Transcript of the DVD Audio Commentary by Kim Manners for 'Closure'

[Transcribed by: X_Follower
Edited by: Libby]

Hi, this is Kim Manners and I directed this episode of The X-Files, it's called 'Closure'. It's one of my favorite episodes for a number of reasons. Anthony Heald did a wonderful job, he's a great actor; we find out what happened to Mulder's sister; and I learned a great directorial secret from David Duchovny on this episode, one I'll never forget.

This was shot I believe in Griffith Park, there's a little playground area for children and this is up in the hills above it.

This was kind of tricky because we had dug all of these graves and we had the children rise out of them, and I didn't want psychologically harm any of these kids, so we called the graves 'forts'. And we told the kids, 'go on, get in your forts, everybody get in your forts', and then that's the way we were going around that, try to have a little sensitivity. Kind of tough to look at a little kid and say 'go lay in that grave over there', forts with dead bodies, like kid buys a fort, they don't buy graves too well.

Once again, talk about great storytelling. Listen to Mark Snow here. And the whole sequence, I mean, Mark saw what I did with the camera, with the kids, the way I staged it, and he just punctuates it with the music.

[Main Titles]

This was shot on Stage 6 at 20th Century Fox studios.

We built... we had two permanent stages, I believe they were Stage 6 and Stage 8 at 20th Century Fox - no, I'm sorry, Stages 5 and 6, and then we used Stage 8 as our swing set when we could get it 'cause we always needed more room to build sets, we were constantly... we built one set for the first episode that we ever shot in Los Angeles, it was called 'Red and Blue Room', and we changed it over, it was part of a nuclear power plant. Well, that set, that single set stood on Stage 5, I believe it was for 4 years, and we would change it over, we'd make it into the bowels of an oil tanker, we'd make it into a scientific laboratory, we re-dressed and tore down that set more and we had catwalks in it, stairs and it was just what we called our swing set and we always referred to it as 'The Red Blue Room' because that's how it originally started. But we really never had enough stage space, we had huge sets that we'd build constantly, or we needed an area of stage to do blue screen shots, optical effect shots, so our sets were jammed, you had to squeeze your way to move from set to another.

At one point, we took the FBI hallways and I believe we had 3 intersecting hallways, and we closed one of them off, and turned the balance of it, so we would have one and half hallways for the FBI and one and half that we would make a hospital, or we would make it into an office building. I believe this is where we shot this. It's just a redressing of the FBI hallways.

[Mulder and Piller at the crime scene.]

This is when we were starting to figure out how to shoot in Los Angeles with the sun out. If you'll notice Bill Roe now he's got, we've got branches of trees, and what we called 'see stands' and we would hang them to model the light in their faces, so they weren't standing in full sunlight all the time just like that. We were still struggling with the fact we weren't in Vancouver anymore and that our show had suddenly become very bright and cheery.

[Video tape, 1989, of Mulder being hypnotized by an unseen person.]

This is me.

I only act when you can't actually see my face.

Now, that's a nice haircut, David.

All you see is my left hand in that shot. But I wanted to play the part because I wanted to work with David. But then he came in with that wig on and I couldn't dig it. (laughs) I don't think this is one of the episodes that Cheri Medcalf won an Emmy for. (laughs)

Now, you have to remember this was a long time ago, this was Season 7.

[Mulder is watching the original 'Planet of the Apes'.]

I always wanted to direct Charlton Heston and that was my opportunity right there.

[The ghost of Mulder's mother appears behind him.]

We flew this actress down from Vancouver and we had to shoot multiple plates of this shot so we could put her ghost behind David. It was very tricky. She flew all the way down from Vancouver to stand in that one shot.

[Scully enters Mrs. Mulder's house.]

This was actually Scully's apartment, re-dressed.

[Mulder and Pillar driving.]

Now this was shot down in San Bernadino, California, at a closed airfield. And right next to the airfield is a huge abandoned housing development that was all military housing and it was decommissioned and shut down, and it was very, very eerie, very spooky to shoot there because it was literally just hundreds of standing homes with dead landscaping and some of them even still had furniture inside of them, and nobody's been in them for maybe 10, 15 years. It was a real ghost town.

If you can get a good look at the sign on the gate, it's 'April Air Force Base' because we couldn't call it 'March Air Force Base', that's a real air force base (chuckles).

Production designer with a sense of humor.

[Scully and CSM in her apartment.]

Gillian and Bill didn't have a lot of opportunity to play scenes together and I think this is very interesting here, the dynamics between the two of them.

[Mulder and Piller at the air force base.]

Now this is a huge complex of just empty houses. There must have been 400 of them.

So Jeffrey Spender was also Samantha's half-brother.

[Mulder and Scully meet Piller meet at a restaurant.]

Now this was a location on Sepulveda Boulevard. It's a hotel that's been there for 30, 40 years, it's called the Carriage Inn.

[Back at the house on the air force base.]

Now this set was built on a sound stage, and we had to take the roof on and off, the ceiling, because we have a shot coming up, a visual effect shot where we had to build a crane up on a scaffolding, put the crane arm over the side, the walls of the set, inside and then do a 360 degree pan with it. It was a very, very difficult visual effect shot.

[Mulder, Scully and Piller hold hands, ghostly images appear around them.]

This took hours to achieve. We had to make many passes of this shot. We did one pass with David, Gillian and Anthony Heald and then we had to do it again and we had to put these ghostly images in and make another pass. And then we had to shoot it clean so that they could adjust these images into this shot. So it is a really very lengthy process to shoot practically. This little boy here, you know, as he reaches up and takes David, was very, very difficult for the visual effects people because they had to leave David the way he was and make that little boy transparent. So you have to have layers of film in order to achieve that, so just shoot it over and over and over again with the different elements and then they magically, you know, get their people that do this kind of thing and put it all back together.

[Back at the restaurant.]

This show just for some reason really I found so touching. And this scene when David and Gillian were sitting in this coffee shop, the Carriage Inn, and he's reading this diary, it just tears your heartstrings out.

When we get a script like this, we'd have long tone meetings, especially something, you know, as big event as this episode when we do... we do finally have closure on what happened to Samantha, and, you know, we talk about where the actors needed to be in the scenes and again how to make the unbelievable believable. We spent many, many hours working together, the three of us - Frank, myself, Chris - and then I would work with the actors and then again, David and Gillian were very gifted in pulling this stuff off and making it real and then you had guest stars like Anthony Heald, so how could you go wrong? This is a very emotional episode.

This is where I started to learn something very, very important from David. If you watch the show carefully, he plays this very, very simply, he doesn't go overboard, and there's a moment coming up here where he's gonna see his sister. And in the script and in our tone meeting we discussed that he holds her and he cries, that he realizes he's seeing the spirit of his sister and she is in fact dead. And when we shot the scene which is coming up here shortly, David called me and said 'I'm not gonna do anything,' and I argued with him, I thought 'oh, this is the culmination, this is the closure, this is what this whole hour of television is about... this whole journey to find your sister and you finally do,' and he said, 'no, I'm just going to keep it simple,' and when we shot this scene, Mulder doesn't cry but the director was sitting behind the monitor and I had tears rolling down my face and I learned at that point, you know, sometimes you just gotta go with an actor's instinct, it breaks your heart how simple he just holds her.

[Mulder sees the 'walk-ins'.]

We wanted to give this scene a very special feeling, so from this point, this is actually called 'day for night' photography, this is broad daylight, and the cinematographer squeezes it down and we would put some very bright lights on these subjects and you avoid the sky, and then they treat it to give it this almost otherworldly feeling, and then do the visual effect shot with the kids, and again this was done with multiple passes, and this is the moment that I was talking about earlier when David just simply holds his sister.

The minute I read this script and when I read this scene I knew that we had to shoot it in slow motion. This is actually at 48 frames so it's about half of normal speed. We just needed to flow it all over this moment, suspend it. But look how simply David plays here. It's so much more powerful than crying.

The End