Disclaimer: The following is a summary of the
question and answer session. No recording devices were allowed so
this is from notes and I don't know shorthand so I tried to get down
the basics but keep in mind this is not a transcript - only a
summary. I need to point out that the sound system wasn't the best
so it was often impossible to hear the questions asked. I will try
to give you the main points that the speaker touched on with actual
quotes in bold. Occasionally a bit of my own opinion may come
through regarding a question or answer. I mean no disrespect to
anyone who may have asked one of these questions and apologize ahead
of time if I offend anyone. Keep in mind, I'm just another person
with another opinion so don't let it get to you.
Kim Manners' Q&A
Kim came out on stage following clips of the episodes he's
directed. He was wearing white cowboy boots (I think), jeans, and a
brown leather jacket over his shirt. He first thanked the crowd for
being there and for being fans of the show. He said we make all the
hard work worthwhile. Worth all the pain.
He began by telling us a few things about himself. He said he's
been in the business since he was three years old, starting out as an
actor from the age of 3 to 19. He said at that point, Jeff Bridges
ran him out of town. Not sure what the reference there was. He said
he's worked in just about every aspect of the business: props,
driver, stuntman, actor, assistant director, and now
producer/director. He said his first directing job was on Charlie's
Angels in 1978. He then turned the floor over to questions.
The first question wasn't...it was a comment. A woman got up and
mentioned that she was an actor and how fabulous he was and that he
was an actor's dream director, blah, blah, blah. He said thanks and
that it was a pleasure to do the work and that it was all for the
The next question was about the commercially available videos.
Something about whether they were up to date with the current
episodes and would they be available. Not really Kim's area.
Kim directed Humbug and the next question was whether Gillian
really ate the cricket. This is the sort of question that has been
answered about a zillion times in the print media and interviews
available online but he went on to tell the story. How they spent
$2000 making up a biscuit-cricket so she could swallow that during
the take but how Gillian spent time around the set and got to talking
to Jim Rose and he had her eating crickets at some point. By the
time they were ready to shoot the scene, Gillian decided to skip the
fake cricket and reached into the container and put a real live
cricket in her mouth. It surprised and grossed-out lots of the
people on the set. She didn't swallow it though, walking away and
spitting it out after the take.
A woman came to the microphone and told Kim how she taught at a
nearby high school and that they have an X-Files Fan Club that raised
money for a scholarship. She was wondering if they could get him to
sign a thank you letter to give to the people who donated to their
cause. He was very accommodating and agreed to see her about it
Someone asked about the timeframe for shooting an episode. He
said they usually have 8 days to prep and that they have two full
film crews. It takes about 10-14 days per episode but sometimes it
runs long and they are constantly pressed for time. Even with the
secondary crew, they keep everybody busy. He talked more about the
process of prepping and shooting and post-production and how he is
involved at all steps of the process as a director.
The next woman said, "Mr. Manners, or should I say bleep-bleep."
Limited response there. She went on to tell of how she makes jewelry
and had designed and made a necklace especially for Gillian Anderson
but hadn't been able to figure out exactly how to get it to her and
was wondering if he had an address or...she sort of trailed off. At
this point Kim, being incredibly accommodating if you ask me (and I
know you didn't), asked her if she was asking him if he'd take it to
Gillian. The woman said, "Would you?" as if it wasn't what she was
asking all along. He said yes he would and told her to bring it up
to him on the stage. I think this was the worst of the inappropriate
questions I saw all day. Not that it's wrong to make a necklace for
GA, but to come to Kim's Q&A and ask him to be an errand boy for
Someone mentioned the fact that he was originally going to play
Detective Manners in the episode Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space' and
wondered why he didn't. He said he's been really busy doing
post-production on the last episode and was really tired and decided
to take a pass because he was worried he'd forget his lines. He
didn't want to be embarrassed. He said he does actually swear a lot
and only wished they had picked an actor for the role who had a bit
I finally jumped in and asked Kim about the type of episodes he
likes to direct the most. He's done dark, moody episodes
(Grotesque); funny, satirical episodes (War of the Coprophages);
mytharc episode (Apocrypha). Which does he find the most challenging
and enjoyable. He said he's become really attached to the whole
mythology and enjoys these episodes the best these days. He's
enjoyed working on all the various types but finds the whole story of
the mythology fascinating to work on not to mention the great cast
that comes out of the woodwork for these shows (Mitch, John Neville,
Another question about the making of the show. He said they
usually shoot 15-16 hours a day. He talked more about being involved
in the post-production, including the addition of the musical score.
He was asked about John Bartley (Director of Photography) leaving
the show and how difficult the transition was during that time. He
said it was very difficult at first. They brought in a new DP and he
shot some stuff that really didn't work out. It was very dark and
they were having problems work-wise and just getting along with him
personality-wise on the set. Carter decided to make another change
and they brought Joel Ransom aboard and he did a great job and is
working out really well.
Someone asks about the upcoming feature film and what he thinks.
He said he hasn't seen it but from everything he's heard he thinks
it's going to be terrific.
He is asked about working on the set and how everyone interacts.
He says it's a really fun show to work on. He couldn't tell any real
stories but he mentioned one thing Gillian does...that she likes to
use the phrase "F**k me!" and it really cracks everybody up.
I hogged the microphone for another question and asked him about
the special effects intensive episodes; if they were difficult,
challenging, and if he had any anecdotes to relate. He said that Max
was a lot of work but was really worth it. He said they built that
entire plane set. It was six feet off the ground, had a 22 degree
tilt, was shot with 80 extras, and the plane crash scenes took 3 days
to shoot. He said it was sort of a dangerous shoot and he actually
had the camera crew wearing helmets. The extras really put
themselves on the line shooting those interior shots without wearing
the helmets and everything you saw was shot with real people, not a
CGI effect. He said the scenes where people were sucked off the
plane (like Max himself) were done using what he called a "jerk off".
They hooked the people up to harnesses hooked to a cable and jerked
them right off the plane, 40 feet across the set. He said he wanted
to explore the minds of the people on that plane. There they are
just having seen such a beautiful thing in Max's abduction and return
to the plane and suddenly they're thrown into this horrible event
with the UFO and their plane being shot down and the ensuing violence
of the crash. He said he thinks these are the sort of scenes that
define the show.
He reiterated his feeling that all the hard work is worth it
because of the fans and their positive reactions. He said we are
very important. Boy, he really plays to the audience and of course
we're eating it up with a spoon.
Someone asked if the roaches in WOTC were real or fake. He said
they were 99% real and that it was really amazing. He told the story
about how during filming the roaches often took his direction better
than the human actors. For the shot with the guy sitting on the
toilet, he was going to pan behind him and the roaches were supposed
to come running up the back of the tank. Apparently, they tried this
multiple times and the roaches weren't cooperating so he went over to
them and, using his often colorful phraseology, told them in no
uncertain terms to run up the damn toilet tank when he called action.
Amazingly, they did what he asked and he got the shot.
A question was asked about whether they were assigned certain
scripts or did they get to choose. He said that right now the only
people who direct mytharc episodes are Rob Bowman, Chris Carter, R.W.
Goodwin, and himself. As far as the rest, it's just sort of what
comes up in the rotation. They aren't selected for anyone's
He was then asked about the episode Home and censorship. He said
that Fox was going to show that episode on March 22nd because it had
been voted as a fan favorite but they backed out at the last minute.
He said he thought Home addressed the biggest fear of so many people
- what's under the bed. He said they took a chance with the episode
and maybe they went too far. He said that people need to go back to
the source of the story which was based on the movie "Brother's
Keeper". He said the reason he felt the baby was killed was because
the brothers knew it was born a mutant and didn't want the baby to
grow up and have to live the life that they had to endure.
The next person asked where he got his ideas for the stories. He
politely asked, do you mean where do the writers get the ideas, not
being a writer himself. He said he thought the writers were a bunch
of weirdoes. Weird, confused, and eventually desperate as their
deadlines hit. When their time runs out they get desperate for an
idea and come up with these bizarre stories. He was mostly kidding
around except for the desperation at deadline part...I think. As far
as his role in the storytelling, he says he puts himself in the
viewers mind to decide how to do the visuals. What would scare him?
How could he shoot something to elicit the emotion he wants? What
would work if he was the viewer?
The question of why they don't do more abduction stories was
asked. He said they have done some and, in fact, just had Cassandra
Spender abducted in the last episode. He said we'll just have to see
if and when she's returned whether it was an alien abduction or
something else. The question was posed as to whether he believed in
extraterrestrials. His answer was an emphatic yes.
Someone asked if he really thought Chris Carter was crazy. He
said Chris was "one twisted puppy". He told a story about
working on Teso Dos Bichos. He commented that it was not his
favorite. He said it was three good acts then suddenly the killer
kitty cats arrived. "What a stupid show!" He told about how
they were on the set and he was eating a sandwich and Carter was
there telling him how he wanted one scene shot, describing effects
and how he wanted them grosser and more graphic, and there was Kim
just eating his sandwich. He said at that point he thought,
"We're all going to hell."
He was asked whether the production of the episodes were always
frantic paced. He said it was pretty much always frantic. He
thought the name of the production company could be Miracle
Productions instead of Ten-Thirteen. He said that, for instance, The
Red and The Black was still filming scenes on Friday, two days before
it had to be on the air.
Kim was asked how they got Jodie Foster to do the voice of the
tattoo in Never Again. He said it wasn't a show he directed but that
Randy Stone (casting) is a really good friend with Jodie, has been
for years. When they had the voice-over opportunity come up, Chris
Carter mused that it would be great if they could get Jodie to do it
and when Randy asked her she agreed immediately.
Someone asked what his favorite aspect of the show is. He said
he's been directing for 20 years and this show is such a great
opportunity because it's like shooting a feature film. He said you
usually don't get opportunities like this in TV but it's thanks to
the fans watching that he's been given this opportunity and gets to
continue working on the show. He said if we weren't watching the
show, "I would probably be directing traffic."
Another lame one. A guy got up and proceeded to tell Kim about
how he's a musician and his friends told him his music sounds like it
should be on The X-Files. He was wondering how he'd go about
submitting some of his music to try to get it on the show. Kim was
very polite and told him to see him afterward and he'd look into
getting him some addresses.
Somebody came to the microphone and said he hoped they never
censored the show or themselves. Kim said that's how he wanted it
and that his philosophy was that there was an ON/OFF switch on the TV
so people could use it.
He was asked how he felt about other networks' shows that had
tried to imitate the tone and feel of The X-Files. He said he didn't
think it was working; that the quality just wasn't there. "I'm
not bragging but we do it well." He said the whole thing is a
learning process. If you look back at the first season and progress
up to the latest episodes, you can see that they've leaned and
changed as the show matured.
A guy got up and commented how he likes all aspects of the show
including the dialogue. He wondered if they would ever have scenes
where the characters talk about events that have happened, sort of to
keep people up to speed or refresh their memories about events that
have occurred. Kim said that Chris wouldn't write that way so it
would never happen. He did say that we would see more answers in the
future, both in the feature film and in season six. He said things
about Samantha would be dealt with and commented, "I think CSM is
Someone asked if there were any directors that inspired him or
that he tried to emulate. He said he doesn't pattern his work after
others but tries to use his own style and shoot visuals, etc. that
he'd like to see if he was a viewer. He said his biggest inspiration
is his wife, his family, and the fans. He said when he's tired,
frustrated, or having a hard time with the show his wife tells him
that he doesn't realize what an incredible thing they're doing. He
said that 10 years from now, after the show is past its original run,
we'll all realize that The X-Files is among the top 10 most
important, influential shows in history.
When asked if Mulder and Scully are ever going to get together he
answered, "Not on your life! No way!" He said they care
deeply for each other and are a special couple but if there was a
romance on the show, it would be over.
That was the final question and before they carted him off to
start signing autographs he profusely thanked the audience.
"Thank you very, very, very, very much. I love you.
March 23, 1998
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