The artful dodger


Since Chris Carter sees “The X-Files” television episodes as “little movies for the small screen,” making “The X-Files” feature film seemed to him to be the obvious next step.

“Making the movie is really taking what we do on the series and applying big movie techniques to it,” explains Carter, creator and executive producer of “The X-Files.”

“The X-Files” movie, temporarily known as “Blackwood,” although no subtitle has been decided upon by Fox execs, will differ from the TV show in that its format is longer, the budget is bigger and it boasts more elaborate special effects, more stunts and action and additional shooting locations. What doesn’t change is the taxing schedule for the stars and the creative team and crew.

“The amazing thing is that we still are scrambling to just finish our work,” according to Carter, who has been doing double duty on the TV show and the film. “It’s not like it’s luxurious and everybody takes siestas at lunch. We could have used 20 more days shooting on this picture and then we could have maybe had more what I would consider ‘a movie experience.’ ”

As for the “movie experience,” the “X-Files” feature was shot this summer on a $60 million-plus budget while the cast and crew from the TV show were on hiatus between the fourth and fifth seasons. David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and the rest of the core cast moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles to shoot the movie over 71 days. Most of the film was shot on soundstages on the Fox lot, but locations were used in and around Los Angeles, including Bakersfield and Canyon Country.

The rush is now on to finish the film in time for next summer, when it set to follow up the 1997-98 season-ending cliffhanger. (In past seasons, the finale has been followed up by a two-parter in the following season.)

Carter and the film’s co-producer Frank Spotnick created the movie’s storyline, and Rob Bowman, who so far has helmed 23 “X-Files” TV episodes, directs.

Bowman said his challenge on the film was to stay true to the elements of storytelling that have made the TV show such a big hit. “I think the die-hard ‘X-Files’ fan has become accustomed to filling in the blanks for us and they enjoy that interactive part of the show. We don’t want them to feel that when we got our opportunity to go big, we abandoned everything that got us here.”

Bowman also points out that the project allows him the luxury of having nine months to post and edit the piece, which he says will result in more attention to detail and the techniques of storytelling. “We’re broadening the scope of the project to appeal to the non-fans. Filmgoers will find the same type of grand conspiracy as movies such as ‘All the President’s Men’ and the smart approach to the alien subject as in ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind.'”

Carter also says that while keeping the spirit of the TV show was important, he designed the film to appeal to both the avid fan and the average moviegoer. “I want to make a movie for everyone, even people who may not have seen the ‘X-Files’ TV show,” Carter said.

“The trap to fall into there would be that I would foresake the hardcore viewing audience, even the casual viewing audience, by having to go over some material that would insult their intelligence or not be true to the series,” Carter says. “I believe I’m successful in cleverly re-establishing their characters, making it interesting, and telling a good ‘X-Files’ story.”

What exactly that “X-Files” story is is supposed to be secret. The creative team was sworn to secrecy, and the film’s producers even circulated phony scripts and printed the real one on dark paper that couldn’t be duplicated on a copy machine. However, the Internet has been buzzing with rumors about the plot.

Fans have reported that, in their bigscreen debut, Mulder and Scully will be investigating the bombing of an office building in Texas, an alien presence in Antarctica and a hush-hush bee experiment. Armin Mueller-Stahl, Blythe Danner, Martin Landau, Glenne Headly, John Neville and Terry O’Quinn are among the pic’s supporting players.

“There is propaganda out there,” Carter points out. “You have to develop a counterintelligence attitude. I don’t want to become like a rabid dog about this, but I do want to preserve the element of surprise. I think anyone who is a fan of ‘The X Files’ understands that.”

contributor:Ramin Zahed

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