Posts Tagged ‘ftf’

Beyond The Sea: Mark Snow speaks to ‘Beyond the Sea’

Mark Snow speaks to ‘Beyond the Sea’

[Original article here]

Mark Snow

Mark Snow doesn’t need any introduction. For all the X-Files fans, he is just the man who wrote the extremely famous TV show theme and who emphasized all the Mulder and Scully’s stories with his music, from the Pilot to the “I Want To Believe” movie.
When you think to “Existence” finale, don’t you hear the “Scully’s Theme” in your mind? Speaking about one of the last pieces, how many of you were moved by the “Home Again” theme in the “I Want To Believe” last scene?

From the first arrangements created using a synthesizer and samples to the classic orchestras and live instruments, the pieces and the genius of this composer were an extra values for X-Files since the beginning.

X-Files, Millennium, The Lone Gunmen and Harsh Realm. All these TV shows created by Chris Carter have the voice of Mark Snow and it was just one year ago when Frank Spotnitz officially announced, at the WonderCon, that the second X-Files movie would have had the same voice again.

Mark Snow kindly answered some questions we made him and he told us about his work for X-Files. He talked about the pieces he made for the TV show, the music he composed for both the movies, and how it felt like to write once again for a new chapter of this incredible story after a very long time. These are just some of the issues we talked about. Besides, he revealed us that a 4 CD boxed set of the X-Files TV music from the TV shows only will be released this spring.

Many moments of the show are still vivid in all fans mind thanks to the music, for example the “Scully’s Theme” that plays during the pregnancy story arc. In order to get to orchestrate music like this, do you get inspiration from pictures or is that a separated creative process?

I was inspired for “Scully’s Theme” from the incredible emotion of the story. I actually felt like part of Scully’s family, and it was almost a religious experience for me, and how great that I was able to use a live singer!

The “Teaser” from “Trust no 1” episode, which music is based on works such as Tchaikovsky’s “Barcarolle”, or also “We Wanted To Believe” from “Little Green Men”, based on Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F”, are just a couple of examples where classic music, joined with some of the X-Files characters voices, creates a style that perfectly fits with the show. Why did you choose to use classic music for the score?

Those classical pieces that we used, I chose them because they just seemed so right, and as a former classical musician, I had a lot of classical repertoire “spinning” around in my head. That Brandenburg Ct. #2, is a piece that I use to play as a student at Juilliard, as an oboist. So, working on those shows was especially great because I was able to delve into my past life.

Mark Snow, Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz at the I Want To Believe premiere in Los Angeles

In many pieces from “The Truth and The Light” you used the music with the insert of some voices from the X-Files dialogues (Mulder, Scully, Deep Throat) that made these pieces unique and original. How did the idea to use this approach come to you?

The idea of using the dialogue from the shows in the “Truth and the Light” CD, came from my music editor Jeff Charbonneau, who thought it would be very original to do this, and in a way, to make it sound like a radio show, that without watching it on TV, it really got you into the moment of the experience.

Sometimes in X-Files we can listen to very famous music like, for example, Cher’s or Moby’s. How was this music chosen? Have you had to adapt them to the show?

The Cher piece as well as Moby, was chosen by Chris Carter, who thought they would be especially effective. I think he was right. I also know that at the time, Chris was a big fan of Moby’s, and when I did the theme for Harsh Realm, he requested that I do something like Moby.

How did you feel to go back to write music for X-Files after many years? Have you tried to get back again to the old ‘classic’ X-Files style or did you just watch the movie and then began to orchestrate the soundtrack?

It was very easy and exciting to do the film score, especially being able to use the full orchestra and the singer. The music did not sound so good in the movie because it was mixed too low, but at least on the CD it sounded good, I hope you enjoyed it.

Has Chris Carter, or someone else, given you some input about the “I Want To Believe” music?

For “I Want To Believe”, Chris asked me to compile a CD of some of my favorite film music, and /or any music that I thought might have the right mood for his movie. He seemed to like what I chose, and it helped me to come up with a sound for the movie.

Were there any differences to orchestrate “Fight the Future” and “I Want to Believe”?

I thought that “Fight the Future” was much more of a traditional score then “I Want To Believe”. “I Want To Believe”, was I think more modern, and reflected more the sounds that are current now. The “Fight The Future” score was more heavily dependent on electronics and samples.

Is there any difference in writing music for a movie and for a tv show?

Writing for a movie you usually get more time, and have a much bigger pallette to work with. The modern film score today is made up of huge orchestra’s and tons of samples. In fact in “Bat Man: The Dark Knight” Hans Zimmer used 1000 tracks of music in his score, sampled orchestra , live orchestra, electronics, and anything that can make a noise!!

Mark Snow working at the I Want To Believe score

I think “Home Again” and “The Surgery” are very emotional and moving. Compared with the rest of the soundtrack, they have a sort of more positive “breath”, they are bright, less oppressive, less dark… less X-Files, maybe just to point out the new style Chris Carter gave to X-Files in the movie. What do you think about that?

Those are some of my favorite pieces that I ever wrote. The idea of writing beautiful melodic music in X-Files land, is really great. Yes, Chris wanted these emotional pieces in the movie and made it a point to make sure these were included. Thank you for noticing.

Is there a music you wrote for X-Files that after many years it’s still your favorite one?

That’s easy. “Surgery” and “Home Again”. (also, “Post Modern Prometheus”, “Beyond the Sea”, “Scully’s Theme”, hard question to answer)

The X-Files Theme is famous all over the world and people can connect it immediately to the show. Was there a moment in which you understood that your music contributed to create the X-Files phenomenon?

I didn’t think that my music and the theme were that great until after show #6, people started talking about it, and people were telling me how great the music was. All that music I wrote for the show, came so easily for me, that it was such a gift to have it be so successful, and I doubt that it will ever happen, a miracle!

Frank Spotnitz told in his blog that some of your X-Files works will be released in a new album. Could you say us something about that?

In this spring, La La Land records will release a 4 CD boxed set of the X-Files music from the TV shows only. It will have all the shows that I have been nominated for plus probably pieces from episode, I’m sure some of your favorites will be included.

Our huge thanks to Mark Snow for the helpfulness and niceness he showed us upon this occasion.

Last, but not the least, a special thanks to two users of ours, Virgil and Bittersweet, who made all this possible through their “behind the scenes” work.

Entertainment Weekly: Burning Question: ‘Independence’ cameo in ‘X-Files’?

Burning Question: ‘Independence’ cameo in ‘X-Files’?
Entertainment Weekly
Daniel Flerman

[Original article]

Q In an early scene in the X-Files movie, Mulder drinks himself silly, then exits to a dark alleyway to relieve himself…on a poster for Independence Day. What started this pissing contest?A “It was just a piece of set dressing,” series creator Chris Carter says diplomatically. But a little Scully-style investigating reveals the true conspiracy. “Chris saw [ID4] and hated it,” spills Files director Rob Bowman, who adds that it was indeed Carter’s idea to have Mulder micturate on the earlier bug-eyed-alien flick. Confronted with the truth, Carter splits hairs: If you look carefully, he says, Mulder did not actually “pee on the poster. It was above his urine level.” ID4 producer Dean Devlin didn’t return calls, but don’t be surprised if the Godzilla sequel features the lizard stomping all over FBI headquarters.—With reporting by Jessica Shaw

AOLchat/TV Guide Online with Chris Carter

AOLchat with Chris Carter

Chris Carter: Hi. Ready for any and all questions…

Question: Chris, Lucy Lawless is well known for her role on Xena. How do you think fans will react to her playing an Agent on The X-Files?

Chris Carter: Well, I hope they like her. 🙂 We had a chance to cast someone who I had met at the…I think 1997 or 98 Emmy Awards. She came up to me and introduced herself, and said she was a fan of the show. Late last year, when it was announced that Xena wouldn’t be coming back, she and her husband sent me a nice note about what fans they were of the show. I took that as an opportunity to take someone who was a fine actress, who would clearly be looking for a role different from the one she had played for the last number of years, and figure out a way to use her in the show. And it just so happened that how we were plotting out Season Nine that she fit perfectly into the X-Files mythology. It’s interesting that Lucy studied acting in Vancouver under Bill Davis, who played the Cigarette-Smoking Man for so many years.

Question: are you really into sci-fi stuff or would you like to expand to another category?

Chris Carter: I never considered myself a science-fiction writer to begin with. I always thought of the X-Files as a mystery show that dealt with the paranormal. Now I’ve been labeled as a science fiction writer, and it’s accurate. But it is a limiting label. So, I am interested in doing something outside of that label, but that doesn’t rule out a good mystery or thriller story, which is what the X-Files primarily is.

Question: were you disappointed that Mulder left or were you excited about the new opportunities that opened up?

Chris Carter: Well, we were all sorry to see David go, but it was an understandable decision. Anything that presents itself as a problem to TV producers or writers seems like a bad thing. But, it can be a constructive thing, if you can figure out a way to solve the problem. So, what we’re doing is taking a situation — a Mulder-less X-Files. We’re adding some new characters. While it is still a 2 or 3 lead show, there are many more ensemble situations this year that I think will make the show better in some ways.

Question: With the shady disposal of the Cigarette-Smoking Man in Season 7, are we to expect any re-appearances or more satisfying closure for the almighty CSM in Season 9 ?

Chris Carter: Anything can happen on the X-Files.

Question: Chris, your shows are fantastic! “Millennium” was truly the best show on television. Any chance that it (or any of your other wonderful shows) will be released of video or DVD?

Chris Carter: They’re talking about Millennium on DVD. Beyond that I wouldn’t think there is much hope for Harsh Realm, or Lone Gunman. But, I think there are a lot of people asking for the Millennium DVD, so I think that will happen.

May I just interrupt to say “Yaaaaay!”? Thank you. *g*

Question: Chris, thank you so much for adding Carey Elwes to the cast! “The Princess Bride” has long been a favorite movie, and I’ve always thought he would be great on TXF. What are the biggest changes we’ll see early on next season, mythology-wise?

Chris Carter: Well, Cary Elwes plays a pirate with a patch on his eye, so that will be a big change..

It’s Dread Pirate Brad! LOLOLOL

Chris, cont’d: I think you’ll see when you watch the first episode, there will be some obvious changes. I won’t go into them, but they are obviously the result of the introduction of new characters, and ones who have had relationships that aren’t about sexual restraint.

Question: Thank you for bringing us The Lone Gunmen series, even if it was unfortunately brought to an end. Any chance the guys (with Jimmy and Yves?) might be appearing in Season 9?

Chris Carter: Yes. You’ll see them in the first and second episode. We’re just pulling a trick on Fox. The X-Files the ninth season will just be starring the Lone Gunmen.

This one had me ROTF. Way to go, Chris! *g*

Question: Mr. Carter, will there be a resolution to the cliff-hanger season finale of “The Lone Gunmen” on “The X-Files”?

Chris Carter: Yes. But, you really have to have been a careful watcher of that program to understand what it is.

Question: Will Doggett’s son’s disappearance become part of the mytharc?

Chris Carter: It certainly is something that has shaped his character. So I would say that it won’t be the replacement for the Mulder/Samantha search, but it is something that informs his approach to life and his relationship with Monica Reyes.

Question: Hi there, Mr. Carter. I really like the new characters and I think they bring a lot of very positive energy into the show. I’m more excited about the X-Files than I have been in years. How much will Scully be working with Doggett and Reyes?

Chris Carter: From the first episode we’ll see how she works with them, even though she is a mother. She is drawn back into the X-Files by the biggest mystery in her life.

Question: Can you make Cary Elwes say ‘As you wish’ on the X-Files?

Chris Carter: Yes. 🙂

GREAT question, even better answer! LOL

Question: What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the last year?

Chris Carter: I haven’t seen that many movies, but I’ve seen some good ones. Last night, I saw the Apocalypse Now re-release. It was nice to see it on the big screen, but I though the original release was superior. We’ve had screenings of a couple of movies here recently. We saw Planet of the Apes, which none of us liked. And we were all big fans of the original. And the guy at Miramax/Dimension sent us a print of The Others, and we liked that. We thought it was really smart and really scary. And you can’t take your eyes off Nichole Kidman. It was scary like my favorite scary movies. They made a movie based on Henry James’ Turn of the Screw, called the Innocents. It had two creepy kids in it, and the two kids in this were even creepier. It also had a lot of good moments that weren’t effect-driven, which was nice to see.

Question: Will Scully’s pregnancy be fully explained in the next season?

Chris Carter: Yes. It’ll be explored extensively. Explained? You’re asking a lot for the X-Files.

Question: How are you doing on the next X-Files movie? Have you even started?

Chris Carter: We’re talking about it now, pretty actively in fact. If all the business can be worked out, we could see a new X-Files movie in the next few years.

Question: Chris, are Gillian and David going to make a 2nd X-Files movie?

Chris Carter: But, there’s less interest while the series is ongoing. And, yes that’s the plan to have David and Gillian in it.

Question: Are Krycek, CSM, WMM, and other people from the Consortium really dead?

Chris Carter: That’s a question that you have answer specifically… But, I will say that it looks as though all of them have met real and final ends. But, one of them is possibly still alive.

Question: Is there any chance of us seeing the faceless rebels or even Marita this season??

Chris Carter: Marita has been busy working with Jim Carrey. And, if we make any more budget cuts, we’ll have to see more of the faceless rebels, because we won’t be able to cast real actors. 🙂

Question: Will we be seeing a different side of Scully now that she’s a mother…maybe more of a motherly side?

Chris Carter: Yes. We’ll be doing the breast-feeding episode. 🙂 I think she’s going to have to balance her life between being a mother, and being a person who is still looking for the truth.

Question: Hi! Loved season 8! Keep up the great work! But we have to know FOR SURE, who’s the father of little baby William? And how is it gonna work without Mulder to play daddy?!

Chris Carter: We’re going to turn the X-Files into a sitcom called “Everyone Loves Mulder.”

Question: What did you do over the summer, we heard you were on island or something catching up on your surfing?

Chris Carter: I went on an amazing surf trip this year to Indonesia.

Come on, we want pictures! *g*

Question: Are you influenced by any current TV shows or movies?

Chris Carter: I loved the movie “The Insider,” and I think any contemporary movie… that and “L.A. Confidential” are movies I watch again and again… so I would have to say that I’m influenced by those movies.

Great taste in movies. *g* Maybe we’ll see him at Russell’s concert Sunday night. *g*

Question: I heard a rumor that there’s gonna be a new syndicate…is it gonna be headed by Director Kersh (I hate that guy).

Chris Carter: Kersh is wrapped up in a case that begins the X-Files season, but his involvement in it is, and in any larger conspiracy, may not be what you think.

Question: Will there be any scripts written by cast members? Famous authors? Aliens?

Chris Carter: Yes.

TV Guide Moderator: Is that a first?

Chris Carter: We’re going to have two of them written by aliens this year. That’s a first. And if they do well, we’re thinking about bringing them on staff.

Question: Are there any plans to “intensify” John Doggett this season? We all love watching him let loose on villains!

Chris Carter: Yes. We love his character because he wears his heart on his sleeve, and he is quick to act and do the right thing. So, I think you can expect to see more of that.

TV Guide Moderator: Was Doggett a collaborative character or was it from one person?

Chris Carter: I think it was something that we all talked about, but I wrote his voice. So, I think he was someone we all came up with together, but his voice came out of my head. But, it was something that was helped in a large degree by casting Robert Patrick.

Question: Will there be some humor oriented episodes in Season 9, or is the Doggett/Scully dichotomy not developed enough yet to play off of it?

Chris Carter: It’s tricky because Scully’s a mother, and there’s great suspicion that Mulder is the father, so you have a relationship that is unresolved and largely unspoken. So, I think it’s a little early to see Scully and Doggett get together. But, I think the humor this year will come out of situations. And also because we know Doggett better, and we’ve established his character, so we’ll see him lighten up. So, we should see that with Scully, and with Monica Reyes.

Question: How have the changes in technology affected the filming of the XF over the years and what effects do we expect this new technology to have on the XF in the future?

Chris Carter: The practical technology hasn’t changed all that much. The effects have become, I think, cheaper because of the advances in technology. You can do more in less time, so you can do it on a TV schedule. But, technology itself is still used best on the X-Files as a storytelling device, because we are all still so afraid of it.

Question: How do you feel about the movie on TV? Is it edited?

Chris Carter: There are some real slight, and you may not even notice them, deletions from the movie to fit the time format. Rob Bowman, the director, did them himself, so we’re all satisfied. It is going to show on Fox on Friday, September 14th, at 8:00.

TV Guide Moderator: Thanks so much for chatting with you!

Chris Carter: Thank you!

TV Guide Online: Tune into The X-Files on Fox on Sunday nights. Don’t miss your chance to catch the network television premiere of The X-Files movie on Sept. 14th on Fox. And visit for all news and information about the series. Thanks for coming tonight. X-Files Music: Composer Mark Snow: The Ambience Is Out There

X-Files Music: Composer Mark Snow
The Ambience Is Out There
Randall D. Larson

For the last eight years, The X-Files has been mesmerizing its television audiences with its mysterious entities, government conspiracies, alien abductions, malevolent mutants, and whimsical creatures, all wrapped up in a detective-show type format. Among the various elements that bred its dark, pensive ambience has been the musical contributions of Mark Snow, the only composer the series has utilized thus far. Snow’s ominous musical atmospheres have intensified the show’s sense of apprehension and otherworldliness, while also supporting its eclectic storylines and rampant creativity.

Although X-Files, has given Snow his greatest claim to fame, the composer actually has been scoring television since 1976. He studied oboe at New York’s Julliard Academy of Music, where he became friends with Michael Kamen, another music student who would end up working in film. The two of them formed a band they called The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble in the late 1960s. It was an encounter with “Planet Of The Apes”, including Jerry Goldsmith’s modernistic 12-tone music, that caught Snow’s attention and directed his path towards a career in movies.

Aided by his wife (sister of actors Tyne Daly and Tim Daly; daughter of James Daly), Snow gained introductions in Hollywood and started working as a composer for Aaron Spelling on the TV series, “The Rookies”. Other assignments followed, including “Starsky & Hutch”, and before long Snow found a comfortable niche scoring for television. He got involved with The X-Files at its inception, and his music has gone on to become another character in the series, as prevalent and as important as Skinner, the Cigarette-Smoking Man, or the Lone Gunmen.

Snow’s main theme is a rhythmic amalgamation of synclavier and an electronically reprocessed melody whistled by his wife, which was sampled and doubled with a music software program called Proteus2. That simple 5-note motif musically symbolizes all that the X-Files is about, with its furtive, spooky ambience and a rhythmic cadence of adventure and investigation.

During the show’s first season, Snow emphasized a brooding, ambient soundscape, but as the series progressed, he found more opportunities for musical development. “From day one, with the pilot, everyone involved from Chris Carter on down wanted a lot of music,” says Snow. “At first he was talking about ambient, atmospheric, basic synth-pad material, and that’s what I did at the beginning. It got boring and too ordinary, so I opened it up. Chris didn’t mind, and after the first year he just let me go off on my own. As the years went on, it became more musical and less sound design-oriented. Now it’s a pretty good mix of the two.”

Snow likes to maintain an open palette of sounds for his X-Files scores and relishes the freedom he’s given to compose a variety of musical styles while maintaining an overall atmosphere of ominous danger. “It seems that people respond to my suspenseful music as if it’s this really new approach, but it’s really just the style of music I’ve come to love over the years, since I was a student,” says Snow. “Music by Varese, John Cage, all the real atonal material that perhaps I like more than some other composers. I think some of those sounds and techniques work great in suspense. On The X-Files, I mix that with a more traditional scoring approach.”

“Musically, the show has evolved from being more ambient, sound-design kind of material into some melodic music, in a dark, Mahleresque style,” said Snow, who has received several Emmy nominations for his X-Files music. “What is great about it is that I can go back and forth. There’s always a combination of the two styles. I’ve done flashbacks and dream sequences that are all very aleatoric and tonal, avant-garde sound design, with wonderfully weird combinations of sound and music, and then it goes back into the style of Mahler or Bruckner or late Beethoven!”

The variety of the series, which contrasts the ongoing mythology stories with a number of stand-alone, monster-of-the-week episodes, gives Snow plenty of opportunities for musical diversity. “When we have these stand-alone-or what I call ’boutique’-episodes, some of which verge on black comedy, there’s a lot of cute things I can do,” says Snow. “The big mythological/conspiracy/cover-up shows are fairly drab, and there’s not much room for anything but the real dark approach.”

In Season 4’s tongue-in-cheek episode “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space,'” Snow arranged a cheesy muzak-version of the show’s main theme, which plays during the alien autopsy sequence-the only time he’s used the show’s title theme in the body of an episode score. His music for “The Post-Modern Prometheus” in Season 5 paid homage to John Morris’s score for “The Elephant Man”, a film whose storyline and visual style shared a lot with this episode. The 6th Season episode, “Triangle,” gave Snow the opportunity to compose Swing music for sequences occurring on a 1940s cruise ship. More recently, in Season 8’s “Via Negativa,” Snow crafted a powerful and frightening amalgamation of electronic and acoustic patterns and sounds that leant a potent, nightmarish mood of apprehension in the dream sequences. In an earlier 8th season episode, “Invocation,” Snow adapted the children’s folk song, “All the Little Horses,” into a variety of arrangements for piccolos and voices that become a haunting musical description of the kidnapped boy whose sudden reappearance, 10-years later, opens up a ghostly tale that could have come out of “The Others”.

Snow has anywhere from three to five days to write up to half an hour of music for each weekly episode. “The hardest part is the beginning,” he says. “Figuring out the palette of sounds and instruments, and doing that first cue. After that’s done, it starts falling into place.”

When X-Files creator Chris Carter created Millennium, about a former FBI agent with a psychic affinity for profiling the murderously depraved, Mark Snow came along to supply the music. While both shows dwell on dark subjects, Snow provided a somewhat lighter tone by contrasting the darker music with an element of quasi-Celtic folk material. “When they first came to me, they said they wanted the music to depict good and bad, heaven and hell, hope and horror,” says Snow. “I asked them, ‘Which is it more? Is it more dark or more light? Is it more horror than hope, or what?’ And they said ‘Yeah.’ So I came up with this single voice, which turned out to be a solo violin, with this dark percussion accompaniment. I had these folky, Celtic violin solos with the sleek, dark synthesizer rumbling. I’d gotten into more specific dark music with this Celtic contrast, whether it’s solo violin or solo harp or solo woodwind. That seems to have worked well.” The expressive violin tends to speak for the heart of Frank Blake, the show’s reluctant hero, while the synthesizer patterns represent the darker world in which he works, confronting the various faces of evil.

Snow got his biggest feature assignment to date from The X-Files movie in 1998. With the canvas of a widescreen theatrical feature, Snow had the opportunity to expand the scope of his television music and orchestrate it much more broadly. Most pleasing was the chance to redevelop themes, motifs, and stylisms he’d composed for the show’s 30-odd musicians into a full orchestra of 85 players. “Ninety percent of the score is big orchestra combined with electronics,” Snow said at the time of the film’s release. “I think the best thing, thematically, that’s come out of the feature is the X-Files Theme itself, which was harmonized and orchestrated in different settings that have never appeared on the TV show. The TV version is sort of a one-note pad with simple accompaniment. With the feature, I’ve put different kinds of harmonization to it. It doesn’t happen every place, but it happens enough that anyone who knows the theme would recognize it.” The orchestration was fairly standard but the inclusion of extra basses and five percussionists gave the music a deep dynamic and a wider scope.

Snow created a few new themes for the movie. “There is a veiled theme for the Cigarette-Smoking Man,” said Snow. “It’s not as much melodic as it is harmonic. It’s a bunch of minor chords going from one to another. There’s a theme for the Elders, the Well-Manicured Man, and the older conspiracy figures.” Some of these themes were carried into the 1998 TV season finale, which acted as a sort of prelude to the movie, which was released later that summer.

Far from the TV series’ five days, Snow had a lavish five months to compose 75 minutes of music for the X-Files feature. Snow said that a major concern on the feature was to carry through the honesty of the music from the series into the size and scope of widescreen cinema. “My biggest challenge was in understanding how to make that jump without it seeming like a score by Jerry Goldsmith or James Horner or another big name movie composer.”

Snow went from the X-Files feature into another feature film thriller called “Disturbing Behavior” before returning to Ten Thirteen productions for the new season of The X-Files. Snow still finds time to score about five or six feature or TV films a year, including such TV thrillers as Dean Koontz’s “Sole Survivor,” “Stranger In My House”, and Dean Koontz’s “Mr. Murder”. Quite unlike his X-Files music, his scores for made-for-TV movies-dramas, murder mysteries, Westerns-have been quite romantic and melodic. He provided a lavish and harmonious score for ABC’s Jules Verne fantasy, “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”. He also composed the theme for the TV incarnation of “Le Femme Nikita”, and provided music for some manic episodes of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse”. In 2000, he wrote a score for an action video game called “Giants”.

But The X-Files remains inescapable for the composer, whose career continues to be defined, if not restricted by, his musical efforts for Mulder and Scully and company. “If there’s any sense of style that I have now, it was really The X-Files that put me over the hump and got me up into another level,” Snow said. “It made me experiment with a lot of different approaches, and it made me comfortable with that.” In fact, with the 2001 debut of a spin-off series, “The Lone Gunmen”, Snow will continue to lay down the fundamental ambient atmosphere that intensifies the X-Files world. The series, set to debut in March, should give Snow some new opportunities as he musically characterizes the personalities of the conspiracy-busting trio. “The main theme starts out with the Star Spangled Banner, ala Jimi Hendrix guitar solo,” said Snow. “Then it goes into a rhythm pattern, and then into the main tune from guitar. It sounds a little like a hipper version of “Mission: Impossible”. It has that spy vibe to it.”

Snow also scored Chris Carter’s short-lived 1999 series, Harsh Realm, laying down an X-Files-ian atmosphere but deriving his approach more from the duality of the series’ setting, half in the real world and half in the virtual reality of Harsh Realm. “In the most simplistic way, I’ve used conventional, traditional instruments like pianos and strings for the real world, and more of the sound design in the Harsh Realm world,” said Snow. There was a blurring of the edges on occasion; for example, when Snow needed to accentuate an emotional moment in the virtual world, he’d bring in the strings, creating an emotional crosslink with the real world that also enhanced the symbiotic relationship between the two as emphasized within the series.

With The X-Files entering its eighth season this year, Snow introduced a new tonality in the form of a lilting melody for solo female voice associated with Scully, which will be heard throughout the season. “Since this whole season is going to be so Scully-intensive, Chris Carter thought there should be a theme for her during the contemplative moments of the mythology episodes-something that spoke for her emotions.” The vocalist for the theme is Nicci Sill, who previously sang Snow’s theme for “Le Femme Nikita”. The vocal was initially intended to be wordless, but as she vocalized the part Sill began repeating in barely discernable voice the phrase “We are near,” which Snow felt was more than appropriate considering the fact that the aliens have kidnapped Mulder and are closer to the cast than ever before. “With the first episode of the season, the aliens have Mulder, and Scully is close but never quite there. But when she was singing it, it sounded like some ethnic incantation of some sort.”

The lack of a real soundtrack CD from The X-Files has been a source of frustration for many. A CD that came out in 1976, called “Music in the Key of X”, was nothing more than a collection of rock tunes inspired by the show, plus a version of Snow’s theme music. A very odd creation was also released that same year, “The Truth and the Light: Music of the X-Files”, merging seemingly random bits and pieces of music from the show with random bits of dialog and sound effects, creating a bizarre sound collage that pleased few people. “That mistake will never be made again!” grins Snow. “Somewhere, Chris Carter heard this voice-over thing and thought ‘That was great, we gotta do it!’ Actually, I thought it was pretty cool up to a point, but it got a little out of hand. And it was incredibly problematic-all the actors wanted a royalties, and so forth.”

To date the best representation of the show’s music appeared on a compilation CD entitled “The Snow Files”, released by Silva Screen in 1999. In addition to an impressive variety of excellent music for films and television, a very faithful arrangement of Snow’s X-Files music was performed by composer and synthesist John Beal, under Snow’s direction. (The actual music tracks were not available for licensing on the disc; but Beal’s arrangements are very fine and true.) Still, there is ongoing talk in the hallways of 20th Century Fox about the possibility of an actual soundtrack release, and hopefully one will be forthcoming in the future.

While more opportunities to score feature films would please Snow, he is finding plenty of satisfaction scoring quality television such as The X-Files. “I’ve been very lucky, because the quality of X-Files and Millennium is so good, in general, that it is like doing a mini-feature every week,” says Snow. “I’d like to graduate some day to where I’m not doing episodic TV, and I’m doing three, four, or five movies a year, where I really could expand my career from film to film. But the graph of my career is still amazing to me. I haven’t gotten into the negative yet. There’s so many guys who have come and gone, who have been so blisteringly hot and then fell off, so I really can’t complain when I look at it from the perspective of the business.”

SFX Magazine: One hit wonder?

SFX Magazine
One hit wonder?
Jeff Craig

With Millennium floundering, will Chris Carter ever be more than a one hit wonder? Jeff Craig talks to him on the set of his new show, Harsh Realm…

“I was never a science fiction fan. I spoke to a group once, and they were shocked that I’d never seen Star Trek. But I’m just not a science fiction fan. It’s never interested me.”

It’s a bit of a shock admission from a man who, thanks to the massive worldwide success of his first SF series, The X-Files, now has the creative autonomy and network clout to produce whatever he damn wants… and has returned to the SF fold for the third time. With the X-movie franchise now assured and Millennium into its third series, the former surf-boy journo is now shifting his attention to Harsh Realm, a new series inspired by the comic book by James Hudnall.

“It’s not really an adaptation,’ Carter explains. “It’s really quite different from the comic book. We’re just using the name and the concept of virtual reality. It’s a broad-canvas kind of show, kinda like The X-Files. This is going to play with reality in ways that I think The X-Files has done so well over the years.”

It’s the theme of playing with reality that excites Carter more than spaceships or anal probes. And he knows where this more down-to-Earth fascination with the macabre stemmed from. “When I was a 13-year-old boy growing up, The Night Stalker was my favourite TV show. I always wanted to make The X-Files as scary as The Night Stalker was for me. I’m really interested in personal experiences that could affect me in this place and time. I like that method of storytelling. I think that’s what makes The X-Files so scary – it seems very, very real. I just didn’t want to do creepy science fiction violence.”

Carter says other conscious influences are “Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock – these are three film-makers who’ve had the greatest effect on me”.

Harsh Realm is set to continue the theme of blurred reality in recognisable settings. The pilot of Harsh Realm will air sometime in the autumn of 1999. The show is the first in his deal with 20th Century Fox, rumoured to be worth up to $30 million over five years, making him one of the highest-paid producers in Hollywood. A deal which, incidentally, came shortly before he signed a high seven-figure contract to write two novels for Bantam Publishing.

In describing the comics for those unfamiliar with the series, author Hudnall says that his main character, Dexter Green, “is a private eye specialising in finding missing persons. It is the far future when pocket universes are created by computers, providing real worlds for people to experience. A teenager has gone missing in a world called Harsh Realm and his parents want Dex to find him. Harsh Realm is a fantasy world where magic and monsters are real. You can die there. But you can also become a god. Dex’s journey into this world teaches him a lot about himself and the human race.”

Carter remains cagey about how similar the show will be to the comic, but while the cast has been announced, it now seems unlikely that the Dex character – long rumoured to be played by The X-Files’ Nicholas Lea (Krycek) – will even feature in the show. For years now, in fact, Carter has made an effort to guard against news leaks of his shows reaching fans before he wants the truth out there. Scripts have leaked before and bootleg tapes of Millennium were being sold at swap meets before its 1996 premiere.

Since then, scripts – particularly for The X-Files film – have been printed on non-copiable paper. He’s even leaked dummy scenes to his staff to determine where leaks are occurring – and to confuse fans to maintain some surprise.

“If you put enough bogus information out there it starts to work for you and against itself,” he says. “Everybody saw that there was an angle to being a spoiler. It’s the world we live in. If you want to maintain the element of surprise, you have to be vigilant and try to confound people. I realise that I sound as paranoid and secretive as the show itself, but there are some things that are meant to be secrets.

“We need to keep people guessing. We only give away fragments. The viewer has to put the pieces of the puzzle together. When it comes to The X-Files, you can’t be a passive viewer.

“The storytelling on The X-Files is obtuse and that is on purpose,” he says. “It’s very tantalising, just like the investigating they do in the film. You get fragments and you have to connect the dots.”

Joining the dots on Harsh Realm, therefore, is particularly tricky, but at least the main cast for the pilot has been confirmed. It’s headed by DB Sweeney (Strange Luck), Scott Bairstow (Party of Five), Max Martinini and Samantha Mathis (Thing Called Love) for what could be called the next generation of television science fiction. But even though this is his umpteenth pilot (he produced a host of teen-orientated dramas before The X-Files) things don’t get any easier.

“Well, no, it’s not easy,” he admits from the Vancouver set of Harsh Realm, three days into the pilot’s 16-day shoot. “With a pilot, of course, it’s a new cast. Everyone’s feeling around, paying a great deal of attention to their characters. We’re just trying to see how it all falls together. This is all the stuff that just falls into place once a show goes to series. Every day is very long. I suppose that now I’m more confident in my approach to making decisions to solve the problems that present themselves, but it’s still very hard work.”

It seems, then, for a a while at least, Chris Carter must officially be the ‘busiest man in Stateside TV’. If the pilot for Harsh Realm impresses the men in suits it will go to a series, meaning that Carter will be performing a juggling act between the Los Angeles-based X-Files and the Vancouver Millennium and Harsh Realm, plus his new career as an author. But, bizarrely, if Harsh Realm gets the thumbs down, he could end up with little else other than the X-movie franchise to occupy his time, with The X-Files seemingly coming to the end of its run and Millennium still having a very uncertain future.

While acclaimed by a fiercely loyal following, Millennium has lagged in the ratings from its debut, and Carter has returned to the show with season three after leaving the day-to-day running for season two in the hands of Glen Morgan and James Wong. He’s defensive about the show some viewers have found too nihilistic and dark for prime-time viewing.

“It’s got a magnificent fan base, but that’s never translated into big ratings,” admits Carter. “Man, I’ve worked hard on Millennium this year. I’ve written and rewritten several shows. It’s not like it was in the first year, but I’ve certainly paid a lot more attention to it this year than last. There are some really good episodes coming up. Really scary episodes. I took the lessons from the things [Morgan and Wong] did but moved the show in a new direction.”

Part of the stumbling block with Millennium, Carter adamantly believes, is that it was set in Seattle. This season, he’s moved the show’s setting to Washington DC and had Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) join the more identifiable FBI. “That establishes a firmer common ground from which to tell the stories, which are still ultimately about good and evil,” Carter says.

He’s also introduced the kind of humour more associated with The X-Files. This season’s Hallowe’en episode contained references to Psycho, Scream and Oral Roberts, and featured an appearance by the mightily, frighteningly made-up rock band KISS.

“I’m very proud of the work we have done. I really think that the show is hitting its stride. I wish that more people watched it. I wish more people would give it another chance. And I hope it comes back next year.” But whether the show can survive “is anybody’s guess right now. I just don’t know,” he admits.

More clear is the fate of The X-Files – at least The X-Files “as we know it”, Carter says archly. It’s scheduled to wrap its run at the end of next season, marking the beginning of what he hopes to be a long film franchise. While the first X-Files movie wasn’t the blockbuster some had expected it to be last summer, it’s gone on to top $200 million in takings internationally. And, that, Carter insists, “is a success by all measurements”.

Much has been written about the strained relationship on the weekly X-Files set between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, and Duchovny himself has publicly criticised Anderson over her dispute for more money. But Carter says: “It’s a relationship that’s bound to have its stresses and strains and it’s understandably complicated. What’s important is that this particular relationship has passed the test of time. When you work together, day after day, month after month, as David and Gillian do, you form a relationship that is not unlike a marriage.”

For the film, each actor was reportedly paid $4 million – an equity which, allegedly, made everyone happy.

“I’m looking forward to the next movie because I anticipate the show will be over, and we’ll be free to re-invent ourselves,” Carter says. “But it won’t be on this summer’s hiatus [1999]. It seems like the actors are very excited to do it. It’s just a matter of finding the time, and I think it would either come out in the summer of 2001 or possibly 2002. It would have been great to culminate the series and go right into the next big movie. I think there will be a year, or possibly two years, in between.”

While there is still the possibility Fox might ask Carter to continue The X-Files television show – with or without Duchovny and Anderson – Carter says: “I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I get to it.”

An X-Files: The Next Generation, anyone? “I just don’t know.” speculates Carter tantalisingly. “It is conceivable that the show could be done without the both of them”.

Whether he’s indulging in the mythology or running with the stand-alone episodes, Carter boasts that, “The thing about The X-Files is that the plot is so elastic. We can do just about anything we want – from comedy to horror to religion – and it just pops back into shape. I think that’s the true test of any good television show.”

It’s a similarity he is anticipating with Harsh Realm – although he’s quick to add that this is “where the similarities between this and The X-Files end; they are very different shows. Harsh Realm deals largely with the subject of war. With the two worlds (real and virtual) the allegorical possibilities are exciting. I think we can be telling stories in quite interesting ways.”

Some critics have wondered if the so-called mythology of The X-Files – the grand black oil, killer bees, abducted relations and alien abduction-colonisation plot – has perhaps spun a little too much out of control and gone on for too long. But Carter, unsurprisingly, disagrees.

In recent shows, Carter has been revealing the grand conspiracy in his own veiled way. “We’ve got to prepare for a big unravel,” he says of the show’s sixth season.

“We figured it would be better to explain the conspiracy now, and make the final season more action driven… less hampered by baggage.”

One thing Carter is eager to clear up is the misconception that the arc plot is part of one tangled web of unanswered questions and opaque explanations. “The conspiracy is not as complicated as you think,” he insists. “It’s one of the things I’m most proud of. Whenever we go out into one of the mythology episodes – or series of episodes – I think we consistently hit a high level of quality.

“And we hardly ever have a crappy episode.” he adds with a smile.

Entertainment Weekly: Secrets and Lies

Entertainment Weekly
Secrets and Lies
Mary Kaye Schilling

[Original article here]

Will ”X-Files” answer viewers’ questions? — The Fox sci-fi drama promises to reveal some secrets in the season finale

X-Files‘ actors live in mortal fear of it: the big kiss-off from series creator Chris Carter. The bell doesn’t toll often for regular characters (among the unlucky few: Deep Throat, X, and Bill Mulder), but the possibility hovers, like an alien spaceship, over the cast. For one actor, the phone rang days before shooting began on a momentous two-parter, a sweeps event that Fox is trumpeting as ”The X-Files conspiracy…exposed!”

Divulging the identity of this doomed player would, of course, ruin the second episode’s penultimate shocker (there are two humdingers). Let us instead relive the actor’s bittersweet moment of (you know) truth: ”Just before I got the script I got a message to call Carter’s office. He was very calm. He said, ‘I’ve got something to tell you about the episode.’ And I said, ‘Are you going to fire me?’ And he said, `No, but I am going to shoot you.’ He said to trust him, it was going to be a very noble death. I said, ‘I do trust you, implicitly.”’

The victim pauses here for comic effect. Not only because the nature of a character’s death is the least concern of a soon-to-be-unemployed actor (one who relocated from Vancouver to L.A. when the show did the same last summer). But because of the inevitable punchline: ”And Carter said, ‘Trust no one.”’

Trust is to The X-Files what Nothing was to Seinfeld. For just as Jerry’s sitcom was a whole lot of something, Carter’s drama is very much about finding the people you can trust, the few who do speak the truth. In the case of FBI agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), that person is his partner, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson).

But in the case of X-Files fans, whom can they trust about this latest claim that the conspiracy — Carter’s ongoing plotline involving aliens, government deception, deadly black oil, and killer bees — will be explained? After all, similar promises went unfulfilled last summer with the release of the franchise’s first film, The X-Files — a visually stunning movie that nonetheless created more questions than it answered. ”I think people were frustrated because the studio’s ads [‘The Truth Is Revealed’] implied that everything was going to be tied up,” says Duchovny. ”And then it wasn’t.”

”I never claimed to be revealing more than I did,” insists Carter. And believes X-Files executive producer Frank Spotnitz, ”the truth meant something different to everyone who walked into the show.” Spotnitz, who developed the movie with Carter, is one of the few writers at Ten Thirteen (Carter’s production company) who can make heads or tails of the conspiracy, or what Carter calls the Mythology. And in his mind, ”the movie did reveal very explicitly a lot of things. But other people might have been expecting the truth to be about something else, like Samantha.”

For the uninitiated, Samantha is Mulder’s sister, abducted by aliens when she was 8 and he was 12. His search to find her has led to his and Scully’s series-long quest to learn the truth about extraterrestrial life on Earth. From that simple concept has developed the most brazenly complex arc ever attempted by a television drama. Indeed, it is a veritable Machiavellian maze, so tangled with intrigue and betrayal that even dedicated fans find themselves scratching their heads bloody. Duchovny acknowledges that this is ”hard on people who just tune in occasionally.” And it makes attracting new fans nearly impossible — a problem illuminated by the movie, which focused exclusively on the conspiracy rather than showcasing one of the series’ stand-alone stories featuring creepy genetic mutants and the like.

Though its very respectable $187 million worldwide take is a testament to the show’s powerful fan base (and virtually guarantees a sequel), Carter and Spotnitz admit that since the movie failed to lure X-Files virgins to the franchise, it was something of a disappointment. ”I hoped we would have reached more nonfans,” says Spotnitz, who found stringing two seasons together creatively confining. ”I’m looking forward to the next movie because I anticipate the show will be over, and we’ll be free to reinvent ourselves.” (Carter is contracted only through the show’s seventh season, ending in May 2000; an eighth is unlikely given his desire to concentrate on X movies.)

Perhaps more distressing was the show’s dip in ratings this season. Though still a major hit for Fox, The X-Files is down 16 percent in total viewers (now averaging 16.8 million versus 20 million last season). Carter blames the network’s schedule shuffling; Fox replaced X‘s old lead-in, King of the Hill, with the freshman sitcom That ’70s Show, causing the 8:30 slot to lose 34 percent in viewers. ”Our nice lineup has a hole in it,” says Carter. ”Not to take anything away from That ’70s Show — they’re trying their best — but it is struggling.” He also points to CBS’ Sunday movie, now drawing big audiences (it ranks ninth among viewers; X is 13th). ”It changes the quality of the pie,” he adds. ”The slices get smaller for everyone.”

But has the increasingly unwieldy conspiracy also alienated some original fans? Spotnitz doesn’t think so, though the upcoming doubleheader is a way to lighten the load: ”We didn’t know until shortly before [Chris and I wrote the two-parter] that we were going to do it. But after the movie, when we sat down to do the next Mythology show, it felt like the right time. We realized we had reached a critical mass, and that to complicate it further — to dangle another piece of the puzzle — was just too much. And so we got excited suddenly at the idea of everything coming to a head now. It didn’t seem expected to us.”

Carter insists the conspiracy is believable because of its complexity. Yet he’s also aware that the clock is ticking toward the series finale. ”I was thinking today, I have another 28 episodes left. We’ve got to prepare for a big unravel. We figured it would be better to explain the conspiracy now, and make that last arc more emotional and action driven, with less baggage to carry.”

In other words, Carter acknowledges the density of his creation. He will not, however, admit to what plagues many fans: profound confusion. The conspiracy, he maintains, ”is not as complicated as you think.”

Hanging out with the conspiracy’s supporting players is probably a mistake. They are relentlessly cheerful: The more dour they are on camera, the sunnier they are off; Mitch Pileggi (Assistant Director Skinner), William B. Davis (the cancerous Cigarette Smoking Man — or CSM), and Chris Owens (CSM’s son, Agent Spender) smile entirely too much. Way to kill a mood, guys.

But to a man — and this includes Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood, and Tom Braidwood (Mulder and Scully’s geeky helpers, the Lone Gunmen), and Nicholas Lea (dastardly renegade Krycek) — they are baffled by Carter’s Mythology. Of the upcoming two-parter, Lea admits that after he read the scripts, ”they needed to be explained about four times. Other than that, it was really clever.” He laughs. ”But that’s kind of like the norm. You read a script, then call someone to explain it.” Harwood finds hardcore fans helpful. That they can explain it, he says, ”is scary in itself.”

Skinner is the character most in the dark (a visit to the set reveals even his desk calendar is out of it: The date reads August 1995). And it’s a state of mind Pileggi can relate to. ”I don’t feel either of us has a handle on” the conspiracy, he says. For the two-parter he stuck to his usual methods of preparation: ”I just read my parts and play it as if I don’t know what’s going on. It’s always a surprise when I watch the shows.”

”I am happy that Mitch sees that as a positive,” cracks Duchovny a few days later. ”You know, whatever works for you…. I can’t believe he’s telling people that.”

Duchovny is in his trailer (which, unlike Mulder’s apartment, features a big, tousled bed), waiting to be slimed with black goop for an episode involving a hurricane; given that the wait has just exceeded five hours, he’s remarkably chipper. It’s no secret that Duchovny is occasionally frustrated by the limitations of his character (Mulder, by necessity, is fairly static in his obsessive skepticism and paranoia). So it’s surprising to hear him speak eagerly about the inevitable movie franchise: ”Not that I want to play Mulder for the rest of my life, but my fantasy is to take him into different eras of his life.” Instead of going the James Bond route, he says, where you fire the actor when he gets too old, ”let’s see how funny it is when a guy like this is behaving the same way at 53.”

To keep himself interested in the meantime, Duchovny has written and, for the first time, will direct an X-Files episode (airing in April). ”It’s about the Negro leagues, and an alien who falls in love with baseball. I really love the script, I have to say,” he says, somewhat sheepish in his pride. ”I remember finishing it and going, I wish I had a better director, because I think it could be one of the best episodes we ever did.”

Darren McGavin will star, returning as former FBI agent Arthur Dales of last season’s ”Travelers” — a flashback episode that featured a pre-X-Files Fox Mulder sporting a yet-to-be-explained wedding band. ”That was just me, you know, fooling around,” admits Duchovny, who clearly enjoyed the resulting Internet frenzy. ”I had recently gotten married, and I wanted to wear it. The director was really nervous. ‘You have to call [Chris] to see if the wedding ring is okay.’ I didn’t, until [after the scene was shot]. When I did call, Chris goes, ‘What!?’ I said, ‘No, it’s good. It’s so Mulder to never have mentioned that he was married.’ And he says, ‘Well, that creates a problem. If we ever do a show that takes place seven years ago, you’ll have to be married.’ I said, ‘Do you really have a lot of shows in your head that are going to take place seven years ago?”’

Arthur Miller once wrote: ”He who understands everything about his subject cannot write it. I write as much to discover as to explain.” One could say the same of Carter. Though he’s always known where the conspiracy will end up, he’s been as startled as viewers by the twists and turns occurring along the way. ”The story starts to tell itself,” he says. ”And that’s been very exciting.” But surprises extend beyond his Mythology. For instance, though humor has long been an X-Files hallmark, this season the writers are giving Ally McBeal a run for its funny money (most notably in a hilarious two-parter featuring Michael McKean as an Area 51 official who assumes Mulder’s identity). ”It was something we noticed we were doing after the fact. I think it was a reaction to the bigness and importance of the movie,” says Spotnitz, who adds that the show’s move to L.A. may have subtly encouraged a general lightening of tone.

This drama, in fact, does humor better than most sitcoms, and at no expense to the credibility of its darker, scarier episodes. More remarkable, given X‘s potential for Twin Peaks overload, is the show’s elasticity; it continues to evolve even in its sixth season. ”I’m very impressed that we’re still growing,” says Duchovny. ”It’s funny the way the show organically takes on a form of its own. Nobody decided we were going to turn it into a comedy this year. And we did for a while.”(For those unamused, Spotnitz says the show will follow a straighter path for the rest of the season.)

Even more unexpected, say Carter and Spotnitz, is Mulder and Scully’s escalating affection — something that was strictly taboo during the show’s first couple of years. Coexecutive producer Vince Gilligan, who came on staff in season 3, remembers getting some flak over a mere hint of intimacy in his episode ”Pusher” (about a psychokinetic ninja): ”I scripted that Scully touches Mulder’s hand at the end. And Chris and Frank went, ‘Oh, this is too much, too soap opera-y. But the fans went nuts.”’ And they still do: It was Mulder and Scully’s near kiss in the movie that provoked the greatest whoops of audience pleasure.

Carter has no problem with the ripening sexual tension, but he wants the relationship to remain platonic. ”From an actor’s standpoint, it’s too bad,” says Duchovny. ”I would like to complicate the situation rather than maintain it in this limbo we’re told people like. We’ve been able to go places with the relationship over the years, but we don’t build on it. But that’s the nature of the show — there’s never any accumulation of experience.”

The characters may not accumulate experience, but the facts of the conspiracy have certainly piled up. And at this point in this story, you are probably wondering: When are they gonna reveal something, anything about the two-parter? (Hey, watching The X-Files for six seasons has at least taught us how to tease.) Without spoiling too much: The two episodes will, with breathtaking efficiency and comprehensiveness (the scripts reach as far back as the first season’s finale, ”Erlenmeyer Flask”), establish Cigarette Smoking Man not just as the enforcer of the Syndicate (the government splinter group in cahoots with aliens bent on colonizing the earth), but the conspiracy’s very heart (or lack of one). At long last, his true motives will be revealed — and without, thank God, justifying his cold-blooded methods.

”One of the things that’s always bothered me about TV shows is that as they get older, everybody starts to become a good guy,” says Spotnitz. ”All the conflict is gone because everybody has been rationalized [Revealing CSM’s reasons] is not a desire to make him good — just a way of understanding his character.” So, yes, ”he is still just the worst guy.”

Part 1 begins back in a familiar railway-car operating room, where doctors have finally achieved what the Syndicate and the aliens have been collaborating on since Roswell: a successful alien/human hybrid — none other than repeat abductee Cassandra Spender, former wife of Cigarette Smoking Man, mother of Agent Spender, and last seen being abducted again in season 5’s ”Patient X.” ”One of the first ideas for the two-parter was that Cassandra was going to be returned,” says Spotnitz. ”And the end of the conspiracy, as it’s being promoted, is in the explaining of her importance.”

Though Nazi references have peppered episodes since the first season (as in Purity Control, the name for the hybridization project), they proliferated in the movie, which established the Syndicate as a sort of Vichy government, collaborating with the aliens to save their own sorry hides. The two-parter will continue that story line, with the faceless aliens (the ones with a penchant for torching folk) fulfilling the role of the Resistance. A tidy metaphor, yet (one feels it’s necessary to point out) Nazis as definition of evil — well, hasn’t that been done before? ”Chris’s vision for the show — which all of us acknowledge — is, that, you know, what we’re dealing with is so ridiculous,” says Spotnitz. ”So you need to do everything to make it seem believable, like analogies to things we know to be true.”

Left unanswered: the burning question of Fox Mulder’s paternity. (Duchovny is going the Star Wars route, assuming CSM is Mulder’s Darth Vader of a father: ”It makes mythological sense.” Carter will only add, ”We haven’t said definitely not. What we have said is that he is definitely Samantha’s father.”) Nor will we learn the true significance of Gibson Praise, the psychic brainiac kid, who, according to this season’s premiere, was some kind of missing link. ”The kid — and most certainly the idea of the kid — will come back, [probably] next year,” says Spotnitz. ”He’s key in explaining the idea, argued in the movie, that aliens were here before, and that this kid has got alien DNA, and perhaps all civilians have it.”

In the meantime, we’ll have plenty of drama to entertain us — including a potential alien invasion. For though most of the players’ motivations will be explained, Mulder’s Holy Grail — Samantha — must still be found. This season’s remaining conspiracy episodes, says Carter, will deal with the ”men and women left standing. How are these people going to survive [an alien invasion] and to what lengths will they go to do that?”

”The analogy I make in my own mind,” says Spotnitz, ”is that these episodes are like the fall of the Soviet Union. Players and pieces are still there, but what happens will change the dynamics of everything.”

Carter and Spotnitz are tentatively planning a three-parter to end this season, something they’ve never done before. As for next year, any bets on who’ll be left standing in the series’ finale? ”Out of a cloud of dust, Krycek will walk,” predicts Dean Haglund of the show’s ultimate rogue, the one-armed Rat Boy. Harwood agrees: ”He might have only one leg left, but he’ll be the last one standing.”




Scorelogue: Behind the X-Files: The File on Mark Snow

Behind the X-Files: The File on Mark Snow

Mark Snow is best known for his X-Files opening whistle and legions of fans know his name through the mysteriously cultish show. But there is no mystery behind Mark’s talent as an accomplished film and television composer and with 1999, Mark proves that the new millennium is full of diverse possibilities. His latest show with Chris Carter (Harsh Realm) debuts in the Fall and his feature Crazy in Alabama marks the directorial debut of Antonio Banderas and a foray into dark comedy. And although Millennium died a slow ratings death last year, Snow’s career has never been more alive. (Editor’s Note: This interview took place in May 1999 before it was announced that Millennium was cancelled.)

How did the compilation The Snow Files come about?

I’d had a few scores put out on CD by Sonic Images, and they thought it would be interesting to show a sort of diverse grouping of other pieces of mine that people don’t necessarily associate with me. The X-Files and that genre has been my most popular thing at the moment, but I’ve been doing this for twenty years so there’s a whole bunch of other music I’ve written as well. There was tons of stuff to listen to, and I just gave it over to them and told them to pick out the stuff and I’d approve it or not. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

It’s a great way for your following to learn more about your work.

Right. Speaking humbly, if I were a Mark Snow fan, I would think it would be interesting to hear his other styles. I know if you’ve seen the CD, it’s definitely an X-File-oriented package, but if that’s what it takes to get them interested…

Were you happy with the X-Files suite produced by John Beal on the CD?

Yes. He really studied the style. At first he was a little timid, and I said, “Hey, I think you’ve got the idea; go with it more, add more of your touch.” He really was very true to it and sensitive and did a great job.

There are some television composers who find it a little more difficult to break into features, even with strong television credits. How has that worked for you?

It’s been very difficult, and no matter how many great TV credits I have, that really doesn’t mean much unless there’s sort of a “cool” factor. X-Files is a very au current, cool show, and that’s helped at least to get people to listen to my stuff and think that could be great. About a month ago, I did a movie Antonio Banderas directed, Crazy in Alabama, where I was submitted, read the script, put some music together that had no X-Files whatsoever. The film is a very sweet, nonviolent movie that takes place in the ’60s. It’s somewhat comic, somewhat poignant, and he just liked the music. X-Files really had no bearing on it whatsoever. He said, “You did the X-Files movie, right? That’s nothing like this movie!” I remember some colleagues of mine started doing TV when I did and weren’t that successful, but they were able to gravitate to B-movies and from there were able to raise their career stakes and have done amazingly well. Sometimes you can fail in TV and really resurrect beautifully in features. Sometimes the reverse is true; you can have a couple of features with nothing and find yourself back in TV. In this day and age, the line between features and TV isn’t what it used to be. There are so many excellent TV shows being made, and TV isn’t the sort of trite thing it was thought of years ago. I know the producer Bob Godwin (X-Files) in Canada, a prolific writer and director, had an interview with Steven Spielberg. Spielberg wanted him to be the producer of a TV series he’s doing, and Bob called me and said the enthusiasm of Spielberg for this series was incredible. He seemed as enthusiastic about it as Saving Private Ryan. So TV is nothing to be ashamed of now. The new Chris Carter show, Harsh Realm, has had an amazing budget. It looks like a movie – great writing, a terrific cast, beautifully directed. It looks very impressive.

So as far as TV versus features, aside from time and budget constraints, are there any differences in the whole process?

Features now are tending to be more like TV just in the way they’re scored, in terms of time constraints. That one thing is so amazing. They’ll finish a movie, temp track it, and test it. If the scores are not so great, they’ll do it again and again. The more they test it, the less time the composer has to write the final score. Oftentimes, people are getting way less than three weeks, somtimes even a week, to do an hour’s-plus work. That’s sort of a new phenomenon. You have to be really agile. Some aspect of your work has to be quick and fast to survive that kind of thing.

How has that changed through the years?

I remember the great story of Stravinsky when he was in Hollywood and was approached to do a film score. He said, “I’d love to,” and they started on the movie. He was all thrilled with it, the money was arranged, and they said, “When will you have this ready for us?” And he said, “Oh, six months from now we’ll have the first half of it.” End of story! You used to have a month or more, so I think that’s changed a lot. In TV, there never was much time, so that hasn’t changed. Producers and directors don’t have that much time to bang on you and really take it apart every which way they can. In features, it’s done over and over, and that can be a real miserable experience. This last experience with Banderas was fantastic because he understands music, and when he didn’t, he’d say, “I don’t understand this; I need your help.”

When is that going to be released?

That was going to be in May, then summer, then September, and now it’s November. They’ve tested this movie, and it tested great, so the studio is really high on it. It’s not a big budget; it’s a very sweet film, and there are some amazing performances. Melanie Griffith and this kid, Lucas Black from Sling Blade, are terrific. I think the only thing about what I do that can get kind of tiring and relentless is that you don’t have much break when the season starts, usually around September through the middle of May. Through the year there are days off, but there’s not weeks or months off. I always say the dream composing job would be to do features where you could pick and choose if you were lucky enough, do a movie, have a month or two off. That’s a pretty cool life, but even some of the big guys like Jerry Goldsmith are so into it they don’t turn down to much. I would love a little more balanced life with a little more free time, but I’m still into it and still can do it, so I’ll go with it for a few more years.

Do you have anything planned for the summer?

There are a few things brewing. I have a place in New Mexico, and I’m looking forward to taking a break there, go and look for UFOs in the desert!

You’re mixing the final episode of Millenium right now; do you think the show will come back?

It’s still possible. The ratings haven’t been good, but the shows have been great if you’re into that kind of dark world.

When did the talk begin about this possibly being the last season for X-Files?

Maybe two years ago when the movie was thought of and they wanted to see if the movie would do well. That would mean possibly another movie, even a third one, but whatever was arranged with the actors, who are beginning to have feature careers, so be it.

Is there a second movie brewing?

There’s talk. I’m hoping that if there is another movie, it’ll be different than the first. I’d hope that it would be smaller and more like the stand alone episodes are instead of having to do the big mythology government coverup. But hey, I just write the songs.

X-Files: Fight the Future is a big album, a big score, and it’s wonderful to hear the sound of the show in a larger manner.

I felt that score had to be somewhat generic of big action movies, which this was, but I was hoping to put as much of my own mark and personality into it. It was the first time the show theme was really used in the underscore – not everywhere, but enough that I’m sure people recognized it. I knew having a new theme it would be musically okay, but I thought it would be a neat way of bringing the TV audience into the movie without overdoing it. It was great fun to have a 90-piece orchestra.

The length of the album was great, too.

There’s a lot of stuff! It was very exciting. Of course, with all the X-Files episodes, there’s always two producers, a writer, a director, sometimes as many as five people who come every week to hear the score in the studio, and they’ve never seen me in action conducting an orchestra. So this was recorded at the Fox scoring stage, which has been renovated, one of the great places in town.

Do you have a team for orchestrating? Do you work with the same people?

There are two main people I use: Jonathan Sacks, a fine orchestrator who’s done many high profile movies, and Lolita Ricmonitz, who’s also brilliant and a terrific composer in her own right. A lot of times I’ll flesh something out on electronics, and it will be pretty complete. I would have time to put pencil to paper a lot of the time, and these people can hear the music and turn it into orchestration with the help of some MIDI score manipulation where the notes appear on score paper in a very simplistic way. This is the way that it’s done mostly. Most of the big composers do it this way, electronically, with the orchestrator working off the tapes and doing the realizations of the score.

20,000 Leagues under the Sea is one of your most beautiful scores; how did that come about?

I knew the producers, so that’s how I got that job. The subject matter felt like the great old-fashioned action movies that Bernard Herrmann scored, like Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jason and the Argonauts. That sort of simplistic but big, monolithic type sound, I thought, was really appropriate. I was also influenced by John Barry – this simple, big theme. Between the two, since it had to be a period piece, it felt somewhat like an homage to the great early film scores, and I thought again a simple approach in the melodic writing would be the way to go.

Special Thanks to Ray Costa, Ford A. Thaxton & Sonic Images Records, and to Mark Snow for his generous hospitality.

Source: Vance Brawley; Scorelogue []

The Millennial Comet: Interview with Mark Snow

The Millennial Comet [Vol. 2, No. 5]
Interview with Mark Snow
Brian A. Dixon

Interview conducted and edited by “Millennial Comet” staff writer and Editor-in-Chief Brian A. Dixon (

Here is a man who, to X-Files and Millennium fans, requires no introduction. From day one of both series he has been composing some of the most powerful underscore music we could ever hope for. He’s used sounds in some of the moodiest, most atmospheric, and most frightening manners possible. That man is, of course, Mr. Mark Snow.

You’ll find his name in the credits of every Millennium episode made. A powerful part of the Ten-Thirteen crew, Mr. Snow is the creator of the wailing violin sounds that are the very soul of Millennium’s onscreen presence. He’s given passion to Frank and Catherine’s most emotional scenes and added an edge of excitement to each serial killer show-down. Without the sounds of Mark Snow running underneath it all, Millennium would NOT be the show it is today. It would not be the series we’ve come to know and love. To say that his creation influences Millennium’s very being would not be an exaggeration. The element he adds to the dramatic events is invaluable.

So, without further introduction, I proudly present my recent conversation with the man responsible for giving so much to Millennium….

MC: “Millennial Comet”
MS: Mark Snow


MC: What is your official title when working with Millennium?

MS: Mark Snow – composer of the underscore music for the TV series Millennium.

MC: You had already been working with Chris Carter and 1013 for some time on The X-Files… what was your first reaction and initial thoughts when Millennium was first proposed to you as a new series and began undergoing development?

MS: Chris Carter wanted a feeling of hope and horror for the Millennium theme and underscore music. So, I thought a melancholy, celtic feel would be right since so many of the first shows had an early or medievil religious themes… and for the theme, the contrast of the solo violin (Hope) over the dark sustains and percussion (horror) of the accompianment.

MC: Was there any specific inspiration for the “Millennium” theme song? How was it recorded?

MS: Chris Carter sent over a CD of Kiley Minogue (Celtic fiddle stuff), so that was my initial inspiration. I had a live violinist play over my electronic track.

MC: What sets the overall tone or musical feel for the series when you’re writing a piece of music for Millennium?

MS: The slow, deliberate brooding Frank Black seems to set the tone of the action and therefore the music tone.


MC: How, if at all, do you try to separate your work on Millennium and The X-Files?

MS: The Millennium music is simpler and more folk, celtic, modal ancient sounding music than X-Files. X-Files in general is more modern avante garde sounding, with symphonic traditional overtones.

MC: What other shows or movies have you worked on recently?

MS: The X-Files movie and Disturbing Behavior directed by David Nutter, who directed the pilot of Millennium.

MC: Is it difficult to work on two or more television series at a time? Do you find that it limits or stifles your creativity?

MS: No, the shows are so different, and basically very well done (some of best on TV), that they’re usually very inspiring and different from week to week. They also seem to be shows that count on the music for its complete effect, unlike a show like L.A. Law which relies on dialogue mostly. Working on both shows does not limit my creativity but actually inspires it.

MC: Who are your favorite musical groups or artists to listen to?

MS: Eagle Eyed Cherry, Metallica, Foo Fighters, Suzanne Vega, Natalie Merchant, Crash Test Dummies, Chumbawumba, Tracy Bonham, to name a few.


MC: I know that one of the pieces of show music you’ve composed which will always stand out in my mind is the exciting and very different chase music from the climax of The Thin White Line. Do you have a personal favorite piece of music from an episode of Millennium?

MS: The show “Luminary” was a favorite of mine for the music, and more recently “Closure”; the montage cue with Emma at the computer cutting back and forth with Frank at the computer, and the black and white flash backs of Emma as a young girl!

MC: Did you enjoy writing the lighter, more humorous scores for the Darin Morgan comedy episodes of the second season?

MS: Yes! That was a fun change of pace for me, and very enjoyable! Sort of going on a mini-vacation!

MC: With season three we not only got new opening credits sequence images but also a slightly tweaked version of the Millennium theme song. Why was the decision made to alter the theme music for the third season, and how exactly was it changed?

MS: I just added a choral countermelody that was to announce the arrival of the Emma character. Chris Carter’s idea, but very subtle. I don’t know if all listeners hear the differance, but obviously you do! Bravo!

MC: Popular music, in addition to the underscore, has become very important to Millennium. We’ve heard such artists as Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, Patti Smith, America, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, the Talking Heads, and Zager & Evans highlight some of the most important scenes of the series. What is your view concerning Millennium’s artistic and dramatic use of music?

MS: I think it’s very cool and helps maintain the edgy, fresh hip tone that the creators hoped for. And the fact the these source pieces are so eclectic is a cool thing!

MC: On The X-Files movie you were given the chance to utilize a full orchestra for your soundtrack. How did it feel to use the orchestra, and do you think you’ll be given the same opportunity again anytime for Millennium or X-Files series work?

MS: The big orchestra was a thrill, but absolutely impossible to do on a weekly basis because of the time constraints. Watch for it on next X-Files feature film!!!

MC: Any personal views on Frank’s musical obsession with classic swinger Bobby Darin?

MS: I think that comes from Glen Morgan, he’s the big Darin fan. It also seems consistent with Frank’s generation.


MC: A lot of rumors and strong anticipation follow the idea of a Millennium soundtrack CD similar to The X-Files album “The Truth and the Light”. Can you shed some light on the situation concerning a potential Millennium soundtrack CD?

MS: Two labels are interested in releasing Millennium music. Electra, which did the X-Files score and pop albums, and Sonic Images, a label that specializes in soundtracks. Stay tuned for updates. That’s all the information that I have now.

MC: In regards to the future of Millennium in season three… any special musical pieces you’ve recently composed for upcoming episodes we should be listening for?

MS: Yes… in “Omerta”, the Millennium Xmas show, I really push the envelope by incorporating elements of Opera and classical Choral elements, soloists and groups. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done on this episode, and hope you all enjoy it!

MC: Thank you very much, Mr. Snow, for taking part in this interview and being willing to speak with the Comet. Both myself and all of our fan readers extend our gratitude for being able to look into your world.

MS: Thank you, Brian, and I apologize for taking so long to get this to you!!! I hope you find it interesting and informative!

Source: Brian A. Dixon, The Millennial Comet Vol. 2, No. 5 [], Dec. 18th, 1998

Sci Fi TV: Conspiracy Kingpin – Mixing truth with lies, Chris Carter fashions The X-Files

Sci Fi TV
Conspiracy Kingpin – Mixing truth with lies, Chris Carter fashions The X-Files
Ian Spelling

[typed by alfornos]

CC, master of the X-mythos, keeper of the conspiracies, sounds quite pleased with his first cinematic X Files.

“I am very pleased. I thought that The X Files translated wonderfully to the big screen,” he enthuses. “I thought the story worked. I thought the special effects were really nice, that they serviced the story well – you wouldn’t call this an FX-driven movie. I felt the scares were there. People jumped and they laughed and, hopefully, they were moved. It also sets up season six of The X Files beautifully. It did all I could ask of a first X Files film. It took the theme that has been central to the show – the government conspiracy to prevent us from knowing the truth about the existence of alien life – and set many of those elements in stone.

“We had previously taken those same elements,” continues CC, “and played with them – hinted at, hid, answered and/or lied about them. The X Files writers are already dealing with what was revealed in the film and how it will impact on the series. It will give us many new and interesting opportunities to tell stories. The movie really did what I hoped it would do, which was, in a way, to EXPLODE the series. We’ll have new pieces to deal with now, new angles to explore.”

By now, everyone knows that TXF: FTF propelled FBI Agents Mulder (DD) and Scully (GA) through a series of escapades involving deadly bees, doomsday scenarios, alien spaceships rising out of the ice, government conspiracies, Black Oil, bombing cover-ups, and the pair’s feelings for each other. It spotlighted several familiar characters, among them CSM (WBD) and AD Skinner (MP), and such newcomers as Strughold (AM-S), Kurtzweil (ML) and FBI AD Cassidy (BD). And it did, as promised, answer some questions – while posing others.

CC both produced the XF film and penned the screenplay based on a story co-written with FS. He admits he was personally most satisfied to “finally being able to have someone explain WHAT the conspiracy is about, what it’s attempting to do, where it came from, what its historical roots are, and what its biological roots are. I was also happy that we could show there’s a real defense against it, a way to fight the future. Again, we’ve done some of that in past episodes, but only in bits and pieces. Here, in the film, it was much more of a concentrated story.”

Asked how different was the feeling of producing a film vs. the show, CC avers, “It’s hard to say which was more satisfying. I like the pace of moviemaking, but I like many of the things TV allows you to do. You can have a not-so-great episode one week, but make up for it the following week. You don’t have that luxury with a film. TV allows you to explore things that a movie doesn’t, in terms of relationships, tangents or whatever. It’s much more forgiving in creating small, interesting avenues of discovery and character development than a movie is. But a movie is a movie, and there’s something to be said for that, too.”

The sinister secrets of season six will soon unfold.

There are several specific points worth exploring thanks to the film. First, there’s the matter of M&S possibly delving deeper into their romantic feelings for one another, a topic CC won’t even touch. He is, however, more willing to contemplate how Mulder and, particularly, Scully, return to dealing with killer trees, inbred families, vampires and the like after they’ve seen what they’ve seen, after they’ve come to realize what”s at stake regarding the conspiracy. “Well, Scully was pretty woozy,” CC says, “and it will be very hard for Mulder and Scully to prove what they witnessed or get anybody to listen to them. That will become part of their agenda now, getting people to listen to them and to take them seriously. That has always been Mulder’s thing, [though less so for] Scully, who has seen less.”

It looked as if WMM (JN) fell victim to a wrathful Syndicate when his limousine blew up. Is he really dead? “Stay tuned,” CC replies with a mischievous laugh. Might audiences see more of AD Cassidy or Strughold in the future? “I would hope so, but we had some very pricey movie stars in the film,” he notes. “So, it’s a matter of money, time and desire on the parts of the actors.” And what of CSM and Mulder? A scene between them at the film’s end was dropped and re-shot because, during test screenings, non-fans expressed confusion as to why two characters who had no contact with each other during the film would suddenly converse. “CSM has obviously decided to favor this ‘son’ of his and, in doing so, has set up a political situation so that Mulder can SURVIVE,” CC notes. “What CSM’s agenda is, what his motives are in furthering and fostering Mulder’s career are interesting, but still not established.”

Season five witnessed contributions by writers William Gibson (with Tom Maddox) and Stephen King, who delivered Kill Switch and Chinga, respectively. Both Gibson and King may write further scripts during season six, CC reports. Also waiting in the wings is Harlan Ellison, although his scripting contribution is less certain. “Harlan is a busy man,” explains CC, who participated in a recent Sci-Fi Channel tribute to the writer. “He has always said he has wanted to write an X Files episode for us. The day he actually WANTS to do it, I’m sure he’ll give us a call.”

When season six begins on November 8, one familiar name will no longer appear in the credits, and that’s R.W. Goodwin. A longtime XF executive producer/director who has helmed previous season openers and finales (Anasazi/The Blessing Way and Talitha Cumi/Herrenvolk), RWG represents one of the casualties of the series’ relocation from Vancouver, British Columbia to LA. “We really kind of left Bob, in a way,” CC explains. “Bob decided to stay up in Vancouver. He lives there. He has a kid in high school. He really couldn’t make the trip to LA with us. His contribution to the show was in never, ever, flinching or blinking when we gave him something impossible to do. Along the way, he directed some [sic] our most important episodes. So, we’ll miss him.”

Looking even further into the future, there’s season seven of TXF as well as additional features to consider. “I imagine that the show will go through the seventh year, which would be the 1998-99 season and the year after that. Anything beyond that would be gravy,” CC says. “I have no idea if David and/or Gillian would be interested in staying BEYOND a seventh season. We’ll have to see what happens. I just signed my own contract, so I’ll be around for a while. If the movie is [regarded as] successful, we’ll get to do more movies, and we’ll get the chance to continue on the big screen as a series after the show ends. I don’t know how many films we’ll do, I just hope there will be more.”

CC, as most everyone knows, rules more than just the XF Universe.

He’s the mastermind of Millennium, which is also returning for another season. Though the show had a commendable fall 1996 debut, its ratings had declined, prompting most people to assume that Fox would not pick up the dark, somber series for the 1998-99 season. The network, which also airs TXF and thus probably wanted to keep CC happy, elected to bring back the Lance Henriksen vehicle. “I will be more active in the show this season,” promises CC. “I think you can expect us to turn a corner. We have some really good ideas for the new season. I’m really excited about what we’re going to do with Frank Black [LH] now that he has lost one of the most important things in his life. The stories will deal with that this year.”

When Millennium debuted two years ago, much was made of the fact that it was the new series from the creator of TXF. CC himself doesn’t deny that Millennium has suffered from the comparison to TXF, and that people were tougher on Millennium because of their great X-pectations. “I never wanted to make Millennium like The X Files,” CC argues. “I really loved the original concept of Millennium. It has strayed a little bit from that now. In some ways, that has been good and in some ways, bad. For season three, I have really exciting ideas that I’m looking forward to incorporating into the series. I’ve had long meetings with Lance, and we’re all very excited about season three. I hope people will come to the show again and see what we’re doing. Frank will ultimately end up affiliated in some way with the FBI, which is where he began his career.”

Returning to TXF, CC insists that even after 117 hours of TV episodes and a two-hour movie, there’s still plenty left to uncover about the mythology and about M&S, CC insists. “They are VERY complex characters. We played with Mulder and Scully’s belief systems in the fifth season. They’re both unmarried. They’ve both lost parents, and they’ve both lost them in a tragic way. Mulder and Scully have a lot to learn about life, I think, and they’re things that people have to learn as they move through their 30s and on into their 40s,” CC observes. “So, I really do think we’ve got a lot more to learn about our characters and about the conspiracy. I don’t think we’ll run out of ideas anytime soon.”

Sci-Fi Age Magazine: As The X-Files moves to L.A., the series’ stars consider season six

Sci-Fi Age Magazine
As The X-Files moves to L.A., the series’ stars consider season six
Melissa J. Perenson

Where does a television show go when it’s coming off a summer that saw the release of a successful feature film, the relocation of production, and a whopping 16 Emmy Award nominations? Well, when you’re the X-Files, you keep on doing what you do best: Throwing curve balls to your audience while striving to reinvent yourself and raise the creative bar even higher.

The X-Files is due for a shake up. After all, the series is entering its sixth season, a time in any show’s life span during which lethargy can set in and stories can become stale. But the series’ new Los Angeles home base, coupled with the events of The X-Files movie, which answered some long-standing questions as well as raised a host of new ones, have ensured that The X-Files is in no danger of succumbing to the perils that afflict long-running series.

The movie may have focused on the black oil, but the coming season will explore the conflicting alien factions introduced in such episodes as “Patient X,/The Red and The Black.” “We’ll see a lot more of that,” promises series creator and executive producer Chris Carter. “Now that we’ve set it up with the black oil, we can explore that.”

Meanwhile expect intrepid FBI Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) to come to terms with their experiences in Antarctica, and to convince others of the fantastical events they witnessed there. “It will have to be dealt with as the series goes forward. But that’s the fun of the series. It’s going to be getting people to believe that this is, in fact, going to happen,” Carter offers. “And Mulder and Scully still may have been told some lies. We still don’t know. We’ll play with this and continue on with that conspiracy.” A central component of the mythology thus far, Scully’s abduction back in season two and the consequences of that abduction, will be addressed in the coming year, as will questions surrounding what really happened to Mulder’s sister, Samantha.

Originally, the truth about Samantha had been addressed in the movie’s limousine scene with Mulder and Well Manicured Man (John Neville), but it quickly became lost within the context of the film. “We realized that there was a lot of information to digest in that part of the movie, and it ended up coming out of the blue in a way that made the scene less easy to understand,” explains Carter. “So we decided to take out that scene and play with it in season six.”

Even though it was Scully’s evidence that convinced the FBI to reopen the X-Files, early word about the coming season is that Mulder and Scully are off the X-Files and have a new boss, although their former superior, Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), will continue to help them off the record. Two characters introduced in the fifth season, Agents Spender (Chris Owens) and Fowley (Mimi Rogers), have been assigned to the X-Files instead. Picking up on the story line from the fifth season’s finale, the first episode jumps right in by revisiting Gibson, the chess playing child prodigy whose ability to tap his brain’s God module could hold the key to explaining the nature of paranormal phenomena.

That’s not all that’s revisited. “We’ve established Mimi Rogers as an old flame coming in, so I think that [the audiences] are going to have to accept it, [allow us] to play that out,” Carter says, presumably well aware that he’s broaching dangerous territory in the eyes of both those that wish to see Mulder and Scully move their relationship to the next level, and those who wish to avoid the series deteriorate into a soap opera.

The direction of Mulder and Scully’s relationship is a topic of hot debate. “From day one we’ve been talking about the fact that it just wouldn’t work in the series,” remarks Anderson, “but I’m curious as to how, after the movie and the extra zing that’s in the film and whether it should or shouldn’t influence how we are with each other in the series. If it does, how will it influence the work that we do? I don’t know.”

Duchovny is equally unsure of what’s right for the show. “It’s hard to say what would ruin the show, or what would make it good, without actually doing it. But [a relationship] could be interesting. If we had someone come in who wrote beautifully in that direction I’m sure it would work, but I don’t see that happening.”

Although the X-Files will always be defined by its eerie look, that look is bound to change now that the show has moved from dark and atmospheric Vancouver to bright and sunny Los Angeles. “It’s obvious it will change,” affirms Carter. “I’ll have a new crew. I’ll have a new environment to shoot in. We’ll have bright sunshine in the daytime, although if it’s anything like last year, it will be just like Vancouver; the weather in Los Angeles was so bad last year.”

Shooting in LA’s environs presents a new creative challenge to the production, and not just to avoid inadvertently getting palm trees into scenes that are supposed to be set in Maine. “It’s going to be different because you’re not going to get the diffuse light every day, you’re going to get hard sun and you’re going to get LA sun,” explains Rob Bowman, who’s directed over 25 episodes as well as the movie. That’s different from what we’re used to.”

Look to the bright lighting seen in the film for an example of what the X-Files may look like in the future. “[The movie] certainly was harder because day exterior in the Mojave desert is about as hot a light as you can get and about as far from Vancouver as there is,” says Bowman. “But the movie couldn’t all of a sudden look like another show. I had to make it look like The X-Files.”

Bowman has a similarly positive spin on the impact the movie will have on the series. “I think it might be farewell to an old friend and hello to a new one. We’ll find a new look that takes the old one and goes a little further with it,” he says confidently. “That’s what we must do because we certainly can’t go backward.””

Adds Carter, “We’ll just use the new environment to our advantage. Just make a virtue out of the problem, which is that we’re now shooting in sort of a concrete jungle. [we’ll] tell stories that we wouldn’t have been able to tell in Vancouver, so I think it’s going to be an interesting opportunity.”

Carter draws on reality for many of the ideas for the series. “People say, ‘Where do you get all these wild ideas?’ Many of them come directly from science. The show needs a scientific foundation, because that is Scully’s point of view. Without a Scully point of view, you’ve got no point/counterpoint. So it’s important the science be accurate, and it’s important that the science be good, because it provides the leaping-off point for the rest of the show,” maintains Carter.

When conceiving the series pivotal mythology episodes, Carter knows where he’s ending up, but not necessarily how he’s going to get there. “I have a big general idea of what the conspiracy means and what the conspiracy is,” he explains, ” but as we go forward, we find new little things to do to add to it. And so that’s the fun of it. If you set everything down too clearly for yourself in the beginning, I think you end up without the sort of wonderful discovery of new things to add in. So, I think flexibility is important in this kind of storytelling. Also the faith that you’re going to make the right choices as you go forward.”

“We don’t have ending points. Sometimes we don’t know, and that’s part of the excitement of the show to us, too, [as writers],” contributes Frank Spotnitz, co-executive producer on the series. “Chris is very specific on where he wants the show to be and he’s not willing to say, ‘okay, that’s close enough to what I had in mind.’ He won’t do that.”

The series’ intelligent, and at times convoluted and contradictory, stories often subscribe to the tenet that less is more. “I think far more often that approach is appreciated by the audience. That’s one of the reasons why the show is so successful,” reasons Spotnitz. “You’re left to put the pieces together yourself in order to understand the conspiracy. It’s a jigsaw puzzle, and we keep adding new pieces and taking pieces away. There’s an awful lot of questions that aren’t resolved and that’s what makes the show interesting.”

“You know, you make a mistake in thinking the audience is not as smart as you are. I think the audience is very smart,” elaborates Carter. “I think the audience is very sophisticated. We have so much information these days. Everyone knows about the human genome project now that’s going on; it’s in the paper every day. While the dialogue [of the show] is sophisticated, it also never attempts to confuse or baffle.” Well, perhaps not consciously, at any rate.

Another unusual thing about The X-Files is the show’s application of a cinematic approach to making television. “We try to tell our stories visually and we use a lot of movie conventions in the telling of our stories. It just feels like a movie most weeks, anyway. And that’s our goal,” says Spotnitz.

“Now after having made the movie, I know whatever you do in television isn’t quite cinematic because making a movie is a much more elaborate process than making a television show,” admits Carter. “But, we tell the stories as if they were little movies, and we take a big screen approach on the small screen in the way we tell our stories and the way the shows are directed, certainly, and in the way the stories are very plot driven. They are good, round mysteries, and a lot of television gets by on character development ensembles, a-b-c-d-e-f-g stories. The X-Files tells one good, strong story every episode, and I think that’s much more of a movie approach.”

Even the series’ recurring, mysteriously named characters have come to life. “After working with so many scripts and telling so many stories with these ancillary characters with names, if there’s more than three of them, you’ve got your work cut out for you just to remember who these people are,” explains Bowman of the nomenclature system developed. “So Chris’s approach was: He’s just a guy smoking a cigarette, that’s all he is. So, he’s Cigarette Smoking Man. When CSM started the series, he was leaning against a filing cabinet listening to a conversation and not reacting at all. He was a paper figure. Then you start to learn more about him. It’s funny because on the set we’re always making up new ones. And we’ve been through Plain Clothes Man, Red Hair Man, and Black Tie Man, but it makes it easy for identification.”

The X-Files’ real ace in the hole, however, lies in the chemistry between leads Duchovny and Anderson. Together, Duchovny and Anderson have taken the art of subtlety to new heights. Certainly, these two roles, like the cases the duo investigate, have proven to be anything but ordinary over the years

“It’s incredibly gratifying,” says Anderson of what it’s been like to play Dana Scully. “It would have been harder to stick with it were I not playing such an intelligent, such an interesting, and multidimensional character as Scully is. When I read the pilot, I was struck how unlike a TV script it was and, also, by how complicated and interesting the relationship was between Mulder and Scully. I think that more than anything,” she continues, “[it was] her intelligence and her strength in standing up to Mulder and feeling confident about expressing her beliefs in front of somebody who was touted as being near God in terms of his work at the FBI.”

From Duchovny’s perspective, Mulder is perhaps the hero who’s best described as the anti hero. “He is a loser. He just never succeeds, basically. He doesn’t get what he wants. He doesn’t win fist fights. He doesn’t get the girl,” notes Duchovny. “I like him as a hero because I always intended to play him as a guy who doesn’t win but who seems to win. That is, I think, a difficult thing to do. People at home see that Mulder is right, so it’s all kind of skewed in his favor. We’ve seen what he sees. We know that he’s right, that his quest is good and moral and all of that. In that sense he’s more of a straight-up hero.”

As stimulating as the characters are, though, both actors admit to feeling the strain of The X-Files’ intense grind, a strain which was only amplified by spending the hiatus between the fourth and fifth seasons filming the feature.

“Some days it’s not fresh and it’s not exciting. Some days it is. It usually has to do with the challenge of the material. If there is a difficult scene to do or a fun scene to do or a challenging scene to do – then it’s fresh and exciting. If there are just five pages of back story, dates, figures, numbers, or names, then it’s just hell,” explains Duchovny. “It’s not really the show or Mulder. It’s the bare fact of doing the same show and the same part for five years.”

“I think that these survivor mechanisms just poke up and rear their heads,” Anderson muses of the relationship between the grueling hours on the set and her performance. “Sometimes – a lot of times – I’m dead on my feet, and sometimes I phone it in and sometimes I have the energy to keep going and be better and better. It just depends.” With all the key players, including leads Duchovny and Anderson and Carter, signed through seven seasons, the current expectations are that The X-Files will continue its fast track run on television before releasing a second feature. in the meantime, the show will strive to improve upon itself, completing its evolution from cult hit to mainstream phenomenon. Notes Duchovny, “It’s fairly unique in the fact that it takes 100 clichéd elements, puts them all together and makes something new. It is the Night Stalker. It is sometimes a medical drama, as bogus as it can be. It’s bogus in its chastity and its repartee between Mulder and Scully. And it’s creepy for the kids. You take all of those things together and, somehow, it comes off as being fresh, unique and original. You could never have sat down and predicted it. It wasn’t in the pilot I read. It’s something that has grown of as all of the ingredients in the show have grown, as Chris, Gillian, Rob, and myself have grown as performers, directors, writers, whatever. It just becomes better and better.”