Lexicon Exclusive

In tribute to Kim Manners – January 13, 1951—January 25, 2009

Unpublished quotes provided by Matt Hurwitz.
Additional material by Matt Allair
Page editor: XScribe

How do you measure someone's life? Is it by their artistic accomplishments, or by the ratio of people they've emotionally connected with throughout their life? I don't know. Yet, I suspect it's a little of both. There's a tangible reason why Kim Manner's work connected with the fans so deeply, as attested by many who knew him. He gave 110 percent in his work, he was a passionate fan of the series, The X-Files, and it showed in the episodes he directed. There are many fans who feel--I'd estimate the vast majority--that an episode directed by Kim Manners was always just a little better. There was an extra layer added, there was a certain visual finesse in how it was executed, the actors gave just a little more, the script was somehow enhanced, and even Mark Snow's music for that episode seemed a little different. All of these details seem intangible, but that was the feeling many fans got watching an episode directed by Kim. It was feeling that could not be intellectually dissected; it was just an impression the viewer was left with.

Naturally, I regret I will never get an opportunity to hear his insights personally, and the Philes community now feels sadly smaller, with the knowledge that he is no longer with us. But, we do have a few remaining insights from him: We do have his work; we do have his legacy we can learn from, as with all great artists. As Mulder once commented, "I want to believe that the dead are not lost to us... that they speak to us, as a part of something greater than us... I want to believe that if we listen to what's speaking, it will give us the power to save ourselves."
- Matt Allair

After I met Kim in 2002 to interview him on the set of "Audrey Pauley" for a feature story for Directors Guild of America (DGA) Magazine about the directing team of "The X-Files," I would periodically stay in touch with him, and he would once in a while let me come watch him work. I saw Kim again in the summer of 2005 in the mountains above Northridge, California, where he was directing an episode of Steven Bochco's Iraq War series for the FX Network, "Over There." It was, I believe 108 degrees (no, I'm not kidding), and there he was, keeping the troops moving--not the soldiers, but the crew. Everyone knew they had a master on their hands and gave him their all, despite the heat. Not long after, FX had a premiere party for the show on the Fox lot, and of course, everyone dressed up, including Kim. He had on a nice Hawaiian shirt instead of his customary T-shirt.

Hearing Kim Manners talk about creating "The X-Files" was always a learning experience. He had such an incredible grasp and love of filmmaking--particularly of good, scary tales with great characters (sound familiar?)--that you could tell that he was simply in love with the medium.

Here are a few unused quotes from my interviews with Kim for "The Complete X-Files" which I hope you'll enjoy, and will hopefully give you an insight into his experience as a filmmaker on the show.
- Matt Hurwitz

On How to Scare an Audience
When you're doing a horror show, you've got to hold the buoy. You've got to know when to scare them. You can't scare them when they expect to be scared. When they expect to be scared, you've got to not scare them, so you're keeping them on the edge of their seats, and then you've got to hit them when they least expect it so that they don't see it coming. Audiences are a lot smarter than we might give them credit for, and they kind of know. They get a rhythm of a film they're watching and they say, "Okay, it's going to happen now," and it does. Well, the trick is don't let it happen when they think it's going to happen. That's what keeps it scary or makes it scary.

On Paranoia
What fears do we have? I mean, there's so much paranoia in the world, and I think that just not knowing the possibility...I think that Mulder created great paranoia for the people around him in that he had this insight--he knew that something was up, especially with the conspiracy in the government. That's frightening. I think it's frightening to the public to even consider the fact that our government might have knowledge of things that they are just not going to let us know. You know? That in itself is pretty frightening.

On Telling X-Files Stories Through Mulder & Scully's Point of View
I think that that was one of the few things that was by design on The X-Files--that Chris knew not to let the audience in on anything that Scully and Mulder hadn't discovered, so the discovery was through their eyes. Chris was very point-of-view oriented, and he wanted to tell stories specifically from somebody's point of view at all times. I think it served the show very well.

On Mulder's Moment of Peace in "Closure"
It was an opportunity for a director to take a beautifully written word and just a beautiful emotional content and run with it, you know? That dolly shot across the kids playing in the foreground as Mulder comes up the hill and he appears and he comes between the kids, and it... The wonder of him looking at those children and them staring up at him, and the little girl that he stopped and looked down to. She looked up at him and then he turns and looks past camera. The look on his face was just so peaceful.

We cut to his sister running up. In the script, it called for his sister to run up and hug him and Mulder was to start crying. David didn't want to cry. He said, "No, I just don't think that's the right choice." I said, "David, you know, this is your sister. You know, you're finally realizing, whether it's subconscious or not, that your sister is in fact dead. We've come a long way to get to this answer, and I think it's a very emotional time for Mulder." He said, "Just watch what I do, just trust me." And, he held that little girl actress...There was a beatific smile on his face that was absolutely astounding. I printed it and I said to him after the sequence was shot, I said, "You were absolutely right, and I learned something here today." You know, it was a beautiful sequence, it really was.

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