TNT's Rough Cut Chat with Chris Carter

With a project like this, how do you please yourself as well as all of the fans out there?

Well, you always have to please millions of people out there. It's part of the goal. But first you have to please yourself, and luckily, with this show from the very beginning, what I did was write something that pleased me, something that I wanted to do that I liked. I think that's one of the secrets to the success of the show is that I've been able to maintain an enthusiasm because the stories that we write are very interesting to me.

Did you always want to turn this into a film? Is it something you thought halfway through?

You know, I've been asked this question, and I always say, "Yes, we always wanted to turn it into a film," but I don't know when we actually got serious about it. I realized that if we didn't do it [now], we might not do it.... I thought it would be nice to take all the threads that we had laid out there and weave them together in a big movie; It's also true that I don't think we would have done a movie unless we did it now.

What sort of challenges did you have to overcome to make it accessible to people who aren't fans of the show?

It's a trick, because you know there's a lot of people who don't watch television who go to movies and then there are some people who I'm sure are not regular watchers of the show or have never watched the show. I still think it's a movie for them. I think those tricks -- character development and an accessible story that doesn't require too much foreknowledge -- were the biggest hurdles to overcome. And I think that we've overcome them.

"The X-Files" has always been informed by the fact that you read scientific journals and also you're reading about actual government conspiracies and experiments and things they've done. Can you talk about that?

People say, "Where do you get all these wild ideas.?" Many of them come directly from science. If the show didn't have a strong scientific foundation -- the same with the movie -- the science in the movie is absolutely accurate. I guess people could argue about aliens, but the genetics, the transgenic pollen implants, all that is 100 percent accurate according to my scientific advisor. The show needs a scientific foundation, because that is Scully's point of view. Without a Scully point of view, you've got no point/counterpoint. So it's important that our science be accurate, and it's important that the science be good, because it provides the leaping-off point for the rest of the show.

In the last couple of years, I've noticed that the different episodes have become like mini-movies. My friends and I talk about that.

Well, the approach has always been a "cinematic approach," I call it now after having done the movie. I know whatever you do in television isn't quite cinematic because making a movie is a much more elaborate process than making a television show. But, we tell the stories as if they were little movies, and we take a big-screen approach on the small screen in the way we tell our stories and the way the shows are directed, certainly and in the way the stories are very plot-driven. They are good, round mysteries, and a lot of television gets by on character development ensembles, stories, a-b-c-d-e-f-g stories. "The X-Files" tells one good, strong story every episode, and I think that's much more of a movie approach.

There were scenes that "X-Files" fans thought were going to be in the movie because of rumors. Were there a lot left out of the film?

No, no, no. It's pretty much what it was designed to be. I think that there is very little missing from the script.

There's a rumor that you guys shot "red herrings" just to throw off "The X-Files" Internet fans. Is that true?

The truth is we didn't, but, there were things that were written that were put out there as bogus information. The last scene in the movie, or I should say, the penultimate scene in the movie with Mulder and Scully in the park, was not written until the spring ... probably about six weeks ago.

That's a conspiracy.

It is a conspiracy.

Have you ever heard from somebody in the government about your conspiracies?

I once had someone walk up to me and say that they worked in the intelligence community and say, "You don't know how right you are." I sort of liked that idea.

How much of the conspiracy has been pre-planned and how have you kind of retroactively fitted?

I have a big general idea of what the conspiracy means and what the conspiracy is, but as we go forward, we find new little things to do to add to it. And so that's the fun of it. If you set everything down too clearly for yourself in the beginning, I think you end up without the sort of wonderful discovery of new things to add in. So, I think flexibility is important in this kind of storytelling. Also the faith that you're going to make the right choices as you go forward.

Are we going to get a new movie every two or three years?

I hope this movie's successful so that it warrants doing more movies. I think I would like to see the TV series evolve into a movie series. That would be a nice thing to do. It would be a nice reason for us to all work together.

The opening sequence with the bombing of the building is eerily similar to the Oklahoma City bombing. Was there any concern about including that in a piece of entertainment?

Well, it's a building explosion. And I don't mean it [to trivialize] a horrible event. It certainly wasn't meant to be that.

As an X-Files fan, is the movie going to go into the series?

Yes, yes, yes.

What can we expect for season six?

Well, the writers are actually back at work already. This is the first week of work. We all got a week off, and now we're back coming up with stories, so we're putting it together. We've got a lot to play with, and this is the fun of it. Figuring out how to re-open "The X-Files." I thought of the movie as an explosion of "The X-Files." For five years, we kept imploding this series; it would fall back in on itself, and we'd give you a clue or an answer and then we'd take it back. The movie has set certain things in stone and now we've got to deal with those pieces. But there are lots of new elements to toy with.

How is moving the show to L.A. from Vancouver going to change it?

You know, it's obvious it will change. I'll have a new crew. I'll have a new environment to shoot in. (People ask if we'll) still have the same creepy light. You know, we'll have bright sunlight in the daytime, although if it's anything like last year, it will be just like Vancouver; The weather in Los Angeles was so bad last year. But, I think what we'll do is we will just use the new environment to our advantage. Just make a virtue out of the problem, which is that we're now shooting in sort of a concrete jungle. [We'll] tell stories that we wouldn't have been able to tell in Vancouver, so I think it's going to be an interesting opportunity.

What about the soundtrack?

It came out on June 2. That's one of the best parts of my job. It's just a whole lot of fun for me. It's just like saying, "Lets ask the Foo Fighters if they want to do a song," and they do. And they send something back, and the day that cassette comes in I stick it in my machine. It's like a Christmas present.

You know, in another time you might have been this faceless person that created a show, and that's not the case now. What kind of bizarre encounters have you had?

I have people come up to me all the time and want to tell me their story and pitch me ideas. And I have to tell them all, I've got this thing that I say. I'll say, "I'd love to listen to your story, but for legal reasons I cannot." Which is true. I don't want to be involved in a situation where someone says I stole their story. I've been very careful not to take anything from anyone. I don't think we've done one unsolicited script or idea in the entire run of the show: 117 episodes. My wife and I once laid in bed listening to a tape a guy had sent me of an encounter he had had in the wilderness with his wife. And he had just decided to sit down and talk about this.

I think that "The X-Files" is a very literate program. Dialogue is almost more important than the action, and the movie is the same way. You have to pay attention to every word of it. Is that a dangerous area in the '90s with the whole short attention span thing?

You know, [you] make a mistake in thinking that the audience is not as smart as [you] are. I think the audience is very smart. I think the audience is very sophisticated. We have so much information these days. Everyone knows about the human g-gnome project now that's going on. It's in the paper everyday. So, genetics, all these things... while they are sophisticated and while the dialogue [of the show] is sophisticated, it also never attempts to confuse or baffle. It is well chosen words by smart people.

Have people ever approached you and told you that something's just too gross?

It's really hard to give me the willies. I'm sure that there are some things that are too gross. We've shown a lot of interesting images on the show, but mostly they would have to do with autopsies and such. There actually is a limit to what we can show. Standards and Practices prevents us from doing anything that is too gruesome, gory, visceral. The truth is, I hate blood. I don't like to show it on screen. I don't like to show it splattering. I don't like to show it spilling. I don't like to see shoot-outs and bullets flying. I'm uninterested in that. I'm interested in the effects of events. Even violent events and what the human drama is before and after them, but the gore is something that I'm not interested in.

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