X-Files chief not moving

In 1993, X-Files executive producer Robert Goodwin moved to Bellingham to get away from the Los Angeles rat race. Now the show is going south, but Goodwin won't be following.

by Alex Strachan
Sun Television Critic
Vancouver Sun
April 20, 1998

MOVING ON: After five years with the X-Files, senior executive producer R.W. (Bob) Goodwin is ready for a change. Glenn Baglo, Vancouver Sun
The sign on his desk reads "Robert W. Goodwin -- Executive Leader."

His official credit in The X-Files, a job he is leaving at the end of the month after five years as the show's Vancouver crew boss, reads "Executive Producer, R.W. Goodwin." He is referred to in magazine and newspaper articles as R.W. (Bob) Goodwin.

His friends just call him Bob.

Today, Goodwin begins directing what will be the last episode to be filmed in Vancouver. Tonight, he will help stand-up comedian and part-time X-Files actor Dean Haglund host The Cure Is Out There, a salute to the show's fans featuring many of the series' actors, with the proceeds going to the Canadian Cancer Society.

The show's creator, Chris Carter, will be on hand.He will join actor Gillian Anderson, "Cancer Man" William Davis, "Lone Gunmen" Tom Braidwood and Bruce Harwood, Vancouver actors Nicholas Lea and Chris Owens, and Goodwin's wife, Sheila Larken, who plays Anderson's mother in the show.

Goodwin's schedule doesn't get any easier after tonight.

Tuesday, he will direct a scene at GM Place that will involve more than 6,000 extras.

The episode is entitled The End, but behind-the-scenes crew members are referring to it as Bob Goodwin's Gone with the Wind.

Two weeks from now, Goodwin's five-year journey will come to an end.

It is a decision Goodwin made at the beginning of the year; The X-Files' move to Los Angeles neither hastened nor deterred his decision.

Goodwin, who lives in Bellingham, Wash., initially believed the show would last, at best, 12 episodes.

"I'll be honest," Goodwin said, "I had no idea the show would last, because most shows don't.

"Usually it takes three elements to make a success: the idea and the scripts, the right cast, and proper presentation. If you do all three things, you have a potential success -- and even then there's no guarantee. But if you don't have any one of those three elements, you're dead. I knew from the beginning that The X-Files had those three elements. But luck played a big part, too."

Goodwin, 53, was raised in Los Angeles. He lived there for 45 years, working his way up the film ladder from locations manager to producer, including a brief, harrowing experience producing Star Trek: The Motion Picture (he left the production in a dispute over credit, shortly before it was released in theatres).

In 1993, disillusioned by what he and Larken perceived to be a poor social and school environment in which to raise their children, they moved to Bellingham.

Carter asked Goodwin to help produce the early episodes of The X-Files, and Goodwin answered the call.

"The thing that makes directing The X-Files that makes it so difficult is that, as in any profession, people have different strengths and weaknesses.Some directors are very good with actors, dramatics and staging. Some directors are great with the camera, they're very cinematic. Some directors are really good with action. Some directors can do suspense well. Some directors know how to use special effects well. But when you come to The X-Files, you have to be able to do all of that. Becuase if you can't do all of that, you can't do the show."

Carter has tried to persuade Goodwin to move back to Los Angeles, to no avail. Goodwin says it's time to take a break from the grind and think about life after The X-Files.

"Five years has been enough, quite frankly. It's been really great. It's been one of the best experiences of my life, and I'll forever be grateful to Chris and to Fox for it.

"At the same time, you know, enough already. I'm tired."

In addition to supervising a crew of some 300 technicians in Vancouver, training new directors, organizing shooting schedules and approving locations, Goodwin has made it a point to direct the first and last X-Files episode of every season since May 1994.

Five years in the trenches have given him a unique perspective from which to view Vancouver's production community.

"I would love to be able to work in Seattle, but Seattle has not developed any kind of a presence in this business," Goodwin said. "They have not done anything to make it attractive financially, and they haven't trained anybody.

"You come to Vancouver and you have enough crews to service 30 shows, you have soundstages, you have equipment houses, labs and everything you need to make films -- as well as very talented crews, which is the most important of all."

Goodwin would greet first-time X-Files directors at Vancouver's airport with the refrain, "Welcome to the most difficult show on television."

"The nature of The X-Files is that it's a different story in a different setting every week, which means it is not like most episodic television. Each X-File is a brand new story, with a new supporting cast, new special effects and new problems -- and it all has to be invented from scratch. It's the equivalent of making a feature film every eight days."

The move to Los Angeles isn't going to make things any easier.

"The first 12 episodes [in Vancouver] were stressful, and it's fair to say the first 12 in L.A. are going to be stressful, too. I can't imagine how difficult it's going to be. It's going to be a massive, massive undertaking. All I know is, I'm not going to be doing it."


- Goodwin has been the Vancouver-based executive producer of The X-Files since the series' inception in 1993. Along with producer J.P. (Joseph Patrick) Finn, Goodwin has been responsible for overseeing production in Vancouver. He has also directed the first and last episode of each season since 1994, and today began directing the last episode to be filmed in Vancouver.

- The Australian-born, Los Angeles-raised Goodwin, 53, wrote and directed documentaries for the award-winning local program Ralph Story's Los Angeles while doing improvisational comedy in night clubs as a member of the group Credibility Gap. In 1993, fed up with the smog and crime of Los Angeles, Goodwin moved his family to Washington state. "I sent out letters to everyone saying 'I'm moving to the Pacific Northwest.' I went on vacation, and the second night I was there, they called me about [The X-Files]."

- Tonight, Goodwin will help host The Cure Is Out There, a benefit for the Canadian Cancer Society at Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre (8 p.m.), featuring cast members from The X-Files. Goodwin will leave the show at the end of this season and will focus on writing, producing and directing feature films.


The X-Files came to Vancouver for the forests.

Originally, Chris Carter's Ten Thirteen Productions and 20th Century Fox Television planned to produce the show in Los Angeles. But they couldn't find an appropriate setting for the pilot episode's tale of alien abduction in the Pacific Northwest.

The very first scene in the series -- in which FBI agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) meets Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) for the first time -- was filmed in the CBC building on 700 Hamilton Street.

Over the next five years, Vancouver locations managers Louisa Gradnitzer and Todd Pittson found many familiar Vancouver locations to stand in for different parts of North America and the world. The following are just a few.

- Ballantyne Pier: Hong Kong Airport.

- Bordertown, Mission: Trego Indian reservation, northwest Montana.

- Buntzen Lake, Port Coquitlam: Lake Okobogee, Iowa.

- Capilano College: Gaithersburg, Maryland.

- Delta Park, 120th Street, Surrey: Doolittle Airfield, Nome, Alaska.

- General Motors Place: Scene of international chess tourney -- in Vancouver, Canada!

- Grouse Mountain: Skyland Mountain, Virginia.

- Hill Top Cafe, Langley: The Flying Saucer Diner, Idaho.

- Ho Ho Chop Suey: A Hong Kong restaurant.

- Jericho Sailing Centre: Bethesda Naval Hospital, Maryland.

- Lighthouse Park: Olympic National Forest, Washington State.

- Lion's Gate Travelodge, North Vancouver: The Budget Rest Motel, Townsend, Wisconsin.

- Loftus House, Deer Lake Park, Burnaby: Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

- Lost Lagoon, Georgia Street underpass: Washington D.C. parade staging ground.

- Molson Brewery, Kitsilano: An abandoned Atlantic City warehouse.

- Plaza of Nations, B.C. Enterprises Building: Miami International Airport.

- Plaza of Nations, underground parking lot: Watergate Hotel, Washington D.C.

- Quarry Road, Port Coquitlam: Navajo Reservation, New Mexico.

- Riverview Hospital: a U.S. government federal prison facility; a Buffalo, New York psychiatric hospital; a Massachusetts convalescent home; Florida State Prison.

- Simon Fraser University: the exterior of FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

- Stanley Park: Central Park, New York.

- Steveston Village, Richmond: Steveston, Massachusetts.

- S.W. Marine Drive home of Pavel Bure: Malibu Canyon home, Los Angeles.

- Vancouver City Hall: Lobby of Social Security building, Washington D.C.

- Vancouver General Hospital: Grissom Sleep Disorder Center, Stamford, Connecticut; a Pennsylvania women's care-family services centre.

- Vancouver Park Board service yard, Stanley Park: Forest gulag in northern Russia.

- Versatile Pacific Shipyards: Lake Michigan Waterfront; Folkstone, North Carolina immigration processing centre; Cleveland waterfront.

- Via Rail Station: Bronx Station, New York; Washington D.C. train station.

- West End: Annapolis, Maryland.