The Washington, D.C. Expo was his first. He looked totally exhausted, rumpled and hot. A security guard sat with us for the entire interview.
J. Hitchcock: What do you think of it so far?
Rob Bowman: Well, let's see. They forgot to pick me up at the airport last night
(Security guard) Now, now, we're making good on that tonight. After some good-natured ribbing with the guard, Bowman answers my question.
RB: It's a really positive outcome of hanging out in a hotel room in Vancouver for four years. I never thought all this would happen.
JH: What do you think of having the Expo here (White Oak, a former top secret military installation in Maryland) instead of at a hotel or convention center?
RB: Oh, it's fun! It's a lot more fun and inventive and like any episode of the X-Files. You read more into it instead of just going into a banquet room and knowing what to expect. They'll think there's some connection between the facility and us. Actually, if we walk around and get any ideas, there will be. I think this is more fun for the fans, absolutely.
JH: Are you going to Detroit next week?
RB: No, I still have to work on the movie. I'm in the final mix of the movie, we're still working on visual effects shots, so I'm knee-deep in it.
JH: Have you had a chance to walk around yet?
RB: No, I came in here, shook hands and saw you. I'm curious to see what the place really looks like, since this was a research facility.
JH: Can you tell me a little bit about the movie?
RB: We've finished scoring the music, now we're doing the final dub and mix, incorporating the dialogue, sound effects and music for what will be seen in the theaters. We are racing to approve the final 55 visual effect shots, out of over 200. Which means to me, that just before it comes out in the theater, we'll be putting in the final shots. It's a pretty scary time.
JH: What's the big difference working on the film versus the series?
RB: The series you get a script and go - there's not a lot of sitting down and talking about it and it's over and done in eight business days with the first unit and five business days with the second unit. I've had two birthdays since I've been working on this movie. And because the single investment of this one installment is so huge compared to one episode (of the series), you've got the attention of the studio at every moment. Although, they were very good about letting us make this movie, they were never on the set, if they were it was just to say 'hello' and that was it. There was none of the standing over my shoulder or second-guessing anything. But, the stakes are much higher and everything has much more importance and you have to discuss every nuance of every moment of every scene and you also - the greatest thing is the expectation. Because of the TV show, the fans were really having some high expectations of the movie and I don't know if it's possible to ever live up to them, no matter how good the movie is. The biggest difference is with all those elements at our disposal, still matching the expectation of the series is the basis - I don't know if we've done it, but we could not have worked any harder. We have all killed ourselves making this movie.
JH: Did the script change a lot?
RB: There were some reductions because of the budget we had to work with, but it didn't change that much. There was some dialogue polishing that Chris (Carter) wanted to do, story clarification that people had some questions about. The problem was that every single draft was on red paper to make it impossible to photocopy and the revisions weren't typed on the cover page like the TV show, so I'd have to guess there were maybe 10 drafts. Chris is a fairly accurate shooter, right from the beginning, so it didn't change that much.
JH: After this? What's up?
RB: We're currently in the process of hiring a new crew for Los Angeles, because the show moves there next season. We can't bring any of the Vancouver crew because of work permits, so we're pretty much starting from scratch for a crew. We expect to go back and do at least some of the early episodes, but whenever and whatever they want, I'll speak to Chris first.
JH: So is this like a working vacation for you?
RB: (laughs drily) Almost. I'm trying to keep my brain awake. The fact that I actually directed some more episodes while I was doing the movie has burned the candle pretty hot this year.
JH: Are you ready for this crowd? He was scheduled to go on stage in a few minutes
RB: I have no idea. I'm just gonna do it. What is it like?
JH: It's crazy. They're wild. They scream at everything. You could say the sky was green and they'd scream.
RB: I directed 13 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I was the "A" director right from the beginning, so that was 10, 11 years ago? So I got hit at a very young age with that intense fanmanship and lots of interviews and lots of visitors on the set. I didn't know it was going to happen on the X-Files. But I'm completely unprepared. I literally got in the car right off the dubbing stage and flew here. I have no idea what to expect.
The guard gently reminds me it's time for Bowman to go onstage. Bowman shakes my hand firmly, then heads off to the crowd waiting for him.
J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at jahitchcock.com.