Chris Carter and Co. will start shooting in Vancouver this month, with an eye on extending the show’s run
The X-Files is coming back to Vancouver to film a six-episode miniseries, and series creator Chris Carter said he and stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are game to stick around for more if the first six go well.
“I certainly will leave the door open,” Carter said over the phone from his home up the coast from Los Angeles, where he was at his laptop banging out the script for the first episode.
“It’s a huge amount of pressure. I love writing the characters. I love writing the show. I haven’t written the TV show in 13 years ... so I hope it’s going OK. When you did 202 hours of something, you plug in a little more easily than if you’re just starting in on something new.”
Producers set up an office in Vancouver this month, and Carter is heading to the set in May to prepare to direct the first episode. The show about a pair of mismatched FBI agents investigating paranormal cases begins filming at the beginning of June and will wrap up in mid-August.
Vancouver has had a conflicted relationship with The X-Files since the show started filming here in 1993 for the Fox network. The show was slow to gain an audience, airing during the prime-time graveyard of Friday night, but propelled by word of mouth and critical acclaim, it ran for nine years, proving that the Vancouver production scene could turn out a polished critical hit.
Vancouver took it hard when The X-Files moved to Los Angeles after the fifth season, but Carter brought the team back to film the 2008 feature film The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
Vancouver actor William B. Davis, whose role as the mysterious smoking man grew over the show’s run, was among those who headed to L.A. when shooting moved there.
“For Vancouver, The X-Files came at a perfect time, as the industry here was quickly developing, new people were developing,” Davis said. “There was a feel on the set, the extra care, the extra involvement of everyone on the show to make it the best they possibly could.
“Without putting down the Los Angeles crew at all, who were very professional, it felt different here. It felt like we owned it. It was the home team ... it was quite special.”
Despite a badly received quip about Vancouver’s rain on a talk show, star Duchovny remained a fan of working in Vancouver, coming back in 2004 for the comedy Connie and Carla, and again in 2007 to co-star with Halle Berry in the drama Things We Lost in the Fire.
And as Davis noted, Duchovny “didn’t say anything different from what Vancouverites say all the time.”
But Vancouver never forgot that joke. Maybe this summer we’ll get over it.
“Vancouver is always my first choice (for filming),” Carter said, adding producers initially wanted to shoot this six-episode reboot in Los Angeles.
“As it turned out, we all agreed that Vancouver was the best place to be. There’s the obvious financial incentive with the exchange on the dollar and the tax incentives ... If you’re the people putting up the money, that looks like a savings to them. I see it as an opportunity to put more on screen.”
Carter has assembled a behind-the-camera crew that includes several of his past Vancouver collaborators, among them production designer Mark Freeborn (who went on to do Breaking Bad with former X-Files writer Vince Gilligan), cinematographer Joel Ransom (Mark Wahlberg’s Shooter, Alien Vs. Predator), and casting directors Coreen Mayrs and Heike Brandstatter (Supernatural, Juno).
“You can’t just snap your fingers and everyone who worked on the show will immediately reassemble,” Carter said. “Everyone has other work, other responsibilities, but as much as possible and whenever possible I look to the people who helped to make the show a success.”
Back in the day, The X-Files filmed from 20 to 25 episodes every year, a punishing schedule for Carter and the cast. But the television landscape and viewing habits have changed with the rise of cable TV and the advent of Netflix and other streaming services. These days shows frequently have seasons lasting 10 or fewer episodes.
Carter said that sort of schedule would better suit him and The X-Files stars. He said he worked 11 and half months a year on the series during its nine-year run. “That was like nose-to-the-grindstone ... So doing a broadcast network show, which is 22 to 25 episodes, is a commitment that I don’t think you’re going to see anyone jumping to make.”
Carter himself kept a place in Vancouver until he sold it five years ago. Bad timing, he admits.
He was back in the city in early April for a memorial service after longtime first assistant director Jack Hardy passed away. As well, he attended a Vancouver International Film Festival event April 29 at the Vancity Theatre to celebrate the Canadian film industry.
“Though I’m not Canadian, I’m often asked if I am — and I’m tempted to lie,” Carter told the crowd.
As to that whole Duchovny-rain thing, Carter said B.C.’s damp rainforests are the best look for The X-Files.
“I know you won’t believe me, but we’re praying for rain.”