Make your own free website on Tripod.com
PEIA: The X-Files Articles

WEEKLY BLEND
From: Vancouver Sun, page E7

The truth is sinking fast in Burns Bog: Notes from an X-Files shoot.

Murphy's Law dictates that if something can happen - no matter how improbable it may happen. To this dictum I would add only that it will happen on a film set. The storyline for the episode "Red Museum" involved, in part, the crash of a small plane and the subsequent discovery of a mysterious briefcase among the wreckage.

The fiery crash was to be played as an effect at night. What was required was a location in which the wreckage could be strewn along a simulated crash path. A grove of trees at the edge of a pasture or field would do nicely, so long as some sort of natural path or clearing existed in the grove in which to create a scorched crash site.

The geography required by the script - rural Wisconsin - matched that of the Delta area, which is where we would find our barn and small town.

It therefore made production sense to locate this scene in that area as well. A good location was found on the perimeter of Burns Bog, on agricultural land owned by a local farmer. Access to the pasture was good, if a natural swath occurred in the strand of trees adjoining the pasture. A bark mulch road ran along the back end of this grove, allowing access for lighting cranes and support vehicles.

Arrangements were made with the Delta fire department's fire prevention unit to accommodate an explosion using naphthalene, gasoline, and black powder which would produce a fireball rising 30 metres in the air. A full fire crew with a pumper truck would be on-site for the duration of the explosion. On our previous location surveys to this site, I had noted a small wooden shed at the side of the access road leading into the pasture. A hand-painted sign saying "Danger...Keep Out" was posted on the structure along with an emergency phone number. Parking for work trucks was problematic in this location and we wanted to park several vehicles around the shed for quick access. I left a message to this effect at the listed number, but my call was not returned.

On our final technical survey, we arrived to find a pick-up truck at the shed. A guy was loading boxes into the back of the truck. I hurried inside with the intention of not only explaining our presence, but of making a deal to park vehicles. What I saw stopped me cold. The room was piled high with crates of dynamite, which he subsequently informed me were "perfectly harmless" without the blasting caps. "They're in the next room," he said matter-of-factly, gesturing with a finger. The horrible irony of our situation struck me. Not only were we to park and work in the immediate vicinity of an explosives storage facility, but we planned to stage an explosion of considerable magnitude within 100 metres of several tonnes of dynamite. Moreover, in terms of production, we had reached the point of no return.

An alternate office number was proffered as I hastily made two calls, one to the Delta fire department and one to the explosive to the explosive company. The end result, to my relief, was a stern warning to refrain from smoking anywhere near the building and an assurance that our explosion - as described - was perfectly safe given its proximity to the storage facility. So why was I still nervous?

As it was, filming went off without a hitch. Well, almost. It seems that, after being warned by both the locations and transportation departments to keep their full pumper truck off the soft access road at the back of the property - it had no business being there - the fire crew decided to take the vehicle four-wheeling. Within three minutes, it sank in the soft bog, woefully stuck. If that wasn't enough, some weeks later I received an invoice from the Delta fire department for the towing costs associated with extricating the vehicle from the mess.

Anecdote by film crew member Todd Pittson, from "X Marks the Spot: On Location with the X-Files" by Louisa Gradnitzer and Todd Pittson
(Arsenal Pulp Press (185 pp., $18.95)


what do you think? go to the messageboard and let everyone know.
note from Dennis: All this happened about a five minutes drive from my house!
thanks to Dennis!