INT: Frank Spotnitz
After my snooping around Mulder's house failed to turn up the secret of X-FILES 2, I figured I'd go right to the source. Not Duchovny - he was too slippery. And Gillian Anderson was proving to be a tough target as well. In the back by the monitors though was a guy with a headset pulled over his shaggy hair. He had an intense look on his face. It was Frank Spotnitz, co-writer and producer of THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE. He wrote the script for chrissake, he's gotta know something. With that I clicked on my tape record and let the questions fly...
How psyched are you to be back?
FS: I gotta tell you I didnt think it was going to happen. After all these years and negotiations and working on the story, I was really positive it wasnt going to happen. But now its been a dream. It has been fantastic. Working on the script was a joy. Being with David and Gillian has been a joy. A lot of the crew are people we worked with on The X-Files and all the Chris Carter shows filmed in Vancouver. Millennium, Harsh Realm and Lone Gunmen. Some of the people came up from LA. The director of photography Bill Roe did the series in Los Angeles. So its like a family coming together again and you rarely get to do that in this business. Its really nice and John Bartley who was our director of photography for the first three seasons has been doing second unit photography. And Tom Braidwood, who played Frohike, is the first AD on the second unit. So its been really nice.
What was the impetus to get the movie going? Why now?
Well we wanted to do this movie well before the series ended. In 2001 actually. Thats when the Fox executives came and said they wanted to do another movie. At that time we were still dealing with the series. The series ended and we took some time. Then we began negotiations and I think my deal has been done since 2002 or 2003. That long. Negotiating David, Chris and Gillian took a very long time and then there was a lawsuit and everything stopped. The lawsuit got resolved late last year.
Lawsuit about what?
It was Chris and the studio. And honestly I dont know precisely what it was but I think it was about money, as these things usually are. But it got settled and once that happened things started to happen pretty quickly.
Has time passed THE X-FILES by or does the franchise still have something to say about our country?
I guess Ill leave that to you guys to decide whether time has passed us by. We feel like we very much had something to say. I think when you see the movie, youll see theres nothing cynical about it. It very much comes from the heart and from who these characters are. And I think thats why it was such a pleasure to do. We were freed of the complications and machinery of the ongoing plot, which had gotten complicated after nine years. And we didnt have to service all of that and we could just tell a good, scary, standalone story. And go deeper into the characters of Mulder and Scully and their relationship in a way that you really cant in a weekly series. We felt like we had a really good story to tell. How other people respond to that remains to be seen.
What is the season and setting for the movie?
Its winter, which is going to be interesting considering its released in mid-summer. Its very, very cold. And we just got back from three weeks in Pemberton, which is a half-hour north of Whistler. It was very cold. Sub-zero virtually the entire time we were shooting there but thats what the story calls for. Its set in the dead of winter.
This is standalone and if it does well are there plans to do more standalone films?
I guess well see. Ive had a ball doing it and Ive always thought THE X-FILES had limitless stories to tell. Well see how the movie does this summer.
Would you like to personally?
I would like to. Id be delighted to.
Are there things in this film that set up sequels?
Its a self-contained story and if this were the end of the THE X-FILES itd be just fine. Youre not gonna be left hanging. Its not like EMPIRE STRIKES BACK where youd be like, OK, whats next But it certainly leaves open the possibility of more films.
Whats your sense of how David and Gillian are enjoying being back working together?
I think theyre having a really nice time. Doing a TV series is incredibly stressful, especially a series like this where the physical demands of your two lead actors is enormous because theyre in so much material. And now to return and do this on a more civilized schedule; its luxurious the shooting schedule compared to a TV series. Its been a pleasure. And now you realize how much youve missed each other. It had been very nice.
Have you used that extra time to rework scenes or stunts?
I think we feel pretty confident. We used to say we were doing a movie a week and then we did a movie and realized how nice it was. Because you have more time you shoot more material and have more ways to put that all together. We feel pretty confident about the script though and Chris direction.
This movie seems more intimate than the first. Is that true?
Yes. Its more scary, intimate, creepy and most importantly focused on the characters and who they are. What it means to be Mulder and Scully six years later. I think thats what really gives the movie some legitimacy. Dealing with the truth of their characters at this point in their life.
Can you say what other familiar characters might be returning?
What about Mitch Pileggi?
I cant say.
So what can you tell us about the movie?
Hmmm . What can I say? Well Mulder and Scully are drawn back into the world of The X-Files by a case. Thats precious little Im telling you. You guys are all here and we knew wed be shooting and youd see certain things but Im still hoping in your articles youll say as little as you can. I still think people want to know but they dont want to know. Its more fun to go and be surprised. You see how were shooting this. We go through great trouble so you dont even see the beard until its revealed. All thats spoiled if its already read and pieces you read about are just falling into place. Theres nothing that replaces that surprise and the joy of seeing something for the first time. So I could obviously tell you everything that happens but I think it spoils something so Id rather not mention the plot.
Can you go into the reason why Mulders been alone for all these years?
Well I cant really. Youre gonna see Mulder and Scully together early in the movie but this is one of those things you dont find out right away - what hes been doing. What contact theyve had since the show went off the air. So I cant really comment on that other than to say this is where hes been living. All I can say is that it has been six years and were treating it in real time.
After being away how easy or hard was it to find your rhythm again?
Thats an interesting question. I was surprised at how easy it was. I was surprised at how alive they were in our imaginations. Id say pretty quickly we arrived at what Mulder and Scully would be doing in their lives and what has happened to them in the past six years. I was talking to someone about this the other day and for eight years I was writing and producing this show and I spent so much of my life thinking about Mulder and Scully, really as much time as I spend thinking about real people in my life. So in some sense theyre very real to me.
Who in your mind is the audience for the film? Is it made for the X-FILES fan or for non-X-FILES fans? Wheres the balance?
This is the one thing Id say this film has in common with the first film. Its really designed for more than one audience. We wanted to reward people who watched the show and remembered it but wed like nothing better than to introduce the show to a new generation. People who were too young to watch the show when it was on TV.
When you guys thought you were going to do this movie in 2003 or 2004 was this the same script?
I think it was 2002 or early 2003 when Chris and I met for a couple of weeks to decide what the X-File is that would drive this movie. That has not changed. The X-File is the same X-File. But then it got tabled for all those years. So when we came back we didnt go back to our story we just kept the basic idea and built the story from scratch all over again. Because honestly emotionally where we are at this time and where the characters would be had changed so much. Thats so much of what the movie is. Their relationship, where they are, who they are as people at this point in their lives. And we really couldnt have done that earlier. So that part of the story remained and the rest was done this year.
Just time. I think Chris and I have changed. Weve gotten older and gotten some distance on some things. You have different thoughts about life and what matters. Mulder and Scully bear a lot of scars from their experiences and you cant do a movie like this without recognizing that. Thats part of what the story is about.
Are you satisfied with how the series ended and do you see this as an opportunity to provide some closure?
Youd like everything you do to be novelistic and that has a perfect structure to it with a beginning, middle and end. But in television its not possible. At least it wasnt possible for us. We thought we were going to do six years and then it became seven years and nine years. I dont know how many people know but in the last years of the show but we had to write the finale not knowing if it was going to be the end of the series. So it was jumping forward those past years. It was as perfect as we could make it under those circumstances and the constraints of commercial television. I feel good about everything we could do that was possible. But I dont look at this as giving it closure. Because I think we did sort of close that chapter as best we could when the series ended. I just think that these are great characters and great stories and theres something new to say.
How do you take the X-FILES and make it more cinematic?
We always tried to be cinematic every week and we always though in cinematic terms. The first movie we really did think a lot about how we could take advantage of the bigger canvas and the money and things like that. Honestly that was less of a concern this time around. This was a more intimate film and more centered on the characters. It is cinematic and it does have a lot of creepy, disturbing images that youd expect but that was not a difficult transition.
Was this particular X-File something you always wanted to do and perhaps didnt include in the series to save it for a movie?
The reason this X-File came to us was because it was not anything that happened in the series. It was challenging I have to say after 202 hours to find something that wasnt done. That isnt to say that there arent elements. There are and there will be in any supernatural thriller. But the fundamental idea is different from anything we did on the show. But what we also wanted was an X-File that however fractured could serve as a mirror for Mulder and Scully. A case that could expose things about them. Thats what this story is about.
Would this movie have been different if there had not been a writers strike?
No. We rushed to finish the last set of revisions on the script but Ive got to say they were pretty minor. We turned in revisions an hour before the strike began but nothing has come up in the months we were filming during the strike where we said, Damn I wish the strike wasnt on so we could change this. We shot it pretty much as written.
Can you describe your working relationship with Chris?
From the very beginning we just had a really unusual connection. We spent a lot of hours just talking about life and from just talking about life well come up with stories or things we want to talk about. Thats actually what happened with this movie. We spent ten days just talking before we even talked about how we were going to attack the story. The ideas we talked about the very first day we met over coffee at Petes in Brentwood, California ended up being the heart of what this film is. Were both teenage boys in a way. We both want that super popcorn experience of being entertained, grossed-out, freaked-out, that really visceral experience that THE X-FILES is capable of providing. But then we also want it to be about something. Thats what makes all that worth experiencing. Thats part of the fun of collaborating with him. We enjoy talking about these ways to make them entertaining.
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