Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan Attend 'X-Files' Reunion
The Art Directors Guild Film Society and the American Cinematheque presented the first of their 2013 film series at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood Sunday night. Two episodes of "The X-Files" were shown on the big screen. Season 7's "Je Souhaite — I Wish," as many fans will recall, is the episode written and directed by Vince Gilligan in which Mulder finds a genie and walks the empty streets of downtown L.A. as his first wish goes awry. And Season 6's "Triangle," inspired by the long tracking shots of Hitchcock's "Rope," features only a handful of cuts in its 44-minute run time.
Watch the promo for the "X-Files" episode "Je Souhaite — I Wish":
Afterward, there was a Q&A with series production designer Corey Kaplan, writer-producer Gilligan, and creator Chris Carter.
Much of the show's success is due to the atmosphere, and much of that is thanks to the work of people like Kaplan. She was the series' production designer after the show relocated from Vancouver to Los Angeles for the show's last four seasons.
There was a lot of creative back and forth between the writers and production designers. Carter once asked how he could make Kaplan's job easier; she jokingly asked for a one-room, "My Dinner with André"-type episode that didn't require multiple locations. He had her design her favorite set and wrote the episode "How the Ghost Stole Christmas" to be shot entirely on that set.
When the show relocated, Kaplan had to rebuild the office sets solely from screen grabs, as no blueprints existed (Mulder's basement office had been a repurposed set from another failed Canadian pilot). She was asked to do the same thing in re-creating the "Brady Bunch" set for "Sunshine Days"" (Gilligan's second directorial effort for the series).
How do you turn a rock quarry in Vancouver into the American Southwest? "Tens of thousands of gallons of red paint," says Carter, calling that "the writing — or the painting — on the wall" that led to the show's eventual move to L.A.
Carter on why the show worked: "Ultimately, the success of the show is really David and Gillian and the characters of Mulder and Scully — the way they played them. I think it's simply that relationship that we hung everything on." They were "kind of an idealized man-woman relationship, which was platonic and respectful and based on a shared desire to find the truth in this case. And we played that out for a really long time. And then we snuck in scenes like you saw on the Queen Mary [from "Triangle"], where Mulder and Scully actually kissed. So we cheated all the time, played fast and loose with that sexual tension."
Watch a clip from the "X-Files" episode "Triangle":
Gilligan on how working on the X-Files affected his work (including "Breaking Bad"): "What [Carter] taught us, what I learned from you, from pretty much from the first month I was there — was you always said, 'Look for the visual element in each episode.' The writers would come into Chris's office when we had another act or another idea — when we had made some forward momentum on whatever episode we had been individually working on at the time. Chris would always say — you really inoculated it into our brains, which I appreciate, which holds me in good stead to this day — 'What is the visual element of this episode? What is the interesting-looking thing?' In other words, this is a motion picture, this is a visual medium. This is not a radio play put on television. This is storytelling first and foremost based on the visuals, on the look, on the images and bolstered and helped along by the dialogue, but what's the visual element? And it started there, I believe."