Transcript of the DVD Audio Commentary by Chris Carter for 'Deep Throat'
Transcribed by: Libby|
Edited by: X_Follower [Near Ellens Air Base, Southwest Idaho. Armed soldiers surround what looks like a normal house.] Hi, I'm Chris Carter. This second episode of The X-Files - what you're seeing is actually the first day of shooting on the first episode past the pilot. Dan Sackheim is directing who produced The X-Files pilot. We came back several months later with a whole new crew, a different director of photography, John Bartley. And this was our first action scene and Dan, who has a particularly wonderful and infectious enthusiasm, I think really set the mood for probably the next five years of the show when he directed this action sequence. [Soldiers have broken into the house and are searching for the occupant while his wife waits anxiously outside.] I think it's interesting that in the first four episodes of the TV series, three of the episodes were about UFOs and alien abduction and if I had to go back and tell people how to produce a hit television series, I would tell them not to do that, because it seemed as if we were really producing a show that was always going to be about aliens and UFOs, but really what we were doing was ultimately setting up the mythology that would become the spine of the series, but it became much more than just a show about aliens and alien abduction, even though that was really the theme, that was the treasure, that was the hook because Mulder believed his sister had been abducted by aliens. That was the personal quest that I think best featured the relationship between Mulder and Scully, because she became personally involved in his life and it was what brought them closest together and the mythology episodes, I think, became some of the most popular through the life of the series. [An aerial shot of a city, supposedly Washington, D.C.] Even into the second episode of the series, we still had not come up with a credit sequence as you noticed on this episode, it was still a work-in-progress, which is also a very strange thing for a television series. [Mulder and Scully meet in a bar, to discuss a case Mulder didn't want to show Scully at work.] I believe this scene is shot at a Vancouver restaurant called The Meat Market, which was actually a much divier location than the production designers would have you believe. Bob Budahas was actually the name of someone I went to junior high school with, and I don't know why but that name became a kind of running joke, people didn't believe it was a real name, and I remember some of the writers would tease me about it during the course of the show. [Mulder tells Scully about Col. Budahas whose wife hasn't seen or heard from him for over four months, and the military won't comment on the Colonel in any way.] I think you can't underestimate Dan Sackheim's contribution to the show. The things that he brought to this first mythology episode, actually the second mythology episode - you really can think of "The Pilot" and "Deep Throat" as a kind of two-part mythology episode, but the energy that Dan brought, the know-how, choice of lenses, shooting long lens here, just giving the show a look and a feel that would I think stick with it, that other directors would emulate and even though other directors added to it in so many amazing ways, it was really Dan I think who showed us what could be done. Even though we were working here with the smallest budget we ever worked with, which I think was just over a million dollars which is crazy in today's television terms, 2005 television terms. A little bit over a million dollar budget, trying to shoot the episode in 8 days, and it was a 24-hour operation for us, a scramble. We just couldn't do the work that we wanted to do and to do the show that we wanted to do with so little money and so little time, and I think that became very apparent. [Mulder is in the bathroom, where Deep Throat has followed him.] Early on, before I even wrote this episode, I was interested in doing a character like Jerry Hardin is playing here, the character of Deep Throat, a person who would become Mulder's inside contact. That was inspired by one of my favorite movies, "All the President's Men", and I think Jerry Hardin was an easy choice. He ended up being a very good choice because he liked playing the part and we flew him up to Vancouver time and again through the first season for what really amounted to nothing more than three or four minute scenes, but he was very, very good at it. I'd seen him in a movie called "The Firm", a feature film from the John Grisham book, and I thought he was terrific in it and he had the bearing and the gravity and the kind of ability to play a villain without being overly arch. [Deep Throat leaves the bathroom. Mulder follows, but can't find him in the bar.] I think John Bartley also was so important, was such an important hire on the show. The pilot director of photography, Tom Del Ruth, had done such a wonderful job, actually was nominated for a cinematographer's award, I think he won that year for The X-Files, and couldn't do the series. So John Bartley was hired and he had done several different shows, Stephen Cannell's shows, he had worked with some of the people involved in the hiring before, J.P. Finn, for example, who was the unit production manager, but it was really Bob Goodwin who was the co-executive producer on the show who told me that this would be a great hire, and in fact it was. I think this is episode 2 where Bob Goodwin, who would end up directing such key mythology episodes, season openers and season enders which were always mythology episodes, Bob not only made great hires, put a great crew together, worked with that great crew during the course and run of the show in Vancouver, but also on this episode he ended up becoming the sort of B-unit director and was running night and day, making sure that we got this episode done in 8 days, which was a miracle in itself. [Mulder and Scully go to Col. Budahas' home.] This episode was inspired basically by the sort of UFO literature, if you will. There was a belief by the believers in UFO and UFO technology that Area 51, Nellis Air Force Base, is the repository of alien technology that was captured or recovered, scavenged at places like Roswell, New Mexico, which was the famous site of a famous UFO crash I think in 1947 or 48. Anyway, I called this air force base Ellens Air Force Base – I don't know why I didn't just go ahead and call it Nellis, but I had a high school and college girlfriend whose last name was Ellens and so this was sort of a nod to her, as are most of the characters in the show, come from high school friends, friends over the years, it became sort of an honor to become a character on The X-Files, and particularly a dead character on The X-Files. [Mrs. Budahas tells Mulder and Scully about her husband.] This is an actress named Gabrielle Rose who is one of the best actors in Vancouver and we got to use her in this first episode. I don't think she ever appeared in the show again, which was odd because we used actors over and over and over in the course of the show. She appeared in one of my favorite movies, "The Sweet Hereafter", as a very unfortunate bus driver and I thought she was terrific in that movie. The project that this was inspired by, the rumored project that the US Air Force had, it was called the Aurora Project, and in southern California I remember sitting my house and hearing sonic booms and having people talk about the Aurora Project, that there were aircraft that the air force was not telling us about, that were overflying southern California. And this was a sort of nod to that, to the rumors that there were aircraft flying the skies, that were using a sort of hybrid of scavenged, salvaged UFO technology. [Mulder and Scully visit Mrs. McLennen whose husband also suffered a breakdown.] Mark Snow came in and did the pilot score after we had had a temporary score which was how we sold the pilot but this is really Mark Snow's chance to, I think, not follow necessarily the lead of the pilot score that we put together, or I should say we had bought and then he did a take on, but this was Mark Snow's first real, I think, solo score and it also set the tone for the series. And I think his music is much more minimal here, actually there's much less music here than I think we came to use. I think we had more music cues as the show went on. We were much more careful and hesitant about making this more of a reality show, because the network was determined to wrap up each episode with a bow and to have an explanation, and the end of this episode you'll see there is actually a Scully voice-over which became a kind of theme through the first few episodes of this season and of the series because the network didn't want the audience to go away wondering, when wondering was really the secret to the show, it was about the paranormal and the supernatural and it was supposed to make you wonder. So there were certain things that we were just trying out and experimenting with and ultimately I think it took us probably through the first half of the season to finally hit our stride and figure out how best to produce this show from beginning to end. [Mulder and Scully attempt to talk to Colonel Kissel from the base by waiting for him outside his house. He refuses to talk to them. A man, Paul Mossinger, who says he works for the local paper, walks up to them.] This was a neighbor of mine, Michael Brian French, who - we just couldn't cast this part and even though it was a smallish part and he's a terrific actor, it was a small part that we ended up bringing an actor up from Los Angeles which was costly and rare for us, we tried to cast most every part we could out of Vancouver. So once again we were on a learning curve. [Mulder won't give Mossinger any information about their investigation, but asks him where he could meet some UFO believers. Mulder and Scully go to the Flying Saucer Diner.] There's actually a diner called the Little A'Le'Inn outside of Nellis Air Force base which this diner was inspired by. And once again I don't know why I didn't called it the Little A'Le'Inn, we were sort of making our own world when it would been, I think, a lot better in the end to stick to the facts as they were. [Mulder talks to the bartender who sells him a photograph she says she took of a triangular craft that was hovering just over the diner. While Scully is outside, trying to find Ellens Air Force Base on her map, Mulder comes out with a sketch of the route to the base.] Since the making of the show I've actually gone off and become a pilot myself and I have flown in and around Nellis Air Force Base and I know now it is a no-fly zone, you cannot fly over it. It is a restricted area and there are no exceptions to that rule, so I think this has added to or deepened the suspicion that the air force is doing things and experimenting with things, testing things that they are not telling the public about, which only helped a show like The X-Files which had such deep suspicions of the government, and the government's actions, motives and behavior. [Mulder and Scully drive down by a fence enclosing the airbase. Mulder goes off to explore. Later, Scully has fallen asleep in the car when she is awoken by strange vibrations.] We'd gone far outside of town, I think to the end of our ability to go without financial penalties to get this shot, which is a place called Boundary Bay airport and it was a great location. And we ended spending, I think, days and nights there, shooting this scene along with other scenes including a hangar scene that you'll see coming up. [Mulder dashes to the car just as the passenger window shatters.] I remember I had boarded the story for the episode and come up with something less than spectacular at this story point and it was James Wong who had come on with Glen Morgan onto the show who suggested I do something larger, which was break that window out. [Scully sees what Mulder is excited about – there are two lights in the sky, moving very fast.] What you're looking at now is I think one of the worst effects we've ever done on The X-Files and it was because it was really a factor of time and money and at that point in the early 90s that special effects were still pretty crude and hard to do. I remember sitting in an effects bay with Mat Beck, the man who was our special effects producer and supervisor, trying to make this effect look three-dimensional and better and we just couldn't do it with the time. I think we ran right up to our air date and we came up with what ultimately looked like some kind hi-tech pong game. [Emil and Ladonna run out of the airbase, through the gap in the fence, while being chased by a single bright light.] That's actually a helicopter flying at night, which we had to get a special permit for in Vancouver, they don't allow helicopter flight at night I was told. So getting that took special effort on the part of the crew and the producers. You'll notice Seth Green here, who has gone off to become famous for the Austin Powers movies among other things, he has a big career, and we just happened to cast him very early on in The X-Files when he was really a relative unknown. [The four have not been detected. Mulder insists the two youngsters accompany him and Scully. They go to a diner, where Emil recounts their adventures and mentions the Yellow Base.] The Yellow Base that's referred to here, is actually from the actual UFO mythology and literature and rumored to be a site of much goings-on with things alien at Nellis Air Force Base. [Emil describes a spaceship. He says he thinks they are not spaceships but Star Wars type technology. Mulder shows him the photograph of the triangular spaceship, and asks if what Emil has seen looks anything like it. Emil says no, they look exactly like that. Later, Mulder and Scully talk in the car.] This became, I think, the reason The X-Files became a hit. Scenes like this where Mulder and Scully point-counterpoint, skeptic and believer. We realized how much fun they were having together, how much she enjoyed working with him, it was more than just being ordered to debunk the X-Files, and debunk Mulder, she was charmed by Mulder and began to like to him, and began, in a way, to believe in what he was doing while maintaining her scientific distance and reserve. I really think it was a relationship show like so many popular relationship shows that came before, Moonlighting and so many others. It was the repartee, it was the actors, their ability to pull it off, that they were actually - we didn't know exactly how great they were as comedic actors and their comedic timing and it shows in just little scenes like this. [Back at the motel, Scully informs Mulder that Col. Budahas has returned home.] I think as X-Files stories go, this is a pretty slim story. This is a lot of running around, finding very little to plot, it's actually a very slim plot, but it was all an effort to sort of set up the idea that the government has knowledge about the existence of extraterrestrials and was willing to go to great lengths to protect it from people like Mulder. And that they were going to great lengths and wasting people's lives in order to utilize and experiment with the material. [They visit the Budahas home, where Col. Budahas appears healthy and exactly like his photographs, but Mrs. Budahas says that is not her husband.] It was also believed that if you'd worked on any of these projects, these top-secret projects, that they would actually steal your memory. There's supposed to be a site in Nevada where people are bussed into Nellis Air Force Base and it is rumored, or it's been told by people who worked in that area, that they were brainwashed, that they had memories taken from them, that there were all sorts of controls put on their movement and action, and there's no end to these rumors and what's been written about them, so really anything you could make up about UFOs was kind of within the realm of possibility, because it was all rumor, innuendo and surmise. [Mulder talks to Col. Budahas and mentions the Immelmann maneuver, a well-known aircraft maneuver, which Col. Budahas can't remember.] I think this show actually became darker in terms of its cinematography as it went on. This is actually a very bright show as X-Files episodes go. I think they became smokier, they became more half-lit, that the show became more noir, if you will, in its approach and in its look as time went on. And I think that's just the nature of a television series that you learn what works and what works best, and what's scariest. And an episode like this, it's not a scare-fest, maybe needed a little bit of a brighter approach, but I think the episode that would follow it, which would be "Squeeze", was a much more moody and atmospheric episode and needed to be. [Mulder and Scully leave the Budahas home and debate Col. Budahas' memory loss. Two cars drive towards them and force their car to a halt. Men wearing dark glasses get out of the car.] This was also a staple of UFO lore, the men with dark glasses, the men in black as it were, who flew the unmarked helicopters, who work for the unknown government agencies. [Mulder and Scully are detained and searched, despite telling the men in black that they are FBI agents.] The man taking Mulder's gun there actually became our full-time stunt coordinator, Tony Morelli, ended up working on the show as the stunt coordinator for probably four of the five years we were in Vancouver. [Mulder is punched by one of the men, who tells him it's about national security. Mulder and Scully are ordered back into their car and told to pack and leave town immediately or 'assume the consequences of intense indiscretion'. Later, Scully phones for a search on the number plate of one of the cars - CC1356.] CC1356 being my initials, birthday and birth year. Every number, date, birthdate, etc., has or usually has some kind of reference, relevance or inside meaning. [Mulder and Scully are back at the motel. They have both changed into casual clothing.] I think that was maybe the first and last polo shirt we ever saw on the X Files. Wardrobe problems being worked out all the time, I think once I saw that shirt I outlawed polo shirts on the show. It just wasn't flattering to Agent Mulder and not something I thought he would wear when he was off duty as it were. [They discuss the case – whether there is a UFO there or whether it's simply an experimental plane.] David Duchovny, looking at this scene where you see his eyes very clearly, David Duchovny actually has one pupil larger than the other as the result of a basketball injury and for the first season of the show, maybe longer, he would actually put drops in his eyes before every scene to dilate that pupil or vice versa to expand the other one so that his eyes were balanced. And then he gave up on it, he just went with the mismatch which I thought was always interesting that no-one really took note of it. [Mulder leaves the motel room.] Scully's wardrobe here, too, shows her wardrobe has been a work in progress. [Mulder has driven away. He meets up with Emil and Ladonna who tell him how to get to the various places on the base. Later that night, he sees what looks like a spacecraft, but he is then chased and arrested.] We're actually shooting on an airbase here, an actual airbase, that we shot day and night on and ultimately the scene where it will end, we will see a UFO here that Mulder comes into contact with, it was our first real test as a sort of crew doing very elaborate special effects on a television budget and television schedule and I think this effect was particularly good, given the restrictions we had. What you're looking at, that has been digitally added to, was a sort of disco party light rig that we ended up renting from a party supplier and kind of re-rigging and adding to. This scene, which Dan Sackheim shot so well, was very elaborate and was done, I think, just as the sun was coming up and you'll see the mismatch in sky here. John Bartley trying to rig the angles so that we were not seeing too much of the sky where the sun was rising, shooting into the western sky, trying to keep it as dark as possible, but just some of the difficulties in producing a show like The X-Files which was an action show and had lot of exterior practical locations, and learning how to do it on the go. [Scully is trying unsuccessfully to phone Washington. She goes to the reception area to use the phone there, which also doesn't work.] The actor you'll see here, Michael Puttonen, actually became almost like a part of The X-Files troupe, he was on so many different episodes during so many years of the show when it was in Vancouver. [The receptionist says that phones are pretty undependable around here and that people say it's the military interference, but that they say that about everything. On the base, Mulder is brought, drugged, into a hangar.] This show had also become important to the mythology. It was the introduction of the character Deep Throat and even though there were only four or five mythology episodes during the first season and there were 25 episodes, there was a connection between this first episode past the pilot and the last episode of the season so that the show actually seemed like it had an idea where it was going, it had a structure and a concept of what it was trying to accomplish. So I think that this is probably one of the most important episodes to the life of the series because it really set up in addition to the pilot or along with the pilot, it set up what the ultimate and larger quest for Mulder and Scully was going to be and that like in "The Erlenmeyer Flask" which would be the final episode of the season, that anyone is expendable and in this case it looked like even Mulder was expendable. [Scully confronts Mossinger when she realizes he's part of whatever is going on at the air base. She then learns from Emil and Ladonna, who have just arrived, that Mulder is on the base. She forces Mossinger to drive to the base.] Vancouver was such an important part of the success of the show early on, just for locations like this - bleak, desolate locations. It had so many different looks. You couldn't have done this show in Los Angeles, certainly not the first five seasons as effectively, because we just didn't have as many locations, as many resources to draw from. [Scully and Mossinger wait in the car outside the base. Scully has her gun aimed at Mossinger.] I don't think Gillian Anderson actually ever handled a gun before she worked on The X-Files and this, being the second episode, was one of her first experiences actually with gun play and there was, I believe, a good amount of training, teaching both Gillian and David how to hold a gun properly, how to make believable that they were FBI agents. I always said the show is only as scary as it was believable, that was the greater attempt here. [A jeep draws up to the gate and Mulder gets out. He's groggy. Scully controls the exchange of Mossinger for Mulder.] It's so important, I think, to the series and to the relationship of these two characters, is showing how far the character of Scully would go for Mulder here, even though her assignment was to debunk his work, to show that he was crazy, that she would actually risk her life for him and it was the more noble part of her character that shone through here, and the connection and respect the two had for one another, even though they didn't believe the same things. [Mulder gets into the car and Scully drives them away. Mulder says he doesn't remember what happened. They later visit Mrs. Budahas, but she doesn't want them to talk to her husband. In Scully's subsequent report, she concludes that the case, #DF101364, is closed.] DF101364 is the birthdate of Dana Freedman, now Dana Walden, who worked on the show as a publicist and is now running the 20th Century Fox television studios. [Mulder is running round a sports track.] I think the cut-off sweatshirt was soon to disappear from Mulder's wardrobe as well. [He sees Deep Throat walking towards him.] This is probably the best set-up and most effective set-up for the entire mythology of The X-Files. It's just performed so beautifully by Jerry Hardin here as Deep Throat. [Mulder tells him he did see something but it has been erased from his memory.
Deep Throat: Mr. Mulder, why are those like yourself, who believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life on this earth, not dissuaded by all the evidence to the contrary?
Mulder: Because all the evidence to the contrary is not entirely dissuasive.
Deep Throat: Precisely.
Mulder: They're here, aren't they?
Deep Throat: Mr. Mulder, they've been here for a long, long time.] The End