We had the fantastic and candid opportunity to talk to Chris Carter; the creator of all things Ten Thirteen and inspiration to so many artists out there, including all of us here at XFN. We've greatly enjoyed his comeback to Television with The After, one of the newest pilots to be released by Amazon Originals.
While the show hasn't been picked up for series yet, it's one of the highest rated from the productions that the new studio has released for the consideration of the general public and fans alike. If you haven't watched yet, I advise that you rush over to Amazon and enjoy it via streaming video for FREE.
The following interview contains spoilers, but also a great and honest testament of how exciting it is to come back to do what you love.
XFN: The first question that I have for you, as I congratulate you for a great first episode, I really wanted to know what inspired you to write a story such as The After?
CC: Um, I have a, kind of a, sort of, deathly fear of parking garages; getting trapped in one, you know if there's an earthquake in southern California, which is actually, it's a real fear since there hasn't been an earthquake here since the early 90s, so that was part of the inspiration. And then the rest of it, it just came about, it's just what interested me. The original pilot script, it all took place in the parking garage.
XFN: I read somewhere that you also had been inspired by the events of a hurricane in Hawaii.
CC: Yes, you've been reading about me.
XFN: *chuckles* Did you write your own reaction to that hurricane into one of the characters?
CC: Uh, it's kind of in all the characters, well, it's really more in the situation. When I was in Hawaii, I was on the North Shore of Hawaii working for Surfing Magazine and, you know, one day it was paradise and the next day it was the opposite and uh, there was no electricity and no fuel, so no one could put gas in their car. No one could get anything from the supermarket because there was a quick run on the supermarket and the freezers weren't working, the refrigerators weren't working. And there were no toilets, so it immediately became... I would call it a very primitive place and I have this feeling that if the same thing were to happen in a big metropolitan area, I think people are ill prepared, so this is kind of what I imagined to be my character's reaction to what I experienced but in an urban setting.
XFN: I know that you tend to keep everything close to the vest, but how big of a scope do you plan to cover with this story should the series move forward?
CC: I'd like it to be a very big scope.
XFN: I was really impressed by the casting. Can you tell us a little bit about the choices that you made choosing Louise Monot and actually fighting so hard to have her, and Jamie Kennedy and Adrian Pasdar.
CC: Well, we were very lucky that we hired Laray Mayfield to cast the show and she brought in really good people from the very beginning so the choices were easy in that sense, because there were so many good people to choose from, but they were difficult because we had to choose among many good people.
The casting of Louise was the most difficult only because she was in France and there was a big concern, actually there was more than a concern, there was a belief that we couldn't get her visa fast enough to cast her. We ignored all the warnings and cast her anyway and I think she actually got her visa less than twenty-four hours before we shot the pilot.
XFN: Wow, that's insane
CC: It was really crazy, she had to come and meet us in California still not knowing whether she'd got the part and we didn't know if she was right for the part but we met her, we were certain that we'd chosen the right person, and then she had to fly off to Canada to get her visa and fly back so, it was nerve wracking. Not only for us, but I'm sure for her as well.
XFN: How about Jamie Kennedy and Adrian Pasdar? What can you say about them?
CC: Adrian, I actually knew from some time I spent with him in Vancouver, but only briefly. Jamie I only knew his work but he wasn't on my radar. So when he came and read for the part and when he expressed his great interest in the part, that was a big surprise.
XFN: Do you find that it's an honor when people express such an intense desire to work with you?
CC: I'm always flattered, it's always a surprise to me. It's a surprise to me when people like the finished product because I just do what interests me, what I think is right, and I hope that people like it. That's just basically the way I've always worked.
XFN: What was the experience like, being back on set, grabbing that first cup of coffee from crafty?
CC: *chuckles* It was familiar, yet it had been so many years since I had actually directed that it was - it's always fresh and new and the rhythms, they come back, they didn't come back quickly, but eventually they came back, and you settle in and you remember what it is that you like so much about the experience. It's a very demanding undertaking, the hours are always long, the work is always intense and the problems and the questions are neverending.
XFN: I know that you used to rely a lot on people like Bill Roe while working on The X-Files. Do you find working with a new team and getting accustomed to the new faces was a plus for you or maybe a complete surprise regarding how much creative work you could divert? Did you yearn to have some familiar faces with you?
CC: I think everyone benefits from being put into a new situation where there's excitement and there's, you know, I liken it to a new relationship, there's sparks flying, if you're lucky, and that was the case here as well. Some people I'd never worked with before, a lot of the key departments I'd never worked with, but some I had. And some people who had worked for me in secondary positions I bumped them up, so that was a nice thing to do to, to not only work with people I'd worked with before, but to give them new opportunities.
XFN: If The After is picked up, and I'm certain it will be, come the time you set up shop and establish a writers room, are you already tapping people? Any dream team that you wanna bring with you?
CC: I know that there's some people I want to work with, but by and large it will be a brand new team.
XFN: The whole˜alien" figure that appeared at the end of the show, it kinda shocked me, it really took me by surprise, but I found it to be a great tease, perhaps like a "map" of what's to come? Now, you've mentioned before that with this new format - watching "online"- people can go back and rewatch, because that's the way people approach content these days, so are you planning to take advantage of this practice like Vince Gilligan did with Breaking Bad, kind of establishing a map and dispersing those clues so that viewers can play "easter egg hunt" throughout the show?
CC: I think what we're taking advantage of is this idea... the distribution system allows people to watch things carefully, and over again, and what it allows you to do is put in interesting detail. People can draw their own conclusions. You are already calling the person who shows up at the end of the show an "alien"... but we don't know what that, uh, "person" is. It doesn't look like any alien that I've ever seen...
So we're left to wonder, and I think that's one of the best things about good erie television, it leaves you wondering and wanting more. But the best thing about the new distribution systems, the streaming and DVRs generally, it allows to you to really soak in the detail and the layers that show creators are putting in.
XFN: I had the experience of being in the early development stages of Defiance for Syfy and the plan was to let the audience participate in plot points through the video game that the show is based on, and even looking at the experience with Hunted, with Frank Spotnitz, that they let the audience, through the marketing campaign, into secrets of the plot and that made the experience more gratifying for the audience. Since this show will be on the internet, and the audience will have to be on a platform like that to view it, do you think you could benefit from creating something such as this, allowing the show to interact with the audience?
CC: Not sure how to answer that question. All I can tell you is that my objective is to make the most interesting, mysterious, and by turn, popular show I can make. I wish everyone can find something in the show to watch. Beyond what we do as writers and producers, the other things are... there's no devious strategy, trying to platform the show in any particular way. We're simply trying to make the best, most interesting, relevant show possible.
XFN: Final question and it won't be about X-Files 3. Since it's Valentine's day, what do you think Scully and Mulder would give each other?
CC: Well, we already saw what they gave each other for Christmas, well, or we saw it wrapped up.
XFN: Yes, Gillian had an interesting idea of what was in that gift...
CC: *chuckles* Umm, I think that uh... he'd give her salami and she would give him cotton candy.
The After is available at Amazon. Its pending renewal will be announced soon, but the creators and studio want to hear what you think of it. So head over, watch and review. There has never been this much power to choose and get quality programming produced.
Interview by: Avi Quijada - Transcript by: Ky Johnson.