The Scully Box

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Gillian Anderson is much shorter than David Duchovny -- estimates of their actual heights vary, but there's roughly a 10" height difference there. So when the pair costarred on The X-Files, filming conversations posed a problem; getting both of their heads in a standing shot would have had Anderson talking into Duchovny's chest (perhaps not the worst fate in the world, but not great TV). The solution is delightful: the Scully Box, which is a variant of the typical apple box. Anderson stood on a specially-designed box that elevated her just enough to have a TV-normal conversation with Duchovny. Have a look:

Prior to the Scully Box, the norm for this sort of task was an apple box, a wooden box of predictable dimensions: 8"x20"x12". (There are also half-apple and quarter-apple sizes, for less demanding applications.) According to TV Tropes, the Scully Box is sized at "an 'apple' and a half," and could be stacked or laid out in a path (you don't want to stack typical apple boxes or have actors walk far on them, as they're not particularly stable). To my eye, the "half" apple is just extra length, not height or width -- but I'm not a TV professional. Also according to TV Tropes, the Scully Box was made of aluminum covered in carpeting, which is a far cry from the typical plain wood of an apple box.

Some reports say that Gillian Anderson called it the "Gilly Board," which is kind of adorable. Here's a snippet of an interview with US Magazine reprinted on Anderson's "official" website, in which the Scully Box or Gilly Board is discussed, but not named. Note how Anderson seems to contradict herself (emphasis added):

US: You walk very tall. Do you ever forget that you're only 5 feet two?

GILLIAN: It depends on how I feel about myself in a given moment. Sometimes I forget I'm short. Sometimes I totally feel how short I am.

US: Like when you have to stand on a box to do a scene with David Duchovny?

GILLIAN: I don't have to stand on a box. Sometimes when we're in a situation walking side by side, like up to a door to pull out our badges and say we're from the FBI, I have to step up onto something so that we're on the same level. I mean, I don't walk on boxes or have boxes attached to my feet. It's funny: Sometimes I forget I'm on the box. Like, I'll have this very serious moment in a very serious scene and I'll turn to the camera and fall right off the box.

(Via The Beautiful Chaotic.)

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March 2, 2012 - 6:45am
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