Production of The X-Files, one of the most notable TV series ever shot in British Columbia, will resume in Vancouver next spring, according to series creator Chris Carter.
The series’ return comes after a revival run of six new episodes produced in B.C. last year, which aired in early 2016.
While there has been speculation that The X-Files would continue following its recent rebirth, Carter offered a timetable in an interview with The Globe and Mail this week.
“I imagine we would be up there shooting in the spring of 2017,” said Carter, who will, this week, be in Vancouver to receive an Industry Builder Award from the Vancouver International Film Festival for his efforts to ensure that production on the recent round of episodes was environmentally sustainable.
He said he expects to do “a small expansion” on the number of episodes in this latest continuation of the milestone show.
His comments came after he confirmed that talks are well-advanced with key players in the series, which pitted FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) against paranormal creatures and conspiracies.
“They are constructive negotiations so I can’t imagine [The X-Files] wouldn’t come back,” Carter said.
A spokesperson for Carter later noted that talks are under way with Duchovny and Anderson to reprise their roles in the new episodes.
Carter said that continuing the series presents some creative challenges.
“Coming back last year was a trick and coming back again will be another trick,” he said.
“How many years of life are there left in the show? Do you play this as the end? Do you play this as a continuation? There are lots of creative challenges to tackle.”
But Carter said Vancouver will be central to resolving those challenges, as it has been for the life of the series, which originally aired from September, 1993, to May, 2002.
Carter said he began shooting the series in Los Angeles, but was not satisfied with the forests available there. He thought of Vancouver, a city he had visited in 1986 while his wife was producing a Disney movie in B.C.
“I remembered the amazing forests,” he said. So he brought the production north. While the forests helped, Carter says the Vancouver region had more to offer and has been central to the success of the series.
The city, he said, could double as almost anywhere in North America, which was helpful for a series whose FBI characters could find themselves in any U.S. state.
“I even turned a rock quarry in Vancouver into the southwestern U.S. by painting it with so many gallons of red paint you can’t imagine,” he said.
Carter said he has a lot of affection for Vancouver, noting he owned a loft in Gastown for many years and loves to visit. The California native joked about seeking dual citizenship.
Eventually, after five seasons in B.C., production of the show was shifted to Los Angeles. The two leads wanted to go home to the United States after their years in Canada. Not Carter. “I didn’t want to go,” he said, adding he worried about breaking up the “all-star team” of crew that worked on the series.
However, he said Los Angeles allowed access to new locations that would not have been available in B.C., citing, for example, the use of the Queen Mary, the retired British ocean liner that now serves as a tourist attraction in Long Beach, Calif.
“It benefited the storytelling because it forced us to think on our feet and try to reimagine the show,” he said.
Carter said Vancouver, circa 2016, has become one of the world’s leading production centres, with deep technical expertise and actors.
The Vancouver region is central to an ongoing production boom in B.C. that has seen such high-profile films shot in the province as Deadpool and Fifty Shades of Grey, as well as TV series such as The Flash, Arrow and, of course, The X-Files.
“I always tell actors in Canada that if you think you’ve got to be in L.A., don’t kid yourselves: You have so much opportunity to shine and do good work by just sticking around.”
And he said Vancouver is also good for producers. “You can come and just plug right into a serious, capable working environment that has everything you need to make whatever you’re doing, a television show or a movie.”
He said he thinks B.C. has reached a point where it can flourish as a production centre regardless of changes in the Canadian dollar and the provincial tax breaks that many say have made B.C. appealing to producers.
“Those things help, but, as I always tell people, ‘Don’t just go because there’s a savings. Go for the Canadians.’ The work ethic is extremely high and the level of expertise is high as well. It’s a great place to make entertainment. You sacrifice nothing.”
Still, Carter conceded it was never a given that he would get to come back to Vancouver to shoot the last round of episodes. “There was some talk about not coming back, but when all things were considered, everyone agreed that it was the best place to be.”
Asked if he had any advice for policy makers on sustaining Vancouver’s allure to the largely U.S. production sector, he recalled how the series, in 2015, had to go to the Kamloops area to find a desert-like landscape needed for a sequence depicting a UFO crash.
“If you could plant a desert there, within the zone there, in Vancouver, that’s the one thing that Vancouver lacks,” he quipped.
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