Amazon’s ‘The After’: Creator Chris Carter ‘Needed a Good Break’ After ‘The X-Files’

Chris Carter
Kevin Winter/Hulton Archive

“X-Files” creator Chris Carter will soon return to screens with Amazon Studios’ “The After,” more than ten years after Fox’s cult sci-fi hit left the air. While an airdate for the Amazon Prime Instant Video series has yet to be announced beyond an “early 2015” window, during a panel at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour, Carter did confirm that the series will debut on a week-by-week basis instead of the entire season being released at once (the opposite model to fellow Amazon series “Transparent,” which will bow all ten of its half-hour episodes in late September).

Carter admitted that he “needed a good break” following the conclusion of “The X-Files,” since he’d spent “10 years of output [and] needed the equivalent input” in order to recharge creatively.

In “The After,” eight strangers are thrown together by mysterious forces and must help each other survive in a violent world that defies explanation. The cast includes Aldis Hodge, Andrew Howard, Arielle Kebbel, Jamie Kennedy, Sharon Lawrence, Sam Littlefield, Louise Monot, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Adrian Pasdar and Jason Lewis.

The concept for post-apocalyptic drama “The After” came to him years ago while working at Walt Disney Studios, after a construction worker dropped a box of nails on Sepulveda Pass and “it brought the city to a standstill,” which made Carter realize how quickly things could turn to chaos in Los Angeles with “something as low-tech as a box of nails.”

While Carter said “The After” has a “rigorous process where we carefully plot episodes every step of the way,” and that he ultimately knows how the series will end, the show’s trajectory isn’t entirely set in stone. “You shouldn’t know exactly where you’re going … you should leave room for discovery; that’s where the fun happens.”

Through creating “The X-Files,” he realized that mythology-driven stories begin to tell themselves due to the narrative choices the writers make along the way. “Either you’re hemmed in by those choices or liberated … luckily [on ‘X-Files’] we were liberated and it made for rich storytelling.” The producer ultimately envisions 99 episodes for “The After,” which was also inspired by “Dante’s Inferno.”

The show’s appearance on Amazon was mostly due to “good fortune,” according to Carter. “The simple truth is, Amazon read the script and liked it and wanted to do it and were getting into the business. It was just good fortune to be involved in a frontier in the business — I think it’s the way people will watch television exclusively in the future.”

The process of producing the show for Amazon shares many similarities with the broadcast network model, said Carter, including dealing with “compromise and limitations budgetarily.” However, the creator was attracted to the prospect of creating eight episodes, as opposed to the 22-25 required by Fox during “The X-Files.”

“That was a trial by fire — that is a tremendous amount of work,” he admitted. “I’m going to be able to focus, write the episodes before we ever film them, and make the best possible show.”

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  1. harry georgatos says:

    I’ll rather see Chris Carter get to making X-FILES movies for the big screen. The last movie was pretty poor and came off as a tv episode then an epic feature film. If we get another X-FILES movie please go back to alien conspiracies and men-in-black in the corridors of power in the White House and Penatgon, with aliens secretly living amongst us! 20TH Century is sitting on an untapped gold mine and there should be a new X-FILES movie every two years.

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