Masters of Fantasy set: The X-FILES

With the new X Files movie opening this weekend, I thought it a good time to invite you back to 1995 with me. X files was at the peek of it's success. The producers of Sci Fi Buzz asked me to design a set for the "wrap around" segments on a episode of Masters of Fantasy about the X File creators. It was hosted by actor Mitch Pileggi.

Once again this was a project I forgot to take pictures of until it was torn down and packed up. All the images are pictures I took of the TV playing a VHS copy. I've done my best to make them presentable.

Like much of my work from those days, I cringe looking at the set now wishing It could be re done. I give myself some slack on this one because it was probably the lowest budgeted set I ever created for the Sci Fi Channel. With the exception of 2 cheap metal shelf units, a hallow core door and a couple of model kits... everything was recycled, borrowed or brought from home (even the paint). I recall this having to come together really fast in only a couple of days. I also believe we put the whole set up, painted, dressed and lit it in a afternoon and taped the segments that evening.

I attempted a moody X files like FBI office. One side Mulder themed and the other Scully themed. In the center was the office door with the phrase "the truth is out there" stenciled on it, but backwards because you're in the office (I thought that was so clever then).

The walls were a combination of a few repainted ones from the Sci Fi Buzz set and re purposing ones from a recently canceled show called Hollywood Insider which the production company had produced. I raided the studio's offices for stuff... desks, chairs, file cabinets...and a coffee maker.

I was desperate for wall space filler in Mulder's area, I really wanted a copy of the now classic "I Believe" poster but there was little time to gather stuff. Oh, where was photoshop and a personal color printer in those dark ages? Along with clippings and copies from a UFO book, I used every inch of the box and instructions to a UFO model kit. I also included a framed picture I snapped in 1986 while on the Universal Studios tour of an old airplane just sitting in some wooded area. It still decorates my home studio today. Useless personal fact: it's been part of 3 creative chapters in my life. I took the picture while a student at RISD for a photography class. I framed it while working as a framer at Aaron Brothers Art Mart and it then became set dressing when I grew into a set designer.

Along with all the books and papers in Mulder's cubicle, much of the stuff in Scully's area I took from home, including a Mac Classic (not pictured) and my drawing table light. Things from my own Halloween stash and Sci Fi Buzz props were creepy relics on the shelves. My carpenter Greg Holliman wanted to kill me when I asked him to make the rotted, boarded up, window wall from the horror area of the Sci Fi set look new (as seen here). He did it and it looked great but I stayed clear of him as he cursed me out having to re do it when the next Sci Fi Buzz show taped.

Mitch Pileggi was professional, easy going and just plain cool. One of the highlights for me was going outside for a cigarette during a break in filming. He came outside as well to cool off, the studio was very small and got hot very fast under the lights. I asked him...

"This has to be the cheapest, low budget set you've ever been on?"

He smiled and said

"This is a billion dollar set compared to some of the stuff I've worked on when I started out."

I became a little star struck being a big fan of the X Files when it sunk in I was making small talk with FBI Director Skinner. There was some awkward silence especially when I remembered I was also talking to serial killer Horace Pinker from the Wes Craven movie Shocker and standing in a dark parking lot.

The skull he holds at one point was the other model kit put together for the show and aged up. He signed it for me after we wrapped, even adding the name Skinner in quotations. I kept it for years but it was glued together in haste as a quick prop, not posterity. It's long gone having been beat up and broken often during the many moves in my life.

The best memory though was working with my brother Ted who helped set dress. It's nice to see our names scroll up the screen back to back in the credits. Mine came first of course, I'm the older brother.


  1. THANKS!!!!!!! Wow - that takes me back.

  2. Dave!

    I was just perusing your Halloween countdown and stumbled on your posts about Sci-Fi Buzz!
    I was a Production Coordinator for Sci-Fi Buzz for its last year (and then when it became Sci-Fi Entertainment.)
    Have we met?
    What a small world... from Halloween back to Sci-Fi Buzz...


  3. Loved hearing about the set you put together for The X-Files. Mitch Pileggi is one of my favorite actors, so it was great to see the pix of him. I envy your artistic skills in being able to make a set!