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As you know, the latest release of The X-Files on home video included the documentaries "43:45" and "Season X." We had been waiting for months to see what they would bring, and see what documentarian Julie Ng had captured during the Revival shoot.

For weeks, we've monitored Tumblr and so many other social media platforms to see the reaction; there's just so much curiosity about the behind the scenes of the latest season and so many details to get into. The frenzy was everywhere. So, Julie Ng had a great idea when she noticed all of you disecting every frame... Let's give them some of the behind-the-scenes of the behind-the-scenes!

So grab some pizza and coffee, maybe even some wine and enjoy this thorough tale of the Top Ten of what it was to be the biggest undercover X-Phile on set.


Ten Stories Behind-the-Scenes that Didn’t Make it in the Behind-the-Scenes

By Julie Ng.

I have found myself making behind-the-scenes documentaries and producing DVD supplements for well over a decade now. Having said that, I have been a die-hard x-phile since 1994, long before I did this as a profession. Working on the revival was a unique, if surreal experience. Never have I had an opportunity to focus so closely and so intensely on a title that I had been such a passionate fan of myself. Now that The X-Files: Event Series has finally been released on DVD and Bluray in most parts of the world, it’s been equally surreal getting to communicate with fellow fans about this labour of love.

One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve been asked is: "Why were only two deleted scenes included on the set?" The truth is, that’s all there was. The Raincoat Woman scene ("My Struggle I") and the unfinished Toddler William scene (in "Founder’s Mutation"incorporated into "Season X") were the only scenes that were filmed but outright axed. Did the odd line of dialogue within a scene get excised? Yes. Probably several. That’s the nitty-gritty minutiae of post-production work between Chris Carter, Glen Morgan, Darin Morgan, Jim Wong and the editors, Heather MacDougall and Rob Komatsu. To meet runtime, to pick up the pace, joke not hitting, narrative clarity, continuity? These are the usual guesses as to why, but I can’t speak to those creative decisions.

Just recently, I watched my BTS documentary, "Season X" off the actual Bluray for the first time and it evoked many memories. I couldn’t help but think in contrast, the heaps of footage shot and of anecdotes, soundbites and minor details that I’d liked, but cut for various reasons. Many are pretty frivolous, a couple are legitimate regrets and obviously, none are nearly as exciting as the prospect of more actual deleted X-Files scenes. But, I thought that there might be philes out there who’d be interested in some of the “deleted” bits and pieces that didn’t get used behind-the-scenes, and that if I’m going share these stories, I best do it soon before these memories fade, my next project begins and the media gets archived and locked up on a high shelf in the Pentagon.

Note: This super-long edition of XFN’s Top Ten Tuesday might make a bit more sense if you’ve already listened to the “Mulder & Scully Meet the Weremonster” commentary and have watched the extras, in particular, "Season X." 

There is a moment in SEASON X (the meta-files) when super-fan Kumail Nanjiani shares his feelings about getting to be on the show: “I wanted to not be too excited because I knew I had to do a good job. I was like, I can’t be the the worst part of the universe that I loved the most”. This describes exactly how I felt as well. While on set, throughout the shoot, I actually worked quite hard to downplay my raging-philedom from most people. Getting to be a fly-on-the-wall and document was golden ticket enough - just focus on working hard, stay professional, be cool, man, be cool. I thought I had been doing pretty well on that front, until Sheila Larken’s first day on Home Again

Sheila had just arrived on set. Writer/director, Glen Morgan met her at the bed where she would be laying for the next two days. It was the first time they had seen each other for many years. I hung back, not filming, so they could reunite in private. Soon after, Glen called me over to them. Sheila had been asking him where this estranged Charlie son of hers had come from, initially believing, I think, that Glen had invented a new member of the Scully clan for this specific script. To be fair, Charles Scully was an absent brother rarely referenced and only properly seen once via flashback in "One Breath"and that was 22 years ago. Glen asked me to help jog their memories. So I recounted "One Breath"’s teaser: Margaret Scully’s morbid tale about her children, Bill and Charlie shooting at a snake with BB guns, sibling peer pressure and a traumatized Dana trying to will the dead snake back to life with her bare hands. I brought up the last time Charles was ever mentioned, thoughtful enough to send Xmas gifts to the family back in ‘97 ("Christmas Carol"). I could see the recognition of it all come back on Sheila’s face. I wondered if she was trying to reconcile the image of that cute, ginger Kid Charlie with the newly estranged Adult Charlie of "Home Again" (a bit of trivia: Glen had originally hoped to get Chris Carter to do Charlie’s voice on the phone). I wondered whether she thought laying down the Catholic guilt would work on Mulder as well as it did with Scully. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to interview her, nor get to pay proper tribute to her longtime history with the series. I did ask Glen about making that dreaded phone call though. He expressed his concern over wanting to make sure that Sheila learned of Margaret’s passing directly from either him or Chris, rather than from the casting agency.      

Glen Morgan: Well, it’s no fun to tell an actor that their character is moving on.  You know, what she’s meant to the show, Gillian could act up a storm but if you don’t like the mother, if you don’t like Sheila, it’s just not going to effect us as much.  She came [to Vancouver] to be comatose and to say one line but that’s not to say she wasn’t acting.  All of us on the show so appreciate what she’s done. Chris always says no one from The X-Files is ever really dead. Maybe she’s in that [Arlington cemetery] bunker with the Lone Gunmen, fighting injustice! (see: X-Files comics published by IDW)

Sheila Larken looks at Glen Morgan's Boards

 Sheila Larken (Margaret Scully) checks out Glen Morgan’s storyboards

During the blocking of the scene in "Home Again" in which Mulder & Scully sit vigil by Margaret Scully’s bedside in the ICU, David Duchovny caught a glimpse of Glen’s personal storyboards. He was impressed to discover that Glen not only storyboards almost every shot (perhaps inspired by Hitchcock) but that he also draws them himself.  As David flipped through them, his expression turned from bemused to confused: “Is this me? Where’s my hair?!”   

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Gillian AndersonWell, like anyone’s drawing skills who is not doing professional storyboards for a living, his characters look like… stick people. And most of them are bald. I can’t remember what might have distinguished Mulder and Scully. It might have been eyelashes. 

David DuchovnyI’ve tried to storyboard myself and mine are worse, mine are really just stick figures. At least his, they look a little more like Bert and Ernie. Actually, I looked like the potato-headed one. And Gillian looked like the potato-headed one with a wig on. They were just funny. You know, the expressions on them were very ‘big’.

There were a few exchanges throughout the day of Gillian, David and Sheila collectively teasing Glen over his art skills. They studied them between set ups, they attempted to mimic the same facial expressions. Fun as these moments are in isolation, I couldn’t make it fit into “the little uberscullys”. Having this topic sandwiched between the very personal and somber stories of Glen’s own mother passing away and the challenges that Gillian faced herself that day as a mother never felt quite appropriate in tone.  

9 storyboard Scully Mr Potato-Head with a wig on.

Although there was an illustrator/storyboard artist on the crew to help directors to storyboard complicated sequences, Glen preferred to draw his own. It’s part of his directorial prep process. 

Glen MorganEverybody makes fun of me but I can do [that work] at any time, and I’d rather work it out as much as I can at my desk, than out on the street for a TV show where I’m wasting people’s time.

Visually matching his storyboard frames to episode frames tend to be spot on, but there were also plenty of instances when the actors dictated how and where they would move about and end up within a shot. His storyboards work as a guideline, but he is not beholden to them.

“The Band-Aid Nooooooossse Man.” 

Ultimately, when forced to choose between which Morgan brother the cast would poke fun at, Darin won out. David has already had an opportunity to exaggerate Darin’s mannerisms in "Small Potatoes"but seeing Gillian’s physical impersonation of Darin (seen in “man bites lizard”) cracked me up every time. It also seemed a good opportunity to juxtapose that teasing with Darin’s ribbing and enjoyment of writing Mulder as kind of buffoonish in his scripts. Darin’s incredible voice as a writer is a sentiment that was oft-repeated in my interview with David, who attributes his own first solo script, "The Unnatural" as being directly inspired by seeing what Darin (and later, Vince Gilligan) had done to flex the show’s tone. (a bit of trivia: David even tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to convince Darin to write for Californication)

Nine seasons of DVD box sets, mythology re-releases, two feature films and many wonderful filmmaker commentaries were recorded. Yet somehow, David and Gillian had never done one together for The X-Files. Gillian had done a solo track on her writing/directorial effort, "all things." David never did one for the series but I had heard him on other films (recommended: Michael Tolkin’s The Rapture). This needed to happen! Everyone already knows about Mulder & Scully’s on-screen chemistry. Even Rolling Stone recently crowned them as television’s best duo of all time. When paired together, it’s like lightning in a bottle. I was determined to try to bottle some of that comedy gold into an episode commentary.

In addition to the leads, an invitation to record was extended to all 4 writer/directors of the revival. The Morgan Brothers respectfully declined to participate, ever self-deprecating and insisting to me that no one cared what they had to say (more on this later), but everyone else was game. The logistics of how to get David and Gillian in a room to record together became one of the biggest challenges of this project. It’s not sexy to read about, but so much of producing is puzzling out schedules. Suffice to say that the window of time given between recording/editing commentaries and final delivery was narrow. Meanwhile, after the revival wrapped, you can imagine how busy each of them were producing/starring in their own respective series. At the time, Gillian (who resides in the UK) was filming the third season of The Fall in Ireland. David was in the middle of Aquarius, not only acting, but directing an episode. Despite efforts on both sides (Fox, me, managers) it was so tough to lock down. A tiny window opened up when they would both be in Los Angeles in mid-January for the Fox premiere, Jimmy Kimmel, junkets, etc. The hope was that we could wrangle them away from their round-the-clock publicity duties for a commentary session at some point then. We got it by the skin of our teeth, after the TCAs, literally the last day of their press tour. David & Gillian had exactly one hour of free time that coincided with each other, pretty much just enough time to play an episode through from start to finish. Immediately after, Gillian went straight to the airport to catch a flight back to Ireland!  

Commentary commences, snapped by sound recordist, Peter Olsted

Normally commentaries are done in a professional sound studio, mixers, a controlled, quiet setting. You can talk to the talent through their headsets without ruining the recording, you can start and stop. In our case, there wasn’t even time to travel them from the hotel where the TCAs were being held to a recording studio. I consulted with a producer friend, Keith Clark, who had recently done a quality, impromptu commentary recording in a Beijing hotel with Tom Cruise & Christopher McQuarrie for the last Mission: Impossible film. If Keith could fly to China last minute, then I had full confidence that he could MacGyver-up the audio-visual situation in a Pasadena hotel. I booked a location sound recordist and a suite in the hotel, and we all prayed to the sound gods that it was not located beside a noisy elevator, busy street or loud press roundtable.

Next task – which episode would Gillian and David do? The only episode they had seen up to that point was "My Struggle I" at the premiere earlier that week. I worried they might be suffering fatigue about this episode after a full day of being asked the same questions over and over again by the media. Also, because we were in the middle of making a documentary that was entirely focused on "My Struggle I" ("43:45"), there was high potential for overlap of the same stories. I was concerned about over-tipping our bonus content towards only Episode 1. Chris Carter and Jim Wong were already going to record "Founder’s Mutation" together, so amongst the four episodes left to choose from I campaigned for "Mulder & Scully Meet the Weremonster." Although more Mulder-centric, it had the most evenly distributed Mulder/Scully screen time. Plus, it was hilarious. It had seemed like they’d had fun shooting it. It had a monster in it.

What I honestly never seriously considered was how would a commentary come out when both of your commentators had never seen what they were watching before? Often it’s an actor who is seeing it for the first time, but the director or showrunner is also there to guide them along. In this case, Gillian and David went in totally cold. They had no time to prep for it. It was an unusual outcome and a learning experience. On one hand, it’s totally unique, fans are hearing something genuinely spontaneous. They are getting very honest initial reactions, as if David and Gillian are watching with you in your living room on the night it airs. It was a taste of their wonderful, charming banter. The unanticipated complication was that because it was their first viewing, they quickly got caught up simply watching it. This created some fairly long bouts of silence… interjected with bursts of laughter… then silence again. Because they were in a hotel suite instead of recording studio, the opportunity to toss them prompts or talking points while the episode was running was not really an option.  

8 DMKNcommentaryDarin & Kumail FaceTime during a break of us filming Monsters of the Week iTunes promo

It’s probably not common knowledge, but there are guidelines and rules as to how long you can leave gaps of silence for an audio commentary in delivery specs. We needed to fill in those moments where David and Gillian were silently taking in the episode. I reached out to Rhys Darby (Guy Mann) to see if he might want to do a commentary with Kumail Nanjiani (I prefer to do commentaries in pairs). This almost happened but unfortunately, shooting schedules foiled us again. I circled back to Darin. I want to say I didn’t beg, but I might have begged a little.   Basically we proposed it as being like another "X-Files Files" podcast session with Kumail as moderator. Prior to the recording, the only note I gave was to tell them about David’s stunned reaction to the X-Files theme song as Mulder’s ringtone, hoping that Darin would address that. I thought he had some fun providing his own "Hollywood A.D." related meta-logic.

All these words essentially to explain that the splicing together of two separate sessions was by necessity and not design. It was a given that most folks would be keen to hear everything David & Gillian had to say, especially since it was the first time that they had done it for The X-Files. This was the tact we took in editorial. Here are the only bits that were cut out of theirs in favour or Darin & Kumail’s commentary: 1) a couple chuckles 2) Gillian saying that she wished she stole the fox head from Scully’s motel room and 3) David actually anticipating out loud that we might need to call Chris and Darin to fill the spots where they just breathed into the microphone. Despite the whirlwind set up and circumstance, I’m still so grateful that David & Gillian took out the time to do this for us, the fans. That also goes for Darin & Kumail, an awesome comedy duo themselves, for their contribution and willingness to take on supporting roles. What’s nice for fans who wished there was more Kumail Nanjiani and Darin Morgan, is that there exists another full 45 minutes of Weremonster discussion from The X-File Files XThon event at Cinefamily.

There is one very key, long-time creative who was essential to the success of The X-Files, who returned for the revival, but who unfortunately, is nowhere to be seen in the special features. That is music composer, Mark Snow. This is not for lack of desire to gain his insights. Music is extremely important to me and I’m disappointed that he doesn’t get mentioned during any post-production discussion in any of the making-of documentaries. Covering the music spotting and composition process, preferably in his own recording environment was in the original proposal.  What I didn’t know was that since the original series ended, Mark moved from Los Angeles and is now based in Connecticut. All of his work on the new episodes was done long distance. Geography/budget made it prohibitive for me to get the kind of session I had aspired for and for practical reasons, I had to nix that plan fairly early. However, we were lucky, being under the umbrella of Fox, to have permission to score our supplementals with score from both the revival, the two films and the original run. The consolation is that although he may not be seen, Snow’s musical presence is definitely heard throughout. 

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Season X slideshow fun/Mulder grooves to Moby in "all things"

There are so many instances where Mark’s music made things better, but none more so than in the very introduction of "Season X" (13 year commercial break). I’d struggled for a long time editing the ‘slideshow’ introduction. How do you cover so many years of history and milestones in such a short amount of time? It didn’t come together until I realized that we needed a great piece of music to set the pace. Once I chose one of my favourite cues, the up-tempo “Eaten By Light” from "Soft Light"the music dictated the structure of the narrative and every single cut. We even timed and designed all the motion graphics based on that cue down to the frame. I also leaned heavily on “Waterston” from "all things"one of Mark’s most beautiful cues. I felt a weird sympatico, as that episode also begins with a deliberately rhythmic slideshow. 

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Hargadon advocates for plum scrubs to director, Jim Wong.

Prior to The X-Files revival, Gillian Anderson played Bedelia du Maurier on Hannibal, where she had formed a great working relationship with costume designer, Chris Hargadon (you can get a taste of his extraordinary work with this fun piece: Everything Hannibal Wore on Hannibal). As Hannibal was completing its run, The X-Files revival was starting to crew up, and Chris joined the fray on Gillian’s recommendation. 

Chris only makes a brief appearance in “the metal-files”, for his input on the shades of red for Mulder’s Speedo and we ended up not having the runtime to spare for what went into Scully’s power dressing in 2016. Costumes (deliberately) do not bring attention to themselves on The X-Files, but I couldn’t resist asking Gillian about those early years of pastel and polyester. Despite her claims of having a terrible memory of the series, she was still able to isolate such outfits as the “Christmas jacket” and her puke coloured suits from season 1 (see: "The Jersey Devil", also recommended, the very entertaining “Oh, Dana Scully, No”). 

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Gillian Anderson: After [the series] went to LA, there was a period where Scully got into leather jackets and stuff which in retrospect never really felt right.  And so with hindsight, I think I was able to give a little bit more of an opinion about what was Scully and what wasn’t.

Chris Hargadon: Scully is always put together and in control, certainly in her exterior dress mode. There are certain restrictions within Scully and Gillian would tell me if stylistically I was trying to push because I tend to do that a little bit. There’s a conservatism to Scully and it’s all suitable within the professional nature of her job, but you know, sometimes I like to play around with that. So whenever I went too far with that Gillian would pull me back. 

The two of them made a conscious effort for Scully’s current look to be “kinda square, not too stylish, and yet contemporary. There’s a certain dignity to the way that this character dresses, a certain sobriety in the tones.”

In contrast, Mulder has a very insouciant form of dress. He wears clothes easily and doesn’t want to look like he’s put a lot of thought into it. I’m not sure if this is ever actually caught on-screen in My Struggle I (though it carried over into the action figures), but Mulder wears deck shoes that are missing their shoelaces. The tiniest costuming decisions can give small indicators about a character’s attitude or state of mind.

Chris Hargadon: He was just coming out of his hermitude and so that’s sort of what I thought the character might have in his isolated life. He just wouldn’t want to be bothered with such trivialities as tying his shoes.

When last we saw Assistant Director Walter Skinner on the show, he was helping Mulder escape from military prison death row ("The Truth"). His brief appearance in the 2nd feature film, I Want to Believe, suggested that he still held rank at the FBI, so somehow he managed to keep that jail break on the downlow. Fast forward another 8 years, he’s re-instated Mulder & Scully on the X-Files and they are back to reporting to him in is office. Some of the furniture configuration has changed and there’s a portrait of Obama on the wall instead of Bill Clinton, but overall… same old, same old? I wondered if Mitch Pileggi had done his own private work and was willing to share any backstory that would fill in all that time unseen.

Mitch Pileggi: What’s transpired over the last 13 years? Well, obviously he’s not in favour with the people at the top of the FBI because he’s been an assistant director for almost 25 years now! I think a lot of that perhaps has to do with his relationship with Mulder and Scully. I think that may have influenced the way that he has not progressed within the FBI. You know, it is what it is. He still considers himself a company man. <pause> He grew a beard!  

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I did point out that at least he wasn’t kicked to the curb by the FBI, and he laughed. He remained endearing in his defence of Skinner’s integrity and his affection for the two protagonists.

Mitch Pileggi: Yeah, he’s still go a job. Guy’s gotta eat! [But] I think that Skinner is very much a man of principles and morals. What is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. And at a certain point he realized that what these two agents were trying to do was to bring the Truth out… eventually he became their champion within the FBI. He put himself at risk, he almost died several times fighting the battle for them. But I mean still, you know, there was a line in one of the episodes, Mulder asks, “Where do you stand?” and Skinner says, “I’m standing on a line you keep trying to cross.” And I think that really is a great summary of their relationship. I’ve also developed this thing and I think it played, and a lot of fans have indicated that it did play, that I think Skinner had a huge crush on Scully. And I think because of her relationship with Mulder, I think he resented Mulder a little bit. Maybe quite a bit. He was smitten with that little redhead. So I think it’s a very complex relationship between the three of them. 

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Considering this did he think Skinner would ever dare make a move on Scully now that it appeared she and Mulder were no longer a couple?

Mitch Pileggi: Perhaps they’re taking a little bit of a break and maybe Skinner’s got a little bit of a chance. Maybe he’ll sneak in there? Nah! I think they love each other ultimately and that’s the way it should be.

There’s a point David Duchovny makes when he wraps up the discussion about nostalgia in “getting the band back together”. He emphasizes the need to be true to time passage and how that plays on the characters: “That was always important to me if we are going to keep going to not try to play the exact same characters doing the same things ‘ca 22 years have passed.”That’s the context in which I interpreted the controversial decision to break up Mulder and Scully. I ship those characters pretty hard so needless to say I was curious to see how this would be developed however I never saw this as an attempt to reset to the unresolved sexual tension of the early seasons. For me this development felt consistent based on the relationship issues that were hinted between the two in The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Even then Scully was having problems coping with Mulder’s obsessive behaviour; pushing him away as she struggled to communicate her own insecurities. Maybe I’m just a sucker for angst or longing (most storytellers would also confirm that conflict = drama) but I actually think some of the most revealing if bittersweet character moments and acting performances have come when Mulder & Scully were at odds. Consider that brutal final beat in ""Never Again"" the locker room fight in I Want to Believe. Here was the opportunity to get to see David and Gillian play with the new dynamic of a separated couple going through a rough patch (I think Chris Carter has since referred to their relationship status as “a bump in the road”). These break up undercurrents are mostly explored in ""My Struggle I""


Desire is the devil’spitchfork!<spanclass=""s1"">

What a privilege it was to observe David and Gillian’s acting chemistry up close whether they were working out that porch fight stealing secret glances at each other or verbally sparring at the morgue (see bloopers for “Hallast and Ballast!”)I had hoped for “platonic activity” to go a bit deeper in exploring this infamous chemistry. I dropped the ball here by not pursuing it harder during interviews I didn’t get all the pieces and as a result the segment winds down with these visuals from ""Babylon"" of Scully hugging Mulder but it doesn’t provide the intended context for why this is there. The original plan was to see if some of the romantic moments or subtext between Mulder and Scully might actually be added more by the actors rather than dictated by the scripts or direction. How much of that of these moments were then incorporated into the episodes? How much needed to get pulled back in editorial?

So many turning points in the Mulder-Scully relationship are teased but quite deliberately left off-screen (""How the Ghosts Stole Christmas"" ""all things"" ""Per Manum"" even Mulder finding out about William’s adoption occurs off-screen). It was a true feat that the producers were able to keep this going for eight years allowing instead for the audience to project their own imaginations on “the scenes in between”. It’s also probably why this show has a healthy population of fan-fiction authors still out there after all these years. As a filmmaker I find this restraint freakishly admirable but I also hoped for some insight as to how heartbroken Scully went from walking down the steps of that porch  away from Mulder to the two of them launching off of it hand-in-hand together four episodes later in the final scene of ""Babylon.""

Chris Carter[In] Babylon we’re talking about big things and in talking about big things I think it draws Mulder & Scully closer together because they are big things that they share in common… one of them is love. And it draws them at least for that episode closer together. Their talk deals with some profound subject matter which is a time to be vulnerable.

During a take Mulder raised his arms up to the sound of trumpeters that only he hears. It played for a long beat without anyone calling cut and eventually Scully curled into him in an embrace. I didn’t remember reading that in the script. Had I just witnessed one of these mythical “actors trying to sneak stuff in” moments? Turns out this actually wasn’t the case here.  

Vulnerable co-workers

Gillian Anderson: I think I had suggested a hug at the end because it seemed like if the final shot was going to be a crane shot from up above that it might be a more interesting visual to have us embraced than having Mulder standing with his arms outstretched and me looking at him like <confused expression> “what are… what’re you doing”? I think that was more my thinking at the time and less to do with wanting to wrap up or show a certain degree of intimacy. The fact that we’re walking and holding hands and having a pretty intense conversation while strolling casually in a field is in and of itself pretty intimate compared to what else we’ve done as a team or duo in the rest of this series so far.  I mean I have a feeling that there’s a lot going on between the two of them that goes on in the way they communicate that will be evident; that’s not necessarily overtly relationship-oriented or romantic-oriented but that exemplifies their feelings for each other.

It was the morning of August 12. I was asleep in a 10th floor apartment and instead of my alarm I woke to the sound of… clucking pigeons. The night previous I’d left the balcony door open a little too wide and two of them had managed to fly inside. They were now stumbling all over the place like a couple of drunk birds. Long story short the pathetic extended comedy of me trying to shoo them back out into nature made me late for work. We were on Episode 5 (at the time that meant ""Founder’s Mutation""). Based on the call sheet the first scene up was an establishing shot of Scully driving up to park in front of Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital. Ok no big deal I thought I wouldn’t be missing much. Except apparently I did. When I arrived on set Nadine a key set PA grabbed my arm. “Julie! You just missed it”! She pointed to Scully’s SUV parked off to the side. It had a fairly sizeable dent on its rear bumper. When your express job is to shoot what happens behind the scenes the last thing you want is someone running up to you yelling “You just missed the funniest thing ever by ten minutes”! Even David and Gillian asked if I’d shot it and I still didn’t even know what the hell had happened yet. Instantly I was pissed at those pigeons.

Jim Wong [writer/director of Founder’s Mutation]Here’s what happened. We do a take and [Scully’s] supposed to drive up and park in front of the hospital. She does. I decided to go for another take. I don’t know why we didn’t have the transportation guy back the car up but Gillian decides to back the car up [to first position]. As she’s backing up I really see that she’s heading in the wrong direction. But she stops! And it’s like “Oh thank God she sees that she’s about to hit the pole.” And then just a beat later she steps on the accelerator and goes directly into the pole. I don’t quite understand what happened the thought process between stopping and going again but obviously it was not to turn the wheel…

Gillian Anderson: It was a large tall pole that I should have seen but I was concentrating on the Teamster in my left wing mirror and the location PA in my right mirror and trying not to hit them. I didn’t look into the rearview mirror and I slammed pretty hard into it. And actually experienced some whiplash for the next couple days.

                             David blindly feels around for an invisible pole

The following day August 13. I wasn’t late to set but was chasing down shots for Fox’s Green Initiative PSA. I was literally shooting inserts of healthy snacks at craft service (shots I could have gotten any time of the day over a period of 3 months) and somehow I missed this too…

Jim Wong: I’m talking to the director of photography and I look up and David [is walking onto set]… He has a neck brace around his neck. I think “Oh my God we’ve lost a day! I can’t shoot with him literally like this [see Wong’s photo]”. He looks at me and sees I’m about to freak and he goes “It’s a joke it’s a joke. Don’t say anything! I’m going over to show Gillian. I only saw from the corner of my eye but I heard Gillian scream.

I later read an article where David shares this prank and says he wishes someone had filmed her reaction. Man I wish he had found me. I wish I wasn’t off filming celery sticks. This wasn’t even the most absurd thing to happen that day. First scene that day had Mulder & Scully coaxing mental patient Jackie Goldman (Rebecca Wisocky) to talk. I stood at video village just outside the room to capture the point of view of Jim Wong at the monitors. That’s where I was when Rebecca chucked an apple into Gillian’s chest. David had some good zingers: Apple in the boob! Down goes Anderson! He joked for his stand-in  Steve Kiziak to sit in for him for the next take which got the biggest laughs from the crew. Rebecca kept apologizing profusely. All the while Gillian’s uncontrollable laughter was echoing from the floor where she had collapsed in shock. It was indeed hilarious but I was also berating myself. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time that day. I did the best I could to convey “the story of the apple” with dailies thanks to the camera operators who had kept rolling after it had all gone awry but obviously I wish I had been beside them to get the angle I’m sure everyone wanted to see (you know for posterity sake). That was quite a 24 hour string of unfortunate events for Gillian and all joking aside I hope she recovered okay from all of them. My thanks to her and Jim for having a sense of humour about it all and their willingness to recount these stories in our final interviews.

Dr. Anne Simon visited the set during the filming of ""Babylon."" She graciously agreed to an impromptu interview and I quickly discovered her enthusiasm for the life sciences and got a small sense of how fun it might be to attend her classes (she is a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Maryland). For “making of” docs my bias tends to lean heavily towards the creative process in relation to character development production challenges and craft. What is CRISPR/CAS9 gene editing what makes DNA scientifically “alien” (6 nucleotides!) how common is genome sequencing? These are equally fascinating topics too but I felt that to properly go deep into the real science within ""My Struggle II’s"" plot or even into the labyrinthian mythology would require their own individual featurettes to do any real justice.  Ann has had the opportunity to speak about many of these same ideas in print with the Washington Post here at XFN and even in the realm of podcasts on the Not Another X-Files Podcast.

Chris Carter shared story credit on ""My Struggle II"" with Ann and her colleague Dr. Margaret Fearon for working out the epidemiology of the Spartan virus. This virus sitting dormant within everyone’s small pox vaccination is a new science-heavy plot development to the “2012 invasion” but it still has strong ties to early mythology threads set up as far back as ""Anasazi"" (something to consider before accusing Scully of jumping on the anti-vaxxer bandwagon). It’s also an idea that I definitely benefitted from Ann explaining to me in layman’s terms. 

Dr. Ann Simon science advisor to Chris Carter. 

Ann Simon: Over the seasons we discovered that Scully had alien DNA incorporated into her DNA and she thought that this would be detrimental to her health. What we’re doing [in episode 6] is we’re introducing this brand new way of being able to specifically target DNA cut very specifically pieces of DNA. We’re using this technique called CRISPR/CAS. We’re using it to actually go after the immune system. 

One thing that most people know is that if you’re born without a particular enzyme adenosine deaminase or ADA that you lose your immune system. This is the “boy in the bubble” syndrome. What we’re doing on the show is introducing a way to get rid of people’s ADA -something that they got in their smallpox vaccine.  With the smallpox vaccine you’re given this other virus the cowpox virus. Tagging along with that virus now is another virus [the Spartan virus] and this virus contains this CRISPR/CAS. It detaches and goes throughout the body and infects all the cells including importantly the germ line cells - the egg and sperm cells that give you the next generation.  So the next generation and generations after that have a hidden virus waiting to be activated that will eliminate immune systems slowly. Now all of the sudden the common cold can kill you. Flu can kill you.  Any germ that normally your immune system gets rid of can literally kill you. If this happens there would be a worldwide panic. And the question of course now is how does Scully figure out that the alien DNA that she fears actually protects her from this CRISPR/CAS taking the ADA gene out of her genome? 

Throughout ""My Struggle II""  there are many mouthfuls of expositional science-jargon. While we touch on this in “scully likes science” what we weren’t able to emphasize as much were the efforts by Chris Carter in his blocking as a director and by Robert Komatsu as editor to keep the episode from stagnating with too much talking. Scenes like Mulder’s fight with CSM’s henchman amped up the action but ""My Struggle II"" is ultimately Scully’s struggle.

Rob KomatsuTo keep this episode energetic we never let Scully rest. If she came up with an idea and says ‘I need to report this to Einstein’ we’d just cut right to her bursting through the doors. So we always tried to keep that momentum going. Einstein gets weak and has to lay on a gurney. Mulder looks like he’s on the verge of death. Miller looks like he’s about to pass out. You have all these people on the streets with masks on and they’re looking sick. But Scully she never has that luxury. She’s always walking and talking or driving on sidewalks running on the bridge. So she was always the propulsive element of the episode to get us to the finish line.   

Stunt Coordinator (also occasional-Scully-stunt-double) Melissa Stubbs had some ideas about that too maybe better suited if Gillian actually got to replace Daniel Craig in James Bond 25.

Melissa Stubbs: There’s gridlock there’s no way through. I said to Chris Carter ‘you know if I was Scully… and I’m not… but… I would steal a motorcycle and that’s how I would get through the city. He goes “It’s not very Scully.”  And I’m like “No it isn’t. Scully would never ride a motorcycle unfortunately. So she drives her Ford Explorer and has to get out of gridlock in the city any which way she can. Drive over benches drive over sidewalks through people without running over people. So we have to simulate gridlock and Scully finding her own path. It’s like one of those days when you’re stuck in traffic and you’re late for work and all the things you’ve wanted to do.  You see an opening and you go for it. Any way possible to get to the person that you love that you care about and save their life.” 

Camera operator Mike Wrinch enjoys the spacious legroom in Scully’s Ford Explorer.

Take after take Gillian did all her own driving in the race to get to Mulder. I remember Chris asking if she was sure since Melissa was standing by to double her if need be. Gillian was sure: “I have to make up for backing up into the fucking pole!!!” 

So there you have it. Congratulations to the three of you still reading that have reached the end. Thanks XFN for this unique opportunity to share a bit of my thought process. Usually I’m able to put a project to bed after delivery and move on this one was so personal that it’s been a little harder to ‘let go’. This helped. None of my rambling would even be possible though if not for the trust and support of Chris Carter Gabe Rotter Morgan(s) and Wong the indomitable cast and crew and of course the gang at Fox Home Entertainment. It was the most challenging most rewarding job I’ve ever been a part of. Words are not enough to express my gratitude.

Julie Ng is a filmmaker and DVD producer.
Likes: historical road trips filling her head with useless trivia the idea of writing
Favorite Episodes: ""Beyond the Sea"" ""Duane Barry"" ""Ascension"" ""One Breath"" ""Paper Clip"" ""Pusher"" ""Jose Chung’s From Outer Space"" ""Never Again"" and ""Field Trip.""