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When you create 218 episodes over 11 seasons, it takes a little something extra to make one stand out. The X-Files‘ 2000 episode “First Person Shooter” had that: The screenwriters were famed cyberpunk authors William Gibson and Tom Maddox. And the seventh season episode was one of only 15 that series creator Chris Carter directed himself.
Like HBO’s Westworld (also nominated for effects), the episode involves a computer-simulated Old West and was nominated for Emmys in three sound and visual effects categories, winning two awards. Gibson and Maddox previously had written 1998’s “Kill Switch” for the Fox series, which exec producer Frank Spotnitz once said was the most expensive episode shot while the show was still filming in Vancouver.
“With ‘First Person Shooter,’ we had to adjust to the higher costs of shooting in L.A.,” says Maddox, who, it turns out, was not as satisfied with the episode as the Academy. “I feel like I would have liked to have had another shot at it.”
Maddox says the TV experience left a couple of deep impressions on him, with the first being how hard people work. “We’d go in thinking we’d work from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. — and end up being there till dawn.”
He also was impressed by what “a good, cohesive production company” Carter had assembled. “They could do everything an army can do, like build bridges and knock them down,” says Maddox, “but they don’t kill people.”
This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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