Chris Carter is an American television and film producer, director and writer. Born in Bellflower, California, Carter graduated with a degree in journalism from California State University, Long Beach before spending thirteen years working for Surfing Magazine. After beginning his television career working on television films for Walt Disney Studios, Carter rose to fame in the early 1990s after creating the science fiction-supernatural television series ‘The X-Files’ for the Fox network.
Chris sat down recently in an interview to discuss the return of ‘The X-Files’ and what fans can expect for the new episodes.
I was wondering if you could talk about the decision, originally, to have Scully give up William and how that’s going to affect them this season? I mean, other than obviously we saw their little thought sequence, or whatever, but I know it sounds like maybe he calls him, we’re hoping. Can you talk about that a bit?
Yes. If you remember, they gave up William to protect him. They were afraid that with his whereabouts known, meaning that either one of them would have him, that they would be better to give him up and not know his whereabouts so they couldn’t be tortured into giving him up. So, obviously, William is all important, not to just them, but to others and he will play an important part in not just the episode you saw that aired as Episode 2, but also in Episode 4. But I think he’s always, even though he’s not in the show, per se, he is an absent presence.
I know when ‘The X-Files’ first aired, obviously, it was hugely popular on the internet, but there was not exactly social media then. Can you talk about how you think that’s going to affect the new show and if you have any plans with social media, specifically, to engage the fans?
Personally, I have an Instagram account that I think I’ve posted two photos to. I’m not a social media person but I appreciate how much social media plays a part in the interaction between fans and the interaction between fans and producers.
When I went to a marketing meeting with Fox before we shot the show, or during the shooting of the show, I was amazed to see that there were 50 people in the room and I’d say a good amount of them were there because they conduct marketing via social media, so the show is marketed very actively on social media platforms. I think that the second screen experience will help the show. I think that the show will, I think, rise, or I should say, its popularity will be enhanced by what I think is the beauty of social media.
I wanted to ask, what I really liked about the premier was that it was a 2016 perspective on 90s perceptions and it sort of flipped the script on what Mulder thought he knew about what was going on. Can you talk a little bit about where the basis for sort of turning everything on its ear came from and exploring that? Will we spend all six exploring that?
In a way, all six explore it because they are told in a contemporary context. They turn the mythology not necessarily on its head, but the mythology takes a big right hand turn and that plays most actively in the first and last episodes. But I think that technology, and it’s really technology is what you’re talking about, besides what I would call a very strong undercurrent of distrust for government, authority, and for the picture we’re being sold.
But the show is, I think, owes to people like Alex Jones, people like Glenn Beck, and all the conspiracy sites that I look at on the internet, that I digest every day. I get a lot of stuff in my mailbox every day from these sites. I’ve also been—I’ve gone to conventions. I’m actively up on this stuff and I’m actually surprised sometimes how many journalists are unaware of these, as I say, very strong undercurrents.
Picking up these characters after such a long stretch, was there any one thing that was easiest or hardest to pick back up about writing for Mulder and Scully again?
No. As you see, they’re no longer together. They’re not under the same roof, I should say, so that provided an interesting point of departure dramatically and I think that it made the characters interesting to explore because that’s how they began their lives together. Their lives changed. They were a couple and now they’re apart, so as we’ve lived our lives, they have lived theirs. That’s the way we’re playing it.
In your initial meetings with Fox, when they were talking about bringing the series back, were there any bullet points, or specifics, that they wanted to have you hit in bringing it back?
No, nothing. They were very respectful that the producers know what they’re doing and what we’re doing. That said, they were very specific about where they wanted to do it, which was Vancouver, which was music to my ears. So I was happy to hear that. Of course, when they called me they said David and Gillian wanted to do it. I wouldn’t have done without David and Gillian. I think there’s this idea that I own the show and I don’t. I’m one of the, I would say, a stakeholder in this show but Fox can do anything they darn well please.
You talked a little bit about the Scully/Mulder relationship and where it stands in the beginning. I just was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how it will evolve over these three episodes and if we will see them getting closer to where we had last left them?
So, it was my thinking and our thinking, the producers, that Mulder and Scully would have had a very hard time living under the same roof based on their personalities and their passions. I see Mulder now as probably, because he’s got Google and the internet and search engines, he probably spends a lot of time sitting at home in front of his computer in his underwear.
I didn’t imagine that would sit well with Scully who is a serious scientist and doctor, so I think it would spell, I believe it would spell a bump in the road for them, which is why you find them not together. But I think you’ll see, through the course of these six episodes, that they begin to be drawn closer together through not just their investigations but through, I would call it, a deep love for one another.
Within the past 13 years, the activity of the fandom, like the petition efforts to bring back another movie. Do you feel it’s gotten more sophisticated? Has the fandom evolved?
Well, it’s hard for me to say because I don’t—in term of its systematic sophistication, I guess it has because of social media. I still hear the drumbeat loud and clear…for me, experiences like Comic-Com 2013 where I got a direct hit from the fans for their desire to see this show, either back on the big screen or back on the small screen. It’s that direct experience that is most impressive to me.
You have a lot of the great writers from the show, James Wong, Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan, all back for this event. I wanted to know what it was like getting the band back together, like giving them that call or that email asking them that they wanted to come back. What was that experience like?
You know, it’s funny. I don’t remember specifically calling them and asking them. It kind of happened—Glen and I share an agent, so it kind of happened through our agent and then the same agent told me that Jim was interested. Glen told me that Darin was interested. The band kind of folded back together in the most natural way. Everyone had good ideas. Jim and I are tennis players. We played tennis one day, sat down and talked about his episode, but Glen and Darin both had very worked-out ideas when we first met in Glen’s backyard way back in the spring of last year. So the band came back together as if no time had passed at all.
Can you tell us anything about the role The Lone Gunmen are playing in this six-episode series?
I would only spoil it for you if I told you, but I can tell you that they come back in a way that you will absolutely never expect. If I gave you 100 guesses, right now, you’d never get it.
With these six episodes, is there any thinking that if it’s successful, that you’ll be bringing it back for more?
You know, I think everyone had a very good experience. I think everyone’s happy with the way it worked out. I think, now, it’s waiting to see if we build it, will the audience come? I hope they will. It’s seems as if there is a viewership out there but, you know, we live in a different world now where the viewership is fractured. Fox has fewer viewers. They are able to market, do on-air promotions, reaches fewer people. Everyone’s got to get the word out there in order to get the ratings that will promote more episodes.
Catch new episodes of ‘The X-Files’ on FOX on Mondays at 8pm/7c.