Delphi Chat: Chris Carter on Delphi
Chris Carter on Delphi
Chris Carter Live on Delphi took place on Friday September 23, 1994 right after the premiere of the episode The Host on the east coast. Chris first answered questions asked by Reaper which we had collected from Delphi members before the floor was opened for questions. The conference lasted over two hours and Chris responded to as many fans as he could before his hands became worn out from typing so much. We thank Chris Carter for his time, and eagerly await his next appearance on Delphi.
Here is the transcript of the conference:
REAPR: On behalf of all the X-Files fans here on Delphi I would to thank you for taking the time to join us, and let you know that it is an honor and a privilege to have you here. Welcome!
CARTER: Buenos noches, X-Files fans. I’m thrilled to have you all attending my on-line debut. I hope I can answer all your questions.
REAPR: Well, I’ve got some questions to ask first, and then I’ll open the floor for questions from our members.
REAPR: Coming from the working background that you did, your time as a journalist, the work you did for Disney, how and when did you come up with the idea for The X-Files?
CARTER: If you look at my resume you’ll never find any clear connection between my old work and the X-Files. But to answer the question, I just wanted to do something as scary as I remember the Night Stalker was when I was in my teens.
REAPR: Well, I think I speak for everyone when I say you’ve outdone yourself.
CARTER: I’m flattered.
REAPR: Once you pitched the idea to FOX and sold them on it, did you anticipate your show would get such a following?
CARTER: Not even. You always prepare to have your idea, your pilot, your project get nuked somewhere along the way. To even get on the air is rare. To have the kind of response we’ve had is absolutely mind-boggling.
REAPR: Was FOX the only place you pitched it to, and were they first?
CARTER: I pitched it to Fox. They reluctantly bought the idea but it took two pitch meetings to convince them that we had something worth proceeding on.
REAPR: What do you think of all the attention that your series has brought you personally? There’s even a CCEB (Chris Carter Estrogen Brigade)now. Would you care to respond to that?
CARTER: You have to understand that I’m used to spending most of my time inside a small office working on my computer. The attention has been kind of alarming. As for the CCEB, I guess it’s better than the CCTB.
REAPR: On that note, have you ever had a paranormal experience? If so, would you tell us about it?
CARTER: I was audited by the IRS once. Beyond that, I’d have to say no.
REAPR: Do you and other writers for the show prefer writing UFO, metaphysical, or weird science stories?
CARTER: Personally, I’m interested in the stories that involve government involvement (bad construction!) in the paranormal. Maybe it’s my rather pronounced personal distrust of that organization.
REAPR: Did you hand pick the other writers? And what experience did you have with them?
CARTER: Sort of. Morgan and Wong were recommended to me by Peter Roth, President of 20th TV. Gordon and Gansa I had known about and had admired their work. I consider myself and the show extremely fortunate to have these writers (minus Gansa now.) Without them the X-Files wouldn’t be the show it is.
REAPR: What DID happen to Alex Gansa?
CARTER: He decided to go back into project development on his own. We miss him.
REAPR: What has been YOUR favorite episode so far?
CARTER: Two. Beyond the Sea and The Erlenmeyer Flask.
REAPR: Erlenmeyer Flask and Beyond have scored big with the fans as well. Was there one particular scene or episode that sticks out in your mind as being particularly difficult to film?
CARTER: The vortex scene in the pilot. I imagine the invasion of Normandy was easier.
REAPR: For the record, people often complain about the number of science mistakes in the show (not us). Is this a concern or is it not important to you in the interest of telling a good story?
CARTER: Honestly, we try to be as accurate as possible. For example, in the E. Flask, I checked all my science with a research virologist from Amherst U. Then I got nailed because I referred to chloroplasts as plant cells. Sorry. We try.
REAPR: I think the stories make any errors irrelevant. Your shows are too good to focus on minute details.
CARTER: Thanks. Let me take this moment to apologize for my typing. This is an unfamiliar keyboard.
REAPR: No problem. I’m not used to typing in public either. I’ll fix all the typos later.
REAPR: Do you consider The X-Files to be a science fiction or horror show?
CARTER: Neither. I don’t like the horror title or label because we try not to use horror show conventions. I used to resist the SF label because I thought it was sending the wrong message about the kind of stories I wanted to tell. But the SF label brought a lot of people to the show so I guess that’s a good thing.
REAPR: I think creepy fits.
CARTER: Creepy it is.
REAPR: Who are the new writers for this season, and how much more writing and directing will you be doing?
CARTER: New writers are Paul Brown, Sara Charno and Darin Morgan, aka Flukeman. As for directing, I’m still recovering from doing episode 5. That’s probably it for this season.
REAPR: The Host was superb. My hat’s off to you, and Darin!
CARTER: Thanks. I was kinda nervous. It’s our first real monster story and I wanted it to be good. Darin was excellent as Flukey and no-one can imagine how hard the work was, being in that suit for hours at a time with no way to go to the bathroom.
REAPR: I think it beat out Squeeze and Tooms on the creepy scale.
CARTER: Really? Let’s hope the ratings reflect it.
REAPR: Are there any stories you’ve wanted to do but couldn’t due to shooting or other production difficulties?
CARTER: Lots. I want to do an episode that takes place on the polar or Antarctic Ice cap (different from Ice) but it’s rather hard to replicate that location. Stay tuned, though.
REAPR: Cool. No pun intended.
REAPR: I’ve got a couple questions the fans are dying to know. First, does Mulder even own a bed? And second, what is the significance of the time 11:21?
CARTER: He rents his furniture, actually. And it’s a futon. 11/21 is my wife’s b-day.
REAPR: Excellent answer! I’m going to open the floor now.
Robin: Thanks for being here, Mr. Carter. My question concerns the visual elements of the show. I’d like to know if you go for a film noir look on purpose, and if so, why? Are the visual elements very important to you? What elements do you look for to add to the stories?
CARTER: We strive very hard to make the show look like it does. Two key people who bring us that look are John Bartley and Graeme Murray, art director. Our two secret weapons.
BJBEA: As the creator and show runner, what do you hope to come away with (if anything) from this encounter with the X-Philes, e.g., general feedback, story ideas, experiences with UFO sightings/other phenomenon, or strictly PR?
CARTER: I’m very interested in good, thoughtful criticism of the show. Even the occasional nitpick. It’s a very valuable tool to have such an immediate connection with the viewers.
Nick: Chris — I’m curious as to why the change in Mulder’s story of his sister’s disappearance? And, is his sister ever going to be found?
CARTER: That story , if you are referring to the bedroom\livingroom debate, is something that Mulder has only relearned through regression hypnosis so it’s even unclear to Mulder. Mulder’s sister might be found but not until year eleven of the series.
Jerry: How did you come up with the idea for the show?
CARTER: As for the concept, it’s hard to say where it came from. Just one of those ideas that seemed to work on a number of levels I found interesting. Also, It just seemed like a TV series to me. Lots of stories to tell without having to be self-referencing, too reliant on going into just the lives of the characters.
KLFAN: It was great the way you (the X-Files team) recognized members of the online community in your last episode (LGM). How did you decide who to add to the flight manifest, and do you anticipate future acts of a similar nature?
CARTER: That was Morgan and Wong. Always expect more from us, whatever it is.
WARGAMERDAVE: Have any “name” stars approached you to guest star in an episode? I have read in several areas that the show is a real hit with them.
CARTER: Yes. Whoopi Goldberg is very interested. Some others, too, but wouldn’t you rather be surprised?
LFJENKINS: Chris, All things being equal, would you have preferred that the X-Files be filmed in Los Angeles rather than Vancouver? That’s got to add an additional burden to you and the writing staff.
CARTER: It’s an added difficulty for sure. But I think the benefits gained (look, quality) balance out.
RAVVEN: Chris, I understand you’ll be directing 2 episodes this season yourself. May I ask what they are?
CARTER: Only one episode. Episode 5, titled Duane Barry.
ECCENTRIC: After tonight’s show, all I can say is thanks for reawakening my childhood fear of outdoor privies. You and the other writers have a wonderful sense of the most effective way to give us the willies. How do you come up with these great ideas?
CARTER : We’re sick and twisted.
ROBINMM: Mr. Carter, how do you go about finding such great guest stars? How involved are you personally in casting each episode? Some of my favorites were “Samuel” in “Miracle Man” and of course, Tooms.
CARTER: We’ve been very lucky to get a lot of the good actors we have, particularly since we cast the show out of L.A. and Vancouver. Sometimes actors don’t like to travel but there seems to be a lot of good word about the show so good actors want to do it.
LEEJA: How did you like directing?
CARTER: It was great. I’ve spent so much time whispering in directors’ ears it was nice to take the reins. But it was also very hard. Trying to get the best work possible in eight 12 hour days. You be the jury on Oct.14.
MOONFERRET: Chris, Any advice for a screenwriter (me) living in Wilmington, NC who doesn’t want to live in L.A.? : Thanks!! I love the show- it’s actually the only TV I make it a point to watch! How is Gillian!??
CARTER: The best thing about being a writer is you can do it anywhere. Gillian is fine. I just spoke with her this afternoon.
SETTLEC: Why were the Blue Beret special forces so incompetent?
CARTER: Just bad shots.
MANNN: Great Show….. How old are Mulder and Scully?.
CARTER: 34 and 28.
ROBINMM: Mr. Carter, do you and your writing team plan to do more “ripped from the headlines” type stories?
CARTER: If you mean, the toxic blood story, etc. – only if they can be incorporated in a good story. By that, I mean, only if we can make it seem more than just a shameless use of a current event.
SUSANJN: Chris, How’s Gillian? Any news for us?
CARTER: She’s fine. She’s just finished filming episode 6. Still pregnant.
RAVVEN: Chris, Just wanted to tell you that a new X-F fan club has just been formed here in Australia. Do you have any plans on coming over? Or have you ever been here? (We’ve got some great waves at Bells Beach)..:)
CARTER: Can’t wait to go back. I’ve surfed all up and down the Gold Coast. Never got to Bells.
ROBERTD7: Mr. Carter, I’m curious about Mulder’s first name. Is it to pay homage to the network? If not, what inspired the name?
CARTER: I grew up with someone with the name. And it does have a ring to it, no? Mulder is my mother’s maiden name by the way.
KEVLIN: Chris, at the beginning of last season, before the show’s first episode, the promo’s stated the “files” were true stories from FBI files. What happened to this premise…or was it just hype? I noticed that was used for a very few teases, then dropped. What’s the story?
CARTER: Actually, it said the story was inspired by actual documented accounts. Which was true.
STEENS: Is every episode pure fiction or is there some kind of evidence or real story behind each episode. Is there a book or been magazines covering x-files?
CARTER: There’s always a nugget of truth or science fact behind each episode. We leave it to the audience to decide what’s real, what’s not. Books and mags forthcoming.
DONANEVYN: Can you talk a bit about the hiring process that ended up with two fantastic actors who have a real spark between them. Did you notice this in the try-outs or did this just come across as the scenes were shot for real?
CARTER: I loved both David and Gillian from the start. And, yes, I chose them from hundreds of other actors who auditioned. The chemistry between them is just pure luck.
SUMRALL: What about the second series that you were hinting about developing? Has there been any progress, is it on the back burner for now, or have you dropped the idea completely?
CARTER: There’s a lot of talk about it, but the X-Files is my first love. I wouldn’t want to divide my interests if I thought it would hurt the show.
LEEJA: Mr. Carter, How is David holding up under the extra work during Gillian’s absence?
CARTER: He’s a trooper. And who said Gillian was absent?
LEEJA: You mean, Gillian is still carrying as much load as before? I’m impressed.
CARTER: I assume you mean workload. And yes, I’m impressed, too.
JAMESCBUTL: Mr. Carter, I heard you on the radio in Chicago this evening. Great interview. I’m a writer in Chicago and would like to know how my “small-time” agent can get a script for your review to you. I know you are not open to freelance, but a good story is a good story.
CARTER: Your agent can send it to the Fox legal department at the Los Angeles address on Pico Blvd.
BOREDSILLY: A lot of people seem to want Mulder and Scully to get romantically involved. I read an article where you said you were opposed to this…and I couldn’t agree more. Are you feeling a lot of pressure to have a romance between them?
CARTER: It ain’t going to happen.
WILDMULE: I’ve heard there were some X-Files spin-offs in the works: a comic book and some novels. Any other licensed products in the works? Computer games? Role-playing games? Feature films?
CARTER: Lots of goodies coming. A novel, which I haven’t read. Everything but the kitchen sink. Too bad. Can’t see people wearing X-Files undies.
SETTLEC: What exactly did Skinner mean by “This should have been an X-File…We all have to take our orders from someone” He acts like Mulder’s “friend in the FBI”
CARTER: Interesting allies appearing from the woodwork. Stay tuned.
CLIFFCHEN: Chris, do you have any plans on ever resolving the Samantha plot-line (Say, heaven forbid, in the show’s final season?). Feel free not to answer if you’d rather keep us in suspense.
CARTER: Mulder’s sister? It’s going to be left open for exploration.
LEEJA: Mr. Carter; How do you feel about “Mantis” as a lead-in?
CARTER: Sorry, haven’t watched the show.
KLFAN: Any hints as to what the spin-off series (if it comes about)will be like? Will it center around FBI agents as well? Perhaps the DEEPTHROAT mystery hour would be interesting! Any ideas as to who’s jockeying for the leads on this proposed new series?
CARTER: The new series is still a gleam in somebody’s eye. *-
ROSAS: DT was killed in the finale of last season. I understand the reasoning behind this-among other things he could have become a “plot device”. If that is the case then why the introduction of this new, enigmatic person who has come to M&S’s aid? P.S. You are God’s gift to TV programming…
CARTER: God’s gift? As for DT, it was our way of saying, expect anything.
FMULDER: Hi Chris. Greetings from Australia. I was just wondering are we ever likely to see Mulder’s friend Danny? It’s a weird question I know just It seems he’s always in his office NO MATTER what time Mulder calls him. Weird.
CARTER: Danny is actually a gnome living in Mulder’s desk drawer.
LANGER: Chris, You brought back Tooms. Are there any plans to bring back the Eves or that guy who starts fires?
CARTER: Again, anything can happen. Except that Mulder and Scully sex scene.
BRUCE268: Will Mulder ever get his hard evidence of EBEs?
CARTER: We’ll continue to explore this subject, for sure.
LEEJA: Mr. Carter, This might be a bad question, but how do you like being online?
CARTER: It’s a trip.
LFJENKINS: Is there anyone who tracks continuity from episode to episode (as opposed to scene to scene) given the number of writers? It seems like it would be easy to forget something in a script written by another writer but might be significant. (Or is that type of consistency only important to fans and not to the writers?
CARTER: We are all keepers of the archives and strive to stay true to facts.
DONANEVYN: Could you elaborate a bit on how you chose DD and GA and did you see the ‘magic’ between the two early on, or as the show progressed. Thanks again. This show is a very bright light in a very darken TV land.
CARTER: Thanks for the kind words. The magic between Scully and Mulder is one of those amazingly lucky things.
ROBERTD7: One of the things that often becomes legend with popular TV shows is who was considered for the lead role(s) in the show besides the actors who make the characters their own. So, who, if anyone, else was up for the roles of Scully and Mulder.
CARTER: Gillian and David were my first and only choices.
FMULDER: Now we know where you came up with Mulder’s name from, how did you come up with Scully’s?
CARTER: I grew up in L.A. where Vin Scully was the voice of God. Dana is just a nice soft woman’s name I like.
CLIFFCHEN: Mr. Carter, I’ve noticed that some members of the staff have made little cameos in various episodes (Tom Braidwood, Ken Kirzinger, and Darin Morgan). Are you ever going to get a turn, or you are happier behind the scenes?
CARTER: You’d be really disappointed.
PAMELASTRAND: Hi Chris. Thank you for creating two such wonderful and complex characters as M&S. Rarely do we get to see a man and woman in an equal relationship where each is an independent and yet they balance each other so well. Has Scully now lost her skepticism? If she joins Mulder in believing as he does, will another point of contrast be developed? I was also wondering if Scully’s name was borrowed from Frank Scully who was involved in the Roswell incident.
CARTER: Scully was and will always be a scientist, so her skepticism remains intact, though eroded. Scully is from Vin Scully, voice of the L.A. Dodgers.
BJBEA: Mr. Carter, Do you plan on visiting the forum for feedback (feel free to use AKA)?
CARTER: I must see my reviews.
SUMRALL: Are you going to be writing any of the novelizations that will be coming out? By the way, just when are they going to be published?
CARTER: No X-Files novels for me. They promise #1 will be out soon.
BJBEA: Mr. Carter: Since the response here is pretty good, what kind of mail does the show get (e.g., volume, type, etc.)? How spooky in general, is the show’s following?
CARTER: Lots and lots of mail. Not as many spooky fans as you might expect.
MISHEA: If a writer has an agent but the script is in screenplay format, will x-files take a look at it?
CARTER: It’s a legal issue I can’t answer to your satisfaction.
ECCENTRIC: Any plans to have an episode featuring dopplegangers?
CARTER: Already in the works.
SETTLEC: Do you plan on returning to the Forum here to follow upon unanswered questions? Or new ones for that matter.
CARTER: I’ll be back.
GOESP: Why has the government kept Mulder and Scully alive?
CARTER: Good question. They’ve become so high profile that their death or disappearance would turn too much focus on those who might want to disappear them.
LEEJA: Mr. Carter, How much time do you spend in Vancouver during the shooting season? Are you a commuter, or migratory?
SUMRALL: I really don’t know if they’ll allow this one on here, but is Delphi going to be the only on-line network you’ll be involved with, or would you consider other interactive networks?
CARTER: Sorry, they’re looking over my shoulder.
RAVVEN: Chris, is this conference a once in a life time opportunity (for me)? Or are you planning on doing more on-line activities in the future?
CARTER: Again, I’ll be back.
SUMRALL: Will you write an episode in which Mulder has to dress up as a woman again?
CARTER: David has been begging for that.
ROBERTD7: This is as much a request as a question. Will Mulder and Scully ever tackle the Bermuda Triangle (my paranormal passion There are so many theories about the area, Mulder and Scully could have a field day there.
CARTER: Certainly, but you may not recognize it as such.*
DONANEVYN: I know there will be a lot of temptation from everyone, you, the writers, the actors etc., with the fame and popularity of this show and what it brings. So I really am glad to hear you are willing to stick with it as long as it’s popular (well within reason, I mean there’s ‘Next Generation’ … But truthfully, as some have mentioned before, there is such a strong connection and embodiment of DD w/FM and GA w/DS, if either of these folks left, the X-Files would not be the same.
JOHN5843: Last season the was a show about A.I. (Eurisko) on the X-files. At the end when the Department of Defense of whoever were going through the system trying to salvage code and information about the computer system. A little light came on and I took that as a sign that the program wasn’t destroyed by the virus. Any chances of cross-linking that with something coming this season???
CARTER: Anything can happen. But that wasn’t one of our most popular episodes.
ANGELLA: Are there currently any plans for production of a show involving gremlins or elves? And if not, how could I go about submitting my ideas for such an episode?
CARTER: There are plans for both.
SUMRALL: I saw an advertisement for a special Larry King show that would deal with Area 51. Any plans to participate or even watch it?
CARTER: None at all.
GOESP: Who is the new “deep throat-like” character?
CARTER :Watch for new allies and people coming out of woodwork.
FMULDER: Mr. Carter, do you or any other cast or crew members ever plan to drop by on IRC chat sometime? (The Internet chat)
CARTER: Anything can happen.
SUMRALL: How long are you planning to stay on Delphi? Into the wee hours of the morning, perhaps? )))
CARTER: Sorry, my dog needs to be fed.
PAMELASTRAND: Chris, Mark Snow’s X-Files music is wonderful. Any chance of an album being produced? Thank you.
CARTER: It’s in the works. Very excited about this. Mark’s great.
MOONFERRET: Chris, We all know that the Mulder / Scully thing isn’t going to happen. I’m curious though– why exactly are you so opposed to this? You and the rest of the crew are great storytellers- I’m sure you could pull it off exceptionally. Why so opposed? (Do you get the feeling I’m one of the few that would love for it to happen? Call me vicarious…)
CARTER: Oh, Moonferret. If I could only make your dreams come true.
KLFAN: I really appreciate your being here tonight (I probably speak for us all on that note) and kudos to REAPR as well for his fine work. I realize that the DELPHI X-Files forum is THE official forum, however, do you (or the rest of the crew) glean ideas, opinions and comments from the other online services (which all have XF discussions) and/or the internet discussion groups? How big a role does the online chat have in your scripting, plotting, planning, etc.?
CARTER: We have more ideas than you can imagine. Online info helps keep us honest.
SUMRALL: Is the Mystery Caller in tonight’s episode (The Host) going to take Deep Throat’s place? Is he going to become a third member of the team, to cover up Scully’s absence when she takes maternity leave? Speaking of that, how are you going to handle her disappearance?
CARTER: You’ll have to wait and see.
LFJENKINS: I know that you get comments and changes from network standards and practices but how often to do studio execs ask for script changes and do you have to comply with them?
CARTER: They ask, we try to appear as if we listen. Honestly, it’s all part of the process.
THESUE: I was wondering if there was a particular reason that you didn’t use subtitles for what Jorge was saying. (I got most of it . . .but had to rewind for the rest:).
CARTER: We felt that the translation was unnecessary.
ROSAS: There was a dramatic change in the look of Scully between the pilot and the rest of the season – was that your doing or the network wanting to avoid Silence of the Lambs references in the reviews…?
CARTER: I didn’t notice. Remember, Gillian is a woman and women have the right to change their looks.
NOE: Chris, Any plans on incorporating more bits of languages (other than English) into the show?
MOONFERRET: Mr. Carter, What’s the significance of The Smoking Man’s cigarettes on this season’s premiere? And– whose idea was it to have Mulder eat all those seeds?
CARTER: Seeds – I’m an addict. Cigarettes are most important.
ADLEVIN: Any shows about voodoo in Haiti?
CARTER: And its effect of on US troops.
CM520: How well does X-files do in the ratings? I see it listed in the bottom ten sometimes, but only when its a re-run.
CARTER: Getting better all the time.
SUMRALL: What episode do you like the least?
SUMRALL: You really don’t mind nit-picking, do you? I’m the President of the Nit pickers guild on another online network, and it’s all meant in good fun.
CARTER: Thanks. I’m developing carpel tunnel syndrome. See you next week with a brand new show.
REAPR: Mr. Carter, Your presence online has been a very special treat for all of us who faithfully watch your show and log in to Delphi to talk about it. For all of us, I want to thank you for finding the time to meet with your most loyal fans and hope you can come back some time in the future. Keep up the great work!
I’d also like to thank Delphi Internet for not only giving us this opportunity to meet Mr. Carter tonight but also giving us the X-Files forum every night of the week.
X-Philes, Chris Carter has left the building.