FTF DVD Kommentare von Chris Carter und Rob Bowman
| Transcribed by Libby
Edited by Libby, Used with kind permission from Libby (www.chelonium.plus.com)
Chris Carter: When coming up with the idea for the X-Files movie, Frank Spotnitz and I were sitting in Hawaii thinking about what we needed to do to make the idea bigger than the series, a concept that could be worthy of a movie and explain some things that the series didn't or hadn't, so we needed this big idea that needed to start in an extreme place and end in an extreme place. And we had done some research and found out that the globe had been covered in ice not that long ago in historical terms, as far down as Texas so we thought wouldn't it be interesting to take some place we wanted to shoot, which is the desert, and make it a completely different landscape prehistorically. And also it was an idea that encompassed the bigger idea here which is that alien life has been here prehistorically and that it may have gone underground, and this is really the reason for that big action sequence with the cavemen and the alien dinosaur, if you will, that really shapes the first sequence.
You write these cavemen, these primitives, these men of a sort of unknown time and while they've been recreated by scientists and I guess anthropologists, the look of them, it didn't quite look right when we first started making up the actual actors, the stuntmen who played the two primitives, which is what we called them. And so it went through several different stages. They looked kind of cartoonish at first, with the prosthetics, and they looked too ape-like, and because this isn't that long ago in historical terms they needed to look more like modern man, yet when you made them more modern it didn't seen right either. So we sort of I think walked a thin line trying to make it believable and yet not make it look too cartoony.
Rob Bowman: This particular fight sequence, from my point of view as the director, was challenging because I've got two people in heavy wardrobe and makeup and I need a very physical, very violent fight, in basically a black arena and the alien, the gentleman inside the alien suit, is completely blind with sharp talons at the end of his fingers, so I've got to protect the cavemen from his claws, and the caveman has got to pretend to be stabbing somebody that they can't really stab with the sword, and, you know, there's no guns, none of the usual things we see in a fight in a movie, so how do I make it as real and as scary as I possibly can. Well, once I saw the creature walk in, realized that he was blind, I had to adjust the entire approach to filming because I now needed to be very short, flash cuts, so that I can create the illusion that the alien is quite dangerous and lethal and all the while having this UCLA linebacker, Craig Davis, and Carrick O'Quinn take all the blows and slam up against real plaster and make it as visceral and dynamic and as worthy of the opening of a movie as I possibly could. But none of that was really understood until I saw Tommy Woodruff walk on stage, sort of like a blind man down the sidewalk, and thought OK I'm going to have to be very abstract in my approach. I think we shot a little extra film just to have enough cuts to make it pulse along nicely. And so it seemed to be there was pitfalls at every turn of how it couldn't go well, yet due to Tommy's practices as an alien, back to the Alien movies and Pumpkinhead, and Carrick's dexterity and Craig Davis' dexterity just being athletic, I think we were able to pull off somewhat of a worthy fight sequence between these two disparate characters.
Now we leap forward to present day, ten thousand years forward, and the shovel and the wardrobe helps us identify where we are and we've got these three very ordinary little boys who are out playing around in their backyard, like every other kid who grew up digging holes and looking for stuff. Boy, don't they find the ultimate buried treasure. And it's the accents and sort of the ease at which these guys are going through the dialogue, it's sort of the fun of the scene. And now we've gone from prehistoric times into everyday life, somewhere in the south. This would be the dream of every ten year old boy is to jump into a huge cave and find a skull, and it's sort of weird, it's translucent. Of course now it all goes wrong. A mystery for the boys.
This is Lucas Black who we first saw in Slingblade and who just has a very sort of natural, easy-going pace about his delivery and we thought would bring the audience closer into the storytelling because he sounds like he's just the everyday boy from next door. The other boys, I think, were all found in Virginia and South Carolina and whatnot, so we were looking for as natural a delivery as we could find. And now camera comes up out of the ground and we realize that we're in suburban Texas, as the legend identifies, with Dallas there in the background, and yet there's another timecut in the middle of the shot, still rolling, same shot, and we bring in the fire department and the trick is marrying the two shots together, there's two halves of one shot, shot hours apart and taking out the seams of the houses blurring as you overlay the two shots together. Now we're urgently trying to figure out what's happened to this little boy. We send the firemen down in the cave. The cave has proven to be a scary, dangerous place for anybody who goes down in there, and this'll be the third part of our mystery where we are going to infect these firemen, and now by not showing them, and the dangling ropes, the ropes eventually go still and there's no respond on the radio, we're worried that the fireman are going to suffer the same fate as the boy and the Neanderthal.
Leap forward again in time to the chopper arriving which is obviously help that's been called by the fire department but they get more than they bargained for. They've asked for just some help from the City of Dallas and who shows up is these hazmat suits, hazmat suited men in white with this bubble litter and then some gentleman who suggests by scaring everybody away, by asking for everybody to be moved back, there's a larger problem than we're being told, that he knows something that we don't know. The Sheriff still is in over his head a little bit, he's informing Mr Bronschweig here what he saw and what he found. Bronschweig, who knows more than we do at this point, realizes that we're in more trouble and more danger than we can ever imagine. They're being pre-occupied by the tie-in of what he's seen, the oil in the boy's eyes, and knowing what he knows about the aliens and the entire conspiracy, he's up against this small town fireman. We're in for a world of trouble and then sort of playing on into that bigger mystery is this circus of trucks pulling this. This was a very tricky sequence to film because we had not enough time to do it, and when you've got six or seven or eight semi forty-footers rolling in at 35 miles an hour, criss-crossing each other's paths, well there's a lot of opportunity for trouble and for accidents or wrecks and I didn't have enough time to shoot it carefully so we sort of documentary-styled it and there was actually very little good film in there because the camera guys were so busy whipping around getting different pieces of film that there was very few shots that lasted more than two, two and a half seconds, so it was a challenge just to mine through all the footage and find what is very, very carefully selected few shots of moving those trucks in.
Chris Carter: Our mantra on the TV series has always been, it's only as scary as it is believable, and it's only believable if it feels real, which I think is probably what science fiction should always attempt to do. And so we needed, because we needed to recreate Dallas, we went and scouted in Dallas and in Texas and found out that it would be prohibitively expensive and that we needed to shoot this bomb sequence in Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles skyline, which is very recognizable, needed to be disguised and so camera angles needed to be chosen, appropriate camera angles. We needed to find the right rooftop looking over at the right building. There were so many different things we needed and luckily we found, I think, the right combination. I think Rob did a great job of disguising some of the more prominent aspects of the LA skyline and then Mat Beck came in, our visual effects producer, and helped to take away a little bit of the background of Los Angeles, so when you see that helicopter fly past you're actually seeing for a moment there a bit of a recreation of what we tried to make look like Dallas instead of Los Angeles.
The character of Scully is introduced. In the following shot we see her tiny on the rooftop and then we see her walking down onto this building where she's talking on the telephone to Mulder. Fans of the TV series know that they communicate by cell phone a lot. I don't think I could have done a TV show like this pre cell phones. And this is the introduction to the characters. You get a chance to hear Scully talking very scientifically, she's very rational, she's very logical. Then you get a chance to see her run into Mulder. This is the introduction of not just one character but two, and also them as a pair. For a movie which where we would have a larger audience, maybe even a new audience, we were hoping to building on our television audience, we needed to understand very quickly who these characters were, what they believed in, what their relationship was to one other, the playfulness before all the action set in. This was a trick - most film makers don't have to do something like this, they don't have re-establish characters for both an old audience and a new audience, and so that was the trick throughout the beginning of the movie, which was not to bore the regular audience and to keep the new audience entertained.
I created two characters who are opposite of the gender stereotypes, Scully being the reasonable character, the one who is scientific, who needs things explained to her, much like male characters usually are; and Mulder being the more intuitive character, the one who feels and is much more like a female character as is usually cast. I think that we needed to re-establish this, to have the audience understand this as quickly as possible so that we might take them through the rest of the story understanding exactly who they were watching. The characters of Mulder and Scully, as fans of the show know, have not just a respect for one another and an affection and a protectiveness, but they have a deep love for one another. Where this goes in the movie is a place that it's never gone before in the television series, and it ends up in a pivotal scene in Mulder's hallway. That needed to be set up here in the beginning of the picture. We needed to make sure that we didn't go too far, ultimately, with these character, to take their relationship to too far a place because we needed to come back for the next year of the TV series which was year six. And so, there again, filmmakers usually don't have to think conservatively but we needed to make sure that the relationship was understood, intact, went somewhere new, yet didn't go so far as to be irreparable.
Rob Bowman: The vending room sequence is a very unusual way to begin a mystery because it begins quietly and unsuspiciously, and then David's got this funny moment with the vending machine that eats his quarter, which we've all been through. But with Mulder's impenetrable sense of wonder, he's always looking around the corner for something not right, and he finds something that he never thought he would or certainly hoped he wouldn't find, which is boom, you know, the bomb. And it's these moments that I've played with David a thousand times before in various episodes in Vancouver where he's sort of just poking around with not much to do, results in a discovery of grand proportions, he doesn't even know how big this one's going to be, but this discovery's going to lead them on the greatest adventure of his career. And, of course, meanwhile Scully's outside thinking he's just goofing off because of the rooftop thing with the doorknob, but just psychologically the audience is thinking, what, there's a bomb in a vending machine, in a building that was not cleared of its personnel, so are we suggesting that whoever planted this bomb intended to not only detonate the building with everybody inside of it, full of people, that's the most heinous crime I can imagine. And I was actually resistant to the idea early on in the script process because I've got relatives in Oklahoma, but the fact that Mulder shows up and does clear the building I think is the difference, of course, between the unfortunate event in Oklahoma and what we're saying here. But it is a horrible, horrible crime and it's what is the catalyst to set Mulder and Scully in action to solve this crime and figure out what's going on.
Now, from a director's point of view, on The X-Files everything is tried to be made as authentic as possible and research, research, research. Well, I wanted this bomb to be, without instructing people how to make a bomb, a real bomb, and so we had the LA Bomb Squad come in and basically give us the visuals, what it should look like. And on the first appearance it's not very interesting, nowhere near what movie bombs look like, but we came to a common ground of reality where this is a bomb that's got accelerants and detonators and explosives, so that when you look at it it's slightly underwhelming, it doesn't have all the sizzle and eye-candy that a lot of bombs in movies do, because the bombs in movies usually are exaggerated and phoney-baloney and therefore not really bombs. And this one I wanted to have more of an authentic touch to. So it's a little simpler, it's stacks of C4 and some computer cable here and there, and something in those gallon jugs down below. And I know when we first put the bomb in the vending machine, they taped up the tubs down below and the tape was so well done that it actually just looked like, oddly enough, the inside of a vending machine, although we didn't see any cans, we couldn't tell that it was in fact a bomb, so I walked up and sort of yanked around the red tape to break it up a little bit and make it look like it was sort of hand-wrapped and quickly so. But it was just to give the audience the feeling that this was not a sensationalized piece of equipment, that it had something more authentic about it, and just trying to make it as real as possible.
Now begins the countdown to the explosion. This is a sequence that we've seen in movies before and I wanted to find a way to do it differently through the prism of The X-Files, through the minds of the characters, and that's a rule we try to stick to and that is telling stories through point of view. So I thought, well, OK, fine. Point of view is first person narrative, how do I tell this story through the minds of Mulder and Scully, and that is by following them into the car, staying with them in the car through the explosion and only using third person or objective shots of the building to show the degree of damage and the size of the explosion, but nothing else, nothing gratuitous, not a lot of panic shots of the crowd, but Mulder and Scully's perception and experience of this explosion. So I called Heather, the Scully stunt double and asked her if she'd be willing to get in the car, unseatbelted, and ride out basically a crash caused by the explosion of the building, she said she would. And that set into motion the storyboard and this entire approach of telling the story through an X-Files storytelling fashion. And then they barely get into the car, they don't buckle their seatbelts and now we're into the fourteen camera building explosion.
The building explosion was done in two halves. The first half was the building exploding, the first floor and whatnot, angles of cars, Michaud's car, who was the FBI agent who was blown up, being concussed and kicked off the ground, and the other half, after the building is blown up was the Mulder and Scully car crashing into the parked car, of which there was probably seven or eight cameras used for that sequence. Then all that being done, another small bit of filming with Mulder and Scully getting out of the car and walking up and looking at the exploded building with a green screen behind them, a motion-control shot rotating around them with the face of the Unical building being blown off, which was in fact a 45-foot miniature shot down in Playa Del Ray with miniature pieces of paper and flames and smoked added in in layers, then composited in to the background of that shot over the back of David and Gillian.
Chris Carter: The X-Files was built on the idea that the government is withholding information, keeping secret certain facts and knowledge about the existence of extraterrestrials, or not, this was the thing I think very clearly stated in the pilot episode and has become a kind of spine for the rest of the series. The FBI has come out of this come out of this looking actually pretty good, they look like a tool of a shadow government, or of government operatives who are behaving in very selfish ways, using the government to their own purposes, to protect this conspiracy, to keep this conspiracy of silence. In the series, this plays in what we call mythology episodes, about five or six episodes a year, that investigate with Agent Mulder and Scully the conspiracy and the main people in it, including the Cigarette-Smoking Man and some other people, Krycek, who doesn't appear in the movie, who are doing everything they can to keep these secrets. So the movie then is the big mythology episode, it is the one that deals with the government and the government's unraveling, if you will, the piercing of the veil of secrecy they've been keeping for so long. And it's done through a giant investigation of Agent Mulder and Scully for their behavior. Mulder and Scully then have to go out as renegade agents to overturn the information that is being framed against them, and in doing so they uncover the that for five years running has been the engine for The X-Files.
The X-Files is one of the most collaborative endeavors one could ever possibly hope to be involved in, and I mean that in a good way. There's a tremendous esprit de corps. There are so many people involved in the TV series as there were involved in the movie, who want the work to be good above all else. So you get all these talented people working together for a common goal. It's important to any enterprise but it's particularly important to a movie and for a television series it's important because you do it for years at a time, a movie you come and you make the movie and you all part ways, hopefully as friends. You may work again some time but it's provisional. On a TV series it's not so, you need to find a team which becomes your family and you live with them day in and day out. On the movie, luckily, I had Rob Bowman directing who was a part of that family, that television family, and he and I had developed a rapport, a shorthand, I help him in ways, he helps me in ways, it's immeasurable. But when you go forward and you have a director who values you as not just the writer but as the producer, who is able to turn and listen to what you're saying and take that information, and you may disagree with it and can say so, you've got a situation where you've got two heads rather than one, you've got a cooperative and team process. This is to take nothing away from the director, you know a director is king on a movie and he needs to be so for the sake of the crew, for the sake of the actors, he cannot be second-guessed, he cannot be undermined, he has to be supported, this is the role of the producer, it's the role I hope that I play and I think I played with Rob in the movie, as I was there to help him to make it as good as it could be every step of the way. Once again, Rob is a prince, he is a person who wants it to be good above all else and is willing to listen to advice and to suggestion and to idea and to change, and I think that it's a situation that probably happens all too infrequently in the movie and television business because egos tend to get in the way. But when you find these situations and you can cultivate them, I think that you can make a better project, a better show, a better movie, with many heads with one like-minded goal.
We tell lots of different kinds of stories on The X-Files, we tell good, scary monster stories, we tell what I call weird science stories, we tell technology stories. We also tell these conspiracy stories which have become the mythology of the show. They've actually become the heart of the show or the backbone, if you will. The whole series began with the idea that Mulder's sister had been abducted by aliens when he was twelve years old, and that idea was what pushed Mulder toward the X-Files, what made him start to look at these cases of the paranormal in a very personal way, it was about finding his sister. So the government conspiracy was a conspiracy to hide the existence of extraterrestrials from the American public. So Mulder has a convergence of two things, he's got the belief that his sister was taken by extraterrestrials, something you could find in The X-Files, and he's got a belief now that the government is conspiring to keep these truths away from him. So the series works best on a personal level in this way because the stakes are very personal in the mythology shows, in the shows about the conspiracy, ultimately because Mulder lost his sister to a conspiracy and Mulder ultimately ended up losing his father to conspiracy. Scully now has lost a sister to the conspiracy. These are very important things on a personal, emotional level to the characters, and so I felt to make the movie, to be honest to the five years of the show and honest to the origins of the show, it needed to be a movie about the most personal, passionate part of the show, which is the quest for the truth about why these things happen to me, why these things happen to Scully, why these things happen to Mulder. And it was also a way to tell a big science fiction story without having to explode the television series or re-explain the television series perfectly, it was a way to use the series to launch into the movie and use the movie to launch back into the series. A stand-alone story would have made a perfectly good movie, I think, but it would not have been contiguous with, and a part of emotionally the series in the way that I really wanted it to be.
Rob Bowman: When I saw The Wizard of Oz, when I was, I don't know, eight or nine years old, I thought wow, movies, what is that, movies are magic, look flying monkeys, the wizard, and I'm scared and I'm happy and I'm sad, and I'm all these emotions, and I'm just watching a picture and listening to the dialogue and the music and sound. What are movies? Then my parents were big movie buffs and we'd be sitting around the house, my sister Karen and Mom and Dad, and some movie would come on and Mom would say, oh, look, there's Lionel Barrymore and this is directed by Robert Siodmak. So I knew all the names before I was a teenager, all the old movies, you know, Dad was hip on everything, Mom knew everything about movies. So as a film buff or a film historian, the bedrock was laid just in my household. And then as my interests grew I started seeking movies and watching more, and so watching Martin Landau on Mission Impossible, I remember that. So when the day comes that I get to direct Martin Landau, I'm two people. I'm a little boy looking at a dream come true, and I'm the director. But I can't let Martin Landau know that I'm like, you know, he was awesome in Tucker and he's an Academy Award winner. So, the first thing I'm shooting with Martin Landau is Mulder's point of view of him at the end of the bar and he's just this character in the shadows down there. So I've got two cameras, I've got a wide and a tight, and we do the first take, just before we roll he says, hey Rob what's the B camera, what lens is that, and I say, it's a one-fifty, he goes, ok, so you're right here, and he has put his hand right on the frame line, and we all turned and went, oh, this is pro, ok, right here, he was seventy feet from the camera, ok, you're right there, ok, got it, ok, I know what I'm doing, let's go, ready. Action. Cut. Now all those extras and everything, and I'm at the end of the bar at the monitor, so I say cut and I'm on my way to Martin, I'm getting through the parting of the Red Sea through all the extras, and I find him standing, looking over the top of the extras, looking for me, like it matters, I don't know what. I walk up and he goes, how was that? And Martin Landau, now I'm a little boy all of a sudden, is asking me if what he just did was ok. So I keep the director face on, I said, I don't want to know what you're thinking, that time you reacted and I could figure out that you were suspicious, I don't want to know that, I want to know nothing, just the fact that I cut to you sitting there looking in our direction, and cut back to Mulder, is all I need, the audience is going to wonder what you're about, so don't say anything. [Clicks his fingers] Got it, let's role. I'm walking back to my monitor and I'm having a complete out of body experience. I am directing a major motion picture and I just gave Martin Landau, Academy Award winner, direction, and he looked at me right in the eye and as soon as I gave him the direction he said, yes, sir, and went back to his chair and said, roll camera. We did it a few more times and I thought, you know what, life is pretty good.
Chris Carter: In the television series, Agent Mulder is always coming to Agent Scully and waking her up in the middle of the night, bringing her into his office, showing her something that cannot be explained, or she cannot explain it scientifically, and it sends them on their way into an X-File. Something similar happens in the movie, Agent Mulder having been sort of drinking away his sorrows, goes to Agent Scully's apartment, and wakes her up and brings her down to this morgue to show her something. What's important to the television series as well as the movie is that it all works on real science, if it weren't her abilities as a medical doctor to question things there would be no believable science fiction, Mulder would be without someone to refute what he is saying, someone to do the foundational work on which he can build his theories of science fiction.
Rob Bowman: I try to come up with some signature visuals that would catch your eye and say pay attention, this is somebody you should keep an eye on, and the first shot was going to be the choppers against the moon coming over the horizon, approaching the tent city in Texas. The shot itself just needed to be striking, it's the first X-File image in the movie. The rest of it is pretty much with The X-Files look, but in terms of a signature X-Files image that's the first one and it needs to ring the bell quite loudly. And I can tell you the moon is probably a Hubble shot or something and the helicopters are completely synthetic, completely CGI manufactured. I can tell you they all looked almost that good on the first try, that shot just happened easily and simply, unlike all the other CGI shots. The fumes from the exhaust sort of roiling in front of the moon, you know, that's something you're familiar to seeing in movies, the whole thing is synthetic. The leaves blowing on the hill, that's all synthetic, the whole thing is fake.
Well, Cigarette-Smoking Man has been such a tremendous activator character. Any time he's in the episode or in the story we expect some terrible things to happen, either directly to our characters or he's going to cause an event to happen and he's motivated based on his own needs, what serves him best. He is a villain that people love to hate. He on screen is a very cinematic character because he wears a long, dark coat, smokes, and you get the smoke very noir-esque sort of look, and doesn't say much and leaves a great deal to your imagination, to wonder what he's thinking and planning. A classic villain. And seems to be responsible for the most heinous crimes on The X-Files, and so you've got to include him when you want to have the highest drama because he's up to the worst no good. We've turned him in the movie and in the following season, into not such a black-and-white bad guy; that his motives might have been disguised by terrible consequences of his deeds but in fact he's actually been trying to what he says is protect Mulder or to protect Scully or do the right thing for mankind when all along we think he's been actually trying to extinguish it. But nonetheless just from a director's point of view, from a storyteller's point of view, you just want to have him on the screen because he tends to bring out the worst in people, and I think people anticipate what terrible thing is he up to. So you've got the direct effect of his actions, and the anticipation factor is very strong with him because if he's not doing something now, what is he going to be doing soon.
Chris Carter: It's kind of a conceit, this truth is out there mantra, to be honest, because I don't pretend to know the truth, but the characters are searching for it along with me and the other writers on the show, we're exploring themes, we're exploring science as it kind of presents itself to us. We're really trying to stay up with, in the show and in the movie, the science that we read about in journals and magazines and newspapers every day, and it's fascinating to do. We're at a time in life right now where the advances in knowledge is amazing, in genetics, and what we know about DNA and what we have come to suggest and to theorize about what products we are of our genetic makeup, the neo-Darwinist says that we're just robots carrying out the instructions that are inside of us. There is also something called junk DNA which is part of our makeup that scientists actually don't know its function, and the idea that we have something inside us of that no-one knows why it's there or what it does is a wonderful thing to explore, because no-one else knows the truth. We're sort of searching for it, I think like good science fiction, along with scientists who are working currently in the field.
Rob Bowman: Once we're inside the morgue, we're starting to show some great classic creepy X-Files images with the sticky skin and what has happened biologically and physiologically with this fireman, which is his skin has been made translucent, that ties into the skull found in the cave with the little boy. And now here we're finding the skin is sort of becoming like jello and as though almost paint thinners been poured on a person and the skin is starting to eat away. But what we learn is that he's been eaten from the inside out, slowly, and Scully who is our resident scientist can't figure out what the heck's going on, so Mulder is going to ask her to stay and do some research on her own. She's reluctant of course, her career is in jeopardy right now, she is in the process of trying to relocate and say goodbye to The X-Files, and meanwhile Mulder's saying, well, ok, while you're thinking about that, you know, do some illegal research for me, and she's saying, why risk my future so that you can go another bug hunt, you can prove once again that the government's corrupt, we've already proved that. He says, yes, but I want to find out who committed these crimes and that's the right thing to do and don't you want to do the right thing.
We're now going back and forth between the Kurtzweil/Mulder story and Scully back in the naval base, and this is a scene where Mulder enters Kurtzweil's apartment and obviously something's gone wrong here, his apartment's being searched by the police. And we learn that Kurtzweil is a gynecologist and that's a very deep reference to the women who were tested in the series, for the die-hard fan knowing that all the women were tested and utilized for cancerous experiments many of those who died, he is somebody who's been a part of that and is now on the outs with the conspiracy. Some jokes about Mulder needing a proctological exam.
Here we are outside of Washington, aka downtown Los Angeles on Normandy, with the blue sunrise sky which means we're shooting into the last moment of dark. And finding a private space here for Mulder and Kurtzweil to have a meeting.
Chris Carter: It was my chance, of course, to cast people that I've always admired in movies, character actors, wonderful character actors like Armin Mueller-Stahl and Martin Landau. Luckily, I had the good fortune of not just writing for them but being able to cast the people I actually wrote for in the roles that we had created for them. Martin Landau was perfect as the Kurtzweil character. He is a combination of the credible character, because he has a certain number of facts that check out about his life and about what he is suggesting, and has a certain incredibility because of the outlandishness of his story, And because he delivers them in a way that begs credulity. He's not a person who inspires confidence in telling this story, but it's enough confidence for Mulder, so it's a character who has a vagueness about him, who has a quality that suggests that he may or may not be telling the truth, which is perfect for X-Files. So a character who can deliver something and make you ill at ease, and make you uncomfortable, who makes you doubt him, but at the some time giving you just enough information to make you curious, to make you want to go forward. This is a great X-Files character.
The idea that I'm standing on the set the first day Martin Landau worked, talking to him after having watched him in Mission Impossible since I was kid. It has the sort of combined quality of making you feel very old, and also of making you feel like a kid again, because he you are talking to a guy who helped shaped your imagination as a child. But it was treat to work with him because first of all he's a trouper; there was a night where we shot the scene in a little alleyway between the two buildings where he ends up delivering to Mulder what is really the essence of the conspiracy, that scene was shot over a night and into the next morning, and here you're looking at an actor who is of a certain age, who went all night long, whose voice started to give out on him, but who kept going, take after take after take, didn't want a break, didn't want to stop, didn't give up, it is about the work for them and it was a great scene in the end and it was because Martin Landau gave it every bit that he had, and all night long.
Rob Bowman: So, in the parallel sequence back and forth between Mulder learning about the depth of the conspiracy and the reaches of it, the far reaches of it all the way to the president's office, and back and forth to Scully learning about what is the biology, the science behind the effect of the black oil on the body. Here we see a translucent piece of bone, a rib, and that ties back into the translucent fireman, that ties back into the skull in the cave, and now we're starting to see that this is the result of your body being infected by the black oil. It doesn't mean anything to Scully yet, because she's too busy trying to avoid capture than sit around and summate what's just happened with the body, but for the audience that's the correlation, is the tie-in between the oil has affected the Neanderthal and then the firemen and if we were to see the boy he'd be in the same shape in the rib cage here of the fireman showing the translucent bone. And Mulder now having heard all this about the depth of the conspiracy calls Scully and she's afraid, and she's heard, she's seen some things that bother her, but she's still reluctant. And now with her findings in the body and what he's heard from Kurtzweil, he needs her more than ever to keep going because there's more to find and they're actually on to something here, pieces are adding up.
This sequence of Scully being caught I think would have been made better had we understood the geography between the autopsy room where she was working and this room, because to me the distance between opposing forces increases and decreases tension as they get further and closer away, further and closer to each other, and for me not knowing that that morgue refrigerator was fifty feet away from the other room so in my mind as she goes into the other room I can sort of click off the amount of time it would take him to walk, my tension increases in my own mind, but we didn't do that, we just didn't have the resources at the time to create the hallway set, but that is one way that I think tension can be increased and decreased is by always showing the distance between the two parties.
Now here we've got Mulder in the FBI office with this agent, and they're trying to look into the rubble from the building explosion and find more translucent bones and what Scully's going to find here, unspoken, is the same molecular structure from the bone found in the rubble is what she's seen back at the coroner's office and she's going to understand that there is in fact a tie-in between the fireman and what Mulder's talking about.
This is actually a set we made from a giant computer room in the Unical building in downtown Los Angeles, putting dividing walls up to get that look, sort of reminiscent of All the President's Men in the office there with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, all those fluorescent lights that go on forever. We built this little lab with a little hot-zone right in the center, with their own little light-box above to stage around, but it was all a big set dressing job. And now Scully here has, without saying anything, looked up in shock as she realizes she is seeing a tie-in between the structure of the bones and what she saw back at the office.
This shot with the kids is really just a off-the-cuff thing I made up on the day. I saw the opportunity while we were scouting and as the sun is setting here it's nearly out of the sky, have these little kids playing on the swingsets, running up the ladders and just creating a contrast between, you know, here is the worst conspiracy known to man and right outside the back yard are these little kids playing. We're introducing for the first time in the tent sequence here, the Scully transport cryo container which is what we will see later in the movie is what carries Scully off to the Antarctic. The thinking behind the design was to be as industrial and as durable as possible because it gets used over and over and over, and I wanted to stay away from shiny chrome and polished surfaces and anything that didn't look like it gets used. It's sort of, what would a D9 look like, a D9 bulldozer, which is the largest bulldozer they make, as far as I remember, after lots of usage. Well, it doesn't look shiny and polished, it's pretty beat up, and actually John Deere was sort of a metaphor we used for looking at ways to design surfaces for a lot of this stuff, tough and durable was the idea. The tents were all basically, what could you set up and tear down in a moment's notice and it's all rock-and-roll truss and tents and stuff that's prefab and goes up and down in a moment's notice.
Here's a tentpole scene in the movie for tension, where we've been doing a lot of exposition and listening to people describe, a lot of saying, and movies are about showing and so here was a very important sequence in the movie that would ratchet the tension up and give us a good boo in the middle of the movie and carry forward, you know, what's the monster up to. It's got to be nail-biting, edge of your seat, white knuckle tension scene, otherwise I've failed as a story teller. And again, one of the more important ways to create tension is once you establish your opposing forces you've established your threat to your protagonist or to whoever is the eventual victim, it's the distances between the two forces that for me are one of the more important elements of tension, because the closer the threat is to the person, the greater the tension, and the further away the opposite, and so by moving this creature from the beginning of the scene where he seems about forty feet away and he's not too agitated, to in a very quick motion he's on the other side of the cave and now he's within ten feet, Bronschweig goes from looking like curious and in awe of actually witnessing through his own eyes what the creature looked like to a look of resignation where he realizes he's now just having the last look at this thing 'cos he's dead. And that's all done through geography and so tie-ins between the two opposing forces is, to me, essential.
Chris Carter: The people who make up the conspiracy are mostly men in their fifties, sixties, and seventies, the idea being that these were people who were in positions of power or of fledgling, burgeoning power during the Cold War, and as the Cold War escalated and then collapsed, these men were in positions to learn certain things as a result of secret scientific experiments, Cold War politics. They splintered and/or split off from the body of government that they were working for and banded together with this new knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrial life and used that knowledge to their own purpose. They are Elders, we call them, men from different nations, all of whom have kept the secret to themselves and will do anything to protect it. So what we are seeing is really the result of the predictions, I think, about the military/industrial complex, about global politics being shaped by not necessarily the good of the people but by moneyed interest and I think that it is allegorical in that way with what we're seeing in the world today. We do have a rather, sort of far-fetched idea about alien life, but I think the world it takes place in and the players are all too believable as people who may in fact find reasons be involved in something like a global conspiracy for purposes that are completely selfish.
John Neville has been on the show, he plays a character named The Well-Manicured Man, all the bad guys don't have names, they only have descriptions, and he is an important part of the group of Elders who run the conspiracy, because he's the voice of reason, he's a person who believes that violence is the wrong way in which to protect the secret, that you need to let a certain amount of information out so as to sort of keep your pursuers close so you can control them. They all are in service to the leader, a man named Strughold who has been a name only in The X-Files but who becomes embodied by Armin Mueller-Stahl in The X-Files movie. I actually got to write this character and then cast exactly who I wanted, it was a huge thrill because I think Armin Mueller-Stahl is one of the most interesting, intense actors of a certain age and quality, and so when I got to meet him and to see him work and to see the way he took the words and added to them and gave them a certain rhythm and pace, he made the somewhat far-fetched ideas of this science fiction notion that aliens are plotting to colonize the world, he took it and made it believable because he gave the character the credibility that needed to sort of bring home the central idea.
Rob Bowman: I think a funny moment when the park is left after the clean up, you cut from the cabal meeting and Armin Mueller-Stahl says, you know, we must take away that which he cares about the most - cut to Scully, Audience: ooh, they're going to kill Scully. Then cut wide and see that they're in this park - what have they done, it's a coverup, right, ok. So, we need a park, we need a lawn, we need sod, we need a jungle gym, we need a little park that they've donated and they've given us some sign that says, you know, donated to the people of Blackwood County, whatever. Well, we show up in the morning and the park is about as big as my kitchen at home. It's a little tiny chunk of sod, it's a disaster. Now this is one of those days when you look at the call sheet, you think: if I start really fast and I sprint like mad, and we don't eat lunch, maybe we'll make this day. Well, the park is wrong and then Chris shows up and his hair just stands straight up, what is this?, you know. There was so much stress that there was no stress for me. We're shooting, we're shooting, we're shooting, we're shooting, we get to the little boys and by the time I shoot the master of the low panning shot where the boys pan right, they ride into their marks left to right and they stop and then David and Gillian walk up, the sun is just over the mountains, if you look in the background it's actually getting a little lens flare because the camera's on the ground and the sun's actually going right through the little boys' back right over the seat to the lens, it's on the horizon. I had one camera position and what I would do was I got behind the camera, I just panned to the third boy, I'd say: do your dialogue, and then I'd pan over and I'd go back, would you do it again, go back, go back, go back, the sun is gone and the sky is dark grey and it's actually an 18K light, cross-lighting, 'cos there's no sun. So I'm hoping the lab can save my life here and I'm panning to each one of the three boys, saying: do your dialogue, stop, and they don't know, I'm like a madman at this point, the little boys are trying to run a scene, I'd say: stop, do your dialogue again, ok look further to the right, ok now pan over kid, now you do your dialogue, ok, funnier, funnier, you know, it's like the most insane directing you can imagine. Cut, print, we got it, I turn over to Danny [Sackheim], he just falls out of his chair. I can't believe we did it, oh I can't believe, I'm oh my god - Chris is laughing because Danny is just a big raw nerve and we pull it off and, you know, it's actually kind of funny and kind of cute and every time I look at that scene I realize that we made that by the skin of our teeth and in all of that there's a few of the shots, even the one where David and Gillian walk over to the lawn that I think are really shots people compliment me on, but if you knew how that stuff came out, by the skin of my teeth, it was not sitting in a drawing room with a storyboard artist conjuring up master images it was, oh my god, I'm in big trouble, we're never going to make the day and I'm going to look like I don't know what I'm doing.
Chris Carter: We made this movie in between television seasons. At Christmas, Frank Spotnitz and I came up with the story, worked it out, laid it out very carefully. In February of the next year I snuck away for ten days, this is during the making of both a season of X-Files and the first season of Millennium. I snuck away for ten days, I still don't know how I did it, and wrote about two-thirds of the movie. It was enough to give the studio, to show them what we wanted to do. They greenlighted the project as a result of that two-thirds, I think something like ninety pages, and we started to prep the movie over the course of the next several months, that being March, April, May, beginning shooting the movie in June, I believe. And it was a short prep, it was costly, I wouldn't ever do it that way again. It was all done as the thing we were doing in addition to the television series which had a certain amount of benefits because we all knew the TV series, we all knew the things that worked, we didn't have to create something completely from scratch so that was helpful, but no-one was used to working on that pace, and when you work weekends you spend more money and the budget goes up for things that don't ever show up on screen just because you're pushing the limits of time, because we needed to get this movie made in the course and span of the time between seasons four and five of the television series. Before the movie was even finished filming we were back into our process again of coming up with stories and writing scripts and going right back in to the television series, so it really was done on our vacation time and we ended up working for two years straight, all of us, that is probably not the best way to work, but it's the only way we could do this movie which we were all determined to do.
Rob Bowman: When they've actually stopped at the crossing, the train is real there. The only thing we had to do when they were having the argument at the railroad crossing was remove Sorgas, California, which was a freeway, hillside, dwellings, lights, whatnot. It becomes a removal process. Now, oddly enough, I had originally envisioned that scene that when Mulder came round the front of the car that he would sort of kneel down and use the headlight to illuminate the map and that whilst Scully was taking a strip off him that David was down looking at the map. When we got there and staged it, we just decided that wasn't the right idea, it just didn't seem like David should squat down. Well, what we didn't think about at the moment which we should have, was that by him standing up, every time you cut to him you have to remove Sorgas from the background and so it was like, I don't know, thirty thousand, thirty thousand, thirty thousand, every time you cut to him, and so probably would have been better having him squat down in front of the car, it would have been fine. But that sequence was really just a subtractive problem. Crossing over the track and the car following, the next shot's the train coming towards camera, camera moves out of the way and the car comes over, that's all practical, but the train from the bluff is CGI, it's computer generated, and originally it wasn't moving, so the last time you see it it goes tearing by and goes into the tunnel, they drive to the bluff, they get out of the car, they walk to the edge of the bluff, they look out and see this vast expanse, cornfields and these domes in the middle of arid desert.
Chris Carter: I used to go to a dairy farm in the summers and we would milk cows and we would have a kind of farm experience, these were friends of my parents, and we used to go into these cornfields and if you've ever gone into a cornfield at night, it's one of the most frightening things in the world, I mean you don't know what's going to pop out, what's going to grab you, what spiders are going to come out, there's just something eerie about a cornfield, it's organized, it's in rows, yet you can get trapped inside, you don't know how to get out. So this is a certain fear I have and so why not put Mulder and Scully into a similar situation, and as it worked out, the science which is the genetically altered corn worked for the story. It also dovetailed with another fear of mine which is the fear of being stung by something. We're all children when it comes to stinging things and for me it's bees and yellow jackets and things that pack a wallop, scorpions, centipedes, all those stinging things that were so frightening to you as a kid, somehow on a gut level as an adult they are frightening as well. So you have this opportunity to do something original, scary and suspenseful and you have an ability to do it with architecture you've never seen before, and make it beautiful, make it a big screen idea, giant vistas. It all just came about as a need to do something wholly original that we would never be able to do on the television series.
Rob Bowman: I've got the audience's mind turning, they're thinking, because it's The X-Files, spaceship. Those maybe spaceship hangars, who knows. And I want to leave the possibilities open as long as I can so that their minds are ready to accept anything. Then we build the tension by stepping into this dome and you've got architecture that you can't figure out quite what you're looking at. The audience is working very hard to try to decipher what it is these squares might be. They know, because it's The X-Files, that there's going to be a pay-off here, what in the world is it going to be. Aliens gonna pop up, you know, they're going to get shot, maybe nothing's gonna happen, who knows. That's exactly what we want to do.
Then we rise, rising tension again, through the slats opening and making a lot of noise from very, very quiet to making a lot of noise, with the slats, the louvers, and then bees come up and you can't figure out what you're looking at. I think it probably takes you a couple of cuts of the bee dome to figure out that they're bees, so you're confused, they're freaking out, and it's a panic all of a sudden. We had three hundred thousand bees flying around. Never seen it before. By the way, David and Gillian were never stung, in all the filming, and they didn't wear gear, the crew had the nets and the gloves, the crew got stung, David and Gillian with nothing on never got stung.
Then you go outside and, phew, we made it, ok, now the ebb goes down, the rhythm's sort of stalled for a moment, but again it's that uncomfortable quiet, something else is happening. And then I wanted, because the audience I think is always expecting to see a spaceship in this movie, I wanted to introduce the helicopters in such a way that you thought: spaceship! I knew it! Here it comes! And a little light dancing across the top of the corn stalks. That was the one take where the chopper who was three hundred yards from camera and flying by his altimeter, and the camera man, the Steadicam operator, is standing at some random height, somehow the physics and the geometry of these two worked just perfect for that one take where the light just about was 3 inches below the top of the stalk, the corn stalks, and danced across, and you thought: there it is, there's the first spaceship of the movie. And then it turns into a helicopter: oh! So now I'm still teasing you, still making you wait for the extraterrestrial.
I think it's just an expectation when you come in to see the film. From this point on I have nowhere to go but up which is high-speed, full velocity, sprint. Now, I've also got the audience thinking that there's going to be gunfire, they're going to shoot at us, black helicopters at night shoot at us, that's just what I'm thinking. But they don't, the scene goes on, and we're running. Now Mulder and Scully get lost in the fray. And the choppers are doing what? I'm starting to get concerned because I no longer can anticipate the gunshot, because when the gunshot goes off I just have to avoid the bullets, so I can figure that one out, and again it's to try to stay ahead of the audience, to say: you've not seen this before, you can't anticipate the conclusion, you cannot anticipate the consequences, because I'm not giving you anything familiar to deal with. So the sort of herding of Mulder and Scully out of the cornfields is unnerving because I don't know when the other shoe's going to drop. Now I thought, if they shot at us and we escaped, we're safe. They dealt the punishment for being there, they caught us, they shot at us, and we made it out, that's the end of it. No, they don't shoot at you, Mulder and Scully get out, I feel incomplete, I feel like the punishment's not been dealt, I was just sort of shooed out of the cornfield but it feels like it's not complete, the arc is not complete, what's going to happen now, how is this going to pay off later in the movie, what's going to happen to Mulder and Scully.
There's actually a nice little grace note that Danny came up with was Scully, after being up for three days, and never ever having a chance to go home and primp, stops for a moment and looks at her reflection in the photograph of a former FBI boss and primps herself for a second, it was a nice little touch of class.
This is one of the ideas in the script that was actually most challenging because it's tying in principal cast and a bee that's got something very specific to do which is to crawl out from underneath Scully's collar and then return to the collar and just sort of set up a later scene. And it was something that none of us ever thought would really happen, including the bee trainer who never told us that until after it was done, but he basically had a pheromone box, a small trap, underneath the center of her collar and the bee came out after being placed in just a plain tube, crawled out from her collar and searched for this pheromone trap and it went back up into it, and we tied it in with the dialogue, with the actress, both Gillian and Blythe Danner, but ended up moving it into a different place in the scene. But nonetheless this bee performed this little staging miracle that we all thought would take half a day to film and would never really work anyway and here comes the little girl now and you see the cameras moving so it's all timed with focus and telephoto lens which makes it even more difficult. And performed an on-camera miracle.
Chris Carter: When Agent Mulder and agent Scully get back from Texas and the cornfield, something changes here. Agent Scully comes forward after having been away from the FBI against orders, she comes back with some hard evidence of what Mulder has been suggesting, that there is a conspiracy afoot. She presents this to the OPR board and puts herself at some risk for doing it. In fact, puts herself at great risk. Agent Mulder, who has taken her out to this place, shown her what he has with the bees and the mysterious cornfield, he now goes to Kurtzweil, the person who sent him there in the first place, to tell him what he's seen, and Kurtzweil says to him that what he's seen doesn't, he can't explain, that he doesn't have explanations for it, and he actually leaves Mulder hanging out on a limb. So, while Agent Scully has been brought by Mulder to some conclusion, Agent Mulder is having the rug pulled out from underneath him and the story shifts here. It is now Agent Mulder who has great doubt and Agent Scully who has some great belief, but the consequence of her belief is in fact going to derail not just the investigation but their partnership.
Rob Bowman: There's a sequence after Mulder arrives back at his apartment to confirm Kurtzweil's existence and friendship with his father where Scully comes in and says: I've quit, I'm leaving, I'm going off to so-and-so and I don't wanna stay because I know you'll talk me out of it, so I'm going to leave, now, bye. So she runs out. Mulder pursues her down the hallway and has already confessed to her in the room that now is the worst time of all, you know, we're really on to something here, I need you, I need you, I need you, it's the theme of the movie, Mulder needs Scully. And never before has he come to that understanding quite so strongly as he does in this story. So she's running because she's afraid that he's going to talk her out of it, and so the best thing she can do is just hit the elevator button and go, go, go. She never makes it, it's her first mistake. And Mulder also knows that that's where she's headed, is out the door. So he's got to tell her why it is that she's so important to him and tell her once and for all that in fact the whole time that the two of them have been together, that she has made him better, that she has made him feel not like an outcast, not like discarded FBI trash but actually somebody who's worthy of her friendship and, as he says, has made him a whole person.
So in a scene filled with such virtue, such people expressing their highest thoughts and feelings for each other you come to a pinnacle of respect and mutual admiration that it leads into an intimate moment that neither one of them expect or were working towards, it just sort of happens, you just keep going and going, and arguing and arguing, and all of a sudden it's not an argument, it's sort of, you know, we're for each other, we're for each other. And we come to the opportunity of a kiss for the first time. But it's not out of lust, it's not out of the any of the obvious reasons, typical reasons, it's out of just absolute overwhelming respect for each other. Out of that respect becomes an emotional response where you transcend logic and thinking and it becomes more visceral and human. The only place for him to go in my mind to express the next thought is to kiss her. And how do we do that in The X-Files fashion which is, you know, you never really give them anything they want, just sort of lead them down the road and say, uh, that's all you get. And then, because of the bee, the moment is abrupt and abbreviated, stops short of the zenith that the audience is wanting. But we don't want to end the movie by completely cheating the audience, so we'd like to at least add up in parts a kiss. So there's the very good idea of the spaceship where Mulder is trying to rescue Scully and just when they get to the vent, the exit, she collapses again, she passes out, she's not breathing. So what do you do when somebody's not breathing, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. So you've got the intention of the kiss, and the physical act of them touching mouths, and I believe in Chris's mind the idea was you take those two, you add them together, that's a kiss, that counts, sort of in the frustrating X-Files fashion that's a kiss. And I think obviously there was more gained for the audience out of the hallway kiss and I don't think anybody would have walked out thinking, well they sort of did because if you add the two together. But it doesn't matter, because the idea is they were going to. As a story point, that counts as the kiss. It wasn't because, they didn't stop themselves, something else entered the scene and interrupted it so.
So now we have Mulder, what might be mortally wounded, lying on the ground outside of his apartment, and the next sequence is going to be Scully being loaded in a container onto a cargo jet and flown off somewhere, master-minded by Cigarette-Smoking Man, and it was a sequence we shot in one night, it was actually the last major day of filming for first unit, it was really first and second unit but we still had Ward and all the first unit crew out there, and it was a great night down at Los Angeles International Airport and it was just supposed to be just a cool X-Files sequence where something clandestine is occurring in the corners of an airport, and we've got security guards looking out and it was a sequence that we barely completed in the course of the night, as a matter of fact in some of the last shots of Cigarette-Smoking Man standing and watching inside the airplane you can see the sky starting to blue up from sunrise in the background. The fun part about it was again finding inventive ways to introduce CSM into the sequence which I've done since the character was created and it's always stealthy and sometimes cliché, but always fun nonetheless.
The best part about the entire night was that I was going to finish the sequence, wrap the show, and then I drove over to the Bradley Terminal and jumped on a plane and flew to Maui for five days and sat there sort of in shock in my bed in the Four Seasons in Maui and couldn't believe what I'd just completed, which was eighty straight days of filming.
Chris Carter: There were certain characters we needed to put in the movie who the fans had become very fond of, and the Lone Gunmen were three of those characters, so it was difficult to find a way to put them in the movie and not have to explain too much who they were because the audience who has been the watching the television series for five years running knows who these guys are, but the non-fan would have no idea. So there's a very quick introduction of the Lone Gunmen, they are explainers, they are nerd scientists, guys who were sort of fringe-dwellers and to put them in a scene with Agent Mulder and then ultimately with Assistant Director Skinner, you ran the risk of bringing the movie to a dead halt, the audience not understanding who they are, what's going on, and creating or ruining the suspension of disbelief because these characters are kind of cartoonish. But I think we found a way to do it and to use it as a transitional piece in the story. The man who plays the government overlooker in the hallway, a person, the sort of ever-present shadowy government figure, is actually the Assistant Director on the picture who we suited up, put a little earphone on him and he actually served quite well as our watchdog, keeping tabs on Mulder who escapes through the help of these characters, the Lone Gunmen.
The characters who make up the conspiracy have kept their secret a secret by maintaining a united front. It's almost the old Mafia idea of omerta, that you never divulge a secret. But inside the conspiracy there are politics and the politics in the movie really focus on the Well-Manicured Man, the voice of reason in the conspiracy, the man who does not like to resort to violence. He is, though, put in a position and taken to a place that is very awkward for him which is to commit an act of violence, to get rid of this character Kurtzweil who they've allowed to live because his ideas were so preposterous, his books were so outlandish and ludicrous that they felt that what truth he was putting out to the public actually worked to their advantage, whilst it quite real to them the public wouldn't believe it. So the Well-Manicured Man who objects to what the conspiracy and conspirators have elected to do, which is to conspire with the alien colonists, they send the Well-Manicured Man to destroy Kurtzweil. In doing this, they actually set something in motion that they don't quite understand and this plays to the character of the Well-Manicured Man. He has a bout of conscience, he thinks about his family, he thinks about the future when he finally does do in Kurtzweil as he is asked to do. He takes the opportunity to give Agent Mulder all he'll need to uncover the thing that will make certain for him that what he has believed all along has been true, that the government has been conspiring to keep the secrets a secret, and in doing so the Well-Manicured Man does something that is quite heroic, he gives up his own life, and it is on that turn that Mulder will proceed to his ultimate goal.
Rob Bowman: In terms of the look of The X-Files, it is heavily influenced by the noir period of film-making and it is very noir-esque. It's a signature of the show, the problem is it's very hard to do because it takes time to use less light because you're working at the bottom of exposure on the negative, and we've experimented over the years what ways to get a good, rich, low-level look without it looking underexposed or grainy, to some times greater success, other times not so good where basically you have a face floating in a black screen. But it's the look of the show. It is the touching on the things that scare us which are taking out the trash late at night into the dark garage, when you're a kid and it's a spooking thing, what's going to come out and get you. It taps a nerve, deep, deep inside of us that the spooky, creepy things that exist come out of the shadows and that's where they come from The X-Files, and it's anticipation that if we've got a monster or a villain who comes out of the dark but we've only got him in the story two or three times, any time there's a shadow in that episode or that story, then you expect the possibility of the monster coming out of that dark area. So I explode my opportunity, my tension, tenfold because now you're wondering which dark corners is it going to jump out of, and it just creates suspense, anticipation, tension, but nonetheless it is much more difficult to shoot dark and shadowy than bright and shadowless.
So here's one of the more pivotal scenes in the movie where we're one-on-one with Well-Manicured Man and he's doing something very uncharacteristic which is revealing a great deal of information to us about the nature and origins of both the aliens and the conspiracy, and originally photograph was what had occurred with Mulder's sister and her abduction, but it proved to be just a bit longer than was necessary and we decided to remove the references to Mulder's sister.
All the while we're cutting to the driver who is surreptitiously watching us in the rear view mirror and creating just a degree of tension because we're wondering first of all is Well-Manicured Man telling us the truth, it all seems so far-fetched and preposterous, yet enough of it rings true to Mulder that it's stuff we can believe. But does this mean that upon hearing all this information that we're going to just be killed and it's all for naught anyway. Actually the drive-by is actually shot outside the Agriculture Building because I thought if anybody would get that that was the Department of Agriculture and the tie-in between the bees and the corn crops and Talitha Cumi which was I think the first bee episode, that there was some tie-in between the Department of Agriculture, a little layer to throw in there even it's too far removed to be understood. Then the car comes to a stop and we've set up tension in the alley, we've set up tension inside the car, that makes us think that now Mulder might not be such in good shape with the doors locked and Well-Manicured Man has a gun, and based on what we believe about Kurtzweil this may be Mulder's demise. Shockingly it's the driver who receives the bullet, probably because Well-Manicured Man was saying things he shouldn't have been saying to Mulder and was probably going to be shot himself, the two of them were.
I suppose on a storytelling level this would be considered a dramatic low point for Mulder's character because we're still wondering whether or not he's going to receive a fatal bullet, although we have been given the coordinates and the vaccine for Scully. He's got the gun in his hand, he's already killed one person, where are we going here and the switch is of course we don't receive the fatal bullet, we receive in fact directions and the convincing urgency to get off and save Scully. And we've got our lucky rat who runs in the background, it was not us it was just good luck that day. And then the big surprise to us was the suicide of Well-Manicured Man in the car explosion, and we had different ideas about how to explode the car, at one point we were going to do an implosion so as to be quieter about it, and another time we were going to have hundreds of little metal BBs come flying out as though he'd used some sort of concussive grenade full of BB shrapnel to kill himself, and ended up with a good old-fashioned car explosion.
So we're dissolving from the black of night, the dark interiors, and the claustrophobic nature of the inside of the limousine, into this vast white canvas of the Antarctic and this is really the influence that watching Lawrence of Arabia over and over during the course of filming had on me, and wanting to really utilize the width and scale of the movie screen for The X-Files, and make it larger and on a grander scale than ever before. And it's a tie-in also, it's a book-ended tie-in from the beginning of the movie with the image of the two Neanderthals running at us, so we're sort of framing our story here.
And now I've got Mulder in a snowcat and I was attempting to do something here, another little layer that might be fun, I put him a Tucker snowcat and Tucker, if you remember at least the movie if not the story of the man himself, was a man up against the big three and was a small man defeated by the larger conglomerate and I thought that was an interesting parallel with Mulder and what he was trying to do, so it was a layer thrown in there for somebody who was searching for meaning in anything and everything, it was sort of fun. The extreme challenge here is of course when you're shooting on a snow bank that everywhere you tread you leave a mark, and so if you're having shots like David up on the horizon after he's crawled out of the snowcat, where you're seeing literally miles around, then you've got to keep that snow clear, and so basically one take and you move to a different glacier. And I wanted the ribbon of track coming off that snowcat to go all the way to the horizon and then a single set of footprints coming from the snowcat. So that means that the driver takes that snowcat on the far side of the ring of the glacier field, all the way around the icefield, drives it straight towards camera with me on the radio saying: keep going, keep going, a little to the left, a little to the right, and then eventually stopping and the driver of the snowcat getting out and walking up towards camera. So then David I just have to put on the other side of the rocks and have him pop up into the foreground and you get what looks like a single set of snowcat tracks and then David's footprints walking up.
Meanwhile, the camera crew is helicoptered up to the top of a summit and we set up camera and wait for David, it takes about a hour-and-a-half to do one shot. There are several shots in this sequence that do not include real David or nor was I there, EJ Forster was up directing it and we're using Mulder's double and some of the running shots on the surface are Mulder's double. I had one day with David up on the glacier trying to get all those shots, which was very difficult of course trying not to create tracks everywhere. As soon as he goes through the ice you're into a sound stage on the Twentieth Century Fox lot, into a refrigerated sound stage with liquid nitrogen streaming down, which is actually basically cold smoke which falls instead of rises or hovers like regular smoke. And trying to create the illusion that Mulder has dropped through layers and layers of ice down into thirty-some, forty-some feet below to the surface of what appears to be some sort of vacuum sucking the smoke down, and then he drops down into the hole and now you're in a more symmetrical tube, so wherever we are we're getting to something that seems to be more made as opposed to, by the hand of man as opposed by the hand of nature.
And as Mulder is crawling down the tube you've got a mystery of ok where are we now, what could possibly be underneath this ice field, and of course we reveal it one layer at a time like peeling the onion and you just see it one layer at a time. Now I've cut inside the hallway and you're seeing more structure, and now we realize we are in a place that has been manufactured. And David jumps down into the hallway, and the hallway needed to look like it went on for ever when of course it went five feet behind him, but we created a blue screen plate and then added in an echo of the hallway behind him, so it looks like it wraps around for a quite a long ways. Once you're inside the ship, the idea was to show how old the ship was and to see how long they've been encasing human beings all the way back to the Neanderthal period and this gag never really paid off for us because we couldn't get the thickness of the ice to look like it was several inches of ice and to identify what would be the decayed body of one of the Neanderthals although that's what it was supposed to be. We tried and tried and tried, and realized we should go for what would look like a human being underneath the ice and you tilt down to the belly and you see the alien, you start get the idea of a heightening of the discovery, the levels of science that are going on and just what a truly fantastic conspiracy this is.
He walks over to the edge of a pipe, what looks like a large venting pipe and he looks down and he sees these pods hanging and you realize that now this thing is not just this one layer but it's actually quite recessed into the ground, and establishing the idea from the pods that are hanging in that tube that there are many, many of these pods and as we going along with the movie, when he steps out onto the balcony we reveal the absolutely massive scale of this interior, and reveal even more down on the floor, pods hanging from what look like almost like a Laundromat conveyer belt system, moving these things along, and that is basically what the purpose of this thing is, you know, the extreme high shot of Mulder from far away, way up on the balcony, is basically a shot of David walking on a small set the size of a dime and then the entire area, the entire wall around him, 99% of that frame is all CGI created. David's face is real of course against a real background, but it's maybe forty-feet long and fifteen-feet high and that's it, then we're seeing the ship is I think twelve hundred feet across or something. So you've got a mix in here of both practical and CGI images.
One of the challenges is how do we get Mulder from upstairs to downstairs in a dramatic, cinematic way that's not going to be just climbing down, boring, you know, shoe leather. So we came up with the idea of him slipping and falling and sliding down the top of one of these tubes and of course we don't know where we're going so we're going to assume that it's not going to end well for him and then you see that there is a bottom to it, but at the velocity he's traveling and with him careening off this knuckle at the end, this collar, you've got to have the shot where once he's hanging by his knuckles you've got to drop something because that's how you show depth, so we, I don't know if you can tell, but it's his binoculars that actually fall out of his pocket and fall down to their demise. And then it's a combination in the overhead shots of both a practical piece of tubing and CGI work showing what would suggest hundreds of feet of depth below him.
It is the challenge of storyteller to keep increasing the size of the conspiracy and the size of the adventure, and you've got to have some pretty impressive set pieces and moments that keep elevating the story and you need this kind of stuff, this kind of a set to make it a big-action summer movie. So he finds this left-behind wardrobe and of course Scully's cross and he now knows he'd found her and as he comes around a corner we reveal what appear to be a very fresh set of these cryopods, compared to the ones upstairs which were encrusted and brown and old, and we start seeing what look like modern-day human beings encased in what still looks like to be some sort of more fluid, not completely iced-over pod, until he finds what he was hoping to and hoping not to find which is Scully now trapped inside one of these giant icicles basically. It's a mix of Gillian in a water tank and also a Gillian polyurethane cast inside of a pod that gives us the illusion that she's actually encased in this stuff.
Now the ice station footage, which was never planned originally but we needed a little more information as to who was sort of running this whole thing and where did CSM fit in, so we built the inside of the ice station and had a little running about, CSM looking like he's in charge. The panic as the ship is coming apart, there was and intruder, that's actually what it is, there's an intruder, not the ship coming apart, that's going to occur when Mulder injects this vaccine that we witnessed Bronschweig inject into the side of the alien inside the cave, and it's what made the alien stop attacking him for a moment. The point there was to set up the idea that the aliens don't like this vaccine, it not necessarily kills them, but that it's a hostile vaccine to the alien. And after injecting Scully you see something running out of her feed tube, evacuating Scully, and that tube then shrivels up and dies, and that's telling the audience that the vaccine does in fact work as an antivirus against the alien and against the black oil. Then the ship itself, almost organically, has a violent reaction to it and starts to come undone, and the idea is that it's basically the aliens are going to try to escape from the pods before the vaccine, as little as it is, infects the entire ship and brings them all to their demise. So these steam blasts start firing off, all of them of course CGI implanted, the hallway and the different steam vents, none of that's real, it's all plates of hallways and then placed steam vents.
Then we are intercutting now back and forth with chaos occurring in the ice station where CSM is calling for an evacuation, the ship is in some form waking up. So here CSM is realizing that the whole thing is coming apart. There's a moment here where Mulder is helping Scully out of the pod and the day we were filming in the spaceship, Téa Leoni, David's wife, was on set and saw us doing the shot where he's carrying her away, and suggested a moment where we actually saw him take her out of the pod, a very gentle moment between the two of them, and another, sort of in the tone of the kiss, tender moment between the two of them, and I thought it was a very good idea and we shot it, quickly and simply, but it was a nice moment to add into the movie.
Now we're seeing everybody evacuate, we're going back to footage that was shot up on a glacier above Vancouver, all of which was the ice station and the snowcats and all of the camera equipment and all the personnel, everybody in this sequence, including me and David for one day, were flown up there by helicopter, so everything you see made it to the glacier, at least to the edge of glacier, by chopper. This is the final chapter of Mulder rescuing Scully out of the spaceship. Down below, the ship woke up, somehow, we don't know what, but it started vibrating and we know that the situation is getting worse and worse for Mulder and Scully, so he's trying to evacuate her out of the ship, trying to rescue her and we're intercutting between two other sequences, which is the evacuation or the escape of the conspirators up on the icefield and also to the corridor where Mulder first entered, which we see is now melting and the ship is actually waking up its inhabitants, we assume to the detriment of Mulder and Scully. This is a part of the movie where it really is about movie magic because not much of this is real. You've got what is in reality sets made out of wood and nails and paint, and creatures which are men in rubber suits, and the secret is to hire the best people you can find and hopefully through the lens and to the audience it looks real.
Now we're coming into the second part of two parts which make a whole, which is the idea of Mulder and Scully kissing in this movie, which was something Chris wanted to give the audience. But he didn't want to give it to them in a standard fashion of them just exposing their feelings and then kissing, he broke it in two parts. The first part is in the hallway where they have the surprising intention to kiss out of respect and then Scully passes out here in the corridor and Mulder's going to have revive her and that's going to have to be through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation which gives us the act or the physical act of touching lips, and Chris thought maybe those two halves would create a whole, giving them a kiss without actually having them kiss, what I thought was a brilliant idea. Rising tension, got a lot of things going on in this sequence now, we've got Scully unconscious and creatures trying to break out, and just like the days of filming, we also had a lot of things going on. These creatures in the pods breaking out require a great deal of detailed work and different departments coming together, physical effects creating the pods they'll break out and these are replaceable face plates that break and you've got to put them back on, we've got puppeteers in suits or holding a head on a stick with a trigger to make the eyes blink and the mouth open, another puppeteer wrapped around him with their hands pounding on the glass, them being doused with water, literally working with the confines of the pod which is nearly impossible, being dumped on with water, we've got puppeteers busting their head through the face plate of this glass, steam effects interacting with Mulder and Scully, there's a lot of things that come together to make this sequence look real, and it's anything but that on the set, and it's basically through the hard work and talent of the puppeteers and physical effects team and never giving up that made it come true for us.
The final sequence of escape is back in the tube that Mulder first entered in which is also now melted, and originally we had filmed the alien in the suit, Tommy Woodruff, pursuing Mulder and Scully down the tube, and every time David looked back you'd cut to the alien, you'd cut to the alien's point view, and that's our tension, that's our final sequence. We realized in fact that we had shown too much of the alien, that like before in the movie less of the alien was scarier, more to your imagination, I thought that was actually the sequence through The X-Files prism that made it more realistic.
So now we return to the ice surface, and this was one of the most challenging sequences in the entire movie because so much of it is synthetic. It's a lot of Mulder and Scully on a green screen stage with a 120 by 70 foot wide icefield surrounded by green screen, and the rest of it is the artistry and work of Mat Beck and his model team and his CGI team and endless hours in the screening room with Dan and Frank and Chris and I, trying to find sky, colorations, snow textures, snow densities, avalanche footage or collapsing snow field footage that looks realistic, the scale of the shots, all these things have to come into play and add up to a very, very exciting climactic finish to a summer action film. This sequence went through so many permutations for budget reasons and whatnot, but we had to come up with something that was just bigger and better than anything you'd ever seen, and so the idea of them in fact running along the top of the spaceship and then realizing at one point to the audience that the entire time they were in a spaceship and now they've run across and were almost eaten up by the collapse which is the spaceship's mechanism for flying away. It is a great moment for the movie because it was so incredibly difficult assembling this sequence and getting all the elements to blend into what is a seamless escape from the spaceship, and including the snow in every shot is matched shot to shot because the densities change based on the lenses, based on the angles and where the light's hitting the snow.
The closeups of David and Gillian looking at each other on the snow were shot months after we finished the principal photography on a very small six by six chunk of chipped ice with a blue background and fake snow blowing through, and I'm operating the camera because I'm trying to find ways to compose and stay on the snow and also pull off the idea that once again Gillian is not seeing, Scully is not seeing the spaceship but it was too convenient to have her pass out and then wake up after the ship left, so we just put her in more of a semi-conscious state throughout. And then of course once Mulder realizes that they're both safe and that the ship has passed, the danger's passed, he collapses and it's Scully then who realizes what's just occurred and that Mulder has somehow gotten her out of the icepod and then this giant pull back, revealing the crater, again it's completely synthetic, that Mulder and Scully are just on a piece of ice, and I pull back with the camera and then Mat Beck added seventy-five feet, a hundred feet to the pullback and the entire pit, so it was quite an achievement for everybody, it was painstaking and over and over and over, but in the end it seems to be one of the more popular sequences in the movie.
Chris Carter: The X-Files proceeds on the idea that the government is not just withholding from the American public, deceiving it, but that it has the ability to get inside your life and to invade it, ruin your life, make your life miserable. In The X-Files we play it out in an extreme way, the government as the all-purpose villain, they have the ability to shape not just the truth but to shape the future and your lives along with it.
Rob Bowman: The irony at the end of the movie, which is after all that hard work and all the discovery and uncovering of facts and truths, that the conspiracy continues on and yet just like every other embarrassment or mistake, it is basically lost in the paper shuffle, it's about the movement of paper and facts and burying it so that nobody'll ever know anything happened and the conspiracy in fact is going to be both covered up, destroyed, the burning of the cornfields, and the transportation of the bee corn oil we know is now going to be sent out and spread out and does that mean that we're going to be infecting the citizens of the United States, well, probably, possibly. And that in fact against the wishes of the FBI Director here, or the head of the investigation, Blythe Danner, that the only way any of these truths were ever found out was because of Mulder and Scully's pursuit of the truth and that in fact the best thing to do is to re-open the X-Files which is the beginning of the sixth season.
After we show the coverup, the burning of the cornfields, and the scene back in the OPR with Blythe Danner, we had Mulder and Scully in a Washington DC park discussing the coverup, and this is the second version of the scene. The first version actually had Mulder showing up and talking to Cigarette-Smoking Man and discussing, Mulder revealing to CSM what he knew based on the conversation in the limousine with Well-Manicured Man about, you know they'd be on holiday or something, there were be a national emergency and so and so and such and such was going to happen. And then at the end of that sequence that Scully shows up and there's a brief moment between the two of them. Well, when we screened it the first time, we really only tested the movie once for a closed audience, the response was that that scene with CSM was completely out of context of the movie because Mulder and CSM were actually protagonist and antagonist and never in the movie did they ever meet, and now they show up in a park and all of a sudden they're conversing as though they're old friends. Well, they are old friends in the series, I mean acquaintances, but not to the first-time viewer. And so we decided that the best thing to do would be to reshoot and have CSM enter into that scene in a different way. So we reshot it and we actually improved it because it made it more a scene about Mulder and Scully and their relationship and their quest and the strength of their bond. And then at the end of that scene we had CSM up on a hill having watched them and realizing that, no, he's going to have to stay on it because they are going to be a continued nemesis, well, we even cut that out because it seemed superfluous. So that was the alternate ending.
And then we've got this footage of a helicopter over the sand dunes of, I think, southern California, somewhere down near the border of Mexico. It's really wonderful footage shot by EJ Forster where apparently they shot a lot of the Star Wars, the first Star Wars desert footage. And then here we are actually in Bakersfield, where we brought eighty feet of sand and tried to suggest that we were in fact in an incongruous, having an incongruous cornfield in the middle of a sand dune filled desert. Well the sand dune that they're walking on, the sand they're that actually walking on is about eighty feet long and I wanted to have a little bit more of an expanse of sand so I could show really how incongruous the cornfield was, but when CSM's feet come into the frame, the sand is just out of the left edge of frame and then when I pan around and I have Armin Mueller-Stahl and Bill Davis standing there talking, the sand is just out the right corner of the frame. The rest is just Bakersfield and dirt. But we did the best we could with the sand we had and it really was about the discovery of the note that the X-Files had been reopened anyway.
And then we finish the movie on a quiet note which is that there are many, many of these cornfields and of course the conspiracy going to continue on and on. This shot here, the only thing that's real about is the corn. The domes, the sand dunes, the sky is all fake and as a matter of fact even a lot of the corn is replicated through the shot to make it look like it's a much bigger field than in really is.
Chris Carter: We have this idea, or we've always said, it's a pretence actually, that what we do each week withThe X-Files is we tell a little movie, we make a little movie, and while I do believe we do this, I learned in making the movie that nothing is like making a movie, that a year of your life goes by very quickly, that the big screen has demands that the small screen doesn't. It is both a bigger screen and a kind of minimalist process, everything needs to be reduced, there cannot be any digression, no dead-ends, no pontification, that the audience gets very tired very quickly if they are not moving in a forward direction in a movie. So I learned why movies cost so much, I couldn't believe some of the price tags that were put on things, but when you are taking effects and you're putting them on film it's a much more costly process in prospect. So I learned the hard way and I sort of was slapped in the face a little bit by the demands of that big picture up on the screen, both of the filmmaker and of the storyteller and while I think that we told a big screen story, I think we told it well, I think that when we go to do the next X-Files movie that we will all be much wiser, more experienced and savvy men and women, who I know are looking very forward to carrying this on from a TV series into a series of movies.