“It’s my eye!”  The X-Files credits deciphered by its creators

“It’s my eye!” The X-Files credits deciphered by its creators

Chris Carter’s series celebrates its 30th anniversary this week. Finally, its American broadcast, because the French public had to wait a little before discovering the investigations of Mulder and Scully on M6…

A flying saucer, a ghost in a corridor, a distorting face, a close-up of an eye and this enigmatic sentence: “The Truth Is Out There”. To distressing music by Mark Snow, the credits of X Files had a profound impact on fans of the series Chris Carter.

In 2016, when Mulder and Scully returned for a tenth seasonits creators Bruce Bryant, Carol Johnsen and Jim Castle deciphered shot by shot this unforgettable opening for Empire. We’re sharing their juicy anecdotes again this week, because the series has just celebrated its 30th anniversary. In the United States, its broadcast began precisely on September 10, 1993. In France, on the other hand, M6 offered it a little later, from June 12 of the following year. In both cases it was an immediate success.

Here is the video:

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The right vocabulary

“Creating opening credits sets the tone of the show, believes Bruce Bryant. We all like that. As soon as we see the first images, we know what to expect (…) In this case, Carol, Jim Castle and I had made documentaries on UFOs before being hired on X Files, so we knew about paranormal phenomena. We already had ‘the right vocabulary’.”

For this first shot, Chris Carter had provided the logo, and the team had time to do things well: several months before having to submit the finished credits, for example, they received music from Mark Snow. “Having the right sound helps you immerse yourself in the mood, find the rhythm, make the ideal cuts, explains Carol Johnsen. It helps with everything in fact (…) Overall, we are very proud of our work on X Files. That’s what gave the series its first Emmy!”

The creators in “cameo”

“The guy in the shadows pointing to the saucer? It’s Bruce,” laughs Johnsen. The person concerned confirms: “We both did ‘cameos’ within our credits. There we were in New Mexico, we were watching the sun go down and I pointed to the sky. Carol filmed it, then we added the saucer in post-production.”

Another fun detail: it was Bryant and Johnsen who signed Mulder and Scully’s FBI cards.

“My eye”

“Ah yes, that’s my eye”, recognizes Johnsen, even though it’s the name of the series’ creator, Chris Carter, that appears over it. “We weren’t trying to pretend we were Hitchock! It’s even rare for us to appear in our own work. It’s just that for this theme song, it worked well.”

So the ghost in the hallway is “plays” by Bruce Bryant (“We were simply in our offices”) and the body falling on one hand is that of Carol. “Why the hand? I don’t know. We were just looking for an interesting background…”

Images “scientific and enigmatic

Bryant then explains that they came up with images that evoked scientific research, while choosing the vaguest examples possible. Like this hand above fluorescent lines: “We comassumes that something is being followed, hunted. But we didn’t really have a specific story in mind, we just told ourselves that it evoked part of the FBI’s work. Chris wanted to keep some mystery.”

Same with the electrostatic generator and the germinating seeds. “Chris never told us why he wanted this particular image. What is certain is that it is intriguing, especially with its ‘mirror’.”

Chris Carter chose some of the images himself

In addition to the logo and the sprouted seeds, the creator of the series imposed a deformed head. And it is undoubtedly this image which most marked the public. “Chris Carter specifically requested this, Johnsen remembers. So we asked a colleague from the post-production team who worked in our building if we could use his face. He accepted, we filmed it. We actually had several choices of people, but the plan worked best with his face. I wonder if people still recognize him in the street for that!”

For Bryant, it is a very strong image, “which makes you feel a little nauseous. We don’t really know why but it evokes a certain terror in each of us.”

Only one detail changes…

Those who followed X Files from start to finish know well that the credits have evolved a little over the seasons. Especially when Robert Patrick arrived and David Duchovny was less present.

There is also a “detail” which has often been changed: the ending sentence. For around twenty episodes, “The Truth Is Out There” was transformed. In “Trust No One”, “Believe The Lie”” or “They’re watching“, For example.

The duo admits: “We were sometimes asked to change these few words. However, the image was never modified. It had been sent directly by production, we didn’t need to go and photograph the desert!”

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