X-Files mythology, TenThirteen Interviews Database, and more

Archive for September, 2023

30 years! + news archive

30 years! The big XXX!

The X-Files pilot aired on the now remote but very plausible date of September 10, 1993. On the 20th anniversary I had compared how The X-Files was then as old as its inspiration The Night Stalker was when TXF started (also, 1973: Watergate). For this anniversary, we go further back: 30 years before 1993 is the incredibly remote 1963, right in-between the start of another major inspiration, The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) and the original Star Trek (1966-1969)! (also, 1963: the JFK assassination) 30 years is also longer than it took for both of these shows to get a reboot or reimagining: 26 years for The Twilight Zone of the ’80s, 21 years for Star Trek: The Next Generation also in the ’80s.

So, 30 years. This is my quantitative lists-obsessed side showing, but the history of The X-Files can be nicely broken down in approximately 5-year intervals. You can identify to which “generation” of fan you belong to:

  • Phase 1 / 1993-1998: The rise. TXF is a cult show from the periphery (Vancouver) that becomes big, worldwide. From mystery/sci-fi/horror genre niche fandom to mainstream success. Buzz and merchandising culminate in the release of the summer blockbuster movie Fight the Future.
  • Phase 2 / 1998-2002: The fall. TXF moves to LA and changes its identity: it is a mix of genres, romantic comedy, experimental, horror. In typical practice of the time, it keeps getting renewed until it isn’t, leaving the writers struggling between inspired creativity and diminishing returns. Behind the scenes changes become the text. The fandom changes, and it won’t be the last time. Fanfics write alternative versions of the show. TXF keeps outliving other Ten Thirteen shows. TXF is one of the first TV shows to be fully released on DVD.
  • Phase 3 / 2002-2008: The waiting years. Eat the Corn is founded. Things don’t go as planned for Carter and for the longest time nothing happens. Suddenly, I Want To Believe is made, a non-summer Millennium movie mixed with a relationship drama. A farewell or a new beginning?
  • Phase 4 / 2008-2013: The empty years. The movie franchise idea does not materialize, Carter’s other shows fail to launch. Fans keep clamouring for an XF3 movie. Older sites and forums close, activity shifts to social media, interviews move from print to podcasts.
  • Phase 5 / 2013-2018: The revival years. The renewed interest in TXF from licensed comics and the 20th anniversary celebration, as well as a general cultural trend towards revisiting the past, result in an unexpected return to TV. Twice. TXF is transferred to HD and released in BluRay. Some say the revival was made just as bonus content for where the big money is now, streaming rights for the back catalogue. The revival proves controversial among old fans, but a new generation of fans discover the show.
  • Phase 6 / 2018-2023: The legacy years. TXF is something of the past, cast and crew are asked what the legacy of the show is. The new owner of the TXF brand, Disney, starts expressing interest in a reboot.

Between amazing discoveries and bitterness at how certain things worked out, it has been quite a journey. This story is also a reflection of how the world has changed in these past 30 years, in so many ways. With nostalgia settling in, it’s tempting to become gatekeepers and look presumptuously at all the vocabulary of new fans — mythology becomes lore, monster of the week becomes filler, and horror becomes comfort watching. But that would be a short-sighted approach. Times have changed, and so has the way to experience a show. Nothing can be repeated and everything is different.

Clearly, post-#XF3 campaigns and post-revival, we are now in a different phase. One of reflection, of conserving the history of the show. Of letting aside unanswered plot details and theories and fan factions, and focusing on what made the show impactful and different. A cinematic ambition, thanks to which it does not look dated still today, for the most part. Smart dialogue. Two irresistible actors portraying two iconic characters. A mood, carried by moments without dialogue and by Mark Snow’s music. The anthology/mythology storytelling mix. And lots of episodes, with the hits and the misses and everything in-between: enough episodes to make the show a big enough part of your life as you go through it, to make its characters and settings truly familiar, to make it an experience to remember — something that the fast-food short-lived transitory shows of the streaming era struggle to replicate.

And then there’s that little touch unique to The X-Files — and Millennium — where you have the impression that, believer or skeptic, the show touches your soul. For those fans that endured through these years, and hopefully new fans can feel this too, TXF was more than entertainment. It was that, certainly, but it also impacted us more deeply, intellectually, existentially, religiously. Each fan’s relationship with the show is personal, and specific, and difficult to explain. And thus, this persistent little corner of the internet.

We can only say to Chris Carter, and to everyone else involved with making this: thank you. At the risk of sounding cliché, let’s celebrate — and hope that this show will still be remembered in 30 more years!

This site was last updated with my Vancouver visit already five years ago. Since then, I have been making use of social media over the years for quick updates and links to interesting stuff instead of updating the website per se, as often happens nowadays. But social media is often bad for you; plus, you never know how long these things will last. So, to save you from having to dig through bottomless feeds, I’ve chosen to copy and archive here all the content of Eat The Corn’s Twitter account (no longer in use) and Facebook page. For the site’s visitors, all of this could be new material, especially if you are a saner person and don’t spend much time on social media.

You will find: lots of interviews of writers and crew and cast with quotes and comments; articles; podcasts; news; fanart; funny stuff; old rediscovered stuff; curiosities; and more.

Dead links are a thing already. This is an issue in safeguarding the history of the show and its fandom. In an era of clickbait and AI-written articles, consistency and reliability is important. Eat The Corn has the ambition to become an archival resource for fans and pop culture historians alike — and it has already been used as a resource in published works! The 1013 interviews database counts some 500 entries but there’s just as many and more waiting to be archived, and there are even dead links now for interviews that were still recent when I started this project (that was in 2010, and it sounds so incredibly away now!).

Here are all the social media archival pages and main events for that year:

  • 2011 — La La Land Records starts releasing Mark Snow’s soundtrack
  • 2012 — A certain colonization event doesn’t do as planned
  • 2013 — IDW starts publishing TXF comics; the 20th anniversary at San Diego Comic Con revives interest in TXF
  • 2014 — HD transfer starts airing
  • 2015: 1 2 3 4 5 — revival officially announced and filmed; TXF released on BluRay
  • 2016: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 — Season 10 airs
  • 2017: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 — second revival officially announced and filmed
  • 2018: 1 2 3 4 5 — Season 11 airs; IDW ends its TXF comic runs; the Millennium documentary is produced; X-Fest 1
  • 2019: 1 2 3 4 — X-Fest 2; video games
  • 2020: 1 2 3 4 — The Official Archives book released
  • 2021: 1 2 3 4 — lots of interviews
  • 2022: 1 2 3 — TXF Museum is inaugurated
  • 2023: 1 2 3 4 5 6 — talks of a reboot begin; TXF documentary and Philefest

So, despite appearances, Eat The Corn is not dead. Stay tuned for further communications.

Social media archive: 2023 (part 6)

Archived from the Eat The Corn Facebook page.

Jul 25, 2023 16:50

Another excellent details-filled #TheXFiles interview by @[195561691234370:274:Sammensværgelsen – en dansk X-Files podcast] with an important behind the scenes person, David Gauthier — the mechanical special effects supervisor (i.e., practical on-set stuff, not visual/digital effects) for the first five years in Vancouver and again for the second film.

Episodes mentioned:

  • early episodes: use of punctured tubes made of plastic bags and smoke machines in the forest, this made the defining look of the show!
  • the move from very small studios in the first six episode to Fox’s North Shore Vancouver studios and eventually occupying all of that
  • again, how Chris Carter controlled everything and how great it was to work with him + how amazing all the writers were, and Rob Bowman, Dan Sackheim, David Nutter
  • “Ice”: freezing and reanimating meal worms
  • “Fire”: dealing with fire on set
  • “The Host”: how they shot the Flukeman inside the sewage pipes, and in a sewage plant
  • “Exelsis Dei”: the flooded hospital room scene
  • “End Game”: truckloads of ice for the submarine conning tower scene
  • “Soft Light”: meeting Vince Gilligan
  • “Paper Clip”: sizes of light trusses for the UFO scene
  • “DPO”: lightning made out of steel meshes and lights
  • “731”: making a memorabilia out of an old bell from the train wagon they used
  • “Piper Maru”: getting the newtsuit from a diving company next door to the studios, effect of the black oil in the eye (of course, the French diver was named after him)
  • “Home”: Kim Manners saying he’d never find work again after shooting the teaser
  • “Terma”: complexities of the oil well explosion
  • “Tempus Fugit/Max”: getting the script ahead of time, constructing the plane, mechanics of the abduction scene, scuba diving with DD
  • “Zero Sum”: use of painted pop corn for the bees flying inside a room
  • “Gethsemane”: real snow and freezing temperatures in a warehouse for the Yukon camping scenes
  • “Kill Switch”: trailer explosion, robots design inspired by NASA
  • “Patient X/The Red and the Black”: UFO crash, setting people on fire
  • “Folie à Deux”: how the man in suit approach didn’t work
  • “I Want to Believe”: shooting Mulder’s car crash in the snow, using fake ice for the surgery scenes
  • not involved in the revival, it wouldn’t have been the same after all these years



Jul 30, 2023 16:09

15 years already since the release of the second #TheXFiles film, “I Want To Believe”! The show is 30 years old, and it’s hard to believe that as much time has passed between the pilot and IWTB as between IWTB and today… My opinion on that film has not changed much since, there are certainly many things I appreciate — such as the Millenniumistic photography, the Frankenstein aspects of the story, some mythic elements (descent to the underworld), Mark Snow’s music — but the whole thing doesn’t gel. It would have been fine if TXF had made one film every couple of years or so, but as an attempt to relaunch the brand it didn’t meet expectations. Not horrible, not a masterpiece.

Still, I have good memories of winning tickets to the premiere via Spotnitz’s Big Light, attending the July 30 premiere in London, interacting with many fans there from all over Europe, seeing CC/FS/DD/GA up close — and listening to this blockbuster-like remix of the main theme by UNKLE, over and over again while waiting to get in the theatre! (In the meet and greet, CC was asking if somebody from UNKLE was in the audience, I don’t know if they found each other or not.) Let’s celebrate “XF2”!

Aug 05, 2023 13:23

#TheXFiles 1997 soundtrack Songs in the Key of X is out in vinyl!


Aug 09, 2023 21:49

Here’s a new and different #TheXFiles podcast, “Fandom X Archive”, dedicated on chronicling the early days of the XF fandom! A deep dive in the early to mid 1990s, with alt.tv.x-files newsgroups and the like… I love such academic/fannish stuff, somewhat due to nostalgia! In part, I developed Eat the Corn’s interview database as an archival resource to support such endeavours.


Aug 18, 2023 18:02

One thing I like in #TheXFiles is the cinematic atmosphere, and this is what these little “no context” videos provide: short clips from episodes not focused on the actors but on these moments between when the plot happens, a still camera fade in or a moving crane shot, when we linger on a setting, a forest, an object, a mood…

Season 4:

Full playlist with seasons 1-7: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJ5SdDogH5i2ly4Vrzll6XZTmQji0CNsb

Aug 24, 2023 14:40

#aphextwin’s ambient electronic track “Windowsill” sounds…quite a bit like #TheXFiles main theme. And sure enough I checked, this track was released some 6 months after the TXF pilot aired, in March 1994!


Aug 29, 2023 23:07

Before #TheXFiles there was the #twilightzone! @[100057694884330:2048:Frank Spotnitz] talked to the @[100064733644766:2048:Rod Serling Memorial Foundation] about how TZ was a big influence on TXF and on pretty much anything on television in the past 60 years, and how we should celebrate Serling’s unique brand of humanistic storytelling. Interview runs from 2:06:50 to 2:51:50. What’s *your* favourite TZ episode? (And yes I’m pretty sure it was not the Dusky Realm.)


Sep 01, 2023 19:56

A new interview with Dan Sackheim by @[195561691234370:274:Sammensværgelsen – en dansk X-Files podcast]! He was a producer and director at key moments of #TheXFiles: he helped set the tone of the show from the very beginning and he produced the first movie. He is quite candid and you can hear his love and respect for Carter and the show. Highlights:

Launching TXF:

  • Carter was playing softball with Michael Duggan [later a writer/producer in Millennium s3], Duggan set up a meeting for Carter to first meet Sackheim.
  • Carter was convinced to hire Sackheim when he referred to Errol Morris’ documentary “The Thin Blue Line”, which had inspired Carter when he was thinking of the visual identity of the show.
  • Carter was concerned that the director of the pilot episode was not creative enough, he wanted a producer with a sense of visual acumen.
  • Sackheim remembers that during the shooting of the pilot, a key grip fell into a grave hole and broke his leg.
  • Shooting Deep Throat, Conduit, The Host (which he finds silly)…
  • Learning from Carter the importance of visual storytelling, the importance of telling a story from a point of view.

Fight the Future:

  • He read the script on Carter’s computer when Carter was trying to convince him to produce it, he accepted in exchange of him and Carter developing Harsh Realm!
  • It was the first movie he was producing, he doesn’t know why Carter chose him! He learnt on the spot, made mistakes.
  • Only 8 weeks of prep was very challenging.
  • Memories from shooting FTF: David frustrated at Martin Landau missing his lines during the alley scene, using fake ice, improvising with the prosthetics of the aliens, shooting inserts with the second unit, David frustrated shooting the scenes with the bees (“the bees have a better union than I do!”), they ended up using CGI bees and could have done shooting without real bees (!), the ice stage was under hot lights and the ice was melting, there were negotiations with the “Independence Day” producers to allow to show Mulder peeing below the poster, they nicknamed the Antarctica base “Ice Station Zebra” [after the 1960s espionage thriller].
  • There were conversations that if there was going to be a sequel then he might direct it.

TXF s5+ and Harsh Realm:

  • In early seasons things were malleable, by the time he returned in s5 things were very fixed.
  • Shooting Kitsunegari, SR819 (having to play marriage therapist between Mitch and Arlene!)…
  • He spent a lot of time in the editing room during s6-7 and for #Millennium and #HarshRealm. [He also directed the excellent MM episode Closure]
  • He recut IWTB with Carter, Spotnitz and the editor, it was a small budget. [He is uncredited, first time I hear of this!]
  • He was asked to join the revival, but didn’t want to do what he had already done.
  • A change in the Fox network hierarchy resulted in Harsh Realm being cancelled.
  • In 2013, he, Carter and Spotnitz discussed rebooting Harsh Realm (!) — it would have been a different show, but they couldn’t agree on a common vision, on how to make the virtual stakes real. [This is the first I hear of this, and I would have loved it if this would have been made!…]