So while we want to introduce the characters, we don’t want to punish the people who know the characters, their relationships and their journey, their quest, if you will, by going back over things, so we’ve hopefully integrated several of these things into the story.

Frank Spotnitz: That’s something we’re used to doing, honestly, having to serve several audiences. We had to do it in the first movie and as the TV show went on, it became increasingly obvious that that’s what you needed to do as well. As early as the third or fourth season, we started to realize that there were some audiences that knew every detail of the ongoing alien mythology storyline and were waiting for very specific questions to be answered and then there was a much larger audience that was vaguely aware of it and would be lost if you tried to answer these very specific questions. That was a balancing act we were engaged in for most of the life of the series.

But how do you do it?

Frank Spotnitz: It’s very much an emotional, intuitive thing. You need to figure out where your heart lies as a storyteller. What are the burning things that you must address? There are many questions of the mythology we had to sort of let go. There was no way of addressing them without losing the larger audience or getting bogged down in a side channel that wasn’t interesting to most people.

Is there anything you miss about working on television?

Chris Carter: I think that the big screen demands of a storyteller seems tyrannical to me. If there’s a moment’s boredom, a moment takes you out of the movie, the audience finds itself back in its seat. You can’t digress the way you can in television. I think some of the best storytelling is being done right now in television with digressions, explorations of character that are not a part of the artery of the plot system.

What’s your creative process together?

Chris Carter: We sit in a room and we just talk, actually, before we ever start really plotting. We come up with ideas. I think some of the best work we do is when we’re just talking about life and other things and about family and about the news. It’s almost as if you need to unhook yourself from the subject to find your way back to it. I’m not saying we actually do this in any conscious way, it’s just the way it’s developed over the years and it’s nice because it’s kind of social.

Frank Spotnitz: In this instance, we broke the story as we always do — very, very carefully — and spent a lot of weeks in [Chris’] office in Santa Monica. Scene by scene, we’d use 3×4, lined index cards — we were sort of superstitious about it. We use black Sharpie pens, and we use clear pushpins to put them on the board. It’s that precise. There’s a discipline for that precision for focusing your mind and making sure you’re really thinking about each card and each scene, what’s the conflict in that scene and where are the characters.

We did that and then Chris would write and send me the file, and I’d go through the file and send it back to him, and then he’d go through it again, and we’d bounce the file back and forth between Santa Barbara where he was and Los Angeles where I was. We never actually wrote in the same room.

Which one of you is Mulder and which one is Scully?

Frank Spotnitz: I think by inclination, we’re both Scully but both want to be Mulder — but we’re held back by our rational skepticism. But I’ve been humbled over the years by our research that there’s so much that we don’t understand. It doesn’t make me a believer, but it makes me humble in my disbelief.

But what’s interesting, in this movie, is that there’s an element of spirituality which may be surprising. Scully is a character of faith. She’s a Catholic. Chris is a person of faith. He’s not religious, but he does believe in God. I am not, although I’m very interested in religion and theology.

The movie has something to say about spirituality, and we spent quite a lot of time coming up with something that we could both believe in, that we both could say is true. That was the interesting challenging in this movie.

MTV: ‘X-Files: I Want To Believe’ Is For Loyal Fans And Newcomers, Cast And Crew Insist

Jul-24-2008
MTV
‘X-Files: I Want To Believe’ Is For Loyal Fans And Newcomers, Cast And Crew Insist
Tami Katzoff

[Original article here]

‘You want to reach as broad an audience as possible with as little foreknowledge as they can have,’ David Duchovny says.

If you pay close attention while watching the new film “The X-Files: I Want to Believe,” you’ll probably catch a few familiar names and faces buried in the heightened action — but only if you’re super-familiar with the TV show.

http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:uma:videolist:mtv.com:1591508

It’s a gift that “X-Files” creator Chris Carter, who directed and co-wrote “I Want to Believe,” presents to the true fans: the X-Philes. It’s for the ones who have been waiting eagerly to see what has become of their favorite FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson), in the six years since the TV show ended.

Carter said he can’t help himself: “I try to throw as much into a story as possible. If I have a chance to put a number in there, if I have a chance to put a face in there, if I have a chance to put a reference in there, I just put it in there. And oftentimes these are not perfectly well thought out. … They’re just inspiration.”

But those who are new to “The X-Files” needn’t worry — no prior knowledge is actually needed to enjoy “I Want to Believe.” Unlike the first “X-Files” movie, 1998’s “Fight the Future,” this film has a self-contained story, unconnected to the larger alien/ government-conspiracy “mythology” of the nine-season-long TV series. It’s more like a straight-up horror thriller than a sci-fi adventure.

“I think the movie does a really good job of weaving in certain things for the fans,” said Duchovny, but he stressed that the standalone nature of the plot was the only way to go. “To re-establish the name and the franchise six years after the show’s off the air and 10 years after the first movie, I don’t think you could build that next movie on any specialized knowledge. You want to reach as broad an audience as possible with as little foreknowledge as they can have.”

Anderson agreed: “For this one, coming back after such a long stretch of time, it actually does make more sense that we’re not dealing with all the complicated aspects of [the mythology].”

Back when “Fight the Future” was released, the TV show was still going strong. The movie served as a sort of bridge between the fifth and sixth seasons, and those unfamiliar with the show probably had a hard time understanding it all. “When we went out to publicize the first movie,” Duchovny remembered, “our marching orders were, ‘Tell people that they don’t have to know anything about the show,’ but that was a lie. We’re actually not lying this time.”

So if you’re not an X-Phile (yet), go to the theater, relax and enjoy. And if you are, you’ll be rewarded for your loyalty — but don’t think that you can catch every one of the hidden in-jokes and references. “There are things in there that no one will ever know that I’ve put in,” Carter said.

Wired: Q&A: X-Files‘ Chris Carter Talks Paranoia, Secrecy and the Element of Surprise

Jul-23-2008
Q&A: X-Files‘ Chris Carter Talks Paranoia, Secrecy and the Element of Surprise
Wired.com
Hugh Hart

[Original article here]

Chris Carter knows how to keep a secret.

The X-Files creator and his writing partner, Frank Spotnize, finished the script for The X-Files: I Want to Believe last November and raced into production over the winter. Along the way, Carter — who produced and directed the film, opening Friday — took extraordinary measures to maintain secrecy about his storyline, which catches up with Fox Mulder and Dana Scully six years after the iconic TV series’ finale. All we know for sure at this point is Mulder and Scully are together again, searching for answers to a mystery that unfolds amid snowy terrain.

Wired.com got on the phone with Carter to find out about the surveillance cameras he installed on the movie set, his five-year hiatus from show business and the key to bringing stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson back together. He also discusses the real-life scene straight out of the X-Files when six Secret Service agents marched into his office on the 20th Century Fox lot. Paranoia lives!

Wired.com: Keeping the story line for this movie under wraps is much harder now than it would have been eight or nine years ago when the X-Files TV series was on the air….

Chris Carter: Without a doubt. That’s one reason we were determined to spoil the spoilers. It’s a business now, not unlike the business paparazzi are involved [in]. They’re cashing in on spilling plots, these websites that actually sell advertising. It capitalizes on and/or exploits something I consider to be of great value, and that’s the element of surprise.  If they are going to make book, as it were, on what I’m doing, then I’m going to take pleasure in trying to foil them every step of the way.

Wired.com: You’ve been very successful at keeping a lid on the leakers.

Carter:  There’ve been a few peeps, but, yeah, we’ve managed to keep the story a secret. I think it will probably be spilled in the next 48 hours just because, if people jump the gun now, what’s the punishment?  But I’ll still consider it a victory.

Wired.com: For a lot of fans, the plot is probably less important than the chance to see David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson together again as Mulder and Scully.

Carter: Yes, that’s true.

Wired.com: That kind of onscreen chemistry can be very fragile. Were you at all worried that on the first day of shooting, the vibe between Mulder and Scully we remember from the late ’90s  might not be there anymore?

Carter: No, I wasn’t concerned about that at all. You could drive yourself crazy with all the things to worry about, but that was the least of my concerns.

Wired.com: So you trusted your stars to deliver the goods once the cameras starting rolling.

Carter: And they told me as much. It was their enthusiasm to do the movie, particularly David’s, that excited me to revisit the X-Files, and I’m so glad I did now. It gave me a chance to look at this relationship, which has now lasted 16 years, in a whole new way.

Wired.com: Duchovny was basically nudging you to make a new X-Files movie?

Carter: When I gave him the script, he liked it very much but thankfully, he had very astute notes.

Wired.com: How did you approach Gillian?

Carter: She read the script while I sat in the other room talking to her partner.  Then I took it back from her.

Wired.com: How did she react?

Carter: She liked it, but Gillian is very smart about her character. She had questions, which were more feelings at that point, that helped me to dig back in and refine and polish and rethink some areas.

Wired.com: Between the end of the TV series and the beginning of the movie project, you had a lot of time to decompress from show business. For one thing, you spent a year getting your pilot’s license. What hooked you on flying?

Carter: New way of thinking. It’s always good for me to force myself into a place where I’m uncomfortable, and I’ve never been comfortable flying. But I like the fact that, with flying, you have this methodical system with which you solve problems. I’d  recommend it to anyone. It probably helped me be a better director and producer.

Wired.com: You also did some mountain climbing, right?

Carter: In Canada, I climbed some mountains with the Alpine Club of Canada, which taught me a lot about stamina. And again, I was approaching something where I was uncomfortable.

Wired.com: So you you weren’t exactly chilling out during your hiatus.

Carter: Hardly.

Wired.com: When you ran X-Files

Carter: I was pretty much at my computer for about 10 years straight. I finally had a chance to get out and do things that were  more physical. You know what else I did? I took three years of drum lessons.  I have a kit set up right now. I love jazz and funk, because it’s hard. If it’s not hard, it’s not worth doing.

Wired.com: Meanwhile, as you’re doing the mountain climbing and flying and playing drums, you’ve got a lawsuit against Fox going on.

Carter: Yes. By the way, that’s something of a misnomer. It was a lawsuit I had to file to preserve my right to continue to negotiate, but it never reached the pitch where everybody basically straps on their armor and each side is financing a war. It was a negotiation.

Wired.com: Once you decided to move forward with a new X-Files movie, things came together pretty quickly. Was there a sense of urgency in getting this made?

Carter: Frank and I wrote the script between April and August, which for us, was so luxurious.

Wired.com: Coming from TV …

Carter: Yes. We continued to polish the script until November, literally minutes before the writers’ strike happened

Wired.com: Why’d you go back to Vancouver, where most of the X-Files series was filmed, to make the movie?

Carter: We needed snow, so we needed to head north. We considered Alberta but chose to shoot about two hours north of Vancouver, and I’m glad we did.

Wired.com: I guess there’s a certain atmosphere you can only get from that kind of fierce weather and rugged location, but I imagine it’s also a huge hassle?

Carter: Snow can be unstable. If it starts to get warm, it melts. If it melts and you’ve got heavy equipment on it, it gets mired. Moving anything in the snow requires something other than wheels.  You need snowmobiles to do the most simple thing like turn your cameras in the opposite direction. Communication is restricted. You often direct the actors by yelling at them across a distance — not the way I prefer to direct. And you need to keep your wits about you when you’re in the dead of night and it’s the driving snow, the wind is blowing.

Wired.com: How did you prepare for all that?

Carter: We started shooting before Christmas, and then broke for two weeks. My wife and I went to a ski resort, but I didn’t ski once. During the day, I would dress up in my various cold-weather wardrobes and walk around and get the feel for what was going to work in different environments and figure out how I was going to change from one pair of shoes to another. I now own, literally, eight pairs of different grades of snow boots. My experience with the Alpine Club of Canada was all-important. Little did I know I was training for this movie during the five years off.

Wired.com: X-Files, the series, captured a certain kind of paranoia floating around in the late ’90s. Then everything changed, at least for a while, with 9/11. Does the shift in the national mood, post-9/11, inform the way you deal with paranoia in I Want to Believe?

Carter: No, we chose to not put this in a political context. The film doesn’t depend on the current definition of paranoia, but we do stake the story to this place in time and make a passing, ambiguous reference to the zeitgeist.

Wired.com: Speaking of paranoia, if we can get back to the security precautions: You actually set up surveillance cameras to make sure crew members didn’t try to leak the scripts?

Carter: Yep. That’s outrageous. We trust everyone we work with, mostly because we’ve worked with them before, but we did that as almost a theatrical … I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we could do a making-of that was about how we kept the script a secret? So we started to produce that. My suspicion was that we wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret, that someone would blab, and then you could actually create a whodunit, a movie within the movie.

Wired.com: And you made sure everyone turned in their “sides” of the scripts at the end of the shooting day.

Carter: That was a huge hassle for everyone. All our assistants had to go through the collection and shredding process. Still, call sheets leaked. We had paparazzi the first night. Our cameraman one night is setting up a shot, he yells, “Photographer!” and everyone went tearing off after this guy.

Wired.com: Did you hire security consultants to figure all this stuff out?

Carter: We hired no security consultants. We are now the security experts. People can hire us (laughs).

Wired.com: It’s not just you who worried about leaks. Fox is pretty aggressive too, right?

Carter: I learned how serious Fox was about security back in 2002. One day, six Secret Service agents came in to our offices and started interviewing us individually. Someone in our offices, at night,had called one of these spoiler sites and given out information on Minority Report, which was being made at Fox at the time. They were investigating the leak as a crime.

Wired.com: I’m going to assume Mulder and Scully are both still alive at the end of this movie?

Carter: They are.

Wired.com: So In the back of your mind, have you considered doing another sequel?

Carter: We wrote this movie imagining that it might be the last time we ever see Mulder and Scully, so we’d be happy if this were our swan song. We can’t predict box office. If this movie does business, I’m sure that Fox would want to have a conversation with us.

Wired.com: And you’d be willing to take part in that conversation?

Carter: Sure!

Wired.com: If nobody spoils the plot twists and people go see The X Files: I Want to Believe this weekend having no idea what they’re in for, what do you want the audience to experience?

Carter: I hope people feel we’ve deepened the relationship and that the mystery was satisfying … and creepy.