Archive for April, 2009

Los Angeles Times: For ‘X-Files,’ the truth is still out there … but what about a third film?

Apr-27-2009
For ‘X-Files,’ the truth is still out there … but what about a third film?
Los Angeles Times
Yvonne Villarreal

[Original article here]

Liver-eating contortionist Eugene Tooms wasn’t there.  Neither were the Peacock Brothers. Extraterrestrials? Nope, not a one. But even without those memorable characters of any of the other paranormal beasties, shadow-government operatives or little green men from “The X-Files,” fans of the spooky franchise turned out in force last week at The Grove in Los Angeles to question and cheer X-creator Chris Carter and key writer Frank Spotnitz.

The two longtime collaborators (or is that conspirators?) were joined by Matt Hurwitz, a co-author of the lavish new book “The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, Myths and the Movies” (Insight Editions, $49.95). The event was on the third floor of Barnes & Noble and a crowd that went into triple-digits was eager to get autographs and answers, many of which were delivered by Carter with his wry, mellow-surfer baritone.

Is Walter Skinner still infected with nanotechnology? “He’s been to the doctors a number of times.”

Is the Agent Dana Scully immortal? “It’s kind of true, if you think about it. I mean, she’ll never die. She beat cancer.”

Any plans to take “Millennium” to the big screen? “That seems to be the question all the fans want answered. Nothing has been discussed.”

Carter’s favorite episode? “Beyond the Sea” and “Home” make the short list, but, he insists, he has a lot of favorites.

When is the series going to be available on Blu-ray? “There’s a technical problem … we just have to figure out how to solve it.”

But the pervading question of the night centered on one yearning hope: A third installment of “The X-Files” as a movie franchise, which would pick up where last year’s ”X-Files: I Want to Believe” left off. In an interview after the book signing, Carter was elusive … but he did give fans a reason to believe.

Noting the lackluster commercial success of the second film, Carter said the venture was hurt by its timing. The U.S. release “was foolish, opening a week after the blockbuster hit “The Dark Knight … it was really the worst weekend to open any movie.”

The film pulled in an anemic $21 million in the U.S., which fell short of expectations for a film that cost $30 million to make. It did go on, however, to make $47 million in foreign markets. “The movie did a lot of business worldwide so, I think, it’s really up to Fox to decide,”  he said.

Despite the lackluster grosses, there’s no denying the impact of the television series and its characters  on pop culture.  It demonstrated the potential of what the sci-fi genre could achieve on the small screen.  And though recent sci-fi series like “Battlestar Galactica” (a show Carter “likes”) and “X-Files”-influenced “Fringe” have picked up the torch, Carter said crime dramas have handcuffed TV’s limited programming schedules for scripted dramas.

“When you look at what’s on television right now, there’s a little bit of science fiction, but there’s mostly cop procedurals,” said the 52-year-old Carter.  “People see every episode of ‘Law & Order,’ and all its incarnations, so I don’t know … if you do science fiction on television it’s a little bit of a gamble sometimes.”

But, hey, if that doesn’t work, there’s always the Internet, right? “X-Files” fans have proven there’s an audience out there for all the fan content they’ve created. From fan-fiction to mash-up YouTube videos, people have taken notice. Even the actors that inspired the content, Spotnitz noted.

“You know, there’s a story that David [Duchovny] told when we were doing the movie last year,” Spotnitz said, “about how Gillian had seen a YouTube compilation of all their kisses and David saw that and said it actually affected his performance in the film because it was like reminder of the power of their relationship. So it just tells you how meaningful they are. It really is part of what the ‘X-Files’ is now. It’s just the way the fans re-interpret it.”

And with the release of the book — practically an encyclopedia of “The X-Files” franchise — fans will now have more to interpret, because as one fan said, “The truth will always be out there.”

Beyond The Sea: Frank Spotnitz and Mark Snow for an Italian thesis

Apr-27-2009
Frank Spotnitz and Mark Snow for an Italian thesis
BeyondTheSea.it

[Original article here]
[Video montage of the thesis presentation here]

Frank Spotnitz and Mark Snow

Virgil, a friend of ours, received a degree few weeks ago.
His thesis is about Motion Graphics and during its work Virgil interviewed two guys we know very well: Frank Spotnitz and Mark Snow.

Click on the title of this article to read the complete interviews.

Congratulations Virgil!

Intervista a Frank Spotnitz

Your work as screenwriter for “The X Files” has evolved in some way in the course of 8 years? I mean, you had to modify your original style adapting it to the series?

I can’t overstate how important “The X-Files” was to my development as a writer. I worked as a news reporter for the wire services and various magazines, then studied screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.  “The X-Files” was my first professional job in Hollywood.  I think I had good storytelling instincts, and a strong sense of what I liked and didn’t like, but I had an awful lot to learn in terms of craft. Fortunately, Chris Carter is an amazing craftsman, and I learned an enormous amount about interior scene writing and storytelling economy from him.

Some Italian critics believe that TV shows have the power to  exercise influences on TV viewers’ thoughts, even if they are considered harmful; there are some articulated shows, like “The X Files”, that lead people to intelligent attitudes and opinions. Do you think “The X Files” is for everyone?

I wish it was, but I don’t think “The X-Files” is for everyone.  You have to be interested in these kinds of stories and this type of subject matter. I don’t think “The X-Files” tells people what to think, however. I don’t really think any good entertainment does. Propaganda is about pushing a particular line of thought or opinion; for me, the best entertainment keeps you interested and then gives you something to think about. It’s left up to you, the viewer, to come to your own conclusions.

Some narrations obliged screenwriters to elaborate the stories many times to be understandable, particularly in sub-plotted episodes where the viewer is compelled to get information deliberately hidden; how do you go into these kind of choises? Which is your own method during the draft of a script?

In the case of “The X-Files,” we were always looking to make the viewer think: How much do we need to say? To show? How long can we wait before answering certain questions that we’ve raised? We were trying to engage the viewer in the show, raising provocative questions, both in the mythology episodes and the stand-alones. Sometimes we wouldn’t realize until after we’d written and shot an episode that certain pieces of information weren’t necessary, or were better off delayed, and in those cases we would make the change in the editing process.

Television images can’t stimulate viewers’ imagination as the reading of a book does, in its textual form, but it’s also true that we partially solved this problem with modern technologies. How hard it was for you to write imaginary stories remaining in the feasible limits?

I think the secret of “The X-Files'” success was that it made the outlandish seem plausible. The believer-skeptic dynamic made it necessary for Mulder to overcome Scully’s doubts each week — to show her how what they were seeing could be possible, or deny conventional explanation. In the process, it made each story more believable to the audience, and therefore scarier. From a production standpoint, there are many things we wanted to show or do that simply wouldn’t be possible budget-wise. As is so often the case, though, those limitations forced us to become more creative. It’s true that what you can’t see is scarier than what you can.

Talking about the x files opening credits, they were realized leaving absolute freedom to the designers or Chris Carter suggested scrupulous guide lines? I mean, they had their own script?

I wasn’t on the show when the original opening credits were designed, but my understanding is that they went through a lot of last-minute changes that somehow ended up being just perfect. In the last few years of the show, Chris made the decision to finally change the credits, both because David was on and off the series, new characters were being introduced, and, by Season 9, it felt like the images could benefit from some refreshing.

Intervista a Mark Snow

What connection is there between the video image and music? Do you think they have different values?

It is always the video that comes first. It is the inspiration for the music. Writing music for TV and film, is a very distinct art form, that cannot be easily taught. I feel the composer must have a deeply honest emotional reaction to the film, be it a fast chase scene or a heart braking sad or romantic moment. I think you will agree that some of worlds best film composers, have written some of the most beautiful and thrilling music, from John Williams, Hans Zimmer and the great Italian master, Ennio Morricone. But to answer your question, the video is the “master” and the music is the “slave”. It is very rare that the music is written before the video, but sometimes happens as in “The Shining”, when the director, S. Kubrick, used modern classical music as the score for the movie. I remember Frank saying to me once, that he thought my best scores were written for the best shows, showing you how much its the picture that drives the music.

What are your musical influences for the production of your works?

For the X-Files, I was heavily influenced by modern classical music, composers such as Bartok, Stravinsky, Ravel, Prokofiev, Xenakis, Stockhausen et c., and the film music of Jerry Goldsmith and Ennio Morricone. Chris Carter and Frank, were always encouraging me to be different, and let me be as creative as I wanted, and I took full advantage of that.

What are inputs required by the production to create a soundtrack?

You must have a collaborative personality to be a successful film composer. The producers and directors have a hard time of telling you what they want since music is such an “abstract”, you must be able to interpret there desires, at least 90% of the time. Some directors could want no melody and all synth pads, while others are the exact opposite. Minimal verses elaborate, fast V. slow and so on. The successful composer must have many different musical identities in his or her arsenal.

Do you think the audio remix’s aesthetics is also used in television for the re-mix videa? Or maybe they are two unique and distinct things?

There were many re-mix versions of the X-Files theme. Sometimes there were only “beats” added to the theme and other times, like the end credit version of “I Want To Believe”, they could be intense elaborate versions taking elements of the theme and doing variations on it. Most re-mix’s were quite one-dimensional, while there were others, from a piano solo, to an accapella chorus, that almost created something new.