Archive for July, 2008

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.

Collider.com: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson Interview – THE X-FILES: I Want to Believe

Jul-22-2008
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson Interview – THE X-FILES: I Want to Believe
Collider.com

[Original article]
As most of you know, opening this Friday is “The X-Files: I Want to Believe.” Since I’m under embargo….I can’t write anything on the film or even what the movies about. Sorry.

That being said, I can post what Fox supplied me…

In grand The X-Files tradition, the film’s storyline is being kept under wraps, known only to top studio brass and the project’s principal actors and filmmakers. This much can be revealed: The supernatural thriller is a stand-alone story in the tradition of some of the show’s most acclaimed and beloved episodes, and takes the always-complicated relationship between Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson) in unexpected directions. Mulder continues his unshakable quest for the truth, and Scully, the passionate, ferociously intelligent physician, remains inextricably tied to Mulder’s pursuits.

Anyway, a few days ago was the press day here in Los Angeles and I got to participate in a small press conference with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. So if you’d like to hear what they had to say about returning to play Fox Mulder and Dana Scully…read below.

As always, you can download or listen to the MP3 of the interview by clicking here. And…if you’d like to watch 2 movie clips and a featurette from “The X-Files: I Want to Believe,” click here.

Question: Can you talk about getting back into these characters after a five or six year period?

David Duchovny: Well, I had two weeks before Christmas of basically running around and chasing Callum Rennie who plays the running bad guy that I chase all over the place. That took a good two full weeks of running even though I know it’s only about ten seconds in the movie and then Gillian and I started working on it after Christmas break. The first two weeks I felt a little awkward and I didn’t really feel like I wanted to do longer scenes. I was just fine running around. Then as soon as Gillian and I started working and it was Mulder and Scully, then I kind of remembered what it was all about and that relationship kind of anchored my performance just as I think the relationship anchors this film.

Gillian Anderson: I had a similar experience. This feels so weird. Summertime. I didn’t have all the running around that David had to do, but I did have my own unfortunate beginning which was starting with one of the most difficult scenes for Scully in the film where it’s later on in the script and she goes through a range of emotions in confronting Billy Connolly’s  character. I just had a really time for those first couple of days that that scene was. I had a really hard time just finding her, finding her voice. I think I must’ve gone through ten other characters in the process of trying to get to her when I had assumed that I would be able to show up on the first day and it would just be there. It wasn’t until I think day three when we got to work together, not just necessarily in a familiar environment which it really wasn’t, but in the environment of each other and the relationship and that it kind of felt natural and familiar and I felt like I’d landed this time.

Question: The film was very heartfelt and thought provoking, similar to some of the early episodes. Did that play part in coming back to this after all this time?

Duchovny: No. My coming back was not based on script. At this point I have almost complete blind trust in Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz to come up with the goods. So my only concern was that it should be a stand alone and not something that you needed specific knowledge of ‘The X-Files’ to enjoy. When I read the script I saw that it was that. Other than that I had no hopes or plans for what this would be. I just knew that the world we’d made and the world that Chris and Frank would remake was going to be satisfying to me.

Anderson: I had stated my interest in being onboard sometime ago as well and by the time I read the script it was kind of a given that this was something that we were going to do. So I don’t think there was ever a point where I jumped more onboard or had an opportunity to back out of it…

Duchovny: She wanted a musical.

Anderson: We’re I not allowed to sing.

Question: What do you think the secret is to your chemistry when you two plays these characters as actors?

Anderson: We’ve actually been having a fifteen year affair.

Duchovny: I don’t know why in the beginning, maybe just luck in the beginning. But after this long we actually do have a history and so when I look over at Gillian or I’m Mulder looking over at Scully, there’s a lot of shit that I can call on. We have a lot between us and so you don’t really have to make it up. I think that just as people, now fifteen years later, we have just shared so much regardless of how much we speak to one another. I expect to see Gillian even if I haven’t seen her for a year. She’s not even listening to me.

Anderson: I was, I was!

Duchovny: You just heard the last line.

Anderson: I did. I was really distracted. I was listening to every word that you said.

Duchovny: I don’t have a window like you do over there.

Anderson: You can tune out now. Whatever it is that’s between us was there from the second that we started working together and it’s not quantifiable. I think it’s something that is unique and yes, they got lucky, but it was something that Chris had seen which is why he fought so hard, specifically, and this is something that’s been written about a lot, to cast me over someone else. He saw something between the two of us that was unique. Whether it’s luck or that we were meant to be with each other all along, I don’t know.

Duchovny: I mean, there’s chemistry in life and there’s acting chemistry. I’m not saying they’re the same thing, but they’re as mysterious.

Question: There’s the fact that you’ve both had children and have had children over the past six years or so. Does that align you more with a Mulder or Scully in terms of personal philosophy?

Anderson: I mean, when Scully had a child I’d already had a child.

Duchovny: Gillian had a child the first year of the show.

Anderson: I had a child when I was three [laughs]. But I think that in the series, from what I remember, Scully thought that she had a child early on – Emily. Right?

Duchovny: Oh, yeah.

Anderson: I don’t think that I would’ve been able to get there as an actor realistically, if I did do it realistically because I can’t really remember, because obviously that experience would’ve been informed by the fact that I was already a mother. I’m sure that our conversations that we do have from time to time about this child that I gave away must be influenced by the fact that I’ve had children, but the show was so not about maternity. It wasn’t about parents. It wasn’t about that. They were actually anti-parents in a way.

Question: But in terms of having your own children, does that make you more of a skeptic or a believer of miracles or in absolutes?

Anderson: That’s interesting. I never related the two. Probably absolutes on my end.

Duchovny: I’m gonna look out the window [laughs]. It’s miraculous. It’s spiritual. It’s otherworldly to have kids. It’s more Mulder, I think, but I don’t know.

Anderson: But then also when you have kids, when your kids get sick or when family members do, not just your kids, but when there’s death there’s also absolutes and that can hit home at any stage of one’s life.

Duchovny: See, we’re starting to argue.

Question: When you play characters this deep for so long and then it stops how much of that stays with you for life? Does it impact your personality in some way for life?

Duchovny: That’s a very interesting question and I wouldn’t know how to answer it. I mean, it impacts your life because strangers can see you that way. I’ll sit here and I’ll answer questions about this fictional person and so it stays with me in that way. I wouldn’t say that I ever get up and think of Mulder unless I’m working on it. I think that I liked a lot about the guy. When I played him I liked his courage and I liked his energy to get to the truth and to the quest and all of that and I think that at one point I’d learned a little from that, like a fan might. I was a fan of the guy. So that’s as far as I go in terms of saying that he lives in me.

Anderson: It’s the same for me. I don’t do things, mannerisms or something and think, ‘Oh, that was kind of like Scully.’ But by the same token I don’t know how much of me today wasn’t influenced by the fact that I got to play her for such a long time. It’s possible that there are aspects of my seriousness or my independence or my inquisitiveness about the medical profession or science or something that aren’t directly related to the fact that I lived with her for such a long time. But that’s hard to qualify and hard to say.

Duchovny: When Gillian operates on a human being –

Anderson: That’s when I’m reminded of Scully.

Question: Gillian, Scully was always rocking a cell phone way before everyone else.

Anderson: Rocking a cell phone? Is that what you said?

Question: Yes. Always on the cell phone and using it. What’s your own relationship to your cell phone, and how do you think that the character has informed strong female law enforcement characters?

Anderson: I think I only ever talked to Mulder on that cell phone. I don’t think that there were any conversation that was ever had with anyone else except for Mulder, if you remember.

Duchovny: You were in my fav five.

Anderson: Was I number one or number two? Remember how big our cell phones were? We just happened to have them in our pockets.

Duchovny: Yeah. You had to have like a trench coat to have them in the pocket.

Anderson: A cell phone in one and a Xenon flashlight in the other.

Duchovny: ‘Hello? I’m talking to you on a phone that’s not attached to anything.’

Anderson: I’ve had letters from people, even actually recently, who have said, ‘Funnily enough I’ve been a fan for many years and it’s because of Scully that I’m now a forensic pathologist –’ or ‘I’m now a medical doctor –’ or ‘I’m now in the FBI –’ or any of the fifteen things that she was as a professional to be able to say all those complicated words.

Duchovny: You were talented. The cell phone question is interesting because I think that it extended the life of the series because Gillian and I were so fatigued and the advent of the cell phone, in what year? ’96? I don’t know. But it was instrumental in us being able to have time off because we could split up and we didn’t have to be in the same room to have a conversation. I’m being totally serious. I could have some time off and Gillian could have some time off and we’d just talk on the phone to one another rather than being in every scene together.

Anderson: It’s very true.

Duchovny: So if not for the cell phone no second half of ‘The X-Files’.

Question: In terms of what’s on film how much does Chris encourage a sense of humor?

Duchovny: Very, very, very little. Chris and I have always kind of battled over that. In the series it got in more and more for both of us as we went on and did what we thought of as the funny episodes and we both enjoyed doing those because they were like vacations and certainly Chris, as the show runner, was guiding that and letting that happen and saw the virtue in what a huge tent this show so that it could encompass everything from stand alones to mythology to parody of itself. I can’t think of another show that ever did that. We just never did the musical. We never did that, but that’s the only thing, thank goodness. But in terms of me coming up with stuff in the moment, usually Chris doesn’t like that because he has a different theory about the tension than I do. He really feels like it lets the air out of things and he doesn’t like to do that. I feel like I like to let the air out. So that’s just a difference opinion we have. I don’t know what your take on that is.

Anderson: I’m not funny.

Question: Did you ever ask her to the No Pants Restaurant?

Duchovny: No, I never did. But I think I will.

Anderson: Give me a few months, please [laughs].

Question: David, you famously sort of distanced yourself from the show in the last season, being fatigued, and then we hear that you’re really the now who was big into getting this movie done. Can you talk about that? Is it a love/hate relationship?

Duchovny: I wouldn’t characterize me as the one who really wanted to get it going, but I’m certainly someone who would always say yes whenever Chris and I would talk about it. The love/hate has nothing to do with the actual content, the actual people, the actual anything. The love/hate had to do with me wanting to get on with the rest of my life, the rest of my career and when you think about it, that I did eight years and Gillian did nine, that’s a lifetime. There are no other dramas that keep the same characters that run that long. If you look at ‘Law & Order’ or ‘ER’, they’re twenty years old or whatever they are, but they’re completely recast. So it’s just not something you see. You don’t see actors not get fatigued and not get frustrated in a drama where we’re working, cell phones or not, everyday for many, many hours playing the same characters. So it’s just natural to burnout. There was always love for the show and love for the character. There was never any hate for that.

Anderson: But it’s interesting that it’s always something for the press to latch onto. It’s always a surprise, in some way or it’s a good headline, that someone wants to leave. It creates good drama and so it always becomes this thing where actually it’s just a natural thing.

Duchovny: Right, like you’re ungrateful in some way. Yes, I love ‘The X-Files’ and I love Vancouver. Those things are true.

Question: Can you talk about working in the severe weather conditions up in Canada?

Anderson: This time around I didn’t have as much exposure to it as David did. Fortunately, Chris didn’t write those words in the script for Scully. But I was up there in Whistler and when I arrived it was about eighteen below. Fortunately it didn’t stay there for too long, but I was out there for probably a good couple of weeks, I guess and it’s beautiful, but it’s also exhausting.

Duchovny: Yeah. Let me try to say this in a way that’s right. Just doing quotation marks is going to get me in trouble. I had to work in one of the most beautiful ski resorts in the world for almost three weeks. Pity me. I think it’s hard sometimes. The logistics of it is if you’re out in the middle of nowhere and you’re running around in the freezing rain or snow you don’t get a chance to go off and warm up in your trailer because you’re seeing so much that your trailer is on the other side of the town. So you are stuck in clothes that aren’t fitting for the environment for a long time. So, yeah, it’s a pain in the ass, but you just suck it up and it’s not going to be that long and your feet are cold and your ass is cold and your hands are cold and your muscles are cold. You just suck it up.

Anderson: I think one of the more physically challenging aspects for me at the time were that there were a couple of scenes where we had quite a bit of dialogue and when you’re in that kind of weather and the wind is slightly blowing and the snow is coming down, your lips actually do freeze. They do. There were a couple of times that were reminiscent of the pilot. There was a scene in the pilot where we’re in this pouring forest rain that’s freezing and I’m screeching at him about one thing or another –

Duchovny: ‘You mean to say thirty miles?! Came here?!’

Anderson: Are you making fun of me?

Duchovny: No. I just remember it.

Anderson: I remember it too. It felt very much like that, but what was reminiscent was the fact that my mouth wouldn’t work. I had all this stuff to say and it just comes out as gobbledygook.

Duchovny: But when you see it on film it’s just gorgeous. You look at those big snow flakes coming down in the movie and it’s worth it.

Anderson: It’s beautiful.

Duchovny: You have to know that when you’re putting up with it, that if you’re experiencing this discomfort it’s probably going to look pretty good on film.

Anderson: If there’s pain involved.

Question: What are your next projects? And was the George Bush/J. Edgar Hoover thing scripted or did it just come about?

Duchovny: Yeah, that was completely scripted and that was an example of where I was trying to be what I thought was funny and Chris was like, ‘No. No.’

Anderson: Probably because he knew in the back of his mind that that little bit of music right there was going to be in there which kind of does the humor for it.

Duchovny: Yeah, so no. That was actually always in it and was written in, literally as George Bush and J. Edgar Hoover.

Anderson: We tried a few other versions of it.

Duchovny: Yeah, what did we do? I thought they were funny. It was funny. I can’t remember. Your upcoming projects?

Anderson: I’ve got a couple of things coming out, but the next thing I’m going to do is a play in London. I’m going to do a play there a couple of months after the baby is born.

Question: During your run of the show and of the movie, because of the things that you guys handled, did you ever experience any real paranormal happenings either on the set or outside of it?

Anderson: At Riverview. There was a place that we shot during the series and also during the film that was an abandoned insane asylum –

Duchovny: But not so abandoned. It was like half abandoned and half not.

Anderson: Yeah. The top floor was being used for something.

Duchovny: But there were some crazy people wandering around.

Anderson: Yeah. It was miles and miles of institution and insanity.

Duchovny: Actually, where we did the photos for this movie, that was where…

Anderson: That was really creepy.

Duchovny: We went into these rooms, tiny little rooms, that only had loops on the floor for where you would hook someone’s retraining irons onto.

Anderson: There’s paint peeling and all of that stuff.

Duchovny: But I’ve never really had a paranormal experience per say in my life. I believe in the spirit and the energy, but I’ve never seen it. I’ve felt it, but not seen it.

Question: David, what’s your next project?

Duchovny: I believe I will be doing this movie called ‘The Joneses’ and then ‘Californication’ season two is coming out in September. I have just three more days of filming of that and then we’re done.

Question: Are you going to Comic-Con?

Duchovny: When is it?

Question: Next week.

Duchovny: No [laughs].

Question: Who was your all time favorite TV crime fighter?

Duchovny: I was always an original ‘Star Trek’ fan. I don’t know if Kirk is a crime fighter, but I liked him.

AMC Filmcitic: Scifi Masters of SciFi – The X-Files’s Chris Carter Discusses His New Film’s Extreme Possibilities

Jul-21-2008
AMC Filmcitic
Scifi Masters of SciFi – The X-Files’s Chris Carter Discusses His New Film’s Extreme Possibilities
Clayton Neuman

[Original article here]

X-Files creator Chris Carter has a message for anyone who gets vertigo thinking about alien abduction, lone gunmen, syndicates, black oil, and super soldiers: It’s OK to come back to The X-Files. He discusses why this time around, newcomers will find reason to believe.

Q: Why did you decide to make a new movie now, six years after the series ended?

A: Actually we had talked about doing another movie even when the series was ongoing. Then there was a contractual dispute over some television profits, and the resolution ended up taking years. But when it was finally solved in March of 2007, I was hanging up the phone with my lawyers, and Fox was on the other line saying, “Do you want to make that movie?”

Q: Did the story you envisioned change over the years?

A: This will make you laugh, but we worked out a story that we really liked in 2003, and when we went back to look at that story again, we had lost it. We couldn’t find our notes. It was maddening, but it ended up being a really good thing because over that time, we’d changed and the characters in our mind changed. We wanted to play this in real time, so the characters had grown. The heart of the story changed, and that was for the best.

Q: This movie veers away from the alien invasion mythology of the series, towards monster-of-the-week horror. Why?

A: I’d call it more suspense/thriller than horror. But the reason is we’d already done an alien mythology movie. Also, six years have gone by since the show and there is a brand new audience out there that has very little exposure to The X-Files. I thought this was a good time to introduce it to them, and reintroduce it to casual viewers. We’ve tried to interweave the characters’ development into the story, but it’s got very easy handles on it for new viewers — we didn’t want to abuse the hardcore fans by trying to explain all the mythology again.

Q: Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad, told us he learned from you that a story is only as good as it is believable. How do you make such fantastical stories believable?

A: My rule is it’s scarier if it takes place with in the realm of extreme possibility. And that’s true of the movie we’ve done. I resist the horror and science fiction labels because our story is something that takes science and says, “What if?” If you can look right over the horizon of the frontier, then I think you’re dealing in the zone I’m talking about.

Q: Mulder and Scully’s romantic relationship in this film is the subject of much speculation. Why did you wait until now?

A: I think we always dealt with this relationship. It was the centerpiece of the series. And while it was chaste and respectful and professional, the relationship played itself out through a shared quest for a search for the truth. But the passage of time gives us a chance to look at these characters, imagine what they’ve been doing for the last six years, and treat that like we never would on the series. It would have ended up being a soap opera, and I always resisted a temptation to domesticate the show.

Q: Why did you choose I Want to Believe as the title for this film?

A: There’s been a poster on Mulder’s wall since the beginning that says “I Want to Believe.” It’s always been about his struggle with faith. The characters each have built-in conflicts, Scully’s being that she is a scientist, but she’s got a cross around her neck — she’s Catholic. Mulder is a non-religious person and yet he has tremendous faith in what I would call a spirit world. “I Want to Believe” for me always represented that struggle. It’s emblematic of the show, and I thought it was the right title for this movie. I like that poster.

Q: You’ve said you’d like to do a third movie. Would you want to return to the alien invasion story, or do you feel like that was wrapped up enough in the series?

A: No we don’t feel like it’s been resolved. There’s this roving date out there we’ve been talking about since the beginning of the series and it’s actually part of the literature of the subject, which is December 22, 2012. It’s the day that the Mayan calendar says the aliens will return. It’s something we put out there, and it’s something that if we’re lucky enough to go forward, we would think about.

Taki’s Magazine: The Truth About “The X-Files”

Jul-21-2008
The Truth About “The X-Files”
Taki’s Magazine
Tom Piatak

[Original article here]

One of the most accurate assessments ever offered by a government official came when FCC chairman Newton Minow’s described television as a “vast wasteland,” a depiction that has, generally speaking, grown only more accurate since Minow spoke those words in 1961. Today, most programs on television are either vapid or subversive of traditional values—or sometimes both. Rare indeed have been programs of exceptional quality, rarer still those that dissented from the liberal consensus of the day.

One of the few programs in recent years that managed to offer quality entertainment while also suggesting that the Left might not be right was “The X-Files.” The series went off the air in 2002 after a nine-year run, but is still being rerun and might gain a new generation of fans through the release this Friday of the second “X-Files” movie, “I Want to Believe,” which I am eagerly looking forward to. I only regret that I will not be able to hear the thoughtful analysis of the film from a man I had the pleasure of discussing many of the show’s episodes with, and who would always ask to borrow the tape I made of any installment he happened to miss, the great conservative writer and thinker Sam Francis.

Sam was a knowledgeable fan of science fiction and horror, and he recognized “The X-Files” as a superior example of the genre. The show was consistently well acted, and featured intelligent, well-written stories, and production values equivalent to those of most feature films. The series’s central characters, FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (played by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson), were attractive, intelligent, enterprising, and likable, and the supporting cast was superb as well. These were the principal virtues of the series, which could be enjoyed by people of all political persuasions.

But there were hints in “The X-Files” of a worldview far closer to paleoconservatism than is generally found in anything emanating from Hollywood. Sam had in fact been put off by the liberal plot lines he found in other fine examples of television science fiction, such as the “Twilight Zone” or the original “Star Trek.” Unlike those series, “The X-Files” had a certain conservative sensibility, offering no vision of “utopia” or even progress in the human condition. It’s telling that the first “X-Files” movie bore the reactionary title “Fight the Future.”

Rather than guiding the way to a brighter tomorrow, Mulder and Scully face the same fundamental problems human beings have always faced, including the persistence of evil. The aliens and monsters who appeared in so many episodes were not benevolent or even misunderstood but implacable foes who needed to be stopped. There was no hint of moral relativism: The serial killer Donnie Pfaster is shown morphing into a demon or other serial killers as he goes about his work, and those who misunderstand the nature of evil get what they deserve. In the first season episode “Tooms,” a social worker accepts a serial killer’s claim that Mulder had brutalized him, and then attempts to befriend him, only to become the killer’s next victim. And almost every episode featured the tagline “The Truth Is Out There,” meaning not only that the truth might be found in unusual places but that there was in fact an objective truth that could be found, despite what the postmodernists want us to believe.

A recurrent theme of the show was that the government can not be trusted. Mulder and Scully weren’t just chasing dangerous aliens but aliens in league with a conspiracy in the federal government and United Nations. The conspiracy is willing to do anything to further its objectives, including killing, lying, and engaging in massive surveillance of the American people. “The X-Files” gave new meaning to the derisive slogan, “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.” There were episodes devoted to government attempts at mind control, government use of bioweapons against its own citizens, and government medical experiments on unwitting Americans.

As Scott Richert put it in “Us vs. Them,” from Chronicles in ’97, “The X-Files” achieved success “not because of any popular fascination with aliens, but because, after Ruby Ridge, Waco, Whitewater, Vince Foster, Mena, NAFTA, and GATT, Americans have every reason to believe that their government is being run with a callous disregard for their rights and welfare and for the enrichment of an entrenched ruling class.” In fact, as Richert noted in that article, the show even featured an episode, “Unrequited,” that showed the members of a right-wing militia as being both heroic—they had rescued MIAs left behind in southeast Asia by the government—and truthful—the militia leader is the only one who tells Mulder and Scully about the assassin who’s killing the military officers who had signed off on the decision to abandon him and his comrades in Vietnam. How many other TV shows ever cast a militiaman in a positive light?

Bill Clinton once affirmed that you could not both love your country and hate your government, a remark Sam observed was worthy of Brezhnev. It’s obvious why Sam was such fan of “The X-Files.”

However distrustful Mulder and Scully were of the government for which they worked, they never lost faith in America. Scully was the dutiful daughter of a Navy officer, and the boss and protector of Mulder and Scully at the FBI, Walter Skinner, was a proud Marine veteran of Vietnam. (Sam thought it significant that Mulder and Scully worked for the FBI, a bastion of Middle America, rather than the far more elitist CIA). That there is no contradiction between distrusting the government and loving America was brought home in “Jump the Shark,” the final episode featuring the Lone Gunmen, three freelance conspiracy theorists who kept tabs on government misdeeds and often aided Mulder and Scully.

In “Jump the Shark,” the three freely sacrifice their lives to stop a terrorist intent on unleashing a biological weapon and killing thousands of innocent people, causing one of their former adversaries who had worked with the conspiracy to describe them as “patriots” and prompting Skinner to “pull some strings” and get the trio buried at Arlington. As Scully observes at the burial, “like everyone buried here, the world’s a better place for their having been in it.” The love for America evident in those lines is as genuine as the distrust of the government.

“The X-Files” was also largely (though not entirely) devoid of the leftist themes that regularly appear in so much popular entertainment, such as a focus on the glories of multiculturalism and the evils of discrimination. In fact, the show eschewed the de rigueur multiculturalism which dictates that every scene (except ones depicting villains) be carefully integrated and that minorities show up as computer geniuses and the like in vastly greater numbers than in the real world. In many, perhaps most, of the show’s episodes all the characters were white, the minority characters who appeared in the show, just like the white characters, ranged the gamut from the morally ambiguous (Deputy Director Kersh, Mulder’s informant “X”) to the heroic (Agent Reyes), and there were no anguished discussions about race or discrimination.

What the series showed in terms of encounters between the established American culture and immigrant cultures also deviated from the standard multiculturalist script in which Americans are either oppressing immigrants or being enriched by them. In “Hell Money,” a Chinese doctor exploits his fellow immigrants by running a rigged lottery in which no one ever wins, but the losers end up being operated on and eventually killed so that their organs can be sold for profit. Even when the lottery is exposed as a fraud, the doctor evades justice because none of the immigrants are willing to testify against him. And a very sympathetic immigrant who has participated in the lottery in the hopes of earning money to treat his daughter’s leukemia (and loses an eye for his efforts) asks his daughter, “Do our ancestors scorn us for leaving our home? Is that why you are sick now?”

Although the immigrant father in “Hell Money” stays in Chinatown, other “X-Files” immigrants do indeed defy standard Hollywood protocol and decide to return home. In “Fresh Bones,” the problem is caused by a Marine colonel overseeing a refugee camp for Haitians. The colonel fully embraces multiculturalism to the point of becoming a practitioner of voodoo and actually holds the Haitians in North Carolina against their will until the leading priest reveals all his secrets. The problem is solved when the Haitians return to Haiti, after the colonel loses a voodoo contest with the Haitians’ leader and ends up buried alive.

In “El Mundo Gira,” Eladio Buente, a Mexican farmworker in California is exposed to an extraterrestrial enzyme and begins to spread a disease that kills on contact. He is ostracized by his fellow illegal immigrants as “El Chupacabra,” a Mexican monster in which the immigrants fervently believe. For most of the episode, Buente is also being pursued by a brother seeking vengeance for Buente’s first victim, a woman loved by both men. None of his fellow immigrants is willing to protect him from his brother—even an ostensibly assimilated Mexican-American INS agent—because they all believe that “God curses a man who stands between two brothers.” Like the Haitians in “Fresh Bones,” Buente sees his salvation in returning to his homeland for good. “Diversity is strength,” as we all know, but it’s also clannishness and suspicion of outsiders, voodoo and superstition, and blood feuds.

“The X-Files” was largely silent on the hot button issues of the culture wars, but there were intriguing hints that once again the show’s sympathies were not with the Left. In “Colony,” Mulder and Scully investigate the deaths of abortionists who are not being killed by radical pro-lifers but by an alien bounty hunter. The aliens are using the fetal tissue gathered in this grisly trade to attempt to create an alien-human hybrid that will further their plans to colonize the Earth. The conspiracy, too, is working on creating transhuman hybrids, and for this reason one of its leading members is shown in “Redux II” watching with approval as Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin describes as futile any effort to stop human cloning.

Then there’s the subject of sex, sex, sex—a topic to which much of our popular entertainment devotes endless hours and which “The X-Files” virtually ignored. The friendship between Mulder and Scully did not become a physical relationship until they had worked side by side with each other for many years, and even then the exact nature of their relationship was somewhat mysterious. It was as if each character was on a quest for the truth, and nothing else could take precedence—a chivalric ideal within a culture of “if it feels good, do it!”

This ideal was in fact realized in the case of the Lone Gunmen. In the episode “Three of a Kind,” their leader, John Fitzgerald Byers, is shown dreaming about what life would be like if he were married to Susanne Modeski, a woman he has fantasized about since meeting her nearly a decade before. At the end of the episode, Byers is given the chance to go off with Modeski but, fearing that he would endanger Modeski and not wanting to abandon his friends and their own quest for the truth, he declines to follow the woman he loves, a kind of choice that would have made perfect sense to a member of the Templars or the Hospitallers but that is exceedingly rare in today’s culture.

Perhaps the clearest conservative themes in “The X-Files” emerged in connection with religion. Scully’s Catholicism was the focus of several episodes, and she was depicted as a woman of sincere faith, if not a consistent churchgoer. Two episodes show Scully in the confessional, once after saving a boy who is a stigmatic from a man who was in league with the devil, and again after helping to thwart the devil from taking the souls of four teenage girls, whom Scully comes to believe had been sired by an angel. It’s doubtful a leftist show would ever feature the devil as a real character. It’s even less likely it would depict him occupying the professions he did when he appeared on “The X-Files”: a high school biology teacher (“Die Hand Die Verletzt”), a social worker (“All Souls”), and a liberal Protestant minister who advocates tolerance and opposes fundamentalism (“Signs & Wonders”).

“Signs & Wonders” might be the most reactionary episode in the entire series. Mulder and Scully go to rural Tennessee to investigate a murder, and they immediately begin to suspect Enoch O’Connor, a snake-handling fundamentalist preacher who expelled his daughter and her boyfriend from his congregation when she became pregnant. (Interestingly, in addition to sharing the same last name as the great Southern writer Flannery O’Connor, Enoch has the same first name as a character in O’Connor’s novel Wise Blood and wears old-fashioned glasses reminiscent of the type worn by the writer). When Scully complains to Mulder about O’Connor’s “intolerance,” he replies, “Sometimes a little intolerance can be a welcome thing. Clear cut right and wrong, hard and fast rules, no shades of gray.

O’Connor’s opponent in the town is a liberal Protestant minister, whose church encourages members to “think for themselves” and “live [their lives] the way [they] want,” and which offers an “open and modern way . . .of looking at God.” Despite the attractiveness of the liberal minister and the rough edges of his fundamentalist counterpart, Mulder and Scully learn in the end that the murders have been committed by the liberal minister to discredit his fundamentalist rival, and the viewer learns that the liberal minister—who disappeared from Tennessee only to become the pastor of a church in liberal Connecticut—is the devil. Sam felt that no other series on TV would have produced an episode that so perfectly transgressed the norms of the liberal Zeitgeist, in which “tolerance” is the supreme good and any Christian who takes the traditions of his own faith too seriously is treated with suspicion at best or hostility at worse.

The religious theme became more explicit in “The Truth,” the final episode of the series. The series ends with Mulder and Scully on the run from the conspiracy and its friends in the government, hiding in a hotel room in New Mexico. These are the final lines spoken in the series:

Scully:  “You’ve always said that you want to believe.  But believe in what Mulder?  If this is the truth that you’ve been looking for, then what is there to believe in?
Mulder:  “I want to believe that the dead are not lost to us. That they speak to us as part of something greater than us—greater than any alien force.  And if you and I are powerless now, I want to believe that if we listen, to what’s speaking, it can give us the power to save ourselves.”
Scully: “Then we believe the same thing.”
Mulder: “Maybe there’s hope.”

Lest the viewer have any doubt about what is being discussed, the camera zooms in on the tiny gold cross Scully has worn throughout the series. In discussing this ending with Sam, he told me that it contained the most pro-Christian sentiment he had seen in a mainstream television show in some years. “The X-Files” was hardly an apology for orthodox Christianity, and it explored many ways of believing, but its respect for belief certainly encompassed the Western traditions.

It appears that “I Want to Believe” may delve into some of these same themes. The tagline for the movie in its theatrical trailer is “To find the truth you must believe,” which is not that different from Anselm’s credo ut intelligam. But even if my guess about the movie is wrong, and Mulder and Scully end up embracing every leftist shibboleth imaginable, the original series will still continue rewarding intelligent viewers who give it a try, particularly those viewers who believe that the truth is out there, somewhere off to the right.

Tom Piatak is a contributing editor to Taki’s Magazine.

SmithsonianMag.com: Q&A: Chris Carter of “The X Files”

Jul-17-2008
Smithsonian Mag
Q&A: Chris Carter of “The X Files”
Jesse Rhodes

Original article available here.

The creator and writer behind “The X-Files” reveals his inspiration for the sci-fi series and motivation behind the upcoming film.

Chris Carter, creator and writer of The X-Files came to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to donate several props and posters—including the original pilot script—from the popular television sci-fi series. The items were courtesy of Carter, producer Frank Spotnitz and 20th Century Fox.

After the donation ceremony, Carter sat down with Smithsonian magazine’s Jesse Rhodes to discuss the life of the series and the upcoming film The X-Files: I Want to Believe in theatres July 25, 2008.

Where did the “I Want to Believe” poster from Mulder’s office come from?

It [the poster donated to the Smithsonian] came from Gillian Anderson’s collection. All the rest of the original posters had been stolen or, I assume, destroyed.

The original graphic came from me saying, “Let’s get a picture of a spaceship and put—Ed Ruscha-like—”I want to believe.” I love Ed Ruscha. I love the way he puts text in his paintings. (I actually got to say to him, “I was inspired by you.”) When I saw the [finished] poster I recognized the photograph because it came from a series of photographs taken in Europe by a guy named Billy Meier. And I said, “Did we get the clearance for that photograph?” And they said, “Oh, yes!” Ten years went by and all of a sudden I got a call from Fox legal: “We have an intellectual property lawsuit we have to depose you for.” And there was a lawsuit and they had not done the proper clearance for that photograph.

While you were working on the show, did you ever have a sense that your creation was a major piece of American pop culture?

The first inkling was when James Wolcott wrote about it in The New Yorker and I figured that if someone at The New Yorker wrote glowingly about The X Files that it had made an impact in a place I consider to be something for the record. But beyond that, I have to tell you that other than the Nielsen ratings and other than X-Files references, I had no sense of its popularity and to this day I don’t have a true sense of its popularity. Even if I see 300 X-Files fans together, I can’t fathom—I cannot imagine—the audience itself. All I think about is the show and all I think about is why I like it and why I like to write it and why I like the characters and what I have to say through them.

What inspired you to write The X-Files?

All the shows from my childhood. All the scary shows: Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Night Gallery, Outer Limits. There was a particularly good show on when I was in my early teens called Kolchak: The Night Stalker starring Darren McGavin. They were two two-hour movies. They were fantastic. Scary. Those things were my inspiration in terms of entertainment. Silence of the Lambs was an inspiration. It’s not a mistake that Dana Scully has red hair like Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs. So there were a variety of inspirations. But the idea itself came out of my religious background and my interest in science. My brother is a scientist. He’s a professor at MIT. He brought science fiction into my world. But I am a person of faith and so it’s the combination of those two things.

Barring the episode titled “Jump the Shark,” as a writer, do you think The X-Files ever “jumped the shark?”

I don’t think X-Files jumped the shark and that tongue-in-cheek title was our way of lowering the boom on anybody who thought that it did. I think it was good till the end and I think that while it changed with the exit of David Duchovny, I believe that during that period there was excellent work done, excellent storytelling, and I’ll stand by all nine years of the show.

The show has been out of production for six years. What are you hoping to achieve with the upcoming film?

It was an opportunity to give the fans of The X-Files what they wanted: more Mulder and Scully. It was also an opportunity for me, having stepped away from it, to look back at it and imagine what it might be six years later and how the series might be re-evaluated by the work that is done in this movie. [Hopefully] you can look back at [the series] and realize that it’s not just a scary show, it’s not just a suspense thriller. It’s a show about two people who have built-in personal conflicts. One is a medical doctor, a scientist who is a religious person of the Catholic faith. The other one is a person of no particular religious faith who has a great passionate belief in something that I’ll call spiritual or metaphysical, which is tantamount to a religious belief. And so you’ve got these warring ideas inside the characters and you’ve got them together in a way that, for me, addresses and asks a lot of the important questions about life itself.

Los Angeles Times Hero Complex: David Duchovny: ‘The X-Files’ is equal to God

Jul-16-2008
David Duchovny: ‘The X-Files’ is equal to God
Los Angeles Times Hero Complex
Geoff Boucher

[Original article here]

xfilesgod

These days, every major genre film and hit show has a significant presence on the Internet, but that wasn’t the case when “The X-Files” became a spooky sensation in the 1990s. David Duchovny said that, like his character Fox Mulder, the relentless faith of true believers is astounding to behold.

” ‘The X-Files’ was said to be the first Internet show,” Duchovny said over coffee on a recent morning in Los Angeles. “We had chat rooms and fan sites and all that. Look, I’m usually five or six years behind whatever is hip. So it was around 2000 that I started doing e-mail and finally started understanding what all that was about.”

And what was it about? The answer is religion, apparently.

“My initial response — and I still hold this to be true — is that it takes the place of some of the functions of a church in a small town: A place where people come together, ostensibly to worship something. But really what’s happening is you’re forming a community. It’s less about what you’re worshiping and more about, ‘We have these interests in common.’ Someone has a sick aunt and suddenly it’s about that, raising money to help her or sharing resources to make her life easier. That’s what it was about with ‘The X-Files’ on the Internet.”

Duchovny and co-star Gillian Anderson are back on autopsy and trench-coat duty on July 25 as “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” pulls the FBI tandem away from the complicated conspiracy plots of the old series and puts them in the “monster of the week” mode of investigating an isolated supernatural threat.

Duchovny said that he has come to view the most loyal fans of the show as celebrants of self, not of celebrity.

“When I was at Comic-Con it felt the same as the small-town church thing. I’m not denigrating ‘The X-Files,’ but that fellowship isn’t essentially about the show. The fans came to Comic-Con to honor us but I think they’re honoring us because we inspire them to have a certain kind of fellowship. Now, I’m not saying we’re not worthy of that kind of honor. I want to be clear about that.”

Oh, that’s very clear; essentially, his point is that “The X-Files” is bigger than God and religion, right? “No, no! You’re going to get me in trouble. I didn’t say bigger than God. I said ‘The X-Files’ is equal to God.”