Chris Carter, master of the X-mythos, keeper of the conspiracies, sounds quite pleased with his first cinematic X Files.
“I am very pleased. I thought that The X Files translated wonderfully to the big screen,” he enthuses. “I thought the story worked. I thought the special effects were really nice, that they serviced the story well – you wouldn’t call this an FX-driven movie. I felt the scares were there. People jumped and they laughed and, hopefully, they were moved. It also sets up season six of The X Files beautifully. It did all I could ask of a first X Files film. It took the theme that has been central to the show – the government conspiracy to prevent us from knowing the truth about the existence of alien life – and set many of those elements in stone.
“We had previously taken those same elements,” continues Chris Carter, “and played with them – hinted at, hid, answered and/or lied about them. The X Files writers are already dealing with what was revealed in the film and how it will impact on the series. It will give us many new and interesting opportunities to tell stories. The movie really did what I hoped it would do, which was, in a way, to EXPLODE the series. We’ll have new pieces to deal with now, new angles to explore.”
By now, everyone knows that TXF: FTF propelled FBI Agents Mulder (DD) and Scully (GA) through a series of escapades involving deadly bees, doomsday scenarios, alien spaceships rising out of the ice, government conspiracies, Black Oil, bombing cover-ups, and the pair’s feelings for each other. It spotlighted several familiar characters, among them CSM (WBD) and AD Skinner (MP), and such newcomers as Strughold (AM-S), Kurtzweil (ML) and FBI AD Cassidy (BD). And it did, as promised, answer some questions – while posing others.
Chris Carter both produced the XF film and penned the screenplay based on a story co-written with FS. He admits he was personally most satisfied to “finally being able to have someone explain WHAT the conspiracy is about, what it’s attempting to do, where it came from, what its historical roots are, and what its biological roots are. I was also happy that we could show there’s a real defense against it, a way to fight the future. Again, we’ve done some of that in past episodes, but only in bits and pieces. Here, in the film, it was much more of a concentrated story.”
Asked how different was the feeling of producing a film vs. the show, Chris Carter avers, “It’s hard to say which was more satisfying. I like the pace of moviemaking, but I like many of the things TV allows you to do. You can have a not-so-great episode one week, but make up for it the following week. You don’t have that luxury with a film. TV allows you to explore things that a movie doesn’t, in terms of relationships, tangents or whatever. It’s much more forgiving in creating small, interesting avenues of discovery and character development than a movie is. But a movie is a movie, and there’s something to be said for that, too.”
The sinister secrets of season six will soon unfold.
There are several specific points worth exploring thanks to the film. First, there’s the matter of M&S possibly delving deeper into their romantic feelings for one another, a topic Chris Carter won’t even touch. He is, however, more willing to contemplate how Mulder and, particularly, Scully, return to dealing with killer trees, inbred families, vampires and the like after they’ve seen what they’ve seen, after they’ve come to realize what”s at stake regarding the conspiracy. “Well, Scully was pretty woozy,” Chris Carter says, “and it will be very hard for Mulder and Scully to prove what they witnessed or get anybody to listen to them. That will become part of their agenda now, getting people to listen to them and to take them seriously. That has always been Mulder’s thing, [though less so for] Scully, who has seen less.”
It looked as if WMM (JN) fell victim to a wrathful Syndicate when his limousine blew up. Is he really dead? “Stay tuned,” Chris Carter replies with a mischievous laugh. Might audiences see more of AD Cassidy or Strughold in the future? “I would hope so, but we had some very pricey movie stars in the film,” he notes. “So, it’s a matter of money, time and desire on the parts of the actors.” And what of CSM and Mulder? A scene between them at the film’s end was dropped and re-shot because, during test screenings, non-fans expressed confusion as to why two characters who had no contact with each other during the film would suddenly converse. “CSM has obviously decided to favor this ‘son’ of his and, in doing so, has set up a political situation so that Mulder can SURVIVE,” Chris Carter notes. “What CSM’s agenda is, what his motives are in furthering and fostering Mulder’s career are interesting, but still not established.”
Season five witnessed contributions by writers William Gibson (with Tom Maddox) and Stephen King, who delivered Kill Switch and Chinga, respectively. Both Gibson and King may write further scripts during season six, Chris Carter reports. Also waiting in the wings is Harlan Ellison, although his scripting contribution is less certain. “Harlan is a busy man,” explains Chris Carter, who participated in a recent Sci-Fi Channel tribute to the writer. “He has always said he has wanted to write an X Files episode for us. The day he actually WANTS to do it, I’m sure he’ll give us a call.”
When season six begins on November 8, one familiar name will no longer appear in the credits, and that’s R.W. Goodwin. A longtime XF executive producer/director who has helmed previous season openers and finales (Anasazi/The Blessing Way and Talitha Cumi/Herrenvolk), RWG represents one of the casualties of the series’ relocation from Vancouver, British Columbia to LA. “We really kind of left Bob, in a way,” Chris Carter explains. “Bob decided to stay up in Vancouver. He lives there. He has a kid in high school. He really couldn’t make the trip to LA with us. His contribution to the show was in never, ever, flinching or blinking when we gave him something impossible to do. Along the way, he directed some [sic] our most important episodes. So, we’ll miss him.”
Looking even further into the future, there’s season seven of TXF as well as additional features to consider. “I imagine that the show will go through the seventh year, which would be the 1998-99 season and the year after that. Anything beyond that would be gravy,” Chris Carter says. “I have no idea if David and/or Gillian would be interested in staying BEYOND a seventh season. We’ll have to see what happens. I just signed my own contract, so I’ll be around for a while. If the movie is [regarded as] successful, we’ll get to do more movies, and we’ll get the chance to continue on the big screen as a series after the show ends. I don’t know how many films we’ll do, I just hope there will be more.”
Chris Carter, as most everyone knows, rules more than just the XF Universe.
He’s the mastermind of Millennium, which is also returning for another season. Though the show had a commendable fall 1996 debut, its ratings had declined, prompting most people to assume that Fox would not pick up the dark, somber series for the 1998-99 season. The network, which also airs TXF and thus probably wanted to keep Chris Carter happy, elected to bring back the Lance Henriksen vehicle. “I will be more active in the show this season,” promises Chris Carter. “I think you can expect us to turn a corner. We have some really good ideas for the new season. I’m really excited about what we’re going to do with Frank Black [LH] now that he has lost one of the most important things in his life. The stories will deal with that this year.”
When Millennium debuted two years ago, much was made of the fact that it was the new series from the creator of TXF. Chris Carter himself doesn’t deny that Millennium has suffered from the comparison to TXF, and that people were tougher on Millennium because of their great X-pectations. “I never wanted to make Millennium like The X Files,” Chris Carter argues. “I really loved the original concept of Millennium. It has strayed a little bit from that now. In some ways, that has been good and in some ways, bad. For season three, I have really exciting ideas that I’m looking forward to incorporating into the series. I’ve had long meetings with Lance, and we’re all very excited about season three. I hope people will come to the show again and see what we’re doing. Frank will ultimately end up affiliated in some way with the FBI, which is where he began his career.”
Returning to TXF, Chris Carter insists that even after 117 hours of TV episodes and a two-hour movie, there’s still plenty left to uncover about the mythology and about M&S, Chris Carter insists. “They are VERY complex characters. We played with Mulder and Scully’s belief systems in the fifth season. They’re both unmarried. They’ve both lost parents, and they’ve both lost them in a tragic way. Mulder and Scully have a lot to learn about life, I think, and they’re things that people have to learn as they move through their 30s and on into their 40s,” Chris Carter observes. “So, I really do think we’ve got a lot more to learn about our characters and about the conspiracy. I don’t think we’ll run out of ideas anytime soon.”