Posts Tagged ‘harsh realm’

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

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

[Original article here]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ain’t It Cool News: ScoreKeeper With Composer Mark Snow

Jun-24-2008 [9:49:12 AM CDT]
ScoreKeeper With Composer Mark Snow About THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE, The Creation Of The Series’ Theme, And Much More!!
Ain’t It Cool News
ScoreKeeper

[Original article here]

Greetings! ScoreKeeper here secretly sleuthing my way with what could be my favorite composer interview to date.
Mark Snow is a legend. Sure, you probably know him as the composer for the smash-hit phenomenon THE X-FILES (1993-2002), but his legacy didn’t start nor ended with that series. He is the composer for countless television series and movies including SMALLVILLE (2001-2008), GHOST WHISPERER (2006-2008), THE LONE GUNMEN (2001), MILLENNIUM (1996-1999), HARSH REALM (1999-2000), 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1997), FALCON CREST (1986-1988), T.J. HOOKER (1982-1986), and HART TO HART (1979-1983) as well as a composer for theatrical motion pictures which include DISTURBING BEHAVIOR (1998), THE X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE (1998), CRAZY IN ALABAMA (1999), and COEURS (2006) which was nominated for a César Award for Best Score.

Now the sizzling Summer of ‘08 heats up even higher as Mark returns to the world of Agents Mulder and Scully in THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE (2008). Already one of the more highly anticipated films of the summer, Mark sheds tiny slivers of light on what has successfully been a very clandestine production.

Mark was a joy to speak with. His casual demeanor and passionate expression created the perfect combination for a great interview. We gabbed about the new film, the old shows, and everything in between. As a die hard fan, it was difficult containing my inner geek. So I gave up and just had fun. I hope you will too.

Enjoy the interview…The truth is out there.


ScoreKeeper: Thank you for taking the time out to speak with me today. I’d like to start off talking about THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE. As a bona fide fan of the series, I am very excited about this new movie. How does it feel returning to the world of Mulder and Scully after six years? Did you miss it?

Mark Snow: I did and I knew many years ago that this project was in the works. In fact, Chris Carter called me from London about five years ago and said “Get ready. We are going to do another one…”.

Then it got bogged down and there was red tape with the studios while they were “ironing out” the contracts. But it came to pass and I was thrilled to be invited back. It just felt so comfortable.

SK: Having scored nine seasons of episodic television and a feature film, how did your approach to the new film fit within the X-FILES universe?

MS: It’s very different than the first movie. This is more of a stand alone episode while the first one followed the mythology story with government conspiracies and aliens. There is a lot more heart, warmth and tuneful music in this one – as well as all of the wonderful sound design and atmospheric things.

The idea of being able to write some great themes for some of these very emotional scenes…well, it’s really great! In the score there is this great contrast of fast and slow and loud and soft and melodic and atmospheric. There’s just so many wonderful textures.

I had my full battery of samples and synthesized sounds. I certainly bring back a few things that people might remember from the old days plus a lot of new things. I had a session with a big orchestra that just did atmospheric sound effect music. There was no music written out. I would just give the orchestra instructions like with an accent or a “boom,” or “let’s crescendo here,” or “make a funny noise here,” or “drop a pencil on the music stand,”…all kinds of real cool inventive things.

There’s a battery of percussion with these fabulous taiko drums and all kinds of things. Plus live whistlers and live singers…It’s quite a sound!

It was all very creative.

So, you’ve got that and then a big orchestra hanging out playing written out music for four days of recording. The thrust of the orchestra is mostly like a baritone to low orchestra. There are no trumpets, no high woodwinds. There is a flute solo but it’s an alto flute solo and there is one moment where there’s a high baroque trumpet playing over a very emotional scene. There are eight French horns, five trombones, and two pianos and harps…thirty-two violins, sixteen violas, twelve cellos, and eight basses…

SK: Wow!

MS: That makes a hell of a sound! It has been great.

One of the most wonderful things was I was able to get Alan Meyerson to be the scoring engineer and the music mixer. He does all of James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer’s stuff. His creativity is really just fantastic! His mixes just come alive.

SK: That improvised aleatoric jam session you talked about…Were you doing that to picture?

MS: No, there was no picture. I just made a tool box of all these sounds and had it at my disposal to sprinkle throughout the score. There’s all sorts of short accents and long sustained things…all kinds of drums…just really marvelous stuff.

SK: You mentioned Chris Carter said there was interest about five years ago to do a second film. At what point did the creative process begin for you? Did you receive a script during that time to start thinking about music? At what point did the compositional process begin for you?

MS: There was such incredible secrecy about this project. I did receive a script and each page had my name watermarked on it. I had to sign something saying if I gave this out then I would be killed.

[Both Laugh]

MS: So that script was going to be chained to my wrist for the whole duration so to speak.

Certainly reading it was the beginning of my thought process and I remember the most direction that I got from Chris Carter was “This is a love story with spiritual and religious overtones.”

I’m reading the script and saw a love story in it along with real good classic X-FILES weirdness. It’s a very complex story. After the first reading, I was so intrigued and I read it so quickly that I had to read it twice and even a third time. But there is still nothing like seeing the visuals. That’s when it really kicks in!

I did write a couple of themes that I thought might work and actually one of the things I wrote before seeing the picture did work out beautifully. Another piece, Chris (Carter) and Frank Spotnitz, the producer, weren’t crazy about but I was able to take it and turn it around and make a variation of it. It worked out great.

SK: What is the functional purpose behind the two themes? Do they have a symbolic relationship in the film?

MS: There are two very distinct moments. I hope you will respect the fact that I can’t say too much about it…

SK: Oh! Of course. I don’t want to know too much about it, so, yeah, don’t go into spoilers. If that’s the case, that’s fine.

MS: These two particular pieces come back quite a few times in different orchestrations and settings and they really work out great. That is what was so satisfying…to be able to write real melodic and thematic music in this movie as well as all of the great X-FILES noises on top of it.

SK: How about the iconic main theme? It’s interesting because in the first film it didn’t appear that much. I liked that you refrained from using it and composed a host new material. How does the main X-FILES theme work into this new film, if at all?

MS: Right from the get go you will probably recognize it and that’s all I can say. Then during the score, there are hints of it and variations of it. It is very subtle and it comes and goes. It doesn’t appear too frequently but enough that someone with a good musical ear will be able to pick it up. It’s not dominating the music whatsoever and these other thematic pieces actually have no relation to it at all.

SK: I find it interesting because you have such a long and fabulous career with so many different television shows and productions but it’s the THE X-FILES that has really come to define your career and help solidify your name in the scoring world.

How did your experience working on I WANT TO BELIEVE compare to nine seasons of THE X-FILES series, the previous film, and all the other scores you’ve done throughout your career?

MS: The most exciting stuff in the TV series, for me, was actually the stand-alone episodes. The mythology episodes had sort of a set palette and everyone kind of liked that. It was more of a traditional sound. The stand-alone episodes were a real free-for-all. They were like mini-movies unto themselves.

The freedom and trust that Chris and company had with me was so remarkable. I could basically do whatever I wanted and when you are given that kind of freedom it’s also a responsibility. No one was giving me notes. They would come over and they would watch every score of every episode for the whole nine years and mostly it would just be “Oh, we just love to get out of the studio and watch the music and see how it helps the picture.” There would rarely be any notes. If anything, “Oh, hit this louder,” or “When this guy jumps out of the box…smash it!” or “That’s too much…”. It was very minimal.

With the recent film, it was a combination of all the stuff that I loved so much about the series: the freedom to do what I wanted and the idea of writing these themes which turned out to be so potent and hopefully memorable.

Going from the orchestra’s reaction…the musicians were maybe thinking they were just going to be playing a bunch of sound effects. Then when all of these, dare I say, wonderful tunes showed up, it was just great. Chris, Frank, and the people at Fox would walk in from time to time listening to the cues and it was just “thumbs-up” the whole way.

Thomas Newman once said in regards to work, “There is war and peace. War is scoring a movie and peace is when you are between movies.” With I WANT TO BELIEVE there was no war, it was just a fabulous exhilarating experience.

SK: Take a moment to address all of the X-FILES fans out there. What is in store for them? What can they expect?

MS: All the best things of the stand alone episodes and the relationships with the characters… They will not be disappointed, I’m telling you!

SK: I’m among the many anxiously awaiting this one. Personally, this could be one of my more anticipated movies of the summer. Since hearing you describe the music in more detail, I’m even more excited.

How many minutes of music are there in the film?

MS: There’s about an hours worth. Maybe a little bit more. There are a couple of songs but really the thrust of the music really is the score.

There’s not more than three songs in the movie and they aren’t in a montage or playing during a whole scene where the sound effects and dialogue are cut out. The songs are more subliminal and more a part of the overall sound.

SK: When scoring the series you were primarily layering synth sounds without utilizing many live acoustical elements. When THE X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE came along, you had the opportunity to score with a live orchestra and again with I WANT TO BELIEVE.

First of all, how does the compositional process differ between the series and the films and to what effect did any differences outcome the music?

MS: Well, it didn’t really change at all. The big difference was when I was done with a piece, I would turn it into a MIDI file and it would go out to the copyist who would, in turn, put it through one of their programs to give to the orchestrators. They would see pretty clearly where the orchestral music was in regards to the strings, the horns, percussion, piano, harp, and they would write that out.

Sometimes my synth strings would be with the orchestral strings and sometimes not. Sometimes my percussion stuff would be plenty and we didn’t need any of the live percussion. It was a cue by cue situation. I felt very comfortable that all of my orchestral instruments would be much more fantastic with the real deal, especially with the size of that group.

SK: How do you work in the electronic elements of your acoustical scores? Do you have those planned out ahead of time or do you add them after the acoustical elements are in place?

MS: I basically hear the whole thing right from the get go. We separate every single individual synth or sampled sound on a separate track and Alan Meyerson mixes each one of those. He treats them with who knows what he does – it’s amazing to me – and then combines them all. Then it has to be mixed in 5.1 surround sound. It’s a miracle!

I do my thing and it sounds pretty good. We get an orchestra and live players and Alan Meyerson…Holy mackerel! I pinch myself listening back to these things. I said “Wow! I loved that! Holy Smokes! This is great!”

SK: It sounds like this could be a real peak for you as far as satisfaction throughout your career. Not just in the X-FILES world. It’s sounding very much like this is one of those top ranking experiences for you…

MS: I’m glad you said it because somewhere along this interview I was definitely going to say that. In terms of satisfaction this ranks the highest.

I did a movie in France with director Alain Resnais. That was also satisfying. The only thing missing was we didn’t have a live orchestra. The music for that – and there is going to be a CD coming out momentarily – was very subtle but also extremely thematic and tuneful. It’s all very emotional but in a quiet sort of sad-yearing-type of way.

It was also very satisfying in the sense that the director just said, “I’m a big fan of yours and I want you to do this. I hired you because I know you will do the right things. I don’t want to tell you what to do. Just go out there and do it.”

So I did and it turned out to be a really great experience.


SK: I received a promo copy of your score from PUBLIC FEARS IN PRIVATE PLACES (aka COEURS) and I wrote a brief preview of it on this site [HERE].
I loved it! I don’t normally review film music without having seen the film but in this case, I did. I really loved the music. You were nominated for what is basically the European equivalency of the Oscar for that score, is that correct? [details HERE]

MS: Yes, I was nominated. They call it a César Award. To get that nomination, that too, is pretty remarkable.


SK: Do you have a date yet when the score will be released on CD?

MS: It could literally be next week.


SK: I’ll be on the look out for that. The promo CD that I got only had ten or twelve minutes of music on it, so I’m definitely dying to hear more.

SK NOTE: Since this interview was conducted, BuySoundtrax.com has announced the release of PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC PLACES (aka COEURS) on their own BSX Records label. I ordered my copy immediately upon hearing the announcement. Check out their web site [HERE] for more information.

I’ve heard there is already a CD planned for THE X-FILES 2: I WANT TO BELIEVE. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

MS: It’s going to be coming out on Decca. They are bugging me, “Let’s go do some record mixes for it right away!” It will probably be 90% of the score because a lot of the pieces are just sound effect style stuff.

There is also a song by Xzibit which plays during the end credits. I think that song is going to be on the CD as well. There’s also a really great new band that Chris Carter knew about that did a remix of THE X-FILES theme which sounds fantastic. That’s going to be on there as well.


SK: What about the series? I remember when THE TRUTH AND THE LIGHT CD came out. I was very excited they finally released your music from the show. Any future plans of releasing more?

MS: I understand that there’s going to be CDs released on the other series that Chris did: MILLENNIUM, THE LONE GUNMEN, and HARSH REALM.

They’re talking about this massive compilation of THE X-FILES too. But nine years times…it could be ten thousand minutes of music! That would be a real challenge to choose from that much music but I understand that that is in the works too.


SK: That would be awesome!

I’ve interviewed and talked with a lot of different television composers and one thing that frequently comes up is we seem to be currently witnessing a genuine renaissance in television.

The various facets of television are reaching new heights in terms of quality and one of those facets is music. We are getting some absolutely fantastic scores in television these days. In the past several decades that hasn’t always been the case.

I’ve always attributed this modern boom back to THE X-FILES. Even during the nineties, television wasn’t the place to go if you wanted to hear great scores. But I very much believe it was your work on THE X-FILES that helped catalyze the resurrection of well-crafted scores for television.

It was your music, in fact, that first got me sucked into the show. I was flipping channels one night – I believe it was during the second season – and I came across a show and said to myself, “What is this music?” I was loving it. It turned out it was THE X-FILES. I tuned in the following week just so I could hear more music. The next thing I knew, I was hooked on the show.

I’d like for you to comment a little on the recent trends of television scoring because I think you deserve a lot of credit for raising the bar and improving the overall quality of it.

MS: That’s an immense compliment and I really appreciate it. I think the most important factor was that Chris and company really seemed to trust me.

First of all, there is a lot of music in the show. At first, with the pilot, they really wanted very atmospheric stuff. Not melodic or cheesy. Just supportive almost sound designed music. That’s where we started.

I felt after a while that was getting too one dimensional and so I started experimenting. Every time I did, it was encouraged by Chris and company so I just kept going and going and they kept liking it and liking it.

It’s rare that you are in a situation where you are given such creative freedom. In television, the music editor has to do temp tracks that have to be approved by the studio, the network, the producers and then those things are tweaked and changed and then it comes back to the composer and the composer is given these marching orders, “Copy this as close as you can come,” which does take some degree of one’s own creative impetus out of the process. It just depends on the show and it depends on the people that you are working for.

I think Chris Carter and Steven Cannell, Dick Wolfe, and Steven Bochco, are the last of the great singular people that a composer had to answer to. Not committees and not networks. These guys would tell us what they wanted and it was just wonderful being able to answer to just one person.


SK: That seems to be the reoccurring theme. The more creative freedom talented individuals receive the better the product is going to be. It’s not a law, but it’s definitely something common amongst the great shows of our time.

To me, I think without the success of THE X-FILES, I don’t know if we would have some of the great television scores that we are getting today. Trust begets trust.

MS: I really appreciate that but at this point in the interview I have to give credit to someone who was actually my mentor. I think this man was the absolute first composer for TV music that gave it some legitimacy and that’s Earl Hagen.

Although he did a lot of light hearted and comedy music, his more dramatic music and the range of what he could do was exceptional. He was such a hard worker. In those days there was no such thing as a sampler or a synthesizer. Everything was written out and played by live musicians. If you listen to some of the underscore of some of his dramatic shows it is so brilliant!

He was incredibly generous to young composers who were starting out. He would have this class at his house out in Calabasas California, where there is a big country club that he belonged to. He loved golf. He made a ton of money on all of the TV shows so the fee for getting into the class was a dozen Titleist golf balls.

We would have a ten week session each year. There wouldn’t be more than ten people and once a week we would sit around with him while he played some of his music and teach us about the technical side of things.

I just remember he would never kick you out. If you wanted to stay there until four in the morning, he would be right there with you and you could ask him any question, talk about stuff, or listen to all kinds of music. It was incredibly inspiring.

SK: I’m glad you brought him up. I couldn’t agree more. When he passed away a few weeks ago, I wrote a brief memorial article for Ain’t It Cool News [HERE].

When you talk about the father of television scoring, nobody can quite compare. His body of work is just legendary. That’s an amazing anecdote.

MS: Also, in a funny way, my X-FILES theme with the whistle is sort of my homage to Earl. He whistled (the theme from THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW) himself. I wasn’t that good of a whistler. But he did it.


SK: That’s awesome!

What I’d like to do now is take you back through THE X-FILES series a little bit. I’m going to mention a handful of individual episodes and I want you to give me some initial thoughts of reflection or an anecdote or whatever comes to your mind when I mention the episode. I’m going to start off with one of the more legendary X-FILES episodes of all time

…HOME.

MS: That was so powerful and so incredible…the idea behind it. All I had to do was sit there at the keyboard as something came up right from my gut, into my fingers and plopped down.

I was possessed absolutely with that episode. I’m telling you, when the shows were that good it was less than easy. It just flowed. It was so natural and came so easily. I don’t know what else to say. It was just so inspiring that you couldn’t miss. You couldn’t go wrong when you were just so completely mesmerized by the show and that was one of the classics. You are absolutely right.


SK: That’s TV history in my opinion. Nobody has seen anything like that since or before and it still remains one of those episodes you clearly remember where you were when you first saw it.

MS: I also thought that it was so powerful even with no music and just sound effects. Like NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007) and how great that was.

But (HOME) was a classic no doubt about it.


SK: The next one is one of the more beautiful and poignant scores you’ve done for the series. It’s one of my favorites, THE FIELD WHERE I DIED.

MS: There was an opportunity there. So much of the music in the first season or first part of the first year was all of this musical vapor and atmospheric sound design stuff. I knew that I just loved being able to write a melodic piece and here was an opportunity where it presented itself that worked out great.

I was a little nervous when Chris and company would hear a melody. They might think “Uh oh.” I tried to make it as honest and heartfelt as possible.

I think that actually leads right over to what I did with I WANT TO BELIEVE with these themes. Frank Spotnitz is a real straight forward, serious, but good-natured guy and he walked over during one of the recordings of one of these pieces and there were tears in his eyes. That was like, “Wow!”

I don’t want to sound like I’m so full of myself but there were so many magic moments in the scoring of this movie, especially with these themes. I think you will know what I mean when you see it.


SK: The teary eyes from any of your audience members is definitely the ultimate compliment for a film or television composer.

The episode that I consider to be the quintessential episode – if no body had ever seen the show and they said “What one episode should I see?” I would tell them to go see JOSE CHUNG’S FROM OUTER SPACE.

MS: That was such a remarkable episode. Getting Charles Nelson Riley in that was genius. He was just so quirky and perfect. That’s another thing that seemed to play automatic.

The idea…what was sort of like 50’s bebop jazz with the bongos…almost like something from Ed Wood but finger snapping and the piano thing.

Using the little jazz combo – without overdoing it – gave such an interesting flavor and again, very different from most X-FILES music.


SK: THE X-FILES is well-known for darkness and for beauty but one element that often gets overlooked was comedy. I’ve always thought SMALL POTATOES was one of the great comedic episodes of the series.

MS: There was a palette of instruments consisting of strings and woodwinds that I had for that show that in a way dictated some of the other lighthearted or comic shows. The sound relied on pizzicato strings a lot.

Nevertheless it seemed sparse enough and not over-the-top but definitely lighthearted with a lot of good space between notes. There were woodwind solos with pizzicato strings and some piano and every once in a while one of the classic X-FILES weird sounds would pop in.

Those episodes were tons of fun because it really relied on timing. It also seemed that the economy of the music was a big part of that to make it successful.


SK: One of the things I’ve always been curious about is in the episode CLOSURE from the seventh season when you finally learned the fate of Mulder’s sister, it’s one of the rare moments where you didn’t actually compose the music. They cut in “My Weakness” by Moby.

First of all, did you have anything to do with the selection of that piece and I often wondered was it at all disappointing for you not be able to score such a major resolution in the X-FILES mythology?

MS: That’s a good question and luckily for myself, I really thought that song was perfect. I didn’t have anything to do with it or the decision behind it but I felt totally comfortable.

Every once in a while, when Chris would pick out a pop song or whatever, he would always make really great choices and I thought that was a good one.

He was a big fan of Moby at the time and actually my theme for HARSH REALM was inspired by Moby where I used some snippets of Mussolini giving a speech. I used it in sort of a musical-sample way over the dark music. There was sort of a hip-hop type rhythm section I used with this Mussolini thing. It think it had a pretty cool effect actually.


SK: If somebody had told me before watching CLOSURE, that they ended it with a piece that you didn’t compose, I would have screamed “Blasphemy!”

That said, I do think it was one of the more powerful, amazing, and emotional moments in the entire series.

MS: Chris’s taste in pop music and alternative music…I’ve been right there with him.

So that’s always great. I remember in MILLENNIUM, there were some opera pieces and in the great black-and-white show, THE POST-MODERN PROMETHEUS, they took a piece from (Camille) Saint-Saëns, called THE CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS. So we have been all over the map. What’s that Johnny Cash song? “I’ve been everywhere man…”

I have been everywhere musically with the X-FILES. From harpsichord baroque, string quartets, live sopranos…the Scully theme that people talk about a lot, so…

They were talking about doing another movie after (I WANT TO BELIEVE) and I thought “You are kidding! I thought this was going to be it.” I suppose if this does big business or acceptable business they might keep doing some more. That would be incredible.


SK: Looking back on it all…the show, the two films, in your best summation, what does the X-FILES mean to you?

MS: At first it was an absolute shock! When I first saw the pilot, I knew it was good. I knew it was well done but like everyone else I had no idea whatsoever that it was going to turn into this cult phenomenon.

The magic of that time in my life was just amazing. If that happened again in my life it would be a miracle of miracles. To be a part of something where I do music for either a TV show or a movie that became another iconic thing, that would be amazing. But believe me, I am very satisfied with this one!


SK: Can you recount your experience composing the now classic theme for the THE X-FILES series?

MS: The story about the theme is so cool.

At first, Chris sent me a collection of CDs and music ranging from classical to punk rock to all sorts of things. He said “I like the guitar here. I like the vocals here. I like the drum sound here.” So to make a long story short, I did four themes before I hit upon the final one and all of them were based on material that he gave me.

They were more of what you would think perhaps a sci-fi theme would be: loud, fast, and weird. He was very cool about the whole process. I said, “Look, let’s try this…Let me just start from scratch and erase everything we have done and see what I can come up with. I’m getting to know you better and your musical sensibilities and what you have a taste for, so just give me a shot here.” He said, “Absolutely!”

I remember he walked out of the studio. I put my hand down on the keyboard and I had this delay echo effect which later became the four note piano triplet figure that repeats itself, “Da-da-da, Da-da-da, Da-da-da…” I said, “Wow! That’s a happy accident.” So keeping with the Chris Carter school of music – nothing slick or overproduced and really, really simple – I thought, “What else does it really need?”

It needed a pad of stuff underneath and then a melody and that was it. So I had the piano part. I had the pad combination of a lot of things, and then I came up with this tune.

Then it was a matter of what instrument or sound would play it and I went through everything that makes a sound from saxophone to guitar to flutes, all of the regular instruments and synthesizer stuff. I then stumbled upon this one sound.

I remember my wife hearing that whistle sound. She was out in the yard and the door was open. She came in and said, “You know, that’s pretty cool.”

I got Chris back in my studio and he’s very quiet. He hears it and he says “That’s great” in a very low key way. He kept hearing it and hearing it and he said, “I think that’s it. I think that’s our TWILIGHT ZONE theme.”

Then he said, “OK, now we have to get it approved by Fox so I want to bring it in with you. We’ll both sit there with them and play it.”

I meet him over at the studio and I have a boom box and a CD and we go in there and he looks at his watch and goes, “Oh no! I have a meeting. I can’t stay. Hey guys, this is the theme I want. Here’s Mark Snow… I have got to go.”

So I’m left with these four executives and they are all in suits and they are all very nice and respectful and I played the piece and they looked like they didn’t know what the hell happened. They couldn’t say anything.

One guy said “You know, that is really…I am telling you…” and then he would look to his friend and say “Bill, what do you think?”…“This piece…Sam?” and they would go around the room and no one would say anything. But they signed off on it.

Whatever it was, a month or two later when the show was beginning to take off and the music was getting noticed, one of these guys called up and said “Didn’t I tell you how great that was, huh?”

“OK…”

What do you day? You say “Yes Sir, thank you very much.”


SK: That very first draft that you played for Chris, is that the draft that we hear on the show?

MS: Actually there was a little more stuff in it. He said “Why don’t you just simplify it? You’ve got these three basic elements. Just take out this, this, and this.” It wasn’t too much more.


SK: Are there any particular episodes that I might not have mentioned that seem to stand out in your mind as being a favorite of yours?

MS: Oh God…


SK: Hard question, huh?

MS: That is. I forget the name of the show, but the side show circus group with this guy who had…


SK: HUMBUG.

MS: Yeah, HUMBUG, where his twin was attached to him and would crawl out in the middle of the night to all kinds of mischief. God that was amazing! I’m just at a loss of remembering names…THE POSTMODERN PROMETHEUS was a big deal. JOSE CHUNG was great. CLYDE BRUCKMAN was a great one…HOME.


SK: THE HOST…That was probably the first slap across the face for people watching the X-FILES in its debut season. They are getting comfortable in the first season and all of a sudden THE HOST comes on, it’s like, “Whoa! This is something different.”

MS: The series of shows that Micheal McKean was in (DREAMLAND and DREAMLAND II)…Just name it. They are all good. The JFK black-and-white in and out with the Cigarette Smoking Man was amazing…


SK: There’s that block of episodes in the fourth season that stick out for me, with HOME, UNRUHE, MUSINGS OF A CIGARETTE SMOKING MAN, NEVER AGAIN, THE FIELD WHERE I DIED…There are like five or six of them within an eight week period that I think represent some of the best episodes of the series. What an amazing run. I have a hard time picking my favorites too.

MS: I remember there was one where there is an Amish sect that has all kinds of crazy stuff going on in a very rural country setting.

I remember using this ram’s horn sound as a signature sound for that episode with just two notes that sounded very primitive. It also had a kind of scary religious overtone to it.

SK: Great stuff! Real quick, do you have anything planned after X-FILES 2? What do you have coming up in the future?

MS: Actually I’m writing a score now that is a completely different change of pace. It’s a kids movie, sort of Tom Sawyer meets Hitchcock and it’s really well done and cute and sweet. It’s an independent movie.

In fact, it’s directed by a guy named Bobby Moresco, who was one of the producers of MILLENNIUM of all things and he also co-wrote CRASH (2004) with Paul Haggis. He really had a love for this story and did a really great job. It’s a lot of fun going from the big X-FILES to this other thing.


SK: Well Mark, I’ve had a blast chatting with you today. I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do so. I wish you the very best in your future endeavors hope I can talk more X-FILES again soon.

MS: Thanks! It was my pleasure.


If you’d like to catch a great series of photos from the scoring sessions for THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE, check out the spread at ScoringSessions.com [HERE] and see Mark in action!

On behalf of Ain’t It Cool News I’d like to thank Mark Snow for his time. He worked in a generous hour between recording sessions for THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE in order to talk with me. Time is sparse during such hectic days for a composer and I’m very thankful Mark chose to divvy up some my way.

I’d also like to thank Costa Communications for their assistance with this interview.

There’s no doubt about it…I WANT TO BELIVE!

Emmy Magazine: The Chris Carter Workout

Apr-??-2001
Emmy Magazine
The Chris Carter Workout
Barry Garron

Maybe he’d rather be surfing, but since the success of his X-Files, Chris Carter’s idea of hanging ten is keeping both hand on the keyboard. Now with two series on the air. Those long days keep getting longer.

Let’s start with this: Chris Carter says he’s not a workaholic. If you can believe that-and many people have trouble doing so-the rest of the story is going to be fairly easy to swallow.

That’s because the rest of the story is about how Carter, creator and executive producer of The X-Files and, as of March, The Lone Gunmen, crafts his series and his beliefs that (a) TV is a business that’s comfortable with failure and (b) Hollywood is a place that eschews hard work. Sure, those propositions are debatable, but not as much as Carter’s notion about his affinity for work.

Being a workaholic, he says, suggests a compulsion to work. As he speaks, Carter sits in his production office on the 20th Century Fox lot in West L.A., where you can usually find him between six-thirty each morning and evening. “My compulsion is to make something good and right-to be as good as it can be. So I’m a quality-aholic,”

It’s a distinction that probably matters more to Carter than the rest of the world. According to him, if he didn’t have to spend all those hours getting things right-if he wasn’t so afraid of failure-if he didn’t have to thoroughly satisfy himself that the hard work of his production team was going to have a satisfying payoff for viewers-well, he’d be out the door and down at the beach in Santa Barbara, surfboard in hand.

Fat Chance.

“I don’t see anyway around it if you want to make a successful television show,” he says of the long hours. And each award and scrap of praise makes him work all the harder, he adds, if only to live up to the accolades.

Robert Patrick, added to The X-Files cast this season with the reduced presence of David Duchovny, professes amazement “at how easy Chris is to find. All you have to do is call his office. He’s there every hour of the day. That poor guy works his ass off.”

So maybe it’s a lost cause for Carter, forty-four, to deny his addiction to work. If it’s the truth, it’s out there anyway. Besides, this soft-spoken, intense, idealistic, fiercely loyal, often demanding storyteller has no shortage of other thoughts worth considering. For example, about TV: “It’s a business where they dare you to succeed and, if you take that dare, you’re taking the chance of failure. I’m just kind of realistic about that.”

That sounds straight forward enough-until you remember that Carter, despite his oft-confessed fear of failure, refuses to play it safe. Cop shows, medical shows, lawyer shows? Forget it. Carter wants to do shows about FBI agents who investigate the paranormal (The X-Files), about an FBI agent who sees through the eyes of the criminals he pursues (Millennium), about a soldier trapped in a life-and-death world of virtual reality (Harsh Realm), and, now, about a team of bumbling but earnest investigative reporters who uncover amazing crimes and conspiracies (The Lone Gunmen).

The X-Files, for which a ninth season was under discussion at press time, has achieved TV legend status but, like most unconventional shows, selling the premise wasn’t easy. Fox executives had to be persuaded that viewers would rally round a series that capitalized on fear and that Carter’s chosen leads-Duchovny and, particularly, Gillian Anderson-were right for the parts.

“The X-Files is the result of my setting out to do something that wasn’t on TV at the time, which was a good, scary show,” Carter says. “I would say that the idea of the show has always been to scare people.” Not surprisingly, among his favorite shows growing up were Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the classic mystery anthology series; Night Gallery, the supernatural anthology series with host Rod Serling; and The Night Stalker, the mid-seventies fantasy series in which a reporter stalked a new, mysterious murderer each week.

As X-Files developed, he realized that it also must be about Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, the believer and the skeptic who became instant hits with viewers. “I think the show succeeds best when it succeeds with these characters,” he says, “and it succeeds wonderfully when it succeeds in its storytelling and its character development.”

Millennium lasted three seasons and Carter considers it a success, too, though clearly not of X-Files proportions. Harsh Realm is another story, though. Introduced last fall, it lasted only three episodes. Doug Herzog, then Fox president, failed to nurture or promote the show, Carter says, and likely didn’t understand it. The producer concedes that in fulfilling a network request, he may have tried to pack too much background and exposition into those early episodes, asking too much of viewers. “It was a huge disappointment because I think we had done good work and nobody ever knew the show was on.”

He has a different sense about Lone Gunmen, a spinoff of X-Files, though hugely different in tone. “You can feel when a show is working and you can feel when a show is inspired,” he says, “and this feels inspired. The stories make you laugh just hearing the log lines.”

While The X-Files is a drama with comedic elements, Lone Gunmen – starring Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, Stephen Snedden and Zuleikha Robinson-is a comedy with just enough drama to provide the framework for the plot. Viewer exposure was guaranteed by a launch on the popular Sunday-night Fox schedule. “It’s about misdeeds at all levels of society,” Carter says. “But it’s really about the disenfranchised little guy or some injustice that’s overlooked or buried. These guys pick up the cases that no one wants to take.”

Because Carter is not a producer who abandons one creation for another, he found himself doing double duty much of this season, splitting his time between the two shows. “We don’t just write these scripts and hand them to someone to produce them,” he says. “We spend a lot of time talking about what we should see when, where the camera should be, delivery of information.” Let the camera tell as much of the story as possible, Carter maintains, but don’t make it a character. “These shows are very cinematic in their approach,” he explains. “They require a relationship between the crew, the production personnel, the director and the writing producers. It’s a very collaborative and cooperative endeavor.”

Although Carter keeps tabs on every step in the process, most of his time is spent writing, which becomes more challenging with each succeeding episode. But this is where he shines. He has the ability to focus instantly on the material and filter out all distractions. Yes, it’ll take time to get it right, and he tries not to rush the process.

“I always say that we don’t just write the scripts for some future audience,” Carter says. “You’re writing for the crew, you’re writing for the cast. You’ve got to keep them entertained. And if [you do], most likely, you are well on your way to being successful.”

Though there was no way of predicting that Carter would become one of TV’s leading producers-or, for that matter, one of Time’s twenty-five most influential people in America and one of People’s fifty most beautiful people-his propensity for hard work and writing were obvious from an early age. He grew up in the working-class L.A. suburb of Bellflower and graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 1979 with a degree in journalism, having taken a semester off to help a carpenter friend build a house from scratch.

A devotee of surfing from age twelve, he took his first job after college as a writer and editor for Surfing magazine. Starting at the keys of an IBM Selectric taught him the discipline of writing. “It’s not necessarily that I learned to be a writer there. I learned that an enormous part of being a writer is keeping your butt on the chair and your fingers at the keyboard.”

His father, a foreman on a construction crew, took pride in being the hardest worker on every job. The lesson wasn’t lost on young Chris and his younger brother, Craig, now a science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The truth is, I work in what I consider to be a very blue-collar business. It’s a very hard-working environment, and if anybody takes on the air of king or prima donna, you’re in big trouble. My management style is always to work as hard or harder than anybody. My forebears were dairy farmers and flower growers. They were up early and working early. And I say to my wife sometimes, ‘I feel like I’m just doing another version of milking the cows.’ I feel that those hours are the hours I’m genetically disposed to keep.”

One can sense a sort of pride in the amount of time he spends at work. But if you ask Carter what he’s really proud of, he’ll say it’s the longevity of The X-Files and the team he’s assembled at Ten Thirteen Productions (named for his birthdate, October 13, and for his lucky numbers). At the same time, he knows that, to some extent, his philosophy makes him an outsider in the industry where he’s been so successful.

“There is an attitude that effort is vulgar,” he says. “I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s a pervasive attitude. Hard work is for those guys, somebody else. If you can’t be a deal-maker, and if you can’t be out there in the trades, you’re just a content producer. And that’s kind of an irritant to me.”

Another irritant is what he calls the “dabblers” in television, the Hollywood hotshots of the feature world who descend from the film equivalent of Mt. Olympus to dip their toes in the TV waters. They have an idea and maybe a script, and maybe they’ll even direct the pilot. Then someone else runs the show.

“This is not a business for dabblers,” Carter says. “I think that’s why there’s a lot of failure, why television gets a bum rap sometimes. If you look at the good television shows, they are not created by dabblers.”

In 1985, Carter signed a development contract with Walt Disney Studios. Later, he moved to NBC, the result of a meeting on the softball field with Brandon Tartikoff, the late president of NBC Entertainment. Carter went back to Disney in 1989 but, three years later, signed an exclusive deal with Peter Roth and Fox to develop new series. His latest deal with Fox, signed in September, 1998, reportedly spans five years and is worth as least $30 million. Industry experts have speculated that, with all profits from TV and film factored in, it could be worth as much as $100 million. Carter has his own perspective, though.

“The truth is, there’s not a whole lot I want in life,” he says. “I’d love to go surfing when I want to go surfing, where I want to go surfing. I’d like to make sure my wife [screen-writer-novelist Dori Peterson] [sic] has everything she wants in life. That’s very important to me. Beyond that, it is just insurance. You’re forced to be motivated by money in Hollywood because they make it about money. The deal is dishonest and everyone knows that. You are working with a [studio] partner and, in success down the line, there’s going to be a problem because this is a business of not just manufacturing, but a business of accounting.”

Hollywood is about more than dollars and cents, Carter says. “Money is a certain form of justice in Hollywood and no one is an idiot. If they said they were lopping off a few million dollars, would I work as hard? Basically, the virtue of being a hard worker is people get to take advantage of that. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paid for it.”

In 1998 Carter turned The X-Files into a feature film, and a successful one at that. Reportedly, the movie, shot on a budget of $63 million, had a worldwide gross of $185 million. Carter would like to make more movies, including a second film based on the series. He also plans, sometime this summer, to write the first of two novels for Bantam Books.

And then there’s the Carter Foundation, begun last year, which has issued several thousand dollars in scholarships to needy college freshman who intend to pursue a science major. Carter plans to double the amount this year.

“You know where the money’s going in big universities now?” he asks. “Film schools. Everybody wants to be a film-maker, so they’re pumping money into film schools but they’re not doing anything for science programs. I figure that anything I can do to turn the tide on that would be a smart thing.”

Not long ago, Carter was asked what advice he would give to aspiring writers. His answer should come as no surprise. “Work really, really hard,” he said. “A lot of people come up to me and say, ‘I want to write.’ And I always say, ‘What’s stopping you?’ It’s a matter of sitting down in front of a computer, a notepad, a typewriter and doing it. You’re about 90 percent of the way there if you can do that.”

Seattle Times: Enter the Gunmen: ‘X’ marks the spot

Mar-02-2001
Seattle Times
Enter the Gunmen: ‘X’ marks the spot
Allan Johnson

Writer/producer Chris Carter says he won’t hold a gun to Fox’s head if the network wants another season of “The X-Files,” even if it mistreats his new series, “The Lone Gunmen.”

But with visions of “Harsh Realm,” his previous series for Fox, still dancing in his head, Carter does want a little respect.

“The Lone Gunmen,” the promising action-comedy spinoff of Carter’s “The X-Files,” is about the three nerdy conspiracy theorists/computer hackers who provide the paranormal-investigating FBI agents with research and information from time to time. It settles in the 9 p.m. Sunday “X-Files” slot beginning this weekend (on KCPQ-TV) before moving to its 9 p.m. Friday slot on March 16.

Recent interviews with Carter have painted a dark picture for fans of “The X-Files.” He has indicated one of the determining factors for producing a ninth season would be how well Fox protects “Gunmen.”

That’s because Carter thinks Fox didn’t do enough for “Harsh Realm,” a virtual reality-themed 1999 action drama that only lasted three episodes before it was canceled.

“X” is on a high

“The X-Files” is doing well, both creatively, with the invigorating addition of Robert Patrick as the new partner of FBI agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), and in the ratings, hitting its highest viewership in more than a year last Sunday. Both elements bode well for a ninth season.

Carter, who doesn’t have a contract to remain with “X-Files” after this season, chooses his words carefully when talking about whether or not his return hinges on Fox’s treatment of “Gunmen.”

“I’m not holding that out there as a negotiation tactic per se,” Carter says. “It’s simply that as we speak right now, we’ve got the most popular show on Fox. We’re working our (tails) off, not just to keep that show good and fresh, but to do this new show. We just want to be given the chance and respect it deserves.

“And as with the case of “Harsh Realm,’ ” Carter adds, “it never had that opportunity. So we want to make sure that our hard work is respected and rewarded. And that’s really what that’s about, because there’s no sense in being involved in a partnership that doesn’t work two ways.”

Carter is heartened by Fox’s actions thus far. The network has constantly promoted “Gunmen’s” debut. Fox is allowing “X-Files” to take a break to allow “Gunmen” a chance for a decent sampling on the next three Sundays. Also, the series will air twice in one weekend, on March 16 in its Friday spot and on March 18, its last Sunday appearance.

” “Harsh Realm’ is now looking like it was the anomaly,” says Carter, 44. “They are getting in there and they are supporting “The Lone Gunmen.’ It’s just that continued support is what you need, because a TV series is a series; it’s not a movie. There’s many episodes, and you have to hang in there with something that you know is coming from people who can produce quality programming.”

A quirky comedy

While not in the same league as the moodier “X-Files,” “Gunmen,” a comic “Mission: Impossible” with the guys going to great lengths to investigate conspiracies, still has elements that could make it a quirky little winner.

Fans of “The X-Files” know the computer-hacking trio of straight-laced, dedicated John Byers (Bruce Harwood), cynical, pugnacious Melvin Frohike (Tom Braidwood) and long-haired techno whiz Richard “Ringo” Langly (Dean Haglund). The three publish a newspaper that exposes perceived government and corporate shenanigans.

They were always more for comic effect on “X-Files.” In their own series, they get to strut their amusing mix of sarcastic one-liners and bumbling ineptitude in an effort to, as Byers says in the premiere, “expose those that will destroy that (American) dream” and “write the stories that they don’t want you to read. …

“That’s why I teamed up with you guys. You’re true believers.”

Cracks Frohike: “I thought it was for the chick throw-off.”

“They’re obviously throwbacks to the ’60s, certainly Frohike,” Carter says. “They are sort of cynical idealists who believe in sort of mom and apple pie and truth, justice and the American way. So they really are kind of geek patriots who believe in a better America.”

“If you pimply pencil-necks are the only hope for the American people, God help us all,” says Yves Adele Harlow (Zuleikha Robinson), a rival who spars with the Gunmen.

Harlow and goofy Jimmy Bond (Stephen Snedden), who becomes the deep pockets for the Lone Gunmen newspaper, seem to be nods to viewers who are used to seeing beautiful people on TV – which the Gunmen are not.

While the mysterious Harlow makes a fine foil for the trio, Bond, with his annoying gee-whiz enthusiasm, is an intrusion. The boys can stand on their own. The series, with episode openings that spoof “The Matrix” and “Mission: Impossible,” has the same sophisticated sheen as “The X-Files.” It even has the same cloudy and gray look of that series in its early years, due to its shooting in Vancouver, B.C., where “Gunmen” is filmed and where “X-Files” filmed before moving to California a few years ago.

While played for laughs with broad physical humor (Frohike is the prime target of the pratfalls), it will be interesting to see just how many conspiracy-laced plots Carter can come up with, and whether Fox will be patient with “Gunmen” when it finally lands on Friday nights.

Long Island Newsday: Glued to the tube ‘X-Files’: It’s Still Out There But its creator eyes Fox’s backing of ‘Lone Gunmen’

Jan-17-2001
Long Island Newsday
Glued to the tube
‘X-Files’: It’s Still Out There But its creator eyes Fox’s backing of ‘Lone Gunmen’
Diane Werts

HOLLYWOOD – IT WAS 1930s Hollywood mogul Harry Cohn who said, “If you want to send a message, call Western Union.” Today, the showbiz heavy hitters just call the TV critics.

Actually, they don’t have to call. We’re already here, twice a year, at the two-week press tours in which the country’s tube writers meet with network executives, producers and stars to preview their fall or midseason offerings.

Mostly they come to our convention hotel in a parade of ballroom news conferences. But sometimes we head to their home studios to chat on-set, where they feel more comfortable.

And so they get personal. “The X- Files” creator Chris Carter did his press duty on a 20th Century Fox soundstage below a hanging alien ship contraption that looked like some “Star Trek” Borg assimilation of an arena scoreboard.

Carter clarified that David Duchovny’s MIA Mulder character “will come back into play in Episode 14 this year [the Feb. 25 cliffhanger before a five-week hiatus] and be very important to the rest of the season.” Simultaneously, the show will explore Robert Patrick’s new Doggett character. “We’ll realize why he is the way he is and how he may have changed, in Episode 14.” Annabeth Gish is joining the cast to avoid a Mulder-Scully-Doggett triangle, and Scully’s pregnancy will be “played out by the end of the season,” Carter says, choosing his words carefully.

He gets less circumspect regarding negotiations for another season of his eighth-year show, revealing much in one-on-one conversation about his relationship with the Fox network, which debuts his spinoff series, “The Lone Gunmen,” March 4 to keep the “X-Files” Sunday slot hot.

“I’m open to it,” he says of more “Files,” but “I really am interested in seeing their promotion and support for ‘Lone Gunmen.’ I want to make sure that they are supporting us completely and not just partially, that it’s not just for the perpetuation of ‘X-Files,’ that they’re going to support it as the good show it is.” His recent series “Harsh Realm” got “no promotion,” he states, and “it was a shock to me.” Got the message, Fox? “I hope that the talks can be done a lot sooner than they were last year, which was like right down to the wire,” Carter says, “and that we would know [early] so I could have more time to spend with the [season’s] final episode.” Carter partner Frank Spotnitz says May’s last outing, in any event, “will be the finale for eight seasons of “The X-Files,” as Duchovny’s part-time contract runs out. Nevertheless, the show’s fate remains uncertain.

Fandom.com: X-Files Music: Composer Mark Snow: The Ambience Is Out There

Jan-06-2001
Fandom.com
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.”

San Diego ComicCon 2000

Jul-20/21-2000

San Diego ComicCon transcript

[typed by marita1121]

First, the whole experience. So cool! I was so excited! My friend and I wandered around the ComicCon ’til it was time for CC, and I met some artists from The Simpsons, and got some Princess Mononoke posters, and it was pretty neat.

Then CC! We managed to get seats about three rows back on the left side, which were actually really really good, because CC was standing at a podium on the left side of the stage, and I had a very clear view of him, and we were quite close. They started off showing a montage of clips from TXF, including some outtakes (basically GA laughing and being unable to deliver her lines; I recognized some from the gagreels), and then some very brief clips of the Lone Gunmen show. I taped this, but didn’t transcribe it because it’s mostly creepy music and GA laughing. You didn’t get much from TLG clips, but as I recall we saw Frohike rolling around in mud, which was kinda erotic, in a sense. ;-D

Then CC came on stage. Like Spooky’s Toy said, he was wearing a white t-shirt and grey pants (jeans maybe). My general impressions of him were that he was very sincere. True he was somewhat distant and guarded when it came to plot specifics, but he seemed very nice and very appreciative of us, his fans.

Afterwards he signed these cards that were passed around (not everyone got a card, and that’s the only thing he’d sign), but I had to leave right after the session, so I gave my card away to some kids who were begging for them. I had brought along my Pilot script to be signed, but I guess that wouldn’t have worked out. Still, my life is that much closer to being complete. ;-D

Guy: Ladies and Gentlemen, would you please welcome Chris Carter!

[cheers from crowd]

CC: Thank you very much. I don’t even know what to say. I hope you liked that little Lone Gunmen preview. We had a lot of fun making the show. We’re starting to work on it now, we’ll be filming it in October, and I think you guys’ll see it in March. I’ve never been to Comic-con, I’ve heard a lot about it, and I’m hardly a replacement for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Lady in crowd: You’re better!

CC: I was setting you up. Um, but I’m going to open the floor to questions. I know people have a lot of questions, and I’d rather hear what you want to hear than what I want to tell you. Anyone?

Shout from crowd1: What’s going to happen to Mulder?

CC: What’s going to happen to Mulder?

Shout from crowd2: I heard he has a replacement.

CC: He’s looking for a place to invest his money right now. [laughter] He’s coming back. Actually he’s in the season opener, believe it or not. And he’s going to be in a lesser number of episodes this year, but we’re going to make it really interesting. It was actually something..it was a happy accident. I had to write the season finale — which is called “Requiem” — I had to write it without knowing whether or not we’d be back. So it actually set up an interesting problem for me in cutting that [something I can’t understand] in doing an eight year, that has actually worked with David’s availability this year. But, as some of you may know we announced an addition to the cast, yesterday actually, I think was yesterday, the day before yesterday, that’s Robert Patrick, who you guys know [cheers] as, among other things, I’m sure you all know him as the terminator guy. So he’s going to come into the show, and he’s not going to be Scully’s partner, but he’s going to be playing an important part. Of course Agent Scully over the seven years has seen a tremendous number of things that have eroded her skepticism and even though she’s still a scientist she’s a reluctant believer because to find Mulder now she has to accept the fact that he may have been abducted, so it leads us into, I think, a new era of The X-Files and I’m really excited about that. Next question?

Shout from the crowd3: Are there plans for another movie?

CC: Yes, there are plans. [cheers]

SfC3: Is there a script?

CC: No, the plans are all in my head. [laughter] Actually, I had a lot of time to think about it. It took me three hours to drive here, so I was working on the movie during the traffic jam in Oceanside today. [laughter]

SftC4: O-side!

CC: Anyway, next question?

SftC Are we going to see Mrs. Scully next season?

CC: Are you going to see Mrs. Scully, that’s an interesting question. Yes, you will see Mrs. Scully next season. She didn’t appear at all in the seventh season, which was not by choice, it just kind of the way it worked out. So I think now that Scully’s alone that she will go to her mother, certainly for comfort, if not dinner. [laughter, cheers]

[Brian Thompson walks up onto the other side of the stage with a microphone. He looks a lot hotter than as ABH. yee-ha]

Brian Thompson: Uh, Mr. Carter, my name’s Brian Thompson, I live in Los Angeles. I play the Bounty Hunter on the X-Files. It’s the television show you wrote about seven years ago, and, uh, I was in the last episode. Did you see that? I got in this space ship, and I was just wondering: what have Mulder and I been doing these last three months?

[laughter]

CC: That’ll be the cable version of the show.

BT: One more question. You know, what’s her name, the girl on the show, she’s pregnant…

CC: Scully.

BT: Oh, right. Everybody at the show says that’s going to be the Bounty Hunter’s baby. [laughter] And, could you confirm that?

CC: It’s actually going to be my baby.

BT: At the very least could you write a scene where I get to make out with her?

CC: I’m corruptible. [cheers] I’m not taking off my shirt. Next question.

[someone asking very softly a question about fansites]

CC: Right. I have an answer. The question was, how do I feel about fan sites that promote the show but aren’t necessarily official, and my feelings are, I’m all for them. I think what happens is Fox gets a little upset when people start to sell things on them or there’s copyright material on them that’s downloadable, I think that’s where the Corporation gets sticky. Me, personally, Chris Carter, I don’t care. [cheers] ‘Nother question.

Guy in crowd: I’ve been looking around for books on your directing techniques, the way you brought about X-Files and your past experience. I haven’t found very many, you know, they’re mostly about, you know, the fandom, you know, “The truth is out there.”

CC: Right.

GiC: Are there sources that can say influences you’ve had, techniques you’ve used to bring the mood about in X-Files, etc., etc.?

CC: I talk a lot about what my influences were and, so, those things, I’ve never spoken about…I’ve resisted speaking about it because I have to pretend I have some, something to say. Now, one of these days I’ll actually get it straight in my head then maybe I might talk about it. Ok, all right, stand up.

[Someone in the crowd saying something too quietly to be picked up on my recorder. She’s talking about newsgroups — not ATXF — and about a HR fanfic list. She asks what CC meant by the line at the end of some HR ep (didn’t catch the title) when someone says to Tom, “The healer thinks you’re the one: she’s right.”]

CC: Um, it’s a good question, I don’t remember. I’ve sort of repressed that experience. [someone shouts something indecipherable from the crowd] Thank you. She’s talking about Harsh Realm, she had some questions about Harsh Realm, a line that was in the end of one of the episodes, latter eight episodes. Um, I don’t remember exactly, I’d have to go back and read the script and think about why that was in there. But I’m certain it had to do with the mythology. And she’s also…and there’s obviously some fan fiction out there related to Harsh Realm, which is actually my, probably my only real connection to the comic book world, which is a very, very, very, very, very thin one. Anyway, next question?

VfC [a very very very faint one that took me a long time to decipher]: Why make Scully pregnant?

CC: Why not?

SfC5: It’s his baby!

CC: I thought it was interesting. I thought as we get into our relationship with Mulder, we’re going to go back and explore that. In the episode “all things” if you guys saw it [cheers]. And I thought it was interesting it complied with former character, too, because she’s a very lonely character, and now she’s even lonelier without Mulder.

Guy sitting next to me: Mr. Carter?

CC: Yes?

GSNtM: Will there be future X-Files conventions with the cast being able to tour with those conventions?

CC: There aren’t any immediate plans to have any more X-Files conventions, with or without the cast. I think it’s just because it was logistically really tough. I never wanted to merchandise the show, but all of a sudden it felt like when we did the movie there was a lot of stuff out there. I thought it was all pretty good because I had a lot of people who worked for me, one person particularly, who make sure the stuff that got out there was good, but, it took just too much time, it was a whole job in its self, so if we did it again I’d want to make sure that our quality control was what it should be.

Voice on the Microphone: Folks, if you have any questions, I’m going to have you come down here, I have a wireless, so if you have any questions come on over.

CC: That’s a good idea.

SfC6: Who killed JonBenet Ramsey? [laughter]

SfC7: What about the boys?

CC: What?

SfC7: The Lone Gunmen!

CC: The Lone Gunmen.

SfC8: Bruce Harwood! Woo!

CC: I bet you Bruce Harwood never thought in his life he’d have women catcalling him. [laughter]

SfC9: He’s a teddy bear!

CC: All right.

Questioner1: Are we going to see anymore Krycek, [cheers] and in particular are we going to see any more Mulder/Krycek interactions? [cheers]

CC: You’ll see more Krycek, he’s coming back. And Mulder/Krycek, I mean, we’ve got to get Mulder back before we get any interactions. Yeah, the mythology lives on, and even though there are certain things that have been resolved, there are things to explore, and as you saw in the season finale, Krycek’s very much alive. So’s Covarrubias, and since Laurie Holden, who plays Marita Covarrubias, sent me a nice letter at the end of the year, I’ll probably give her as much screen time as I possibly can.

Q2: Do you have any plans to bring Frank Black into any more episodes?

[cheers]

CC: I was thinking about that, too. I think I was thinking about that right around Del Mar. Yeah, you know, I love that character and I love working with Lance, so the big treat last year was being able to bring him back and doing it in an episode where Mulder and Scully actually get to consummate their relationship with a kiss, you know, a smooch. That’s pretty good, after seven years, you have to admit for two characters who have had such sexual tension that they finally smack on the lips. It’s the world’s longest foreplay. Anyway, I hope to bring Frank Black back, I came up with an idea on the way here on how to do that. It’s really Lance’s availability. There’s some Millennium fans out there. [cheers] All right.

Q3: Are there plans to increase Skinner’s presence on the series?

CC: I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of letters, that I think this is an orchestrated movement to get Mitch Pileggi on the show more, and the truth is I’d love to do that. I spoke to him yesterday, we’re trying to figure out ways to do that. It’s really just being true to the characters, true to the stories, how we do that, because obviously the character of Skinner is extremely important to the show because he has seen something now, he’s seen something even Scully hasn’t seen, so I think that it’s a pivotal role that he now plays in the development of the show.

Q4 (a small Asian girl with a blue wig): Um, hi.

CC: Hi.

Q4 (asAgwabw): I’m nervous.

CC: How can you be nervous? You have blue hair.

Q4 (asAgwabw): I know you already had the episode about it, but I was wondering if you could kind of clarify what happened to Samantha. It was kind of confusing.

CC: Right. It was supposed to be just a little big vague, but Mulder believes that through the course of those two episodes this year, that when bad things are about to happen to children that there is some force, some presence that comes down and, perhaps, saves children from those terrible fates. And he thinks that because of the testing that was being done on Samantha that, in fact, that’s what happened and that she has been removed and will perhaps be returned. She has become starlight, if you will. So that’s what he believes.

Q4 (asAgwabw): Do you need, uh, any Asian 15-year-old girls for the show?

CC: Uh, leave me your number.

[sAgwabw starts to walk away; stops in front of CC and looks hopefully]

[CC looks at her]

[sAgwabw doesn’t know quite what to do, but is still quite hopeful]

CC: Ok.

[she’s still kinda hopeful]

CC: Next.

[sAgwabw walks back to her seat dejectedly] [meanie]

Q5: I have a few questions about the Lone Gunmen. I’ve been keeping my eye out for the pilot all summer long and I haven’t seen it anywhere. Is there any way that we can see that?

CC: No, I’m sorry, you have to wait for the spring. Although, as with Millennium, I actually saw it bootlegged long before I saw it on the air, so there’s no telling today where it might pop up. That’s all I can tell you. Not that I would be involved in that.

Q5: And then, I’m not sure about your relationship with them now, but I’d really love to see an episode by Wong & Morgan, especially Darin Morgan.

[cheers]

CC: Yeah, those guys did great X-Files episodes, some of the best, I think. Actually, they’re all from the San Diego area. [cheers] But they’re off doing their own stuff now.

Q6: The only show that I’ve seen that’s done what your show has done, in terms of longevity of being good, is the Simpsons. I’ve watched your shows and seen story arcs complete and I stop right there and think, ‘you can’t get any better,’ but you would! How do you do that? What do you contribute to the longevity of being good. Even at the first show, it was good.

CC: Are you on my payroll? [laughter]

Q6: It’s just that I remember your show when it had just started, and people told me about it.

CC: Yeah.

Q6: Then I started watching it and it was good and it was before everybody got in to the, you know, Mulder’s all sexy and everything like that. It was a good show.

CC: You know, the reason for that is, one thing is that the people who have come to work on the show, you know, besides David and Gillian, who are the secret to the success of the show is David and Gillian, and hopefully now Robert Patrick will even add to that in a greater way, but the secret to the success is the people who come to work on the show. The writers, the directors, Rob Bowman and Kim Manners, David Nutter, people like Bob Goodwin and Michael Watkins, and the writing staff, which right now includes Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban and some other people, some staff writers. This is the reason we’re successful, ’cause everybody works really really hard to make it good.

Q6: Are you taking cards? [he holds up his business card]

CC: Uh, when I’m signing autographs I’ll take some, you can hand me stuff.

Q7: Mr. Carter, I enjoy your work.

CC: Thank you.

Q7: More of a wishlist, or a plea. Is there any chance you could use Darren McGavin as Kolchak the Night Stalker? Have a cameo of him in The Lone Gunmen.

CC: He is Kolchak the Night Stalker.

Q7: Yeah. Could you have him maybe show up…

CC: As Kolchak the Night Stalker…That’s a good idea. He’s already playing Mulder’s predecessor on The X-Files. I’ll have to think about it.

[some quiet mumblings I can’t quite catch…that could have been people sitting around me]

CC: There’s a person trying to tell me how to do my job.

Q8: Can you tell us how far the interactions between Robert Patrick’s character and minor characters like Skinner, the CSM, [mumble], how will they interact?

CC: The character that Robert Patrick plays will be Special Agent John Doggett, is a member of the FBI fraternity, so he’s like one of the guys, he’s like one of the hardcore there, he’s on his way up the ladder, he’s a do-gooder in a sense, but he’s his own man. So what he represents to them is a threat to this thing, the X-Files because it is a basement operation. So in coming to look for Mulder, to find Mulder, he is a threat because he’s part of the system, and now he’s attacking the X-Files. So he isn’t working as Agent Scully’s partner, but at some point they will come to a place where they can agree to disagree.

Q8: Also, could you not make him another Spender, please?

CC: You didn’t like Spender?

Q8: [choosing his words carefully] Not in continuing the show, if that’s going to happen. Also, can you tell us anything about the Season 2 DVDs? And the rumored Millennium and Harsh Realm DVDs?

CC: I don’t think, I don’t know about Harsh Realm. They don’t do anything nice to that show, that they could possibly do. But the X-Files DVD, I don’t know, right now I think they’re doing the second printing of the first batch, so I think they might get that out of the way first because they’ve been very popular. And the rumor is about the Millennium, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t do it if there was a big enough demand.

Q9: Hi, this is another Millennium question.

CC: Yeah.

Q9: Do you think that the one episode that you did was sufficient to tie up the three years that the Millennium series had. Were you satisfied with how it was done.

CC: I would like to make a Millennium movie. [cheers] I think it would be a great movie, and I would go back to the pilot, what the pilot was, what the whole show could have been, and I would kind of like to go back and start all over again and do that as a movie. If I knew that there were people who would go out and watch it, because I would make it good. I think that would be something I’d spend some time on.

Q10: Hi Mr. Carter. I was curious whether you feel that as a body of work, and assuming that the X-Files is on its last season, do you feel completed, or satisfied with what you’ve done with the show, or is there anything you would have liked to have done that you’re not going to get an opportunity to do?

CC: Well, you know, I’m going on, so I have the opportunity right now to explore the things that I wasn’t going to be able to do. There was a point last season, it was actually distressing, where it was right around Christmas time and I came into Frank Spotnitz’s office and I was kind of excited and I said, ‘I’ve got this idea, and it’s be really great if we could do this and this and this.’ And he said, ‘You know, we only have ten more episodes left to go.’ And that was when we thought the show wasn’t coming back, and it was like, wait a second. I never actually imagined that the show actually ending, so there’s still a lot of things I want to explore, but I’ve got a new character now so I’ve got to integrate them in an interesting way so that I can explore those things.

Q11: I’ve noticed in the last few years that humor, specifically a kind of, almost slapstick at times, a kind of sarcastic humor, has been really prevalent. Is that going to continue, or…

CC: That’s a good question. I think that this year we’ll really go back to our roots, which is good scary stories. [cheers] And, but you know, with the X-Files, as with Mulder, and oftentimes with Scully, we always inject humor into the show, we just won’t be doing those big, slapstick-y, slaphappy episodes.

Q11: I was just going to say I’ve always really enjoyed — I’ve always enjoyed the X-Files, obviously — the non-Mythology episodes, the ones that are real plain scary stories. Can you do more of those?

CC: What are your favorites?

Q11: Oh, gosh. Well I love, Small Potatoes is one of my favorites…

CC: That’s a funny one, though.

Q11: It’s funny but it’s…

CC: Yeah, it’s touching.

Q11: I also love the one, that’s back in the fifties with the kid who was kind of deformed…

CC: The black and white one?

Q11: Yeah.

CC: Yeah, that’s one of my favorites, too.

Q11: I also really like the old ones.

CC: She likes the old ones.

Q11: I like them all!

CC: Ok, thanks.

Q12: First of all, I’d like to say thank you for creating the show.

CC: Thanks.

Q12: I would like to know, will the actors be writing any more episodes?

CC: I don’t know. I think it’s really about time and availability. Both of them…I know Gillian, who did a great job this year, you know, it took a lot of time and she has a daughter and the more time she gets to spend with that daughter the better. So I think that it’s all about time and timing.

Q13: First of all I have to say, I love your stuff.

CC: Nice t-shirt.

Q13: Thank you. I have two questions. First of is, is there any chance they’ll have a Harsh Realm movie now to wrap everything up? Or, Fox won’t do that, or what? ‘Cause I love the show.

CC: Thanks.

Q13: I think it’s excellent.

CC: Thank you. I doubt it, I really doubt it. It’s really too bad, too, ’cause Scott Bairstow and D.B. Sweeney were two really great guys to work with. And the character who played the non-speaking part, the woman, Florence. I thought that was a really interesting role to get to develop, I’m sorry we didn’t get to develop it.

Q13: My other question is, I got to appear in “Fight Club,” I got to be in the crowd, fighting.

CC: Yeah.

Q13: And I was just wondering if there are going to be any other episodes where they’re going to have open casting calls like that, so I can be on it again? ‘Cause it was, like, one of the highlights of my life.

CC: Ooo-kay. [laughter] I don’t know yet.

Q14: Regarding your influences on the mythology of the show, I know you mentioned in the past that All the President’s Men, Star Wars…

CC: Yes, yes.

Q14: Recently there have been some online print publications that have pointed out some striking similarities between the X-Files mytharc and Nigel Neil’s Quatermass series that ran during the ’60s and ’70s. Were you aware of these similarities, and was it an influence directly on you?

CC: No. That’s somebody that’s really working hard. But if you start the show with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon… [laughter]

Q15: Hello, Mr. Carter. I was just wondering if real life conspiracy theories and UFOs interest you, or if it’s just a way to let your creativity flow?

CC: What was the question?

Q15: If, uh, real life conspiracy theories and UFOs interest you?

CC: Yes, it does. Especially now with corporate America consolidating, I think these are real things we’re talking about here. I believe that these aren’t just stories we’re telling, that these conspiracies are going to start becoming more and more real at a more personal level. So it’s fun to tell, what’re now almost like allegories or metaphors for what’s actually happening in the real world.

Q16: I’d just like to say that I think all your shows have hands down some of the best writing ever seen on television.

CC: Thanks.

Q16: And I’d like to ask, do you have any advice you’d like to give to future television writers.

CC: Work really really hard, and everybody, I have a lot of people come up to me, not everybody, I have a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘I want to write.’ And I always say, ‘what’s stopping you?’ It’s a matter of sitting yourself down in front of a computer, a notepad, a typewriter, and doing it. You’re about 90% of the way there if you can do that.

Q17: Hello. I was in a group of students that you spoke to at USC about five years ago, when X-Files was in season 3, and you said back then you sort of had a plan in your head that you were going to go about five years and then wrap it up and everything. We’re entering season 8, and I’m wondering how much the plan has changed. What was that original plan? Will we ever know what that was?

CC: Well, it changed because of the movie. And it changed because of the popularity of the show. And it changed because Fox didn’t want the show to end. So, I think the television series will ultimately become a movie series. So right now we’re telling the stories that ultimately will lead to that, so we’re just…I think the X-Files could probably go on forever if it was in the right hands. So, you’re right, I didn’t anticipate going into the eighth year, nor did my wife. And, she’s looking forward to seeing me home one of these days, rather than on the phone.

Q18: Hello, I’m a huge fan of Darin Morgan’s writing. Is there any chance of persuading him of coming back and writing another episode or two?

CC: We call him every year, several times a year, and, I think the last conversation someone had with him, he said that he saw the movie, “The Sixth Sense,” he had actually he had threatened that he had a ghost story that he wanted to tell, and he saw the movie “The Sixth Sense” and he said, ‘oh, they took my idea.’ And he went into a state of depression. Or so he said. Anyway, we’ve not been able to get Darin to come back to the show, sadly, because he added something to it that I think was special. And even though he only did four episodes, out of 161, I think all of those four episodes are among the top shows that we’ve ever done, and he added something to the show that I think it needed, and has benefitted from, which was a sense of humor, a particular sense of humor.

Q19: Are you planning on introducing a mytharc to the Lone Gunmen show?

CC: I seem to introduce a mythology to all of the shows that I do. So, I would say yes. But you’ve got to be careful, because as I saw with Harsh Realm, if you introduce it too early, you lose your opportunity to get people to come to the show. So you’ve actually got to build just good hard straight story telling before you actually start to build the mythology, so that’s probably the way the Lone Gunmen will work.

Q20: You were working on a couple novels. Do you have to go through a couple more traffic jams before we see them?

CC: Yes.

Q21: Hi. This has been bothering me for quite a while now, and I was just wondering. What happened to Gibson Praise? Are we going to be expecting him?

CC: I’m glad you asked that question. If you remember the character Gibson Praise, he was a little boy, the chess-playing boy. [applause] He’s coming back. [cheers]

Q22: I was just wondering what Mulder’s reaction will be to Scully’s pregnancy. I mean, did they have sex, or what? It wasn’t clarified in “all things,” and it’s just been bugging me forever.

CC: How old are you?

Q22: I’m 13. [laughter]

CC: Uh, that’s a PG-13 question, so I can answer it. We’re going to explore what happened this season, so while it may seem as if you missed something, and you did, you will not miss it in the end.

Q23: In the first two episodes, is Mulder coming back only in flashbacks?

CC: Uh…one of these tape recorders I was asked to bring up here just went off, the other one’s still working. I’m not going to tell you, ’cause I want to keep that a mystery. All right? Thanks.

Q24: How many scripts have you developed for the Lone Gunmen at this point?

CC: Right now there are three or four stories in the pipeline. I’m sorry. There are three or four stories in the pipeline, but there are no scripts actually written past that, but one is being worked on. So we’re really right at the beginning of that. But we want to be careful with that, especially after Harsh Realm, we want to be careful to do it just right.

Q25: We got an official glimpse at some gags that you’ve done on the show, I’ve seen some online for the first three seasons. Are you going to release at all some gags from those three seasons, as well as the last five?

CC: Yeah, we’ll do like those Jerry Springer tapes. [laughter]

Q25: I mean, you can see here that everyone liked them, but I think it’d be great to officially release them.

CC: I think that that would be tied up in big legal issues, about what could be released and how people would be paid for it and compensated. I think it’s sticky as far as the finances. That’s probably the reason you don’t see them, because…sometimes I think X-Files is the proverbial chicken, that Fox would sell every single part of it that it possibly could.

Q26: I’ll understand if you can’t answer the question, but, when do we get to see the FBI raid Area 51?

CC: Well, you saw a little bit of it, you saw at least Mulder escape into it in “Dreamland” which was, admittedly, a humorous two-parter. We really hinted at an Area 51-like base in the “Deep Throat” episode, which is the first one past the Pilot. I don’t know if we’ll go back to that base particularly, but we may actually explore that area because we’re actually back in UFO territory and alien territory with the abduction of Mulder.

Q27: I just want to thank you for writing the greatest show ever.

CC: Thank you.

Q27: Could you possibly clarify the two alien races, or do we have to wait?

CC: There are actually several alien races, and of course there’s the greys and there are the faceless aliens, who are another race, and then there’s the alien bounty hunter who is a renegade, he left the faceless crew. So these things are actually all going to be explored this year, because I know people have big questions about that.

Man on Microphone: We’re running short on time so we’re going to take two more questions.

[aww’s. The third girl in line looks incredibly distressed.]

CC: That’s a long line out the door there.

Q28: In contrast with her question, in the movie “The X-Files,” well, if Mulder’s sister was also abducted would she also have been on that ship? Or was she abducted by a different race?

CC: Well, the idea was that she wasn’t abducted, this was actually more of a spiritual thing, so we’re going to explore that this year and answer some questions that I think are still outstanding.

MoM: Last question.

CC: I’m sorry. You know what? Let’s answer them real quick.

Q29: Do you see in the future any more X-Files PC games?

CC: Uh, yes, actually, I think there’ll be different platforms for sure, but I think something else is being developed right as we speak.

Q30: Do you know when the next season’s gonna start?

CC: In November. [laughter]

Q31: How’s that Serios project going?

CC: Uh, we’re right in the beginning of that.

Q32: Two questions. First one: with regard to the writing, if 90% is sitting down in front of the typewriter and typing something, what’s the other 10%, in a nutshell?

CC: 5% of it is talent, and the other percent of it is luck.

Q32: Just go for it, right?

CC: Yeah.

Q32: Also, with regards to the metaphor of the government…I know that your view on aliens is that you don’t believe in them…or that’s what I heard you say on a documentary earlier.

CC: It’s not that I don’t believe in them. I have no reason to believe in them. So I’m waiting for a reason.

Q32: Ok, thank you. It’s just I’m really big [?? I can’t quite understand her.]

CC: That’s something we’re going to explore, too.

Q33: I was just wondering, did you change your mind about Mulder and Scully’s relationship? Because in the beginning you said they’d never get together, and now she’s having his child. [laughter]

CC: You obviously see they’re not together.

Q34: I love the show. Uh, the Lone Gunmen show, is that gonna be much more humourous [he had an accent, too] than the X-Files?

CC: Yes, it’s going to be a very lighthearted show.

Q35: Hi, I’m [insert name I can’t understand], we met at the [something] workshop.

CC: Yeah, I remember you. I sent you something, didn’t I?

Q35: You did, too, yeah. [oh no, this guy is not only mumbling, but talking really fast] And you said you’d let me pitch [??] when you were gonna do a new season.

CC: Not right here, I’m not. [laughter]

Q35: I’m here to call you on it.

CC: Haha. Ok. All right. Thank you guys very much. [cheers] [end of tape]

FilmScoreMonthy: Downbeat: Harsh Realm

Apr-09-2000
FilmScoreMonthly
Downbeat: Harsh Realm
Jason Foster

[Original article here]

Jason originally wrote the following for use in "Downbeat," our section in FSM dealing with current scores and the challenges featuring well-known (and some not well-known) composers. He talked to Mark Snow about Harsh Realm -- which was canceled before anyone could blink. So, we didn't run the piece. Recently, however, Harsh Realm has been broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel so we thought we'd dust this off: -LK

Having already cemented their place in TV shows dealing with the paranormal, ten-time Emmy-nominated composer Mark Snow and X-FILES creator Chris Carter are at it again — this time with the series HARSH REALM.

Described as a tense and edgy contemporary-looking virtual reality adventure along the lines of THE MATRIX, Snow says that HARSH REALM should easily lend itself to music, much in the way THE X-FILES has.

“THE X-FILES is such a great show. It’s like scoring a mini-movie each week,” says Snow. “And coming from the same people, HARSH REALM, from what I’ve seen of the pilot, I expect the same quality which makes scoring the shows much more inspiring and a pleasure rather than just work.”

While Snow’s weekly scores for episodes of THE X-FILES have tended to stay in a similar musical ballpark throughout the entire series run, he says that won’t be the case with HARSH REALM.

“I think that it will be a combination of many, many different styles because the show is virtual reality at least 80 to 90 percent of the time,” says Snow. “I think they’re planning to have many different virtual worlds from periods dating back to the Dark Ages, futuresque, and all over the world. It’s going to be wide open to a lot of different cultures and we’ll be using a lot of different musical styles.”

Snow has enjoyed the musical freedom he’s been given in his previous collaborations with Carter and crew. But he points out that with a successful show, freedom isn’t all that rare an occurrence.

“Well, once you get on a TV series that’s successful, basically it’s the first ten episodes where everyone is involved and giving a lot of input into the project,” he says. “Then if they’re happy and feel comfortable, they leave you alone and then you have the freedom to experiment. My experience with X-FILES has been just that. After the first bunch of episodes, I was left to my own devices and felt totally uninhibited by whatever I wanted.”

Much like the music for THE X-FILES, and most television scoring in general, Snow will not develop different character themes for HARSH REALM. While that isn’t something that would be very difficult to do, Snow says it would be very limiting.

“The TV show works better for me to have themes for situations rather than people,” he says. “I think that by now if you had a theme for Mulder or Scully you’d grow sick of it. That’s why it’s not about themes for them as much as it is the situations they get in to. Each week the situations are, as you know, colored so differently and there are so many variations of the themes — so to keep my interest in it and to keep it sounding fresh, I prefer to score new thematic material every week and I think that’s how it’s going to work for HARSH REALM.”

One of the trademarks of THE X-FILES is Snow’s very memorable main title melody. But unlike his scores for that show, Snow says he’ll incorporate the HARSH REALM main title theme into the different episode scores.

“I’ll be able to use the theme as underscore a lot more than with X-FILES and certainly variations of it,” he says. “I also have a four-minute version of it where I’ll be able to take sections of it and use for underscore which will help the identity of the show. I’m looking forward to that. With THE X-FILES, I never used it (the main title) in the underscore. I did use the theme for the feature film, and come to think of it, I did use it a few times after the film because I liked how it sounded. I’m looking forward to having a different approach for HARSH REALM.”

While Snow says that nobody involved predicted the success of THE X-FILES, he says the ingredients are there for HARSH REALM to be successful, but says there’s really no way to know that.

“I can only do the best work I can, cross my fingers and hope that it will be another hit show,” he says.

Snow has also chosen to shed a little light onto the recent rumor that the name of FSM’s own Jeff Bond appears somewhere in the HARSH REALM main title.

“I’m not going to say it is or isn’t,” says Snow. “People are welcome to try and speed up, slow down, or play the music backwards to discover what’s there. It’s kind of like the 60s when people played that Beatles song backwards to try to hear it say, ‘Paul is Dead.'”

The truth is out there.

Dreamwatch: Lighting the Darkness

Mar-??-2000
Dreamwatch
Lighting the Darkness
Jenny Cooney Carillo

Jenny Cooney Carillo probes the mind of The X-Files’ creator Chris Carter, and learns that there are still some surprises in store for the future….

For someone who spends so much time on the dark side, Chris Carter is surprisingly light. The youthful-looking 43-year old, whose white wavy hair makes him look more like an ageing surfer (which he is) than one of the highest-paid TV producers in Hollywood (which he also is), is the talent behind The X-Files, Millennium and the short-lived virtual reality drama Harsh Realm, based on the sci-fi comic of the same name.

These days he has a lot on his mind: the lawsuit which his former friend David Duchovny filed against 20th Century Fox naming Carter as a co-conspirator in efforts to short-change everybody else who shares profits by selling the Show to a Fox affiliate for less than the fair market price. Then there is the debacle over the cancellation of his long-awaited follow-up series Harsh Realm and finally the struggle to decide whether his major cash cow, The X-Files will close down as it heads to the end of its seventh season.

But for somebody who has spent much of the past eight years dealing with aliens, monsters, UFOs and serial killers {and that is just the people he works with!}, he is remarkably good-humoured and adept a not taking himself or his shoes too seriously no matter what the stakes.

Where do you think The X-Files is headed?

Fox has approached me about trying to figure out a way to bring it back for an eighth season, and they haven’t spoken to me beyond that. They’ve asked me if there is a way to do it. I told them I would think about it, but the truth is I think there’s a lot of other things that need to be resolved before we get to that point, so right now our work is simply doing really good episodes in anticipation of either it being the end or the beginning of the end, as it were. I think the show is as good as it has ever been, and the mythology will play out either this season or in some later season.

Can you imagine The X-Files without one of two of the major players as has been the suggestion lately?

I’ve never had to imagine it, so I haven’t really put much thought into it. But to be honest, it’s one of those things that you can imagine. The possibility is out there but I don’t know exactly how it would play out.

So what can we look forward to in the seventh season?

We began the season with a two-parter that is the answer to the Season 6 cliffhanger and that really goes deep into agent Mulder’s psyche. If you remember, in the season finale, Mulder is bouncing off the walls in a psychiatric ward and we learn a lot about Mulder through the course of the treatment of that illness, which has both modern medical complications and perhaps complications that go beyond that to the paranormal, and just possibly to outer space, so that is the way we begin. I can’t exactly tell you any more than that, or how it’s going to wrap up, but we do have general plans. I can tell you there will be a wrap-up with Mulder’s sister and his whole quest, so you’ll learn the truth, which has been out there, but there will be something left to ponder, and I think that will lead us into the movies.

What is happening with the movie franchise?

That is our hope when the series finally comes to an end; that we will begin the movie series after the television series, so now it’s sort of in the idea stage. We’d have to figure out how the series ends, I think, before we do our next movie, but certainly the relationship of Mulder and Scully is the strongest thing that will lead us into the series of movies.

Looking back on The X-Files movie, do you have any regrets?

I loved the movie, and saw it again on cable the other night, and really enjoyed watching it – and I’m very critical of my own work, so I’m glad with the way it came out. I think that we accomplished what we needed to and wanted to accomplish, I think when we do the next movie, we won’t have to tie it into the mythology, which will remove The X Files fan connection to the movie. That was all-important to the first movie, but I think will be less important to the next movie, since the series will be gone.

How do you feel about the legal problems between you, Fox and David Duchovny?

I don’t really know anything about it, I’m not named as a defendant so it’s not a legal problem for me and as far as David and I are concerned, we just co-wrote a script together so right now it’s all about the work.

Has it created bad blood between you?

No, there has been no words exchanged, nothing. [in fact rumour has it the pair quite literally haven’t spoken since the lawsuit was filed and actually co-wrote all episode together via fax…].

Looking back on The X-Files, could you have imagined this success?

No one ever imagined that the show would be as successful as it is. Most TV shows don’t have this kind of success, which is international, and develops the kind of following where there are episode guides every year and conventions and so many different things that most TV shows don’t have. Most TV shows don’t create this kind of devotion, so that’s just one of those amazingly lucky things which has afforded me less lifestyle! Professionally it’s been incredible but personally it’s also meant that I have less time to do what I want to do.

And what do you want to do?

I’d like to go surfing more, that’s for sure! It’s one of those things that you are thankful for, and you’re blessed for having it, but at the same time I look back, I’ve been working on this for eight years now and those eight years lave just been devoted to really one pursuit, so sometimes you think, ‘Well I’d like to write a book or take some time to go to Europe. I haven’t been to Europe in eight years because of this show, so it has a sort of limiting quality is well; it’s a trade-off.

What are the qualities that you think Duchovny and Anderson contributed to the success of the Show?

You don’t want to think too deeply because it’s magic. Putting them together, I had no idea how the chemistry would be, and now we’re more than 150 episodes into the show and it’s still there – there are still sparks there and these people have never truly had any kind of romantic relationship. There were near-misses in the movie and in the show but you can’t imagine what the qualities are that you need to make it work. I think mostly they are terrific actors who are both serious about the work. I don’t think either of them missed a day of work in seven years so they’ve been extremely professional.

Given what you said about your lifestyle, why did you sign a {lucrative five year multimillion-dollar} deal with Fox to keep working so hard?

I’ll use a surfing analogy and say: once you catch the wave, you should keep riding it until it breaks, or I should say until it crashes. So that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re riding this wave and we have a lot of really good people that came to work on The X-Files and Harsh Realm, and when those people come on board and good ideas are in the air, there is good work to be done and you have to really treat that very, very carefully. You don’t want to blow it because it doesn’t come along too often.

How difficult is it to keep producing such enormous amounts of material for television and what do you do when you get stuck?

That’s a really good question, Because you truly have a gun to your head in television, you must produce every day and it must be good work, because you don’t have a chance to go back and make bad work good. You keep churning the stuff out so you develop instincts that tell you, ‘This is good’, or ‘This won’t work’. You are your own sort of quality gauge and scale and detector about what’s acceptable or not, but you still have to figure out a way and a reason to sit down and write every day. The reason to keep doing it is the people you work with and the reason to keep writing is that the actors perform it well. The stories come out good and are fun to do. You have to find the joy in work in order to keep doing it, I think. And beyond that, I could tell you I go out surfing when I get stuck but that doesn’t help my work any. That actually works against me because it makes me want to surf more!

What are your own personal interests in virtual reality and what sparked your interest in making Harsh Realm?

I’m not a big video game player because I just don’t have the time, but I’m interested in the technology and in the creativity that goes into these things. I think virtual reality is one of those ideas that is out there right now, because it is a kind of story-telling genre in a way. It’s a parallel world. It’s another dimension is really what it is, and that’s not anything new. It’s just a new way of telling that kind of story and there is now enough familiarity with technology and virtual reality and the idea of the digital world that we can start telling these stories and have them be understandable to people, so that when you do jump into a world that has different rules and different consequences, people will get it.

You are known for these dark, sombre TV shows but you’re certainly not a dark person. What’s the attraction?

I prefer to do dramatic shows but I really just like writing heroic characters so I never see those as dark, per se. I see them as shows with a very big bright hero at the centre. Even though Lance Henriksen [in Millennium] was a sombre guy, he was goodness, and he loved his family and wife, and wanted to save the world, and that was a very bright centre with that yellow house he lived in. The same way with Harsh Realm, because we have two wonderfully heroic characters in Scott Bairstow and D B Sweeney and they are different from one another but want the same thing, which is to save something or someone. What is interesting for me about all my shows is the light versus the dark. The X-Files was a very different show, in a way, until Episode 48, where we did a show about circus freaks and then the show really saw that it could expand and be light-hearted instead of just incorporating those bits of humour into it like we used to, so you can’t say there isn’t any comedy in my shows!

Do you personally have any conspiracy theories about how the new millennium will affect the world in general and Hollywood more specifically?

I know it is a tremendous time of reflection, but everybody is looking backwards, and we should be looking forwards because it’s a chance to start anew, like walking out of the Betty Ford Clinic and getting a new lease on life until you screw up again. It already has affected my business, if you look at all these movies about good and evil – Stir Of Echoes, Stigmata, The Sixth Sense, all these dark movies that are really reflective of the time that we live in. 1 think people find it frightening, the prospect of new technology, and it will be interesting once we pass this period to see what kind of stories we start to tell once it’s over. Are they going to be more serious or less serious? I don’t know.

TV and Satellite Week: Great Expectations

Mar-??-2000
TV and Satellite Week
Great Expectations
David Bassom

Season seven of The X-Files has been so successful in the US that the Fox network is now begging the series’ cast and crew to make an eighth. David Bassom previews Mulder and Scully’s latest x-ploits, which begin on Sky One this month.

By the time an American TV show reaches its seventh season, conventional wisdom dictates that it will face a struggle to stay on screen. Naturally, however, there are exceptions to every rule. And one of the most recent exceptions has been The X-Files.

For The X-Files seventh season, the series’ cast and crew have continued their pursuit of excellence as successfully as ever. Following its premiere Stateside last November, the new season has garnered exceptional ratings as well as a better response from viewers than season six. But perhaps even more surprisingly, the show’s spiraling production costs have done nothing to dampen the Fox network’s enthusiasm for the series. As production of season seven reached its halfway mark, Fox was practically begging to get show’s leading cast and crew members to sign up for an eighth series.

ENDGAME

Life was far less complicated in the summer of 1999, when The X-Files’ seventh season entered pre-production in Los Angeles. From the off, all parties were happy to regard the seventh season as its end. Series creator Chris Carter and actor David Duchovny (Fox Mulder) both wanted to end their seven-year contracts with show on a high note, and Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully) said she had no desire to fulfill her eight-year contract if the show lost its guiding light and leading man. Fox chiefs accepted that The X-Files’ future lay on the big screen following the popularity of the movie in 1998, and felt that they already had the show’s replacement lined up – Carter’s hotly tipped new virtual reality drama series, Harsh Realm.

And so season seven was launched with Carter’s tantalizing promise to resolve The X-Files’ two principal ongoing plot strands. The truth about the Syndicate and their nasty alien allies would finally be uncovered before The X-Files permanently relocated to the big screen. Similarly, Mulder and Scully’s long- simmering attraction would be brought to the boil, following years of foreplay.

Carter and crew also vowed to produce some of The X-Files’ most ambitious and innovative stand-alone tales. As the series had placed too much emphasis on comedy during series six, its writing staff were told to push up the terror quota in the closing year.

With this strategy in place, shooting began on August 9, 1999. The first episode to be filmed was Hungry, a terrifying creature feature which takes the monster’s point of view. It wasn’t until another episode – the whimsical The Goldberg Variation – was in the can that work began on the season’s opening two installments, The Sixth Extinction and The Sixth Extinction II: Amore Fati. Besides resolving the previous series’ cliffhanger, these episodes advance the myth arc storyline as the sinister Cigarette Smoking Man gains a dangerous alien-induced edge over his enemies.

From there, the series continued to impress, with a solid run of satisfying stand-alone adventures, including the thriller Rush, the light-hearted mystery The Amazing Maleeni and the sizzling snake-fest Signs And Wonders.

Another early highlight was Millennium, The X-Files’ long-awaited crossover with Carter’s failed detective series. Not only does the episode bring Mulder and Scully face to face with former FBI agent Frank Black (Lance Henriksen), but Millennium also represents The X-Files at its scary best. To top it all, the episode’s closing moments see Mulder and Scully celebrate the start of the new millennium by doing something viewers have wanted to see for years. As the series reached its halfway point, The X-Files returned to its myth arc plotline with an epic two-part adventure, Sein Und Zeit and Closure.

Like last year’s mind-blowing mid-season installments Two Fathers and One Son, the episodes promise revelations about alien activity on Earth and also deliver a shocking blow to Mulder.

Incredibly, with supposedly just 10 episodes left to be produced, cast and crew then began work on two of the series’ most innovative installments. The first, X-Cop, is shot in the style of the popular US docu-drama COPS, and promises to be an X- Files unlike any other. The second, First Person Shooter, was written by cyberpunk guru William Gibson, and pits Mulder and Scully against a Lara Croft-style computer-generated villain. Not bad for a show that’s supposed to be on its last legs!

EIGHT EXPECTATIONS

When the new series premiered last November, it was one of the few shows to survive opposite America’s top-rated quiz, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

It was then that the series’ success had one unexpected side-affect. As The X-Files went from strength to strength, Fox suffered its worst season ever. All the network’s major new offerings, including Carter’s Harsh Realm, drew lackluster ratings and were quickly axed.

By January 2000, the truth about Fox’s dire performance was out there – as was its desire to produce an eighth series of The X-Files, no matter what the cost. Fox TV chief Sandy Grushow confirmed that he wanted Carter and Duchovny to renew their contracts with the show. His announcement cast serious doubt over The X- Files’ future, and raised the possibility of a Mulder-less eighth season or even a spin-off focusing on The Lone Gunmen.

The future of The X-Files as a weekly series probably won’t now be certain until season seven ends production in April. Both the conspiracy and the relationship between Mulder and Scully may yet be extended into an eighth season.

But whether or not it is the show’s last year, series seven is one of The X-Files’ most accomplished in years. That should be enough to get most viewers to rejoin Mulder and Scully’s quest for The Truth.