Transcript of the DVD Audio Commentary by Chris Carter for the episode 'Duane Barry'

Transcribed by: Libby
Edited by: X_Follower

[A small house in Pulaski, Virginia. June 3, 1985.]

Hi, I'm Chris Carter. June 3rd is my brother's birthday. The night sky you are looking at there is actually a computer-generated starry sky although the house is a real house in Vancouver. What you are looking at now, though, is a set built on stage and steadicam work by Rod Pridy who was the camera operator on this episode and a huge help to me in my directorial debut.

[Inside the house, the TV is on. A dog runs into the kitchen and eats his food, then runs into another room where a man, Duane Barry, is sleeping on a bed. The house is unfinished, basic stud walls covered in plastic sheeting.]

This dog is actually a relative of David Duchovny's dog, Blue, who he had gotten from the animal trainer who trained this dog, whose name is Debbie Coe and worked on the show through the course of its run in Vancouver. I got my first experience directing animals in this episode which is no easy task, but directing Steve Railsback who you see here was about the easiest thing in the world, he was a dream and for a first-time director he gave me truly 100 % every step of the way.

[The TV goes out, showing just static. The dog is worried. Vague shapes can be seen on the other side of the plastic sheeting.]

The aliens you see here, which may be real or dreamlike, which is the object of the teaser here, are children dressed in alien suits, who, as I would learn much later, had a very, very short attention span and don't like being dressed in alien suits for too long.

[Duane Barry awakes and screams, "No! Not again!" Outside the house, a UFO hovers, shining a bright light down into the house.]

There was a fortunate thing here in this abduction scene of Duane Barry, of Steve Railsback, which was that we had a film run out which actually gave it a very eerie effect and shooting this effect was also a real test for a first-time director and for the crew, because we had to hang a giant light over that house, shoot it in the course of about 45 minutes which required team work that I had never seen before and I think the crew had actually tried particularly hard to help make it as easy as possible for me to get everything that I wanted to get which was ambitious and I didn't know how ambitious until I had to actually stand behind the camera myself and see how long it takes to do good work. And how easy it is to do bad work, if you are hurried or if you settle, compromise.

[In the present day, Duane Barry is in a correctional treatment center.]

This episode originally was not going to be a two-part episode but it ended up becoming because of the nature of the story, because Gillian Anderson, as you'll see, is pregnant here and we were going to lose her. We needed to make her disappear from the series for a short time, so we decided to make it a two-part episode, the second half written by Paul Brown.

[Duane Barry meets with Dr. Hakkie.]

I had a very fortunate experience and resource in working with and knowing David Nutter who helped me through so much of this episode, actually helping me to block entire scenes, showing me how he would do it and in a number of cases I actually took his blocking and followed them to the letter, followed the camera movement, the actor's movement, because I'd never done it before and I wanted to actually see how he thought because I thought and still think he's such a terrific director. So I wanted to take some of the mechanics out of it, or the guesswork out of it, for myself and focus on the performances and that was probably a very smart idea and also showed me how a very good director thinks about a scene before he ever actually steps foot on the set.

[Duane Barry says he can feel them coming again to take him away. Hakkie wants to give him an injection.]

This story was inspired by a piece that I had read in the New York Times about a man named Phineas Gage who had been injured in a railroad accident where a metal rod had pierced his brain in such a way that it actually removed or destroyed his moral center. So a very moral man became a very immoral man as the result of an accident and I wanted to create a character just like that who actually believed he had been abducted by aliens and we didn't know whether he was crazy as a result of his accident, in this case Duane Barry, we'll learn, is a former FBI agent and is he crazy or is he really abducted by aliens, and it really plays into the characters of Mulder and Scully, Mulder believing that in fact he was abducted, Scully believing that he is a victim of his accident.

[Duane Barry has snatched a gun from a guard and kidnaps Hakkie. In Washington, Krycek finds Mulder, who is in a swimming pool, to tell him he's required to help with the hostage negotiation.]

Little did I know that this would become one of the signature scenes in the life of The X-Files, David Duchovny in red speedos became, I don't know, a scene oft referred to by a big portion of the fans.

[Krycek tells Mulder that Duane Barry has four people at gunpoint in an office building.]

This is also not the introduction of Agent Krycek but the first real interesting use of him as a sort of duplicitous agent in the show.

[Richmond, Virginia. Mulder and Krycek arrive at the hostage scene. They meet Agent Lucy Kazdin, the agent in charge.]

Steve Miller [the Tactical Commander] would end up becoming not just a regular on The X-Files as part of our go-to cast, but also on the TV show Millennium. CCH Pounder [Agent Kazdin] here did a guest star role and ended up getting an Emmy nomination for it. She's terrific. This is one of the scenes that David Nutter helped me to block. There was so many people in it and I didn't know how to shoot it, to keep it interesting. As Rod Pridy would point out to me, the camera operator, I made a big mistake in this shot right here which is called short-sighting, so I really was learning as a director how to move the actors, how to move the camera, and how to keep it interesting.

[Kazdin briefs the agents, indicating why Mulder was called in. Mulder says he hasn't done hostage negotiation before and Kazdin says he'll be coached.]

I actually did a lot of research with the FBI hostage rescue team, or members of it, asking them how hostage negotiations were handled, what they say, how they befriend the hostage-taker, how they figure out how to get him to release the hostages, or how to get him to give himself up. And it was an interesting exercise and also a great resource to have. I have since gone on to actually sort of become friendly with the hostage rescue team and got to spend some time with them in Athens, Greece, this year [2004] at the Olympics, watching how they operate and seeing how serious they are about their work and about how technical it is, and how they are armed like you cannot believe.

[Mulder is asking for information on Duane Barry's abduction experiences but he's told his job is just to keep him talking, not to analyze him.]

Paul Brown had a very good idea. He was a producer on the show at the time and ended up writing the second episode to this two-parter, that Duane Barry actually refer to himself in the third person, and actually it really made the character, it gave him something extra, a quality he wouldn't have had otherwise. His name was originally Duane Garry in the script, but people in research said there actually was a Duane Garry in the FBI and that I would have to change the character's name - Duane Barry - and I hated that sound of it at first but it actually ended being better than the original name.

[Mulder is on the phone to Duane Barry, and is surprised when Duane details the FBI's routine for dealing with hostage situations.]

These are two sets, both on stage, and shooting across basically sets-base from one place to the other and replicating the practical location that we established earlier with the exterior scenes. It was a really good idea as a first-time director to try to contain the show as much as possible. Save your time, save the company moves, not moving your equipment from one place to another. It allowed me to focus on performances and keep control of all the elements. In effect, this is what we call a bottle show. It takes place in a very constricted, tight area of space, inside a bottle, as it were.

[Duane Barry has hung up the phone. Mulder asks Kazdin who Duane is. Kazdin says he's former FBI, out since 1982 and institutionalized on and off for over a decade. Mulder says they have to alter their approach, then leaves. At the FBI, Scully is watching a news report on the situation when Mulder phones asking her to find out what happened to Duane in the past.]

This is one of the final episodes of Gillian Anderson's, early second season appearances. She was probably eight months pregnant here and in the later scenes in this episode you get to see how we had to shoot around her as we're doing here, having her sit at a desk; doing everything we can to hide her pregnant belly.

[Back at the hostage situation, the power has gone out.]

It proved to be a trick for me but the story was designed to minimize her presence in the show and to have her not running around in action sequences.

[Shots have been fired. Mulder re-establishes contact with Duane Barry. One of the hostages has been injured. Mulder and another agent are dressed up as paramedics with hidden microphones and earphones.]

We really never tried to stretch the truth in terms of technology on The X-Files. We tried to keep it as believable as possible with its science and technology but the truth is this ear implant did not exist at the time, I think something like it exists now, but people were talking about it, but you could actually not hide or conceal something that would transmit like this at the time, but no one seemed to question it. This camera work here, which was I think elegant and terrific and also the lighting here, are the work of John Bartley, the director of photography, and Rod Pridy, the operator. Tom Braidwood who would go on to fame as the character Frohike in the Lone Gunmen, both during the course of The X-Files and his own show, the Lone Gunmen, was the AD and also extremely instrumental in my successfully directing this episode in the allotted time which was, I think, about eight and half days I did it in.

[Mulder and the other agent walk up to the building and enter the office. It's dark, but the flashing lights from police vehicles can be seen through the window blinds.]

Going from a real location, practical location, to a set here, and the flashing lights helped to sell the bit.

[Duane Barry checks Mulder and the other agent for weapons and communication devices but finds nothing.]

When you get actors who leave the set and go to their trailer and are called back and take their time getting back to the set, you can chew up valuable time you need for shooting, and Steve Railsback recognized that I was under pressure because I wanted to do so much in this episode, and he spent almost all his time on set, working with me. Always knew his lines, wanted to do everything he could to facilitating his own good work, I think he was and is terrific in this very memorable performance.

[Mulder talks with Duane Barry, suggesting he let the hostages go. Duane has a flashback of being abducted.]

The use of this strobe light really helped to sell this effect which gave, I think, a dream sequence or eerie flashback, a sort of shocking graphic quality that was something that needed to be synched to the camera, it was something that no one had ever done before, so it could have failed but the technical crew figured out a way to make it work and I think it really helped these flashbacks to make them believable and scary.

[Mulder tells Duane that he's talked to other people like him. Duane agrees that the wounded man can go, but in exchange for Mulder.]

So many times when you get a performer like Steve Railsback who comes in and raises the level of the work, it raises the level of everyone's work and I think David is terrific in this episode too, and I think he tried also to give me as much as he could, given that I was working with so little experience.

[Duane ties Mulder to a chair.]

Here's a problem for a director, which is now you've got your star basically tied up and you can't move him, so you've got to keep the scenes and the sequence taut and suspenseful with very little ability to move the camera and/or the actors because in this case so many of them are either seated or tied up and it's Duane Barry who ends up becoming the secret to the tension in this scene, his movements, his fear and his performance.

[Mulder talks to Duane, describing typical abduction experiences.]

The character of Duane Barry, as I said, came from a sort of composite of the New York Times story character, and actually somebody that I had learned about on the first episode, I should say the second episode, the first episode past the pilot on the show, we had a soundman who stood in, he came from Los Angeles and did some sound work for us, and I was talking to him, thanking him for coming up and doing us a favor, and he told me that he had a brother-in-law who actually believed that he was a UFO abductee and that he would go off and disappear for lengths of time, and he would always live under the high-tension wires wherever he was, camp out underneath them, because he felt that he had protection from the aliens and that they would abduct him from time to time and perform experiments on him, which is where this episode will ultimately lead.

[Duane now relates his experiences, including his teeth being drilled. He has another flashback.]

Which is what the soundman said that his relative claimed, is that they would drill tiny, tiny holes in his teeth when they would abduct him, which is how this whole set came about and this elaborate drilling apparatus that Duane Barry is either imagining or is really experiencing. This was a simple bright light telescoping out here, or something that the prop department manufactured and the production designer manufactured, and then the effects people were able to put a little aspirator into Steve Railsback's mouth and actually shoot that spray out of there. We added in a little laser beam and it really sold this effect.

[An agent drills a hole in the wall of the office.]

This is a scene that was shot after the entire episode had been shot, these men drilling a hole in the wall, it was, I think, my one half-day of pickup scenes and it seemed so simple but it ended up taking six hours or so which is more than it should have taken, but that was due to my inexperience, wanting to try to accomplish too much.

[Scully phones Krycek with information on Duane Barry. She tells Krycek that they've got to get Mulder out or he'll be killed, because Duane Barry is not what Mulder thinks he is.]

This is the turn of the story where Mulder, who has become a believer in Duane Barry, who is actually willing to give himself for the rest of the hostages because he believes in him so clearly, comes to learn that his partner and her science in fact refute what he believes and now she's got to communicate that information to him to save his life.

[Scully relays her findings to Kazdin, that Duane had been shot in the head and as a result he became a pathological liar suffering severe delusions with bizarre and violent behavior.]

At the end of the first season, The X-Files are actually closed as a result of the government basically debunking Mulder's work and through the death of Deep Throat and other events The X-Files were closed, and at this point The X-Files are still closed, but this two-part episode actually served to help to re-open The X-Files which was a kind of a controversial thing with the studio and the network doing something so radical like basically destroying the very concept of the show by closing the agency that Mulder and Scully worked in, but it ended up becoming important to the mythology, to the characters, and mostly to the disappearance of Gillian Anderson from the show for a time while she had her child, Piper, and was able to spend a little bit of time away from the show, and leaving Mulder on his own. She remarkably came back very quickly after her pregnancy and actually, I think a week before her pregnancy, appears for a very short time in the episode that becomes the two-parter for this episode, 'Ascension'.

[Scully speaks to Mulder via the communication device. Mulder continues talking with Duane, asking him how the aliens find him. Duane tells him they put implants in him, in his gums, sinus cavity and abdomen, showing him the scar on his abdomen. Scully warns Mulder that Duane could snap at any time.]

The crescent shaped scoop or scar is also a staple of UFO lore and something that Mulder would respond to, previously established in the show.

[Mulder tries to persuade Duane to let the women go. Scully tells Mulder that marksmen are getting into position and they will execute a tactical plan if all the hostages are not freed.]

This ratchets up the tension because Mulder wants to save Duane Barry. He believes him, he believes in fact he may be a conduit to his sister.

[Duane agrees that the women can go, but Hakkie stays.]

Mark Snow, the composer, adding a kind of elegant tension with the music to these scenes in a way that is surprising and not typical, not percussive, doesn't ratchet up the tension, it ratchets up the emotion.

[The women leave the building.]

This is a trick, where we had to take a practical location here and believably wed it to the set location. As you'll see, Duane Barry's going to be hit here with a laser beam.

[Marksmen are ready. A red tracking beam appears on Duane's neck. Mulder notices this and calls him over. He asks if Duane is making things up and Duane gets angry. He grabs Mulder's shoulders, causing the communication device to fail. Mulder's attempt to save Duane from being shot has made the situation worse and he persuades Duane to go back to the front door to lock it. Duane does so, and a laser beam appears on his chest. Duane sees this too late, and he is shot.]

Probably not the best idea in a series, a television show where you have commercials in between, to actually go to black and work with only sound was an experiment, but you're always worrying that the audience is going to change the channel when they think they've got no picture.

[Duane is loaded into an ambulance. Scully reassures Mulder that he did the right thing, whatever he feels about it. Mulder says that he believes in Duane.]

This is the fifth show of the second season and you can see from the first season, even the end of the first season, how much the look of the show has changed and been refined. It's darkened, shadows are deeper, more interesting approach visually. The production design by Graeme Murray just really set the show, I think, apart from most television fare and even our own work that we had done early on in the show. It's really, I think, what made The X-Files stand out, made people recognize it as a little movie each week.

[Kazdin and Mulder talk in Duane's hospital, where Duane is lying unconscious. Kazdin tells Mulder that Duane's record with the FBI was exemplary but his accident was a mystery, shot by his own weapon. She also tells him that the surgeon found several pieces of metal in various areas of his body, and also tiny drill holes in some of his teeth. Later, Scully says the metal could be shrapnel from Duane's tour of duty in Vietnam. She takes one of the recovered implants to a ballistics expert who shows her some small markings that Scully surmises are some kind of stamp, but the expert points out they are extremely small.]

This is actually the first scene I ever shot as a director. It's a very simple shot in a very tight, confined space. And involved some interactive material here, which was a little bit tricky. So many of the new crop of shows use these interactive video and graphic displays but we were really learning as we went on how to incorporate this stuff, it was something that just wasn't being done, certainly not done up in Vancouver the way we were attempting to do it.

[Scully is buying food in a supermarket.]

There is a little inside joke here where Scully is buying pickles and ice cream at the supermarket.

[Scully has an idea, from watching the display as the clerk passes the bar-coded items across the scanner. When the clerk moves away from the checkout, Scully passes the implant from Duane Barry across the barcode reader and the display goes wild.]

[Later, in Duane Barry's hospital room...]

I had worked out an elaborate blocking for this scene, camera moves, and I go down to the set which is in a practical hospital location, and it's so tiny that you can barely fit the necessary crew members in it and moving the camera and the dolly, doing what I wanted to do, ended up becoming almost an impossibility and did not do me any favors with the camera crew, this on my first day of shooting.

[A bright light engulfs the room. Duane awakens, alarmed, and pulls out all the tubes. He climbs out of bed and looks through the window in the door. The guard outside is on the phone, his back to the door. Duane picks up a fire extinguisher and knocks out the guard. He runs down the corridor.]

[Scully has returned to her apartment and phones Mulder, leaving a message on his answering machine reporting on the effect of the implant on the barcode reader, showing a number, almost as though someone was using it to catalog Duane Barry. Then Duane Barry breaks into Scully's apartment. Scully calls out to Mulder for help.]

["To Be Continued"]