The year of 2015 is a monumental one for Ten Thirteen Productions. Thirteen years after The X-Files wrapped, a six-episode event series began production and will return to television in January. Chris Carter’s second series, Millennium, has also received a bit of attention lately. In addition to the IDW Publishing comic series based on the TV show, a new version of the series’ soundtrack has also recently been released, in addition to a re-release of the original soundtrack. With all the recent media attention, fans of the iconic television show are ready to get back to Frank Black.
Ramping up the Back to Frank Black campaign to shine the spotlight on Millennium, Fourth Horseman Press has collected an assortment of essays, interviews and synopses of the TV show, spotlighting the themes, characters and symbolism of the crime-drama series that explored evil through three seasons, but may have debuted ahead of its time (and was subsequently canceled way too soon).
Writer-Editor Adam Chamberlain discusses the Back to Frank Black book and campaign to return to the world of Millennium, which many of the primary filmmakers would like to revisit, including Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz and Lance Henriksen. This is who we are.
What is the current status of the campaign? Have there been any developments since the book was published?
– “The campaign is very much still alive and well, and there have indeed been a few recent developments. It’s actually been a wonderful year to be a fan of Millennium already, with the five-issue comic book from IDW Publishing having been released (and a trade paperback edition on the way), plus La-La Land Records putting out a second volume of the soundtrack and re-releasing the previously sold-out first volume. There was even a signing event to celebrate that release with Mark Snow, Lance Henriksen, and Megan Gallagher all in attendance, and which proved to be very popular.”
“Added to that, the campaign’s latest crusade is to get Millennium streaming on Netflix. Whilst the DVD box sets are still available, so many folks consume content online these days that this seems a no-brainer. It proved a very popular platform for The X-Files and brought a new generation to that series so, with Chris Carter’s profile ascendant once again now that the The X-Files is set to be revived, it feels like Millennium would be very popular there, too, and that it would be a powerful way to bring broader and much-deserved attention to his other masterpiece.”
What are your responsibilities in the Back to Frank Black campaign?
– “To paraphrase Frank Black, ‘Well, we do some consulting.’ We were asked onboard by the key players — Troy Foreman and James McLean — to assist with some of their projects, and the biggest of those was, naturally, the book itself. They originally pitched the idea of the book to us, and we were thrilled to be asked and to be take a lead on that, and to have the opportunity to fill what we all saw as an absence of literary study of a series that really demanded to be taken that seriously.”
Initially, how many people were involved in the campaign? How many are involved now?
– “James McLean was the bright spark who lit the flame for the campaign, having been spurred into action by some comments Lance Henriksen made at a convention about wanting to return to the role. Troy Foreman is very much the other driving force today, although a few others — myself and Brian A. Dixon included — have been involved over the course of the campaign’s history.”
Is the Back to Frank Black campaign ongoing or has it calmed?
– “The campaign is very much still ongoing. It’s fair to say that, when the book was released, as well as being a volume that explored the series and its themes in great detail it was seen very much as a ‘manifesto’ — to quote Lance Henriksen’s foreword — that summed up the efforts of the campaign to date. For a time thereafter, there was therefore something of a natural lull in new activity other than promotion for the book. But this year, with the release of the comic and the Netflix campaign, plus the resurgence of interest in Chris Carter’s work given the imminent return of The X-Files, has given it fresh impetus.”
“Plus, next year marks the twentieth anniversary of Millennium’s debut on Fox, and the campaign would like to mark that in some way. It’s significant, too, to see that whenever Carter appears to promote The X-Files, he’s asked about Millennium. Just last week he was interviewed in front of an audience at the Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival, and Millennium came up several times. Asked directly if he would like Millennium to return Chris said, directly, ‘yes,’ and described it as ‘a show that has still some freshness to the concept.’ Comments and coverage such as that are a huge motivator for the campaign.”
What charity is involved with each sale of the book?
– “All proceeds from the book go to Children of the Night, a California-based charity that rescues children from prostitution. It’s a charity that Lance Henriksen has supported previously and he nominated it for the book, too. It feels like a good fit for Millennium, given it is an important and meaningful concern, but one that some people find too dark to consider.”
What was the initial reaction to Carter, Henriksen, et al. when they discovered the Back to Frank Black campaign?
– “Lance Henriksen in particular, but also Chris Carter and many of the cast and crew have been enormously supportive of the campaign. Everyone that the campaign has engaged with has cited Millennium as a career highlight and something to which they would love to return. That has been an enormous and powerful motivator for the campaign; not only does it support the still considerable fanbase, but it also represents the views and desires of those whose creative vision brought Millennium to the screen in the first instance.”
What element of Millennium do you see people hooking them into the Back to Frank Black campaign?
– “I think the concept, the visual style, the tone, and its esoteric mix of human monsters and otherworldly manifestations of evil all mark Millennium out as being something singular in the Nineties’ television landscape. Whilst it’s something that has had a clear influence on series since — look no further than the likes of True Detective or Criminal Minds — there’s never been anything quite like it either before or since. It is very clear that the character of Frank Black and his embodiment in Lance Henriksen are a big draw as well; it’s not by accident that the campaign titled itself for the character.”
With The X-Files getting a brief return to television, do you think the same can happen for Millennium?
– “Absolutely. Indeed, as I mentioned, the surge of new interest in Chris Carter’s work can only help. I would love to see The X-Files revival be a huge hit in its own right as I love both it and Millennium dearly, and both series have had a profound influence upon me. But if The X-Files is as successful as I hope and believe it will be, then that can only make the case stronger for Millennium to return in its own right — either with its own limited run, or as a one-off television movie event. If something like that could come together in 2016, in what will be Millennium’s twentieth anniversary year, that would be a dream come true for me and many, many other fans of the series.”
Would a possible Millennium movie help or hurt the Back to Frank Black campaign?
– “Well, the movie is what we’re all about, so it can only help the campaign! We’re specific, though, that what we’re seeking is a continuation or resolution to the story of Frank Black as played by Lance Henriksen, and that we’d also want Chris Carter to be involved. It was Carter’s vision, their creative partnership and that of the other writers, directors, cinematographers, editors, actors and so on that made Millennium so special, so our only concern would be if someone wanted to reboot the concept without those key players being involved.”
How were people chosen to write the essays? Were they given topics or parameters?
– “We invited a number of writers with links to either Fourth Horseman Press or the Back to Frank Black campaign — notably including Jordan Black herself, Brittany Tiplady, in the latter instance. We had a shortlist of topics that we wanted to cover, and we explored those possibilities with each writer in terms of what they would like to contribute or what resonated with them. We wanted to ensure that the quality of the analysis matched the quality of the series, too, so that was a prime concern from an editorial perspective. Luckily, we had a great set of writers who got involved and were on the same page as us.”
How soon after the series was cancelled were actors and filmmakers interviewed?
– “Most of the interviews came from the Millennium Group Sessions podcast by Troy and James, and most of those were recorded between 2009 and 2012. One or two were interviews that we conducted specifically for the book itself, though, close to the publication date. So some time had passed since the series was cancelled, which I think benefits some of the interviews as the passage of time helps to set the series into a broader context.”
Is the podcast still ongoing? Who has been featured on it lately?
– “The Millennium Group Sessions podcast is ongoing, yes, if a little less frequent than when it debuted. That is very much the Troy Foreman and James McLean Show, although author John Kenneth Muir and I recently featured on a discussion on the comic book and its implications. Troy and James also interviewed Joe Harris, the writer of the comic book miniseries, at the end of last year.”
How does Millennium, as a TV show, resonate for you?
– “I have always had an interest in the psychology of evil — both in terms of individuals and also at the level of organisations and populations — and this was central to the idea of Millennium. So many things came together beautifully to make Millennium the definitive series to have ever approached such a complex topic. Key to that is Chris Carter’s vision and that of many of the other writers and producers on the series such as Glen Morgan, James Wong, Chip Johannessen, Frank Spotnitz, Darin Morgan, Michael R. Perry, Erin Maher, and Kay Reindl. Then you also have career-best performances from the likes of Lance Henriksen, Megan Gallagher, and Klea Scott, Mark Snow’s superb score, great direction by the likes of Thomas J. Wright, and the signature cinematography of Robert McLachlan. So much conspired to engender Millennium with the quality that permeates throughout its three seasons, but I guess I always come back to how it approaches those core ideas and themes.”
Has there been any analysis that was not included in the book? Are there any plans for a revision or second book release?
– “We cover a lot of ground in the book, and I think we touched upon most of the main topics that we had wanted to explore. That said, Millennium is a series so dense with ideas, themes, and subject matter, so there is always more to be said. We don’t have any current plans to issue a second edition or a follow-up, although we’re open to exploring that at some point if there was a compelling reason for so doing — such as a return to the screen for Frank Black, for example! The reality is, though, that Fourth Horseman Press has other projects lined up and limited time and resources, so it’s not something that is in the forefront of our minds right now.”
What has been the highlight of working on the Back to Frank Black campaign?
– “Undoubtedly our involvement in the book, of which we are very proud as a lasting contribution. Through writing and promoting that, I have also been privileged to get to know Lance Henriksen a little, who remains a stalwart supporter. He has such a generous, warm, wise, and creative spirit that he is a true inspiration.”
What is one of the most difficult aspects of the campaign?
– “One difficulty, if it’s not too churlish to describe it as such, is probably to escape from out of the shadow of The X-Files. That’s not a bad problem to have, mind you — an association with such a high quality, internationally-renowned and era-defining series — but sometimes I think Millennium is seen as just another, slightly less successful series that Chris Carter created. The reality is that it was supremely popular on its debut, and that it maintained an audience that would define it as a huge hit in today’s television landscape. Thematically, too, it is sometimes misunderstood as having been all about the turn of the year 2000 and therefore having an in-built expiration date. That’s to overlook the key themes at its heart, which if anything are more resonant in the troubled and anxious times in which civilisation finds itself today.”
Do you think Back to Frank Black helped renew interest for Millennium, as well as the creation of the IDW comic-book series?
– “I think Back to Frank Black certainly carries the torch for Millennium, although it’s difficult to know quite how much influence we have had in our own right in that instance. Chris Carter and The X-Files carry great weight all on their own, of course, and The X-Files comic had already been a huge success for IDW.”
Other than a movie or another TV season, what is the one thing you wish for the Back to Frank Black campaign?
– “Really, just to shine a light upon what what a superb, meaningful, and influential body of art is represented by Millennium. It really does deserve to be seen, recognised, and celebrated as such, and that’s something we hope the campaign — and the book in particular—really represent.”
For More Information:
– Back to Frank Black book homepage
– Back to Frank Black book reviews
– Back to Frank Black Website
– Fourth Horseman Press Website
– Fourth Horseman Press blog
– Adam Chamberlain’s homepage
– Brian A.Dixon’s homepage
– The Millennial Abyss archive
– Back to Frank Black’s Millennium Group Sessions podcast
– Back to Frank Black Netflix campaign details