As FOX’s iconic sci-fi series The X-Files returned to television in January 2016, the cast and creative team worked to ensure that the show remained as timely and ambitious as ever. The new six-episode event reunited David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, and continued to enrich its mythology, introducing new characters and conspiracies at every turn. Yet, even as the series built on its own fictional history, it also built on its legacy behind the scenes, including its long-running commitment to environmental sustainability.
The previous entry in the franchise, the 2008 feature The X-Files: I Want to Believe, was one of the first films to go into production following the launch of 21st Century Fox’s corporate sustainability program in 2007, and it was among the first to implement the green production practices that Fox helped pioneer, such as prioritizing alternative fuels and recycling materials used on set.
“When I first started working in the business, we would just take sets and throw them away,” said series creator Chris Carter in an interview on green production for the movie’s DVD release. “That’s changing. There is a new directive, and I think Fox is at the forefront of that directive, using recycled materials whenever possible, recycling what you do use, and looking at it as a total approach. I was very excited about that.”
The film’s green efforts behind the scenes helped define best practices for the entire industry, so when the Fox Television Group gave Carter the chance to revisit The X-Files once more, he and the crew picked up where they left off, integrating sustainability into every department’s daily operations.
However, the new series was not without its challenges. It filmed across 40 individual locations in British Columbia, with each requiring elaborate set construction, lengthy transportation demands, and long shooting hours calling for sustained electricity and fuel use. To mitigate these challenges, Fox brought on a dedicated green production consultant to work with each department, including set construction, transportation, wardrobe, props, catering, hair & make-up, and more, to find ways to make the production as efficient as possible.
Thanks to these efforts, the production managed to divert more than 81% of its total waste from landfill, recycle 100% of the aluminum and steel used in set construction, use only lauan plywood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), replace plastic water bottles with refillable ones, avoiding the use of 45,760 plastic bottles, and recycle more than 35 tons of “dirty” EPS foam used for set construction, breaking new ground for the entire industry.
For more information on green production behind the scenes of The X-Files, read our detailed case study and check out the exclusive video below.
The X-Files airs Mondays on FOX at 8:00 PM EST/PST.