Posts Tagged ‘john shiban’

The X-Files Magazine: Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood

The X-Files Magazine [US]
Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood

It’s the last night on the set for actors Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, and Bruce Harwood. There is an air of impending sadness, because this could be their last night of shooting on any episode of The X-Files. So far, however, the mood is light. The actors and crew stand in clusters, chatting and laughing, as they wait to begin filming another scene. Several crew members ask for pictures with the cast of The Lone Gunmen. But later, the tone of the set will switch, as the cast and crew shoot close-ups for the trio’s final scene, which just happens to be the characters’ death scene. The script reads: Jimmy slowly lays his hand on the glass. The Gunmen do the same… three hands side-by-side opposite Jimmy’s, whose eyes now well with tears. This is goodbye. Reactions are mixed among the three actors. They all agree that the deaths of Frohike, Byers, and Langly while sad are fitting. “I’d already mourned the fact that the show was ending,” says Bruce Harwood, who plays John Fitzgerald Byers. “The fact that we were being killed, I don’t think made too much of a difference to me. It doesn’t surprise me that we go out this way.”

“Isn’t that how we all want to go?” remarks Dean Haglund, who plays Langly. “Well, maybe not so painfully,” he laughs.

Tom Braidwood, who plays Melvin Frohike, was not enthusiastic about the ending at first. “I guess I was a little disappointed,” he admits. “I don’t quite see why it had to happen.” Braidwood, who worked on the Vancouver set of the series as an assistant director for Seasons One through Five, is able to see the producers’ need to wrap up The X-Files characters once and for all. “In the end, it’s right for them,” he surmises.

Choosing to have the Lone Gunmen die at the end of “Jump the Shark,” did not come easy to co-writers of the episode, executive producers Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban. “It was actually a really hard decision to make,” explains Spotnitz. He exposes his fondness for the Gunmen, saying, “It’s funny, because they’re fictitious characters, and the show is coming to an end, but we really have a lot of affection for them.”

Spotnitz says that he, Gilligan and Shiban wanted to give the Gunmen a special ending, one that could only be achieved with such a dramatic climax. “It felt like the right thing to do,” he says. “We could really make them into big heroes and give them their moment to shine.”

Although they did not, at first, know how they wanted the Gunmen to meet their fate, the writers had definite ideas about how it should play out. “We just knew that we wanted it to be unequivocally heroic,” Spotnitz wholeheartedly.

Chris Carter’s announcement that this season of The X-Files would be the last came just as the writers were plotting out this one storyline. That was when they knew what they had to do. “It gave us the impetus to do this kind of ending,” Shiban says. Although a bit traumatic to comprehend at first, Shiban found himself excited at the story prospect. “If it is done well, there is no more heroic thing to do a character,” he says. “It seems just like the perfect end for the unsung heroes of the world.”

The producers did consider the effect on loyal Gunmen enthusiasts. “The ending is going to be challenging for fans of the Lone Gunmen,” guesses Gilligan. “It makes part of me sad, but it’s hopefully a noble end.”

Shiban has his own rationalization. “They die to save the world, and that to me is a fitting end.”

The guest actors in this episode are also well-versed in the Gunmen mythology, appearing in both The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen series with the conspiracy-debunking cabal. Stephen Snedden and Zuleikha Robinson make a reappearance (see ‘Shooting Co-Stars’ box-out), while Jim Fyfe also returns, having played Jimmy the Geek in The X-Files episode “Three of a Kind” and also dead Jimmy’s twin brother, Kimmy the Geek in The Lone Gunmen. Fyfe recalls his fondness for the three actors, as well as their on-screen counterparts. “I love them,” he says. “As guys they’re great, and as characters they’re great.”

When Fox canceled The Lone Gunmen in 2001, executive producers Gilligan, Shiban and Spotnitz were sure that they still had a story to round out. “It was such a big cliffhanger sitting out there,” Gilligan explains. “And we knew we wanted to resolve it.”

The ninth season of The X-Files was the obvious place to tie up those loose ends. “Within the X-Files context, we sort of vowed to ourselves to make this work,” states Shiban.

The return of this plot meant that they had to wait a whole year from the last episode of The Lone Gunmen to write the resolution. Gilligan admits to having some trouble when he actually had to sit down at the computer. “I spent a lot of time building it up in my head,” he says. “The whole time saying, ‘This has to be the greatest episode ever. This has to serve two masters – The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen series – and marry them together perfectly. It has to be beautiful.'”

While crediting Spotnitz with making sure that the episode would get done at all, Gilligan still toiled with developing the plot. “It’s taken me the longest of about any episode to work my way through,” he says. “It’s been a tricky one.”

The writers agreed that they could not simply make this show a continuation of The Lone Gunmen finale episode, “All About Yves.” “I was thinking along those lines,” Gilligan acknowledges, “but Frank rightly said we can’t exactly do that because this is a whole different television series – one that we’re using as a platform to finish this story.”

The writers also had to bear in mind that many X-Files fans may not have tuned in to the Lone Gunmen’s series. “It would have thrown The X-Files audience too much,” says Spotnitz.

The three put their heads together to figure out just where exactly the audience would find the Gunmen and their cohorts after a whole year. The story they came up with reunites the Gunmen, Jimmy, and Yves with arch nemesis Morris Fletcher (played comically and astutely by Michael McKean) was pivotal to The Lone Gunmen finale. Fans of The X-Files will also remember the character from the “Dreamland” two-parter and “Three of a Kind,” both in Season Six. In “All About Yves,” Fletcher orchestrated a dramatic con job, kidnapping Yves and leaving the Gunmen in a secure, underground bunker. Naturally, the Gunmen are none too thrilled to encounter Fletcher again.

In “Jump the Shark,” Fletcher first draws Agents Doggett and Reyes into Yves’ case by teasing them with the claim that she is a Super Soldier. The agents then bring in the Gunmen. The episode moves quickly out of the realm of Super Soldiers and into that of international terrorism, biological agents, and shark cartilage. Yes, shark cartilage. Sharks were incorporated into the story after the title of the episode was chosen. “Jump the Shark” is an entertainment web site launched in 1997, named for the famous Happy Days episode in which Fonzie jumps over a tank full of sharks on his motorcycle. The creator of the website, Jon Hein, christened the term to portray the moment in a television series’ run when its originality has begun to go downhill. Spotnitz calls the title, “a funny joke at our own expense.”

Gilligan agrees. “I kind of like it when a show ribs itself, and the idea of jumping the shark is sort of fun.”

The producers arranged for Hein to have a walk-on role in the episode, but unfortunately, his schedule did not allow for the appearance. Hein, however, was delighted to hear of his creation’s use as the episode’s title. “I thought it was great,” he declares enthusiastically. “The X-Files has always ‘got the web’ and actively incorporated it into the show with a great sense of humour and cleverness.” The X-Files is the site’s second most popular vote-getter. Most of Jump the Shark’s voters feel that the show has never, in fact, “jumped the shark.”

After the writers secured their title, they looked for ways to incorporate sharks into the episode. Gilligan recalls that the writers liked the image of the shark in the first shot of the show. They came up with the teaser that features Fletcher on a boat in the Bahamas.

“We threw out the teaser for a long time because it felt, at first, that it got us off to the wrong start,” says Shiban. After several sessions of working out more traditional X-Files teasers, they came back to the original, more comedic one.

“We wanted to start it off and truly tease the audience in the classic sense of a teaser, to get them intrigued,” Gilligan opines. “Michael McKean does that.”

McKean is a favourite of the show’s producers. “When an actor exceeds your expectations, it’s great,” says Spotnitz. “He is a surefooted actor, period. Be he’s also a great comedic actor, with great comedic timing and instincts.”

“He’s just a delight. He so embodies this character that it’s scary,” Shiban gloats about his guest star. “One of the reasons he’s such a good fit with both The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen, is because, as comic as he is, he carries himself with such a sense of reality.”

Also praising McKean, Gilligan says simply, “He so gets it.”

The Lone Gunmen themselves are also exciting about reuniting with McKean. “We’ve been talking Spinal Tap, and I switch from fellow actor to annoying groupie,” jokes Haglund.

“Micheal’s great,” agrees Braidwood. “He’s a character and a very funny man. He’s a lot of fun to work with.”

Gilligan likens the character of Morris Fletcher to Louie DePalma from the television series Taxi. “He’s the guy you love to hate,” Gilligan laughs. “But you don’t really hate him. Deep down you sort of love him.”

After Fletcher’s humorous entrance, the story gradually becomes more serious, culminating in the Gunmen’s touching final scene with Yves and Jimmy. Balancing humour is something The X-Files writers have done numerous times throughout the series’ nine seasons, especially when the Lone Gunmen are on hand. In this episode, however, it was especially challenging.

“In the writing, we did a number of revisions around that very issue,” Shiban states.

“The world in which [these characters] live is not funny,” Spotnitz elaborates. “We had to make it more real.”

Over the course of writing The Lone Gunmen series last year, the producers, according to Gilligan, found the show “worked best when there was actually a little more drama rather than a little less.” He thinks they achieved this tone best in the series finale. “That episode struck a nice balance between comedy and sort of high stakes seriousness,” he recalls wistfully. “We tried to strike that same tone in this one.”

Admittedly, this episode hits both ends of the spectrum. “It is a balancing act, and we’re watching dailies every day and walking that tightrope,” Shiban confesses.

Another challenge was the actual melding of the two shows. Once they got into the writing of it, it became very difficult to merge the two series together. Spotnitz refers to the combination of the two shows, something they have done before with the Millennium series crossover in the seventh season X-Files episode, “Millennium,” as a “massive headache.”

Shiban remarks that it was difficult to communicate the complicated back-story that would have become The Lone Gunmen mythology had the series continued. “We kept running up to these moments where the three of us would be working on the script,” he recounts, “when we asked ‘Does The X-Files audience need to know this? Is the back story too complicated?’ You have a whole world for a series, but this is just one episode.”

The writers were now faced with the daunting task of communicating this world to a viewing audience that may not be familiar with The Lone Gunmen series. Calling it a “necessary evil,” Gilligan explains that they tried to keep exposition to a minimum.

Another challenge to writing this episode was, as Spotnitz puts it, “striking a balance in screentime between the Lone Gunmen and Doggett and Reyes.” Add Morris Fletcher, Jimmy Bond, Yves Adele Harlow, and Kimmy the Geek to the mix, and you’ve got a full plate for any writer.

“It’s an exercise in trunk packing,” says Gilligan. “You have to use every little bit of available space.”

Shiban, while discussing the difficulty of working Agents Doggett and Reyes into the initial story, says that he found it just as problematic as having to incorporate the characters into the X-file into any script. “The X-Files is a hard form to master,” he muses, “which is partly what I think makes it so good when it clicks. But we struggle every week.”

“We realized very early that our Act IV would mostly be the Gunmen, because we’re doing a story about how the Gunmen are unsung heroes,” Shiban says. “We want them to be heroic in the climax. Therefore, we knew that [Doggett and Reyes’] role would be diminished at some point, and that made it easier in some ways.”

The producers are happy with the final script as a tribute to the Gunmen, but they understand fan reaction will undoubtedly be mixed. “Some will hate us for it,” predicts Shiban. “But I bet the ones who say they hate the idea will cry when they see it.”

“At the end of the day, if the fans of The Lone Gunmen series are the ones pleased, that’d be enough for me,” sighs Gilligan. Although he hopes that all X-philes will enjoy it, Gilligan offers up some morsel of completion for the fans of the canceled series. “They stuck with us through thick and thin, and I wanted to see something resolved for them.”

As the late night on the set draws to a close, the actors reflect on the end of the Lone Gunmen, bringing up feelings about the end of The X-Files series as a whole.

“I’m really sad to see it go,” says Fyfe of The X-Files. “I think all successful shows become a part of the culture in a way. I’ll miss it.”

The cast and crew once again laugh together between takes. Although the sentiment of the episode is bittersweet, everyone on set is having fun with the one last go around.

“What I’ll miss are the people, because they’re all great to work with,” Braidwood reflects. “It’s been a wonderful experience, and that’s what I’ll miss the most.”

Cinescape: Shiban talks final X-FILES stretch

Shiban talks final X-FILES stretch
Christopher Allan Smith

In an exclusive interview with CINESCAPE Editor in Chief Anthony C. Ferrante, X-FILES co-executive producer and scribe John Shiban discussed the recent announcement that creator Chris Carter had decided to make this season the show’s last.

“Ultimately, it was Chris [Carter’s] decision,” Shiban said. “I think all the producers were feeling we wanted to go out in the right way and in a classy way. We wanted to give the series its due, to know the end is coming and plan for it. We also wanted to tie up the story lines we want to tie up and leave the storylines we wanted left open for the movies. We were all bittersweet it is to end. I think we all agreed this was the right thing to do and glad it happened this way, rather than waiting until the end of the season [to make that decision].”

Shiban also confirmed that discussions regarding the end of the show had been going on for quite some time.

“In each year at the beginning of the last few years, it’s been the question on everyone’s mind. ‘Is this going to be the last year?’ The timing of it, was all Chris.”

Shiban also said that despite Carter’s announced plan to use the time remaining to tie up loose ends, many of the episodes left will not deal with the elaborate mythology that originally made FILES famous. The crew is currently working on episode 14 of this season’s 20.

“Fourteen is going to be a standalone,” he said. “So will 15 and 16. We haven’t really changed our plan. We have episode 15, which features the Lone Gunmen. Although it’s an X-file, it’s a cool one. It features them prominently and its our way of tying up some of the loose ends from THE LONE GUNMEN series. Sixteen will also be a standalone – 17 and 18 are going to be standalones. [Episodes] 19 and 20 are a two-parter we planned for the end of the season which is a mythology show.

“To be honest, as we’re breaking each show, in the back of our minds [we’re thinking] this is the end. There’s more to do with the show than to tie up loose ends. We want the movies to go on and for the franchise to go on. There are emotional endings to be had that are not just plot endings. Even in the stand alones, I think there will be moments where we’re all aware this will be the last time we will be visiting some of these characters. That’s a nice thing. As far as changing our plans for the rest of the season, we’re still going to be doing the same number of mythology episodes.” The “X-Files” (John Shiban)

The “X-Files” (John Shiban)
Maelee McBee

“The single hardest thing for us to do after all these years is to find great writers who understand Star Trek. It’s always been a problem.” “Enterprise” Executive producer Rick Berman on the hiring of John Shiban.

The X-Files Co-Executive Producer John Shiban was working as a computer programmer to pay the bills when he landed his writing gig on The X-Files in season three. “I went to film school at AFI. There I met Frank Spotnitz, we became friends and after school I continued writing features. I had no thought of writing for television at the time. I was still writing features and taking meetings and not having much success. Frank got the job on The X-Files and I was going to go pitch to him. He said ‘listen, why don’t you send a feature over. I know Chris is interested in hiring somebody with no TV experience.’ So I showed them one of my specs and I waited and waited. I got a call the last day before they went on hiatus to come down and meet Chris. I met him, we had a great meeting and the next day they hired me on staff. Overnight. Well, it felt like overnight even though it had been years of trying. It was beautiful.”

Shiban went on to give us such memorable episodes as Pine Bluff Variant, SR819,Underneath, which he also directed, and Dreamland I and II, Monday, and Field Trip, which he co-wrote with Vince Gilligan and Frank Spotnitz. One of the episodes he is most proud of is Underneath. The episode was Shiban’s directing debut, and proved to be “one of the hardest things I had to do on The X-Files. The first day of directing was hard but once I got through that, I had a blast. It’s like a giant toy store. You do all kinds of amazing things and you have a talented crew who follow your every whim. It’s a ball.”

Something that wasn’t a ball for Shiban was his last day as Executive Producer on The X-Files. “We had a little get together yesterday at Mark Snow’s house to listen to the music for the finale. We all got a little misty eyed. It’s not just seven years of great TV, it’s seven years of great people. It becomes a family. You can’t help that. They are great people that I worked with. Vince was there, Chris and Frank, David Amann, and Paul Rabwin and others. The way we had done it for years was that we’d all go to Mark’s house for music play back, and that was always the most pleasurable part of my job, because Mark Snow is so great at what he does. It was a nice thing for Mark to suggest we all get together for this one. We had a group hug kind of thing.”

Shiban gives away very little about the finale but does answer some questions about baby William, who we last saw being given up for adoption in the episode William. “We all discussed it and knew we wanted to bring some closure to that story as we were trying to do with everything on the series. There was some debate about what to do and what the best thing to do was. That idea (giving William up for adoption) was from Chris and Frank. It’s a safe place for the baby. I don’t think anybody wanted to continue playing jeopardy for the baby any longer. It started to become for all of us painful. The great thing about this solution is that it was a way to cure the baby in a very satisfying manner because it was a part of this revenge plot of Spender’s. It leaves Mulder and Scully with a huge emotional burden. You see in the finale that they do carry that with them. It’s not just ignored by any means. This is a family issue that must be dealt with. It’s a very, very emotional scene, a touching scene. I think you’ll be happy with the result.” Let’s hope so.

Looking back at the life of the series, Shiban says his two favorite episodes are Leonard Betts, which he co-wrote with Vince Gilligan and Frank Spotnitz, and Existence. “The teaser for Leonard Betts was so outlandish that even the director and writers said ‘how the hell are we going to get out of this? You can’t just cut a man’s head off in the teaser and let him live throughout the episode.’ It was so much fun for me and I think we worked it out pretty well. The science almost made sense. It was really exciting and it made me feel like we had a cool franchise here that Chris has created that can push the envelope like this and yet still be grounded in reality. That’s always stuck in my mind that hey, we can do anything on this show.”

Shiban’s other favorite, Existence, is purely personal. “That was my son’s acting debut. He was Scully’s first baby. So that will always stick in my mind as a high point.”

Shiban has moved on to Enterprise, the next installment in the “Star Trek” franchise. He will serve as Co-Executive Producer on the series, and hopes to eventually do some directing in addition to his writing duties. When asked if he was a Trekkie growing up, Shiban says he was a “fan of the original series, and I’ve seen my share of “Next Generation” and some of the “Voyager”. I haven’t seen much of “Deep Space Nine”, but I’m trying to catch up. I’m doing my homework.” That includes knowing the lingo of the Trek universe. “I’m a fan but I don’t know if I’m a Trekker or Trekkie. I know there’s a difference. I’m learning.”

In case he ever starts to feel homesick for The X-Files, he need only look to the cast of Enterprise. John Billingsley who plays Doctor Phlox, was in an “X-Files” episode Shiban co-wrote with Vince Gilligan titled “Three of a Kind.” By the time Shiban arrived at Enterprise, the cast had already gone on hiatus, but he is “looking forward to working with him.”

Shiban feels that just like The X-Files, the “Star Trek” franchise has been so successful because “the basic paradigm is so brilliant, that you can keep telling stories for years. It’s an honor to be a part of something like this.”

“There was no significance to the white buffalo on the flag or the mobile. It was to set the stage and tell us where we were. People should not read anything symbolic into that. To give credit where credit is due, as I understand it, that was a creative choice by David Duchovny who felt ‘I don’t want to do a legend here. Let’s do something a little more interesting’.” John Shiban to fans on the relevance of the white buffalo in the episode William.

Cinescape: Fall TV Preview: The X-Files

Fall TV Preview: The X-Files

[typed by Megan]

High Concept: FBI agents searching for intelligent life in the universe also find conspiracies, monsters and big ratings.

Major Players: Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish.

Why Should You Watch: With Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Anderson) finally consummating their relationship (with a kiss) at the end of last season, the originator of the “X-Files” will be suspiciously absent, leaving Scully to contend with her new baby (and its secrets) all by herself. How producers handle Mulder’s absence will be an amazing sleight of hand trick, but seeing if new partners Doggett and Reyes click will be what most X-Fans will be watching.

Reasons To Be Concerned: It’s season nine – and no Mulder. The show’s mythology was tired in season five and there are very few adversaries left from the monster gene pool to exploit. Doggett revitalized the show last season while we waited for Mulder to return, but will Gish do the same?

Buzz-O-Meter: 5 (out of 10)

It was sealed with a kiss and now he’s gone…again. At the end of The X-Files’ eighth season, Agent Mulder (David Duchovny) and Agent Scully (Gillian Anderson) admitted to each other the “truth” that was out there all along – their love for each other. And with that, X-fans finally got what they wanted – confirmation that indeed Mulder and Scully did have something going on.

If the series ended on that note, it would have been a fitting conclusion to one of the TV’s most challenging and interesting genre television shows. Yet, FOX wanted another season. They got their wish, but not without a price – sans Duchovny. Now, the show is going to have to find a suitable way of resolving that kiss without making Mulder’s absence seem like he’s a deadbeat sperm-donating dad.

“I care how they resolve Mulder kissing and running [away],” Duchovny admitted to Cinescape, while promoting his summer feature Evolution.

Of course, the writing staff is well aware of this dilemma, but executive producer John Shiban feels they’ve come up with an adequate solution.

“I think we all share David’s feeling about the character,” says Shiban. “We have come up with a way for Mulder to still be at the heart of the show and be absent. If he does the movies, it works. If he comes back for a cameo, it works, though right now the latter is not going to happen, but you never know. We came up with a beautiful way that fits with the mythology that has already been established to still have Mulder be in Scully’s heart, be the father of her child and not be present. He will still be the center of The X-Files.”

Whereas last year, the subtext of the show focused on “the search for Mulder,” this year the major subplot will be “what’s up with Scully’s baby,” explains Shiban.

“We intend to use Scully in ever episode in some very interesting ways,” says Shiban. “She has been left with a big question: ‘What is with my baby? Why did the aliens want it and then let it go?’ Her relationship with Mulder is still central to the show – if not there in person, he’ll be there in spirit. Still, this new world for Scully – motherhood – is very important.”

The season ender also paired up Agent Doggett (Robert Patrick) with recurring character Agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) the new “head” of the X-Files. Predictably, Gish joins this season as a full-fledged cast member.

“Agent Reyes is very important next year, and so is Agent Doggett,” says Shiban. “We will get into Doggett’s past with his son and what happened with that.”

Making an appearance in a key arc next season will be Xena star Lucy Lawless, whose character has yet to be revealed, and Shiban says you should never count out the Cigarette Smoking Man for making an appearance despite being dead.

Airlock Alpha: Reyes loves Scully?

Reyes loves Scully?
Airlock Alpha
Michael Hinman

[Original article here]

It could’ve been an X-Files matching made in heaven

Move over Xena and Gabrielle.

It was a single line that erupted in a summer long of debate among fans of “The X-Files.”

In the season finale, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is giving birth to her child when Agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) comments how “amazingly beautiful” Scully was during the birthing process.

So the question is now whether or not Agent Reyes is going to be a lesbian on the show.

“We talked about it,” executive producer John Shiban told TV Guide Online in a recent interview. “But we (ultimately decided) that it’s the kind of baggage that we (creator Chris Carter and producer Frank Spotnitz) that we didn’t want to deal with with this kind of character right now. We had other ideas that we were more excited about.”

Shiban says that while Reyes has “an affection for Scully that is deep and real,” there might be more implied from the season finale line than there should be.

“Most women look beautiful when they’re giving birth,” Gish said. “And it was a very authentic birth experience, so I think it was very harmless.”

Will there ever be a gay relationship on the show?

“On The X-Files, anything can happen,” Shiban said. “So I don’t want to discount anything. Life is complicated.”

The X-Files Official Site: Chat with Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban

The X-Files Official Site
Chat with Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban

Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban all serve as executive producers on The X-Files, as well as on The Lone Gunmen.

Mutato1121: Is writing and planning the story lines for The Lone Gunmen any different than from when you do The X-Files scripts?

Vince: It’s different in that it’s a comedy. But we find the plotting to be just as intricate as when we do an episode of The X-Files.

John: In some ways it’s more difficult than The X-Files because you not only have to have a great story but it has to be funny too.

Frank: Let me put it this way, most weeks when we turn in the scripts the crew in Vancouver wants to know what we were smoking. So I’d say in many ways the scripts are even more out there than The X-Files.

JNewton: I loved the episodes “Unusual Suspects” and “Three of a Kind” on The X-Files. Is that basically what LG episodes are going to be like?

Frank: Absolutely! If you like those shows, you’ll love these.

Vince: Plus, with the new shows, we have two great new characters…Yves Adele Harlow, who is a wonderful femme fatale, and Jimmy Bond, who in some ways will become the fourth Lone Gunman.

SamanthaJ3: Will TLG be strictly comedy? Or will it have drama, too?

John: You’ll laugh and you’ll cry! We consider this show Mission Impossible with geeks…so you’ll have adventure, thrills, but also some pretty wild humor because our three leads, the Lone Gunmen, their world is upside down from The X-Files.

Frank: Hopefully you’ll know when to laugh and when to cry.

Vince: It’s definitely a comedy but we have a couple episodes coming up that have some nice emotion to them. Actually they all have a certain amount of emotion to them…and we feel it balances nicely with the comedy.

Oliver: Isn’t it ironic to launch a spin-off comedy during this gloomy season of TXF where desperation, adversity, boredom, and ultimately (so far) tragedy prevail?

Frank: Good point. Uh-oh!

John: You mean to say alien babies aren’t funny?

XPhreak: Alright, spill it: WHO’S THE FATHER OF SCULLY’S BABY?

Frank: We’ll learn in The Lone Gunmen that Frohike is the father of Scully’s baby. Stay tuned!

jaybfox: Do you have a particular character you like to write more than another? For instance, do you have a preference amongst the Lone Gunmen?

Frank: We love them all!

Vince: The more we like them, the more we realize how unique each of their voices is. Byers is the voice of reason, the moral center of the show. Frohike is a curmudgeonly man of action. Langly is kind of a smart aleck. And Jimmy is a big goofy guy with a lot of heart. Yves, on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery at first. But we learn that underneath her hard shell there’s something else going on.

Frank: John relates best to Frohike. Because he knows what it’s like to be a sex symbol against your will.

John: Yay!

Sarah: What about Harlow, then? What voice is she?

Vince: Yves has many layers. She comes across as tough and sarcastic and because of that she’s fun to write. Sarcasm is always fun to write. As the series progresses, we’ll see whole new sides to her, which I don’t want to elaborate on too much here. It would spoil the fun.

Frank: It involves dancing.

LauraCap: Byers got a crack at Suzanne Modeski. Will Langly and Frohike ever get lucky in love?

Jewlz: Will there be any love interests for the gunmen?

John: Langly has a very interesting moment early in the season with a cow.

Vince: Actually a bull.

Frank: That story is autobiographical.

Vince: But it didn’t go on my permanent record. I was under 18 at the time.

xfmegan: Are there any plans to correlate the X-Files mythology into the Lone Gunmen?

Frank: The brain surgery required boggles the mind. However, there will be crossovers in terms of characters and some storylines that involved the Lone Gunmen when they were on The X-Files. So you’ll see some comic characters from The X-Files crossing over, as well as some serious ones getting a chance to show how funny they can be.

jaybfox: Can you tell us anything about the LGM episode that Skinner appears in?

Vince: Case in point. Mitch Pileggi, our own favorite assistant director of the FBI, Walter Skinner. He’ll be joining The Lone Gunmen in an upcoming case.

Frank: It’s top secret. But you get to see Skinner like you’ve never seen him before.

Vince: That’s for sure!

jaybfox: Are we going to get to find out more about the backgrounds of each Lone Gunmen? Like…is Langly’s name Richard and Ringo’s a nickname and why…that kind of thing?

John: We get glimpses of their past. Early on you get to see them as children.

Frank: You also see their characters fleshed out in greater detail than ever before.

John: You’ll even get to see where they sleep at night.

Vince: By the way, Langly’s first name, Ringo, doesn’t come from Ringo of the Beatles.

Frank: What??!

Vince: In my mind, he’s named after the John Wayne character in Stagecoach whose first name of course was Ringo.

John: Naturally, when you see Langly, you think John Wayne.

Vince: Either John Wayne or Fabio.

Erynn: So do they sleep in the same room?

Frank: You’ll have to watch to see. Picture the three little bears.

Vince: We promise a scene in which at least two of the characters spoon. Ratings will immediately drop afterward.

albinopigeon: Do we get to see frohike in his jammies??

Vince: We definitely get to see him in his Hugh Hefner bathrobe.

John: You get to see him in Leiderhosen.

Frank: You actually get to see him in the pink, taking a bath. With a woman scrubbing his back. If that doesn’t draw viewers…

Vince: Survivor, look out!

lizascorner: What are TLGM’s cases gonna be like? Will they be x-files weird or something more everyday-like?

Frank: They are definitely not “every day.”

John: But they are not quite the cases Mulder investigates.

Vince: So far they are not paranormal. Instead they are real-world cases involving big business and foreign espionage and evil scientists….

Frank: And midget wrestlers and tango dancers and super-intelligent chimpanzees.

Vince: Like I said, “real world.”

maddict: Where do they get the money to pay for all the techo gear? Do they have other jobs?

Frank: They trade for sexual favors.

Vince: Just kidding.

moonpunkie: What type of gadgets will the LGM be playing with?

Vince: In one episode, they’ve built themselves a pretty nifty MRI machine out of spare TV parts.

Frank: Just about every week they’ve got cutting-edge technology that’s either where the real world is right now or where we will be soon.

Vince: And Yves has some gadgets that make the Lone Gunmen pretty jealous. She’s got a few tricks up her sleeve that they don’t have.

Mutato1121: Now that we have seen Chris Carter and Mark Snow in front of the camera, are any of you guys planning on taking a little role in The Lone Gunmen?

Frank: We are waiting for the right moment to spring ourselves on the American public.

Courtney_fanofVinceG: Hey Vince, are you going to direct any episodes of TLG? I love “Je Souhaite” and it would be a shame for your talent to go to waste.

Vince: Thank you very much! I would love to. I think the three of us in the future will all be directing Lone Gunmen episodes. At least I hope so, but right now we are all busy with just the writing of the show and the post-production, etc. But hopefully next season. Provided there is a next season.

Tshe: Will all the LGM be stand-alone episodes? Or will you have a continuing storyline?

Frank: Eventually we will have continuing storylines and mythology separate to The Lone Gunmen. But having said that, I think there’s a great deal of continuity in The Lone Gunmen series, and you get to see how the relationships, particularly with the new characters, develop over time.

amyh: Is the plan for the Lone Gunmen series to be an alternate universe type situation from TXF, where nothing from either show dovetails, or are there some crossovers? If so, where should we be looking?

Vince: I wouldn’t call it an “alternate universe” — these are the same 3 guys who help Mulder and Scully. But in this show we see what they do the other 99% of the time.

John: We like to think of The Lone Gunmen series as their day jobs — what they do when they are not helping Mulder, Scully or Doggett.

Vince: As you will see, they get by pretty well on their own, which is why you won’t see a lot of Mulder and Scully, because the Lone Gunmen are heroes in their own right and they solve their own problems themselves.

Frank: Plus, we can’t afford Mulder and Scully.

Vince: That’s the real reason!

sdana: Will we see John Gilnitz or will we hear about him…? We’d love to put a face to the name!!

Frank: Oh, yes! He’s an (expletive deleted)!

eire_scully: How much input (if any) has Chris Carter had?

Frank: Chris Carter loves the show and has been as involved as he can be while doing two TV series at once. He wrote the fourth episode, “Three Men and a Smoking Diaper,” which should go a long way toward destroying his reputation for quality television.

Charybdis: Hi guys. I’m really looking forward to the show, but I worry about TXF losing 3 of its best writers! Will you all still write eps for TXF if it continues?

Frank: We don’t know about next year, if there is a next year. But this past year we’ve all been killing ourselves trying to make both shows as good as possible.

Vince: All three of us love both shows. But it’s been awful hard to do both simultaneously. But we really want this new series to get a shot on the air. It’s very close to our hearts.

ChiA_PeT_20o1: Wow, this is the coolest! When did the idea first hit you to do a show on the TLG?

John: After the two X-Files episodes “Unusual Suspects” and “Three of a Kind” that starred the LG, we all immediately saw — especially after “Three,” which is a model for the series. When we saw how the characters carried the show, all three of us thought they could be stars and that this show would work.

mully23: Will there be an “antagonist” like the Cigarette-Smoking Man on LGM?

Frank: You’ll have to wait and see. As we said before, the mythology of this series rolls out slowly.

bliss2001: Will the LGM travel around the US? (like Mulder and Scully)

Vince: Yes, they will travel, but only as far as their 1972 VW Microbus allows them.

John: Gone are the days of Mulder and Scully’s expense accounts.

Vince: These guys have it tougher because they don’t have guns. They don’t have power of arrest, and they run out of gas occasionally.

Frank: But they do have sex appeal to spare!

Vince: At least Frohike does.

Delmo456: Looking at the titles of the Lone Gunmen episodes, it seems like you guys are doing parodies of a lot of movies (which will be great). Is that a correct assumption?

Vince: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. One funny title we have, which is “Like Water for Octane,” is an episode about a water-powered car. One of our staff writers came up with the name and we loved it when we heard it, although it has nothing to do with the Mexican magic realism or the plot of the movie Like Water for Chocolate.

Frank: Do expect to see a parody of a very popular one-hour drama on the FOX network.

albinopigeon: Are you going to parody the x files?

Frank: Refer to the previous answer!

Dilby: Speaking of the 1972 VW microbus, just how many…enhancements…are in that thing?

Vince: Well, I’ve been lobbying for nitrous oxide, a tank that would boost its maximum speed to 160 mph, but so far Frank and John won’t let me put that in.

John: Let’s just say their van is their home away from home. Imagine the Lone Gunmen office on wheels.

Vince: So far, one thing we know about it is that it’s got a pretty cool periscope camera in the roof.

KATEDVM: A mattress in the back maybe? LOL

Frank: Ha ha ha. Season 2!

deedee77: Will there be time-stamps, and will time play an important role, as it does in The X-Files?

Frank: Yes. We at Ten Thirteen don’t know how to tell stories without them.

Vince: We call them “legends.”

Frank: In our own minds! Chiller: How are the boys adjusting to having their own series?

Vince: There’s an awful lot of squabbling over who has the biggest trailer. Just kidding!

Frank: Actually, we’ve beaten up the most on Frohike, who is not surprisingly called upon to do the most stunts. But I think they are all having a good time and it’s quickly become an ensemble of five actors who enjoy working together.

Vince: All five are a pleasure to write for and to work with.

ak47deadly: Are they going to get to the bottom of the Florida election crisis?

florence: Will the LG ever go back in time and try to uncover the killer of JFK?

Frank: Very dead-on questions.

Vince: We do have a character named Chad. Does that count?

Jewlz: How many episodes will be in the seasons?

Frank: Only 13.

Vince: Lucky 13, we hope.

JTR555: Could we possibly see Frank Black appear? THAT interaction would be a riot!!!

Vince: That would be great because, of course, Frank Black is a hilarious character. Actually he would be a pretty good straight man, come to think of it.

KATEDVM: When will you know if you get picked up for next season?

Frank: Probably not until May, officially. Although, if the show is a massive hit, that’s a foregone conclusion.

Mutato1121: Would you guys like to spill any juicy tid bits about The X-Files to us Philes while we wait a month?

Frank: To all those online people who are furious at Ten Thirteen for killing Mulder, please remember that David Duchovny is contracted to appear in the rest of the episodes this season.

Vince: It’s going to be a lot like Weekend at Bernie’s. Mulder will be dragged from investigation to investigation. Occasionally, Scully will tie him to the roof of her van.

Frank: I’ve been touched by the love and support of those fans who complained about us killing Mulder.

Madison: Is the X-File finale written yet?

Frank: We are in the process of writing them now.

John: We already told you that Frohike is the father.

mully23: Do you guys put personal notes into the story lines like Chris Carter does with 11:21?

Frank: We often put the names of friends and loved ones into our scripts.

Vince: I try to put some reference to my girlfriend Holly into every episode I write. I do this because it makes everyone say “Awww!” when they hear it. And also because it helps me get chicks. Just kidding, Holly!

Jewlz: Like in XF, with episodes “Post-Modern Prometheus” and “X-Cops,” these were shown in a unique camera-style etc. Will there be any in the LG show?

Frank: No. This show is pretty much hack work. Just kidding…we have a superior DP (director of photography) and crew, almost all of whom we have worked with before, on either X-Files, Millennium or Harsh Realm. As with each of those shows, we are always trying to do the best work possible and I think, visually, we are extremely ambitious for what is primarily a comedy series.

Sarah: Any chance that Braidwood will get a chance to direct?

Frank: Did Braidwood ask that question?

John: Is that Tom Braidwood logging in?

Frank: We would love for him to direct one. We just don’t know when we can afford to lose him as an actor to make that happen.

KATEDVM: Does that mean that the Gunmen won’t be in an X files movie if there is one?

Frank: No way! We would love to have the Gunmen in the next X-Files movie and they will continue to be in The X-Files TV series.

Oliver: Frank – you said in an interview that The X-Files’ mythology will be wrapped up by the end of the season. Can you confirm that? Where does that leave you creatively – and us as fans – in the event of a Season 9?

Frank: What was I thinking? Whatever I said, what I mean to say is that 8 years of the series will come to a close this May, regardless of whether there is an X-Files next season. I actually believe most of the important questions about the mythology have already been answered, believe it or not, and you will see some new ones asked in upcoming shows.

StarlightM42: Can you talk about the scene where Doggett first meets the LGM? It was a classic!

Frank: I wrote that scene and it was very long and I felt sure that we’d end up having to cut it, but Doggett proved a great straight man to the Gunmen. We ended up using almost every line.

Vince: Doggett would be a fun guy to get on The Lone Gunmen show. Hopefully that will happen at some point.

Mutato1121: Are any of you working on anything other than The X-Files or Lone Gunmen series?

albinopigeon: How many hours do you work a week??

John: How many hours are there?

Frank: I figure each of us works at least 70-80 hours a week, which leaves very little time for doing anything else.

Max42: Will we be getting any closure for Byers and Susanne Modeski in the new series?

XPhreak: Will Susanne Modeski make an appearance?

Vince: I’d like to see Susanne Modeski come back at some point. She’s a fun character and Byers’ unrequited love for her would be interesting to address. Look for it in an upcoming episode. Provided we go past this first season.

Adamrs: Will Morris Fletcher be on “The Lone Gunmen”?

Frank: I wouldn’t be surprised!

Vince: I wouldn’t be surprised either too!

John: I wouldn’t be surprised either too!

Erynn: What’s the most evil thing you’ve done to the gunmen so far?

Frank: There are so many….

Vince: But it’s done with love.

John: Each week we try to top ourselves.

Vince: But not to give anyone the wrong idea. We don’t want to torture them. It’s just that we find ourselves putting them into increasingly bizarre situations in the hopes of it being funny.

Frank: One thing you will realize about the Lone Gunmen in their own series is that as smart as they may be behind a computer, they are extremely inept at many other things in life.

Vince: Just like the three of us are.

John: Speak for yourself!

Vince: This is the first real power any of us have had in our lives, and we’re using it, baby!

Erynn: What has been your favorite episode so far to write?

Frank: I have truly loved every episode we’ve done. They’ve all been funny and sweet and exciting. I particularly like two we did recently, one involving death row and the other involving the tango.

Vince: I have to agree. Every episode that we’ve worked on becomes more and more fun. One thing I should say, too, is that this show is really sweet at its core, meaning that we love and respect the characters even though we get them into some odd situations. But in our minds, at least, it’s never mean-spirited.

John: Each episode is different in so many ways that it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite. They are all great for different reasons.

Scully7: How long does it take you guys to come up with a kick ass script?

CRSJ: Does it take the same number of days to create a LGM episode as an XFiles episode? I heard you work very long hours to make an XFiles episode.

John: In TV production, you write as long as you can before shooting, so as the season goes on, you have less time to make as good a script. It’s not how long it takes, it’s how long we have.

Vince: That’s why as the season progresses, the episodes get crappier.

John: Vince is very tired. It’s time for his medication.

florence: Did you ever write something that the actor refused to do?

Frank: No, but I’m still trying.

florence: How did you come up with each Lone Gunmen’s name?

Vince: Glen Morgan and Jim Wong initially created the characters and gave them the last names Frohike, Byers and Langly. For “Unusual Suspects,” we gave them first names. John Fitzgerald Byers is named for JFK, of course. That was part of the plot for that episode. He was born the day after JFK was assassinated, hence the name. And the names Ringo and Melvin we just kind of pulled out of a hat.

Courtney_fanofVinceG: I skipped my calculus homework just to spend the evening with you three. What do you think of how devoted we x-philes are?

Vince: God bless you! Now, DO your homework… No, seriously, we love all the fans because we wouldn’t be sitting here doing this chat without them. We wouldn’t be employed! I’d be spraying Windex on the sneeze-plate at the salad bar at Wendy’s. Frank would be selling shotguns at Walmart, and John….

John: I’d go back to male modeling.

Vince: Yes, the underwear section of the Sears catalog. Your work is quite good.

Max42: How’d you guys come up with the idea to make the show so “interactive,” with the e-com-con site and what not?

Frank: We have a brilliant Internet producer named Robin Benty. She comes up with all these great ideas and then we pretend like they are ours.

Chiller: Do you ever have trouble keeping all the pieces of the conspiracy together in your heads (and scripts)?

John: It’s easy because it’s all true!

Frank: Yes, are you kidding? Who doesn’t? I am amazed and confounded that people have been willing to follow The X-Files conspiracy for 8 years now, not only willing, but still very interested. I can’t believe such a large audience is interested in such a complicated, even convoluted, storyline. It’s been so rewarding.

FOXcom_Host: Thanks to Vince, John and Frank! Say goodbye to them!

John: Tune in Sunday night!

Vince: Watch our show! We don’t want it to die a horrible death like Harsh Realm did.

Frank: It’s been wonderful chatting with you. We love this show and we hope you do, too!

Sci Fi Entertainment: The ABCs of ‘X’

Sci Fi Entertainment
The ABCs of ‘X’
Melissa J Perenson

[typed by Amy]

Neither of the show’s two main stars have returned yet. David Duchovny, who plays Fox Mulder with a deadpan aplomb, is due to return first, and his Emmy nominated co-star Gillian Anderson, who plays the scientific and pragmatic Dana Scully, returns the following week; both spent the summer hiatus filming feature films (Return To Me and House Of Mirth, respectively). But you can already feel the energy as the crew gears up for a new season.

For the moment filming is limited to a scene in a psychiatrist’s office, an otherwise ordinary looking set with perfectly slanted blinds allowing just the right amount of mood-setting light through. The crew is milling about, setting up the shot for director Kim Manners. The episode being filmed, “Hungry” is actually not the first episode of the season; rather, it’s an episode written by co-executive producer Vince Gilligan that follows an X-File case from the perspective of the monster

Elsewhere on the sound stage–whose elegant art deco facade betrays it’s status as on of the older stages on the lot–are scattered standing sets. Currently, those sets are dark, but they’re just waiting to come to life once more–Mulder and Scully’s apartments, Skinner’s office, the main corridors of FBI headquarters. On the show’s other stage stands Mulder and Scully’s office and corridor; the Lone Gunmen’s command center; and the Navajo hut used in the sixth-season finale, “Biogenesis.”

Breaking an X-File

After five years of working together as a team on The X-Files, the show’s core producers have settled into a comfortable routine that’s solid enough for them to comfortably take on the responsibilities of launching a new Fox series, Harsh Realm. Series creator Chris Carter is pulling double duty shepherding both series, as is X-Files’ executive producer Frank Spotnitz. But Spotnitz is also a key part of the trio of writer-producers who are responsible for the day to day writing for the series. The other two components in the puzzle are Gilligan , and supervising producer John Shiban.

“We all connect in a very natural way”, says Spotnitz. “There’s so much verbal shorthand that the three of understand; our rhythms in story telling are kind of this undeniable thing.”

The synergy between Spotnitz, Gilligan, and Shiban is clear, even as the three sit together for an interview in Spotnitz’s office. As they describe the process of turning concepts and ideas into full fledged X-File episodes, it’s easy to extrapolate and imagine how the three producers play off one another in story meetings.

The producers rely on a process called “boarding”, in which they “break” a story by dividing up the four acts and the teaser into concept nuggets written in block print on 3 by 5 index cards. “It starts with an idea and we all have ideas floating around, and we all kick them around constantly”, explains Shiban. “We’ll often sit down and beat out the story scene by scene on these cards. But sometimes you’ll go through a story you’re trying to beak and it’ll take two or three boards to go through the entire thing and plot it all out. The we’ll pitch it to Chris and if it’s not quite right or we all sense that it needs another element, we take it all apart and rebuild it. All that is done before the first page is written.”

“The first board for [fifth season’s] ‘Unusual Suspects’ was a real…I don’t want to say stink-a-roo, but the whole thing ended up being thrown out,” admits Gilligan of his own Lone Gunmen focused episode. “It happens.”

“The bad ones, the unsuccessful episodes, are the ones where you got to the end of the board and you never quite figured out why you were telling the story or what the central idea was,” explains Spotnitz. “And that’s happened a couple of times, rarely. You just run out of time, and then in the editing room you find yourself trying to fix the problems you never fixed in the script, which is always a losing game.”

At the beginning of the season, there’s perhaps a month, month and a half lead time on an episode. “And as the year progresses the window shrinks,” says Gilligan. “Sometimes you have a script that comes up and you’re struggling to come up with the idea and the thing is due in 15, 14, 13 days.”

“Sometimes we’ll have ideas that have been floating around for as long as a season or two and then finally you get to do that one–the elements are all there,” adds Shiban. “One television, every eight days you’ve got another script due. No matter how much time you have it always seems to be down to the wire.”

No one script is the work of a single writer-regardless of the credits that appear on screen. “We all have different strengths. Vince will often come up with a stunning visual idea or a creepy look,” says Shiban.

“And Frank and John are really strong with plot”, offers Gilligan. Vince loves writing more than anybody I know,” Spotnitz contributes. “Frequently we’ll come up with a scene and he’ll go ‘Oh, that’s going to be fun to write.’ And he does have fun. All the producers try to understand the story so well that if we had to, we could come in and write it ourselves. And often we do, or we re-write somebody else.” For as much as writing is a part of Spotnitz’s job, the process actually takes less time than you’d expect. “I’d say 80-90 percent of my time is not writing. It’s editing or playback or meetings or boarding other people’s stories.”

“The ideas for X-File stories,” says Shiban, come from various sources, including the news, books, magazines, and the Internet. Once of the things that we’re trying to do more and more now that the series has gone on for so many years is find different ways to attack a story, different ways to tell a story. And different types of stories to tell. Which is why we did a number of humorous episodes [in the sixth season]–because it’s a different way to use our characters and to tell a story in the X-Files world.”

The hardest thing about writing for The X-Files–and the most difficult in finding writers for the show–“is the approach,” says Spotnitz. “Just in the way we tell stories. It’s very specific. We try to be very rigorous about the plotting of our stories. We’re more successful sometimes than we are other times, but that’s our method.

The degree of direction the writers put into a script “is amazingly specific,” Gilligan notes. “There are a lot of pages that don’t have any dialogue at all in our scripts. There can be just a page full of scene directions and action lines. I love that because it’s visual. It’s all story telling, but if you’re telling stories through words and what-not, through dialogue, you might as well be writing for theater.”

Achieving the voice of Mulder and Scully is often the biggest obstacle for new writers. “It’s in the approach and the mindset of Mulder and Scully every step of the way,” adds Gilligan. “Mulder and Scully are actively pushing the plot along and there’s always some sort of tension between them, because of their different beliefs as to what’s happening.”

While Gilligan never experienced that particular road block, the character’s voices have plagued many other writers. “It’s the hardest thing to learn on the show that can be learned. I mean it took me a long time to learn it,” admits Shiban. “And a lot of it has to do with the subtlet of their ongoing conflict. In their relationship, they’re very close, but they have these two separate points of view that are very specific and well founded. It’s like you have to learn to first look and the X-File from Mulder’s point of view, and then look at it from Scullys. And then believe it both ways. Those are the best scenes. The best Mulder/Scully banter is when they both have a really strong point. Yet they both have a profound respect for each other. And then there’s also that sexual tension that everybody picks up on.”

“It’s rarely scripted, by the way,” Spotnitz interjects. “It’s just there. You don’t have to address it.”

But the show is slowly starting to address Mulder and Scully’s relationship, anyway. After having brought the simmering tension to a boil in the feature, it was almost impossible for the show to ignore the under currents. “Because of the near kiss in the movie-which to me was significant because clearly there was intent and desire to kiss in that moment-we thought we’d play with the moment, with the attraction,” explains Spotnitz of their tactic for the sixth season. “Which we did a number of times, I thought: Mulder and Scully’s farewell in ‘Dreamland II’, certainly the kiss and [Mulder’s] ‘I love you’ in ‘Triangle’, the winks that there’s an attraction for each other in ‘Rain King.’ But I don’t think any of us wants to get rid of the tension that keeps the relationship interesting…or ruin that relationship. So it’s an evolution. Theirs is very much an organic, continuing relationship.”

And while Anderson and Duchovny may have enough electricity on screen to carry the tone of the relationship, eventually, even Spotnitz recognizes that the status quo cannot be maintained forever. But don’t expect any big developments while the series remains on the air. “If we all know the series is going to come to an end, not only does it allow you to do something really big and important and satisfying with the conclusion of the series, but it allows you to do new things with the relationship in the feature film,” Spotnitz remarks.

All three producers credit the Mulder/Scully dynamic to Anderson and Duchovny’s work on the series. “You can’t even begin to describe how much David and Gillian bring to those scenes with the two of them together,” enthuses Spotnitz. “There’s just so much chemistry. I think it’s incredible because they’re so different as human beings and while they’re friendly to each other, they’re not particularly close off screen. But you turn on the camera and there is something magnetic about the two of them.”

After six years and one feature film, both actors know their characters intimately. “David will add a few lines every now and then. He’ll add some funny lines,” says Gilligan. “I don’t think Gillian ever has added a lone off the top of her head. She’s more formal. He’ll just do it.”

Production Multitasking

As writer-producers, the job doesn’t stop once the story is written and on the page. All three are involved in such production details as casting, budgeting, editing, special effects, music, and sound spotting. “We all do everything,” says Spotnitz. “Twelve hour days are the norm, and weekend crunches are not unheard of, either.”

Each producer has a different strength, and the division of labor has evolved to reflect that. Over the past couple of years, Spotnitz and Shiban have focused on breaking the stories, and Gilligan has helped develop and write the stories from there. Still, all three remain involved in all aspects of the process. “We pretty much oversee most of the creative decisions that have to go on, from breaking the stories to giving notes on a script to the writer,” adds Shiban. “We have a pretty big production meeting where we deal with budgetary concerns and [questions such as] ‘How is this going to be done?’ and ‘Can it look like this?’.

Once shooting begins, the three watch dailies every day and pass on comments to the director as to what’s working and what isn’t. After the episode completes its eight day shoot, the director has a chance to cut footage together before passing the episode off to the producers.

“I’m probably best at just writing,” Gilligan considers. “Frank and John are better at overseeing the big picture, as well as their own episodes. I’m not as good at that; I’m better at just my own episodes.”

Carter encouraged his writers to produce their episodes from the outset, and that X-Files tradition has benefited both the writers and the writing in turn. “I learned so much about writing visually,” says Shiban. “From telling the story on a page to seeing what was shot and trying to piece it together to tell the story I first intended. What’s so great about working on this show is that when I was a staff writer, I had the opportunity to go down [to the set[ and just watch and see how the director planned out the scene. It’s made me a better writer. Being responsible for the other end of[story production] teaches you to write more economically.”

Initially, X-Files’ much-hyped production move from Vancouver to Los Angeles at the start of season 6 proved a “tough adjustment,” according to Spotnitz. “We’ve been so lucky because we’ve found really great people. We sort of had our pick of the town.”

Concerns that the show’s rich, dark cinematography would be irreparably affected by the move faded quickly. “By episode five last year, I didn’t hear that anymore, about whether the show looked the same or not,” recalls Spotnitz. “Even though we do some night shooting, from most of the show, it’s really the way the interiors are lit. And I thought [director of photography] Bill Roe did a superb job of maintaining the atmospheric and cinematic look of the show.”

Fiscal and practical realities have proved the greatest challenges the producers have had to face since relocating. “Here in Los Angeles, it’s harder to get around the city than it was in Vancouver,” notes Shiban. “We do a tech scout, for example, where the department heads and a producer all get into a bus and we drive to every location we’re shooting in, going over what the director is going to do here and where they’ll need a crane over there. We had one [scout] that was 12 hours on a bus, because to find the right look, we had to go 200 miles all around Los Angeles, all the way up to Ventura County. In Vancouver you could have done that in half the time because there’s no traffic, and it’s all [right there].”

“Things are more expensive,” adds Spotnitz. “That’s been the real pressure, the financial. The cost of moving from Vancouver to LA was extremely high, higher than anyone anticipated. So we really were between a rock and a hard place. As producers and writers, we were trying to protect the quality of the show; on the other hand, as employees of the studio, we were trying to be responsible in terms of what the show cost.”

In order to save money, the producers came up with some creative solutions. “We ended up trying to devise stories that could be shot economically using existing sets,” reveals Spotnitz. And that’s a challenge on a show were you are out in different parts of the country every week, investigating completely different [cases].” Relatively self-contained episodes included “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” and “Milagro”.

At the start of season 6, the production took advantage of the fact that Los Angeles locations offered opportunities not available in Vancouver. Desert locations, bright locations, even unique shipboard locations-The Queen Mary ocean liner docked in Long Beach, California-became the norm for the first five episodes or so that it suddenly became a running joke, “so often were they shooting out of Los Angeles,” Spotnitz chuckles. After completing the two part ‘Dreamland,’ the trio made up crew t-shirts bearing the line, “When is The X-Files moving to Los Angeles?”

Once the temptation to film in the desert was satisfied, things settled down considerably. “We’re still doing what we’ve always done,” maintains Shiban about the story locations. “A Virginia story. And Arizona story. We’re all over. I think we’re successful at that.”

There is a catch, though:”The only problem is that there are so many palm trees you’re always shooting with a palm tree just out of range,” laughs Spotnitz.

Having production housed on the same lot as the production facilities has had its benefits, too. “It used to be we’d fly up [to Vancouver] two to three days before a show would begin and we’d prep our own episode. You’d see [the crew] for two days,” Spotnitz remembers. “The nice part about having the show down here is that we’re all together every day. You can walk over to the prop guy and say, ‘Hey, Tommy, what about this? It looks great.’ And we’re in meetings that we would see only the results of. Now, we’re often designing the storyboards or a special effects sequence or something. And we can walk over to the stage and say hello to David and Gillian or Bill Davis. That’s been great.”

Future Watch

At the start of filming in August, no word had come down yet on whether the seventh season would indeed be the last. Anderson and most of the supporting actors are signed for eight seasons; the wrinkle in the equation is Duchovny, whose contract is up at the end of this season. But as he plots the course of the mythology and the resolution of the mythology, Spotnitz is counting on the seventh season being X’s swan song on the small screen. At least until he hears otherwise. “I think it feels right at the end of this season. But there will probably be enormous pressure put on all of us to continue,” he says, adding that he’s already heard rumblings to that effect.

In the event that the plan changes, Spotnitz will have to shift gears–and the mythology–accordingly. “I’m not sure what I would do,” he admits laughing. “We may be in trouble. Right now, we’re plotting out what’s the last thing you will see of Cigarette Smoking Man, the last thing you will see of Krycek, Skinner. We’re trying to find the right place to send off all of our characters, at least on television.”

The highly publicized “Full Disclosure” of the mythology earlier this year in the episode “Two Fathers/One Son” were tied together loose ends and answered many questions about the international government conspiracy that Mulder and Scully have been battling to expose. The season finale, which raised philosophical and religious questions about the role aliens played in the development of Earth, paved avenues for Mulder and Scully to explore in the two part seventh season opener. When we last saw Mulder, he was locked away in a sanitarium due to the mysterious effects of an alien artifact; Scully, meanwhile, was searching for traces of an alien craft off the coast of Africa. “We really opened up a new chapter in the mythology with “Biogenesis,” and that will be the final chapter of the series,” confirms Spotnitz. “The effects of discovery and what has happened to Mulder will drive all of the mythology episodes into the series finale. You can expect to see all the major characters involved in the resolution of the series, and we’ll deal very directly with Mulder’s sister and with the relationship between Mulder and Scully.”

Something else for genre fans to look forward to: novelist William Gibson is doing another X-Files script with his writing partner Tom Maddox. Gibson wrote the popular fifth season virtual reality episode, “Kill Switch.” Plus, there’s a possibility that Duchovny will step behind the scenes again for a repeat performance as writer/director. Duchovny, who was on his way to a PhD in English Literature at Princeton prior to launching his acting career, has contributed several story ideas over the years. Sixth season’s “The Unnatural,” which marked his debut as both writer and director was well received by fans and critics alike. “I hope he will, but I don’t know whether he’s going to,” Spotnitz remarked prior to Duchovny’s return from hiatus. “He certainly has a lot of story ideas involving mythology that we’ve actually been discussing or we’re going to use.”

And, of course, regardless of when the series ends, there’s another X-Files feature destined for the big screen. After all, the first feature, release in the summer of 1998 racked up nearly $185 million in worldwide box office. But the feature won’t materialize until after the series concludes.

X-Files Expo transcript

X-Files Expo transcript

Well, after sneaking in a recorder to the Expo at Tustin on Saturday… and then carefully playing it back and typing it up on the computer today, the final project is what is in this and the next 7 posts : a transcript of the Writers Forum. I spent 7 hours in front of my computer typing the following out for you, the good fans of the X-Files. I ask one thing from all that read this… please do not ask for an audio copy of the Expo. This transcript alone is illegal and I don’t want Fox on my butt more than I need them to be. Thanks and enjoy.

X-File Expo March 14th, 1998 Tustin Marine Corp. Base Transcript

FS – Frank Spotnitz JS – John Shiban VG – Vince Gilligan MC – The Emcee Q – Audience Question [] – audience reaction (unless mentioned otherwise)

All three walk out on stage. Frank at stage right, Vince on stage left and John in the middle. All are standing with cordless mics about 5 feet from each other. This transcript has been modified from its original form: the writers repeat the questions so that people who could not hear the soft voices of some of the audience members can understand the answer. I have cut out the repeat of the questions.

FS – Uhhh… can you hear me? We’re going to introduce ourselves first, one by one, and then open up the floor for questions. Are there microphones out there for questions? ok. Uh.. I’m Frank Spotnitz. I’m co-executive producer of the X-Files. [applause] I’ve been with the show four years now – since the beginning of the second season. I’ve written and co-written about 16 or 17 episodes and I’m working on the movie right now (the movie that will be coming out in June). So, umm, you can ask me about any of those things or any of the other episode and this is John Shiban.


JS – Hi. I am John Shiban, co-producer of the X-Files. I’ve been on the show since season three. Uhhh… wrote.. uhh, enough.. four solo episodes I believe? Four or five solo’s and writing with these guys for a couple of episodes. Don’t know what to talk about…. so I will turn it over to Vince Gilligan!


VG – Uhh… Hi, I’m Vince, supervising producer of the X-Files. I have been with the show since October of ’95 on staff. I did an episode about a year before that, uh, freelance. Done six or seven solos and a couple of episodes with these two guys. And uhh, I guess we should throw it open to questions?

FS – Yes, we could. These guys look normal but they are very disturbed and I can explain that to you if you wish. Over here?

Q #1 – Um, first of all, my name is Suzy. (FS – Hi) In one of the first seasons, I’m not sure which it was, there was an episode called “Calusari”? (FS – “Calusari”, right.) Ok, yeah… that was second season. Um, at the end of the episode, the elders are telling Mulder that he should be careful because the evil will recognize you and it might be back. (FS – yes). Are you guys going to do a second half of that episode anywhere along the lines?

FS – I don’t think we will do a sequel per se, although the idea that evil might recognize Mulder could come back in some other show but we don’t have any plans to do that right now.

Q #2 – Uh, My name’s Jenna. I just wanted to ask you guys: there’s been a lot of speculation this season that you guys are kind of writing in a kind of rift, or separation, in relationship between Mulder and Scully but there’s like, ever since the events of “Emily” and “Christmas Carol” there has been something between them – that there has been a distance between them. Are you specifically writing that in or are we just seeing that?

(FS looks at JS) JS – Hmmm… distance between them… Vince? (JS looks at FG) [laughing] VG – Uhh… That is not anything conscious on our part. I think Mulder and Scully’s relationship is probably, I would think, is stronger than ever. You know, sometimes, with the logistics of doing a tv show and also doing a movie just about simultaneously, sometimes its very hard for the show to get two stars, to schedule their time such that they can do the work in the week they need them to do. Sometimes, frankly, we have to endeavor to schedule one scene with just Mulder or just Scully. We do that as little as possible because, honestly, who wants to see Mulder and Scully together? Maybe that’s what you’re thinking of but no, that’s not a conscious thing on our part to show a rift between them.

FS – I think one of the interesting things between their relationship is how much is unsaid between the two of them. And you gotta watch and sort of look for subtle signs of communication where Mulder would take Scully’s hand or one of them would touch the other or there is a look between them that is meant to convey something that we don’t want to say. And it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Sometimes we are surprised by the way these things get interpreted out there. One of the interesting things that has happened this year is the reversals of their roles: In the beginning of the season Mulder believing, because of his meeting with Kritschgau, that he may have been mislead that the entire alien / UFO phenomenon is a cover story to disguise what the government has actually been up to. And we see a real reversal of the roles that Mulder and Scully played ending this two-parter, that was just broadcasted, where we see them shift back… possibly… to the more familiar positions. So somewhere in there, I think, this impression may have been developed.

JS – Chris Carter has said that Mulder and Scully, in a way, are having a romance. Even though it’s not a sexual romance, this is a relationship and it is complicated. And sometimes they are at odds, sometimes they don’t agree, sometimes they are concerned for each other, they are worried that one is going to endanger themselves, etc. Sometimes those things aren’t resolved and we like to leave it lie(?) because it makes them more real to us and more interesting people if they have that kind of long-term up and down that you go through in a relationship like this.

FS – Don’t you think we should be performing somehow? [laugh] We’re just standing up here with microphones…

VG – We should do the human pyramid.

FS – We have a tumbling act we could do. [laugh] Go ahead…

Q #3 – Hi, my name is Deb. I just want to say that its really great to finally see the brains behind some of the great episodes on the X-Files. (FS – thank you) [applause] I just wanted to know, um, how far on the myth – arc are you guys planning ahead or are you just writing holes so you can fill them in later? How much of this has been planned ahead?

FS – Well the… climax…of all of the mythology, Chris Carter has had in his head from the beginning of the show. And he’s left the steps to get there vague on purpose so as we go through the life of the tv series we take things from the news and incorporate them into the mythology. So he hasn’t wanted to put a straight jacket around himself or the show. We had an interesting problem this year. We thought it was going to be an advantage because we knew what the movie was and we’ve known since Christmas of 96, which is when we came up with the story. So all of the mythology you have seen since then has been sort of knowing where we’re going in the Summer of ’98. But it actually proved to be more difficult because we started having a hard time figuring out what we can say and what can we not say. And this last two parter probably revealed more of the mythology and what’s happening then this show has since the second season. So it was a big, big couple of stories for us. But, beyond that, its pretty much, you know, we know what the movie is obviously, but beyond that its pretty much tentative… except the end… we know what that is.

JS- I thought it was all true, Frank.

FS – Yeah… except for the true parts

Q #4a – Hi, my name is Rachael. Um, I was wondering, this is going out to all of you, what are your favorite episodes?

FS – All of Vince’s episodes are my favorites. (JS – Yeah, I guess.) [applause]

JS – Anything where Mulder and Scully hold hands or nearly kiss. [big applause]

FS – That’s called sucking up to the audience.

Q #4b – …and is there any plans to bring back Darren Morgan? [applause]

FS – Darren, we see him every day, because he is writing for Millennium, which is just next door to us, and he’s absolutely miserable. Hates writing, hates his own shows. And we keep hoping he will come back but if we invite him, that will make it less likely that he will. But he has an idea, he claims, but he just hates the process so… who knows if he will feel like doing it again. My favorite episodes… I have many, many favorites but among them, I would have to say “Duane Barry”, “Clyde Bruckman” with Darren, [applause]…. those are two that come to mind off hand. Many of Vince’s, John’s, and some of the one’s we have done together I love or just had fun doing. Like “Leonard Betts” was fun show for us.

JS – yeah! “Leonard Betts”…

VG – “Leonard Betts” was a fun one.

JS – Great minds think alike.

FS – You guys want to answer that question? What are your favorite shows?

VG – As with Frank, I don’t really have a favorite but the one’s that frank mentioned and, uh, “Jose Chung”, “731 / Nisei”, “Colony / End Game”, “Elegy” was a great one, “The Walk”…. uh, I’m just kissin’ ass up here, I don’t know. [laugh] I love them all, except for a couple.

FS – John?

JS – Uh… same thing? Ditto on that. Actually, I really liked this last two parter… “Patient X” and “The Red and The Black” were wonderful episodes [applause]

Q #5 – Hi, my name is Holly and I was wondering as writers, is there any direction you would, if you could, take the show but will know will never happen because of the Mythology and the restrictions that Chris puts onto you? If you could write your dream story arch for the show, what would it be?

FS – Interesting question. Um, actually, I don’t think that there is anything that will never happen. I think that because of the life of the tv series and the possibility of a feature [film] series continuing after this. Eventually, pretty much anything we want these character to face, they will face and come to pass. But it is an interesting problem, how to sort of parse out the dramatic moments in the lives of these characters because we can’t have them facing death every week and you can’t involve their personal lives every week although those tend to be the people’s favorite episodes. So we are always judging how much we can do and still sustain the show week after week. That’s a tough balance to strike.

VG – I couldn’t, frankly, find an answer to your question off the top of my head because it occurred to me that I sort of feel like we do get to do are dream episodes. We basically do get to do what we want to do thanks to Chris.

JS – I still want Mulder and Scully to go back to the old west [laughing].

VG- Ancient Rome.

JS – Ancient Rome, Egypt, yes.

FS – The fun for us is doing episodes that are completely different. And we try every week to find situations and ideas that are unlike anything that we have ever done before. It like exploring without a map: we don’t quite know how we are going to work out the story and where they are going to go, but it keeps it fresh for us and the actors too.

Q #6 – Hi, my name is Fontaine. There’s been some speculation that in “Small Potatoes” the leaf blower was Mark Hamill. Is that really true?

VG – That’s a funny idea. It is not Mark Hamill but that would have been really neat. You know, the original plan was for the guy to be Glen Morgan, Darren Morgan’s brother, who if you have ever seen him in a magazine picture or whatnot, there’s a big family similarity. And I really wanted him to do that part and it would have been wonderful. But, you know, he’s a busy man and he was working on a pilot at the time and stuff like that. He originally said yes but then he had to cancel. So actually, honestly, the actual leaf blower guy, is just, I don’t even know his name. He is just a Vancouver extra. But Mark Hamill would have been a good choice.

Q #7a – Hi. I have a few questions. How important is feedback on the internet to the show? How does that influence what goes on in future episodes? How do you do research on those episodes that go deeply into a culture? And then finally, is there a book like that… I hear a rumor that Gene Roddenberry had a book for Star Trek writers where you can’t do this or you can’t do that. Does Chris Carter has some kind of book as a guideline that you guys abide by?

JS- uhh… last question first. Our show does not have a “bible”. Other shows do, they call it a “bible” and it lays out the characters and the history behind each character, etc., etc…. A lot of that is in Chris’s head, to be honest, and part of the experience of working on the show is we all sort of begin to learn what is acceptable and what is not. Although we are always pushing that envelope so… Nobody had anticipated Scully’s cancer, for example. And as the show grew and she was abducted and as these things happened to her, we were able to fit it into her character. But there are rules though. There are ways we try to scare people that Chris has, at least for me, has taught me how to do in a lot of ways and how to handle a scene and what we consider scary and what we don’t. For example, trying to scare people at home: trying to find something that is commonplace and then turning it into something scary. Instead of just a complete fantasy. Like a monster of something.. but it is not written down like it is in other shows.

Q #7b – JS – uhh… what was the second question?

VG- Internet. (looks at JS to answer)

JS – ahhh.. internet. (looks at FS to answer)

FS- Internet. I confess that I would never look into the fan-fic areas for fear of some plagiarism accusation and also, I don’t read X-rated material. [laughs] But I will look and see the fans reaction to the episodes, despite the fact that is it extremely aggravating for me. Because people write assuming that we are not reading any of these things. They are very blunt and brutal in many cases.

JS- We have feelings too, you know. [laughs]

FS – I also find that people tend to post because they got something… if you have something to say and it’s a complaint, it gives you credibility. It’s your ticket to a post. And, for me, the things that I find most interesting to the episodes rarely surface in e-mail traffic. So that part is a little frustrating. What is interesting to me though, especially after mythology shows have aired, is to log on and see what people think is happening, how they interpret what they have seen, and how it connects to the continuing story line. Sometimes it gives me ideas, not so much for what the future should be, but for things that need to be clearer or that people got the wrong impression of. We try to be so oblique with these mythology episodes because another one of Chris’s maxims is that it is as only as scary as it seems believable and in reality, things aren’t spelled out and things are very complex so there is a lot of room for interpretation and sometimes the internet helps us understand where we are going wrong.

JS – Oh, the other question was research, right? We do have a full time research staff.. don’t want to tell you their names, though… that is constantly doing research for us off and on the internet and we will hire experts in Vancouver when we shoot the show to make sure it is authentic. So we are very careful about that and, playing off the idea that if it is real, it would be scary.

FS – A funny thing about that is that we just did this episode that airs March 29th, John and I wrote this episode in which guest stars Darren McGavin, from the Night Stalker, [applause and laughter] and he plays an FBI agent who originally uncovered the X-Files before Mulder did in the 1950’s. He discovers all sorts of government conspiracies, double dealing, etc. We had an ex FBI agent read the script for accuracy and he had never seen the X-Files and admitted that he doesn’t like television as he prefaced his notes. He was appalled that we would suggest that there was a government conspiracy going on or that … [applause and laughter] … Mr. Hoover might have had anything to do with it. So, sometimes the research has uh…

VG – And he also said that if this script is any indication of the caliber of the show that it won’t last very long. [laughter]

FS – Yes. Oh… and there are no X-Files. So that was one thing we needed to correct.

Q #8 – Hi, my name is Peggy and I want to thank you, fist of all, ’cause you guys make the show every week – you’re great. (all of them – Thank you.) Vince, I was going to ask you something that’s been bothering me. In “Momento Mori”, when Mulder is about to take Scully into his arms, what does he say?

FS- “Come on back.” He say’s “Come on back.”

Q – Thank you, it’s been bugging me.

VG – I didn’t write that, I’m sorry. I forgot… that was these guys.

JS – But, Vince.. they HUGGED Vince! Isn’t that your part?? [laughing]

FS – This has been a running joke with Vince. The three of us, you know, are so sick of each other because we work together constantly but Vince has always got Mulder and Scully hugging, or winking at each other…[big applause and screaming] …so we just think he is shameless, you know, suck up to the audience.

VG – I used to work for Hallmark, so…. [laughter]

Q #9 – Hi, my name is Allison, and I have two questions. First one is, how much do you guys get paid? [laughter] And second one, I think it was “Bad Blood”, the vampire one that aired recently. Why was Scully wearing the sheriff’s big huge coat?

FS & JS – ahhaaaa! (while looking at VG)

VG – Um, I think I will answer the second part. In my mind, the sheriff did care for Scully, not in a necessarily romantic way or anything, but he felt really bad about having to drug her and he felt bad about leaving her on the side of the road because, basically, he and the other vampires had to, as Mulder said, “had to pull up stakes” and get out of there. So, you know, it was a chilly night, you could see he breath, and I think she just needed a coat. It is just chivalrous in my mind. [applause]

FS – See what I mean about being a suck up? [laughter] Um, we get paid…. well. Being on the show like The X-Files is kinda like being struck by lightning if you are an inspiring writer in Hollywood. It is a show people like and it is actually really hard to survive as a writer on this show. We have probably had the highest writer turnover of any tv show. If you guys follow the credits, you would see it’s like a revolving door. People just don’t last. It is very hard and very demanding work and we all work very long hours. I will tell you how much we get paid for one thing though which I just got the check yesterday. For all of the episodes that air on the FX Network, we get paid $200 dollars. [laughter] $200 dollars!

JS – Oooooooo! VG – Do we have any FX executives out there? [laughter] FS – So we are not getting rich off of that.

Q #10a – My name is Sarah, and I also have two questions. The first one is, where do you get a lot of the ideas that you come up with. I mean, do you like read the newspaper, or..?

JS – Uh, a lot of them do come from reading the newspaper, reading magazines, stumbling across something on tv that gives you an idea. An example, for the first episode I did, “The Walk” was actually the night I found out I got the job and I was flipping around on the tv and an old Marlin Brando movie called “The Men Came Up” and it just occurred to me that it would be an interesting character to base an episode on. Sometimes, as I have said, we have researchers and sometimes things will come to us that way. More often than not, its our everyday lives just suddenly spawn an idea.

FS – We will get abducted by aliens or we… [laughter] … attacked by monsters.

Q #10b – Ok, the second question I have is last week’s episode where Cancer Man writes a letter to Spender and he says basically that he’s Spender’s father. He had a Navaho story in there about two sons coming to their father to kill off all of the monsters in the world.

JS – yes?

Q – … are we going to see a team up between Spender and Mulder or are they going to be rivals or…?

FS – KEEP WATCHING. [applause]

Q – It’s not fair!!!

Q #11 – Hi, my name is Nicky, this question is for Vince. I was just wondering in the episode “Bad Blood” where did you get the theme from “Shaft”? Because that was so funny!

VG – I’m glad you liked that.. I was just, I had a couple of bourbons and I was working on it… [laughter] … It was over Christmas and I was really freaking out because I had to have it done by the time I needed to be back and it just popped into my head. I’m glad you liked that. [applause]

Q #12 – Hi, my name is Maliki, and I have two questions: There is a photograph, I believe, some of the elders, and there are two men missing from the photograph. Me and a friend of mine have been putting the pieces together. We have a couple of theories: One is that there is a plant within the Lone Gunmen and he is the person in the photograph and I just wanted to know if you could comment on (probably not) but, uh, if it was way off base… that sort of thing…

FS – You are referring to a photograph of The Elders?

Q – Well, its, uh, several men that have been identified and I believe The Well – Manicured man is in there and CSM I think?

FS – Is this the photograph in “Paper Clip” of all the men that are in The Project? I think there are more than two men in there that are unidentified. Memory may not serve me correctly.

Q- Yeah, um, well- my friend is much more well-versed on this than I am. Another interesting thin, I just wanted to know if you guys had any comments on… Yeah, I really enjoy the writing all of you guys have done. Especially Vince, you really kick out some very cool episodes. You and Darren Morgan the two people, I mean… I just watch those episodes in rapture. They are the best written stuff.

VG – Thank you very much, I appreciate it.

Q – Same thing with you, Frank. What you do with Chris…

FS- That’s all right. [laughter]

Q – You can be modest all you want but I know how hard it is. I’ve done writing myself… it’s a pain sometimes.

FS – Thank you, Thank you. Um.. the identities of the men in the photograph that you are referring to… There are other men involved in “The Project” who’s identities will be revealed in the future. One of them, in the next few months. Uh, so I can’t say now. That’s one of those things we love to pull through. If you have noticed, especially in the mythology shows, and Vince’s shows, we like to take things that were established early in the life of the series and continue them through and have that continuity. Like in “Unusual Suspects”, The Lone Gunmen episode at the beginning of the season, Vince had Mulder partnered with Reggie who we met in a first season episode flashback. The Identities of the men in “The Project” is another thing that we will carry through. And I think you will see what I am talking about in the next few months.

Q #13 – Hi. my name is Andy, I was wondering, of all of the things you very talented gentleman do with your time and creativity, is there anything that you would rather be doing?

FS – Is there anything we would rather be doing? (looking at JS)

JS – Vince? (looking at VG)

VG – Just rather have more time to do it but no, I mean I used to write movies and had a couple made and I hope to keep doing that someday but I would like to do it simultaneously, if I could. This work on tv is great. This is my only tv experience but I gotta say, it’s been great for me because when Chris Carter gives us work, he lets us take on as much responsibility in the day-to-day show making process as we can handle. He lets us cast our own shows, he obviously lets us write them and come up with them. He lets us audition actors, he lets us give notes to the directors, sit on the set, sit in on the music scoring, sit in on the dubbing… its like going back to film school but they are paying us to be there.

FS – John?

JS – What would I rather be doing? The three of us have always talked about starting a rap group. [laughter] This is a great job and I have to say, it is the hardest job I have ever had, but it is what I wanted to do although I originally didn’t intend on going into television. I agree with Vince, it’s been a dream come true. It will be nice to be able to do it not 7 days a week and 24 hours a day because it can become very taxing on our time. I really enjoy it. I really love it and I wouldn’t really like to be doing anything else until, you know, The X-Files gets canceled which will never happen.

FS – For all of us, thus is our first job in television so its new to all of us and I think what keeps it interesting to all of us is that we are all big fans of the show just like you are. We love working on it and we love seeing what we can do with the characters. The only thing worse than having to work this hard is the prospect on what we’ll do that we will enjoy as much after this is over.. whenever that that happens.

JS – Walker: Texas Ranger? (looks at VG)

VG – Walker: Texas Ranger!

FS – He’s not kidding. [laughs]

JS – If Chuck Norris starts holding hands and hugging, you’ll know, you’ll know… [laughs]

Q #14 – Hi, my mane is Gene and besides the one episode with CSM, is there any chance of exploiting the JFK assassination? Kind of go in deeper and explain the government conspiracy possibly behind it?

FS – I don’t know. To be honest with you, we’ve always been squeamish about taking real historical events like that and fictionalizing them. This episode with Darren McGavin takes the Black List era and shows a fictional interpretation of what that was all about. I wouldn’t rule it out. We haven’t planned to do it but I think we would be hesitant to do it simply because the gravity of the conspiracy is so great. The real life consequences of that type of fiction is so serious.

Q #15a – Hi, my name is Molly, and I was wondering is this the last season of the X-Files??

VG – I don’t think so.

JS – I hope not.

FS – I thought it was going to be. And when we did the story for the movie we kind of assumed this was going to be it. But now it looks all but certain it won’t be. I think we will be back for at least one more year, possibly two. [applause]

Q #15b – ..and also, are you guys moving to LA.?

FS – We don’t know yet. We will probably know in the next couple of weeks. I think all of us on the stage are hoping that we are not. We like Vancouver, we have a great crew up there and my wife thinks that if it ain’t broke… but uhh…Its been hard for the actors. They have been away from their homes for five years so we can sympathize with that. We’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.

Q #16 – Hi, my name is Deborah. Two of my favorite episodes from this season are “Christmas Carol” and “Emily” and I found myself in some heated discussions with other fans who felt Scully was turned into a mere victim, that the religious iconography was heavy handed, being beaten over the head with the Virgin Mary / Scully kind of thing. None of which I agree with. I wondered if you could talk a little about the religious iconography in those two episodes and how you work that kind of thing in and was it as self-conscious as everyone else thinks it is?

FS – This is a story in which John, Vince and I worked on the original conception of the story and it had nothing to do with Melissa Scully and we dumped the story and we were very short on time and we threw it out and began again with Melissa Scully as the cornerstone of the story. When we began again, we also took the Dickens story, A Christmas Carol, as our lead. So suddenly the story came together very fast and actually was one of the most satisfying to write for the three of us.

The use of the manger at the very beginning of “Christmas Carol” was deliberate. The idea of a “virgin birth” was conscious. I think the one image in that two parter that people really felt was heavy handed or was laying onto Scully as Virgin Mary idea was at the end of “Emily” there is a very slow dissolve to the stained glass and that was an image that the director chose to use because it was there on the set that day and all of us liked it. But I don’t think that we meant to suggest that she was anyway equivalent to the Virgin Mary and simply thought that, you know, it was a Christmas story and those parallels deepened the story we were telling.

Q #17 – Hi, I’m Sherry, and I was just wondering that, there is rampant speculation regarding Agent Spender taking over or replacing Agent Mulder (no way, by the way) [applause] … and also, part two, Now, is Agent Spender, who is the CSM’s son and CSM is also Samantha’s father, does that make Mulder and Spender related in some kind of weird way?

JS – He’s a busy guy! [laughter]

FS – You’re making assumptions here. I was very sorry to hear that that was a rumor, I think it was National Enquirer who said that Spender was going to take Mulder’s place. That was never our intention and that will never happen. But I am sorry to read that because that put an unfair cast on that actor. People started comparing him in a way that we never intended to be compared to Mulder and he was cast because he’s different from Mulder and he’ll play a very different role and which I think you will all see in the coming episodes. But, no, he will not be taking his place.

And the question regarding the paternity of CSM? Assume Nothing! [applause] Just because a man write some letters to a guy and calls him “son”, it doesn’t mean…so… you will have to wait and see.

Q #18a – Who are some of your writing mentors and also, you mentioned that The X-Files is your first television work. How do you think your work experience brought you to this particular show?

VG – I had a teacher when I went to the American Film Institute in the writing program, as did Frank, which is actually where I met Frank, and we had a writing teacher named Howard Dimsdale, whom we’ve both learned a lot from and inspired us in many ways. In fact, we named a character after him in this upcoming episode because he was “Black Listed” in the 50’s and it is an episode about Black Listing and it is kind of our tribute to him. For me, other than Howard, there are a number of writers I admire and a number of screen writers I admire… but right now, my mind is drawing a blank! But, how about you, Vince?

VG – Its a good question, I’m sorry I’m blanking too. I can think of the Coen Brothers who I love. I think they are wonderful writers and filmmakers. As far as a mentor in school which I had some wonderful teachers, I went to NY University Film School where I had wonderful film professors, that’s about all I have…

FS – All three of us our film and television junkies and I think we draw from all kinds of sources, high and low, indiscriminately and Howard certainly was a big influence on me. I’ve also gotta say Chris, who is a very rigorous storyteller and very, very precise about the way a scene should be built, the way information comes out, the way information pushes a story along. He is a very tough task master which has been a great learning experience for me.

Q #18b – Will any of you be at the Washington Expo, as in the writers?

FS – Uhh.. I don’t think any of us will be in Washington. Sorry.

Q #19 – My name is Nathan and I have two questions relating to other shows. First, is it coincidence that you have a lot of actors that were in Twin Peaks playing similar roles? And the second one is, what ever happened with, there was a show called Strange Luck that mentioned Mulder, and nothing ever happened. I was wondering if you guys knew anything about either one of those.

VG – I think the Twin Peaks thins is just… I’m assuming it was just a coincidence.

FS – I think it was just that we loved that show, or at least the first season. (VG – It was a good show.) And we liked a lot of the actors in that show but there wasn’t anything more than that.

VG – Strange.. Strange Luck… uh… I’m not… uh.. aware of..

FS – They shot on the same lot as the one we shot on in Vancouver and a lot of the people who worked on Strange Luck knew a lot of people who worked on The -Files. So it was kind of a friendly wink towards us but we never seriously planned on anything beyond that.

Q #20 – Hi, my name is Olga and I have two questions. There were talk that you hired a lot of new writers in the beginning of the year and we haven’t seen anything from them. What happened? And my second question: In “Patient X”, Mulder seemed to be like, at one point, he believed that everything was done by government. And at another point, he would not believe in anything. So I’m wondering…

FS- First question, that is a part of the infamous “revolving door” that I am sorry to say we have on our show. Out of the new writers that began with us last summer, only one of them is still on staff and is doing quite well and actually, has an episode coming up in April, I think is going to be one of the highlights of the season called “The Mind’s Eye”. His name is Tim Minear. Two of the other writers did have an episode that aired called “Schizogeny” which was about trees and allegations of abuse. And another one of the writing teams, one of their stories, is going to be filmed, we are going to start filming it Monday actually, so those are the fruits of their labors that you will see on the air. The question about Mulder and his beliefs. Mulder I think has believed for a long time that the government is complicit in the conspiracy surrounding the existence of extraterrestrial life. But we had this huge shift for his character in the beginning of the season where this guy laid out a story that made perfect sense and it was all a cover-up for what the government was really up to. And his faith was totally shaken, especially when CSM came forward with his sister, alive, not abducted by aliens. We sort of played him that way all year until this last two-part episode where Scully, of all people, had a recovered memory of seeing this incredibly explicit alien encounter and alien attack even. It was one of the most explicit dramatizations of alien life that we’ve done on the series in five years. And then Krycek, of all people, came to him and seemed to confirm the story and at the very end, if you recall, he is in the back of that giant truck and he sees an alien that matches the description in Scully’s recovered memory. And that’s where we left it. So I think that Mulder is very much in flux right now in his beliefs.

Q #21 – Hi, my name is Allegra and thanks for coming out today. I was wondering, one thing that is really interesting about the show is they aren’t very many female writers on staff? Why is that and if there were, what difference would there be in the show, if any?

FS – Female writers… (looks at JS) JS – Vince? (looks at VG) [laughs] VG – I can tell you, we are always on the lookout for just good writers, period and we never give any consideration at all to … whether they are male or female or, you know, any other aspect of their physiognomy, physiology… all we care about is to find some good writers and as Frank spoke of, we do sort of have something like a “revolving door” of the staff and we always have long before we were involved in the show. It’s never personal. It’s never about anything other than… we have had a lot of great writers who are no longer with us just went on to do better things but never really got the tone, the voice of the show. I know there are good women writers out there who could do our show just as there are good male writers. Also, I know we have been looking high and low for them but they have been hard to find so…

FS – We did have some wonderful female writers though. When I began the show, Sara Charno was there and she did two really great episodes that I thought. She’s went on to Chicago Hope and she is currently writing a pilot with Tom Fontana from Homicide so her career is doing just fine. But it is just hard to find good writers, period and it is an unfortunate fact of the business that women writers comprise a very small percentage of the work force, the writing work force that is out there. As with minority writers. So combine that with the fact on how difficult it is to find good writers with few female writers and minority writers there are in the first place, it is difficult. But I would much prefer to have greater diversity if it were available. I gotta say, I’m interested to see how a woman might affect the show but I expect it wouldn’t be a profound difference. I think Scully is written as a very intelligent, strong, independent woman to begin with. I think all of us try, just as a rule, to try to make all of our characters strong and individual. When Sarah was on the show, I didn’t notice particularly that her gender effected the way she approached the characters.

VG – Nor Kim Newton and the Mayhew sisters last season. FS – yeah, yeah. VG- But the funny thing to is that we have got a show that is very interesting and has often been described that Mulder has a lot of feminine aspects to his nature: intuition. And Scully is the logical one and that makes an interesting twist.

JS- Does that explain why Krycek kissed him last episode? [laughing]

FS- Want more of that Krycek / Mulder stuff? [loud applause]

Q #22 – I have a to part question. The first one is which is your least favorite episodes? And also, what do you plan for everybody’s favorite Ratboy?

FS- Least favorite episodes…. JS- That’s not nice! [laughs] long pause JS – That’s like a political question. FS – I have a number of episodes that I.. it’s painful for me. Like I will switch on FX and see one and I’m all “Oh god!” and I’ll turn the channel. There are a number of episodes that for reasons I am sure that the audience would never know. It means nothing to the audience it’s just that I hate them and I won’t watch them again [FS laughs]. But it’s sort of like, we have done 118 episodes by now? or something like that? And it’s just impossible at the pace that we are churning these out to like everyone and was not as successful as you wanted it to be. There are ones that you just knew could have been better and aren’t. I wouldn’t want to name them to be honest with you.

JS – And, uh, plans for Krycek? He’s a great character and we have a lot of fun with him and the great thing about him is that you never know where he is going to turn up next or who he is going to be working for. There are plans for him but we can’t tell you that! [laughs]

Q – Is he going to be in more episodes this season?

FS – Uhh… next season.

Q #23a – Hi, I have a couple of questions. First, regarding Scully’s cancer. Was that a story line that was originally thought of from the beginning or was that written in due to speculation about the longevity of the show or any rumors of the actors leaving? And are you going to explain any more about how Scully remission is due to the chip in the back of her neck?

VG – I think that was uh… Wasn’t that your idea for that or..(looking at FS) I think it was Frank who came up with the cancer aspect originally, wasn’t it Frank?

FS – Well, Scully’s cancer seemed like a total natural because, in that episode “Nisei” and “731” where we reveal all these other female abductees that have the chips in their necks, we also learn that they are all dying of cancer. And the question nagged me and I think it nagged some fans was “well, why isn’t Scully dying of cancer?” It seemed like something that we were all obligated to do. Putting the chip back in the neck seemed to us like a perfect writing solution. An elegant and just clean logic. And now, this idea that this chip maybe some kind of homing device. She can’t take it out because she will get cancer again, and if she leaves it in then there’s the potential that she will be abducted again. So she’s really between a rock and a hard place which is a great place for our characters to be in. I don’t think we are going to explain it any further. Hopefully, people understand the gravity of the situation.

Q #23b – Also, does the federal government ever get back to you about the conspiracy theories you talk about in the show?

FS – It struck me as funny that we were driving onto a military base. [laughs] I expect to be placed under house arrest by the end of the day.

VG – You better believe it.

FS – We have a lot of fans at the federal government and in the military. We get letters all the time.

VG – We got a wonderful public affairs liaison with the FBI and a guy named Kurt Crawford in which we named a character after him in “Memento Mori” and he’s a great guy. I’m originally from the East Coast and he gave myself and my girlfriend a tour of Quantico. A lot of FBI people actually like the show and watch it. They take it with a grain of salt as far as reality goes but they at least enjoy it as fiction.

Q #24 – Hi. I have a question regarding the topics you cover in the show. I was wondering if there was anything you guys wanted to write about but would be to controversial or taboo for television?

JS – Oh, yeah, there was an episode in season two called “Irresistible”. It was a story where Scully was abducted by this guy named Donny Pfaster. The original idea for the story and the original script Chris wrote was that he was a necrophiliac. The network had huge problems with that. I don’t know why? [laughs] In fact, we get Standards and Practices notes for every script and its somebody’s job to read it and say “no, no. You can’t say this word” or “no, don’t make this too violent. etc. That was the shortest Standards and Practices notes that we have ever seen which was basically one sentence: “this episode is unacceptable”. [laughs] So Chris went back and rewrote it and made him a fetishist so he was instead of romancing dead bodies, he was taking parts of their hair and their finger nails and stuff like that. The irony is… that’s how we shot it, it was a great episode. When TV Guide came out that week, the log line was “Mulder and Scully investigate a necrophiliac.” [laughs]

Q #25 – Hi. I was wondering if when you write, do you write for a specific actor? And if so, could you give examples?

VG – Yeah, that’s a good question. In “Bad Blood”, the vampire episode, I wrote for a brilliant actor who played the actor who’s name is Luke Wilson. Who I think did a really good job. I guess I will give a little plug to my movie… I wrote a book called “Home Fries” and he stars in it with Drew Barrymore. That’s how I knew him. I know you guys must have examples (looks at FS and JS).

FS – Actually, this episode that is coming up, the one with Darren McGavin, the monster, if you will, was an actor we had read for another part and we just thought he had the greatest face, so we specifically wrote for him in mind. By in large though, no. By in large, we just dream up the best characters that we can and find the actors and we seek unknowns. Just because it seems to preserve the reality of the show better than using name actors.

Q #26 – What is your favorite reoccurring character? and what was the episode you had the most fun writing?

JS – Actually the most fun writing I think was probably “Leonard Betts.” We, the three of us, basically hooked up a computer to a separate monitor, a laptop to monitor, and sat in a room together. Which is how we have been working since then but that was the first one that we did that on. It was fun to write because it was a fun story for one, and number two, we were all very excited so it was a great moment to be in. We enjoyed that very much.

VG – That would have to be my favorite one too. There was a lot of fun. We ate a lot of McDonald’s food and we worked over at Frank’s house on “Leonard Betts.” It was such a crazy story but it came out. It was one of my favorites and I really enjoyed it. Recurring characters? Uhhhh… is Skinner a reoccurring or a supporting? I love Skinner, I love Krycek, I think those are supporting.. I dunno.

FS – Who are the other actors who are here today? [laughs] JS – We miss “X”. VG – Yeah, we miss “X”, Mr. X. We miss him a lot. It was a lot of fun to be able to put him into “Unusual Suspects” since it was a flashback episode.

Q #27 – Um, hi. I am like this big joy bubble standing here. You are like the Beatles or something. [laughs] Um, I’m such a nerd. Anyways, I have so many questions I am going to just try one, to Frank. In “Patient X”, and how you are developing the Marita character and… there are so many little questions I have about this character that they would end up being big questions… and I know that’s on purpose but I am talking about the little expositions, I don’t know… The way, for example, Jerry Hardin or Steven Williams. You don’t know anything but you get an idea of where their history’s are. And I don’t really get that a lot from Marita Covarrubias and I know that is probably a little bit on purpose. Also, it’s frustrating to see her in a room with these GUYS, with these MALES… you’re like “What’s she doing there? How did she get there?” You have this FBI MALE networking with the Consortium with all of these old farts.. what the heck is she doing there? I was wondering if you were planning on developing that to some degree in the future so that we could be more pleased with her or something?

FS – I was surprised how I loved seeing her in that room with all of those old… farts.

Q – Me too, but I wanna know why, you know?

FS – You will find out eventually… you know one of the things that is fun about being on a show that has a life like this, that has a continuing story that last over years, is getting to watch things evolve and change. When I first came on in the beginning of season two, everybody was mourning the death of Deep Throat and “this new guy “X” sucks!” you know…”he’s not half the guy Deep Throat was”. There was like a challenge to make people like “X” and by the time he said good-bye, people missed him as much as they missed Deep Throat. And now it’s the same thing with Marita Covarrubias. I will go onto the internet and I’ll see “Oh, she sucks. She’s bland. Blah, blah, blah.” [cheer from some girls] … and this last two part episode was a chance to show people parts of her that they have never seen before. I think it set a lot of fires. The role she plays with the U.N, her background that she has with Krycek, who she’s really working for, because she’s calling Mulder with the kid, Those are three really critical clues for her character that you can expect to see fleshed out. Probably not this year, but sometime early next year.

Q – Thank you very much. We really love you guys. JS – Thank You. VG – Thanks

FS – Two more questions, sorry.

Q #28 – My name is Liz, and my question is, why did you kill Pendrell!? [crowd reacts]

FS – Ohhh… I know. [crowd still reacts] JS – I didn’t do it! FS – I felt really bad about that. Actually, that was a tough call. There were drafts of that script where he lived. Um… and I don’t know what to say except that: the story would work better if he died. That’s the other thing about doing a show like this: Chris started establishing it at the beginning by killing Deep Throat at the beginning of season one, is that no one is safe. I think it just creates a level of anxiety for the audience that you can’t count on (except for Mulder and Scully, who obviously have to live for the show to continue) you can’t count on anybody surviving and I felt bad too.

VG – Just be glad that we didn’t kill Frohike. The original draft of “Memoirs of a CSM” had him getting killed, so…

FS – Actually, Morgan / Wong wrote “Musings of a CSM”, which was originally called “Memoirs of a CSM”, and in the first draft, Frohike gets shot at the end! And the three of us read it and you can ask my girlfriend that I couldn’t sleep that night I was so upset! You can’t kill Frohike!! [crowd laughs] And we went into Chris’s office the next morning and said “This cannot happen! Don’t kill this poor guy!” and so he got a reprieve. [laughter] [pause] Last question.

Q #29 – Hi, I’m Sherry. My question is for Vince. I was wondering if you enjoy writing the more humorous episodes or the more serious ones?

VG – I am very lucky to do both, but honestly, probably the more funnier ones are funnier to write. Its sort of like eating hot fudge Sundays, where you don’t want to have one every meal. You want to spread it out some. You want to get some other serious ones in-between. Probably, as far as fun to write, the funny ones.

Q – I thought that “Bad Blood” was hilarious.

VG – Thank you [applause]

FS – Before we go, let me just suck up a little bit and tell you that all of us are always amazed at how smart our audience is and its a struggle for us to try and be smart enough to write these shows and its a pleasure to have an audience like you. We’re grateful you come out to these things, I hope it’s worth your $25 bucks. They worked very hard to make these better than the old conventions and if you went to any of those, I think you can see its quite a bit better. You make our jobs possible and we appreciate that.

VG – Thank you. JS – Thanks


MC – Gilligan, Spotnitz and Shiban… let’s give them another hand for the writers. Chris Carter’s main guys on the show. It’s a real treat to have them out here today and they are serious when they mean it. They are internet junkies as well so, if you’ve got fast fingers, you know where to find them.


well, that’s the fruit of my labor! All one hour of interviews with the greatest minds behind television today. I hope you appreciate the hours and hours it took me to write all of this down. Let alone, the anxiety I felt sneaking in my recorder to the Expo! 🙂