Short, Sweet Netflix Documentary – ‘John Was Trying To Contact Aliens’
"John Was Trying To Contact Aliens" won the prize for best short-form documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, and now it's streaming on Netflix.
John Shepherd grew up in Antrim County in Northern Michigan, and he was fascinated by two things, space and electronics. So he combined his two loves and began broadcasting a weird mix of music and his voice into space, in hopes of luring in some space aliens.
For thirty years he would flip on all the weird doo-hickeys in his home, hoping to reach an alien civilization.
"I live with my grandparents in a small cottage in Northern Michigan. I started building the electronic equipment to make contact with whatever might be out there," Shepherd says in the film.
"It grew to encompass an entire bedroom. That equipment continued to grow, and in the next two years, it was migrating into the living room. It became more and more massive."
He added: "I was always seeking to explore, to look beyond what we have here."
The film's director, Matt Killip, who interviewed for the web site Dangerous Minds, described John this way:
John is completely self-taught, he built many of the machines you see in the film himself. He has an incredible technical mind, a deep love of physics and, in particular, electricity. He spent a lot of time hunting in scrap yards and military auctions with his grandfather, who was a machinist and also helped him build some of the equipment. The radar John built was sitting on a tower made out of a scrapped ski lift! But I don’t really explore the science behind what John was doing in my film. I was afraid of getting slowed down in technical details when I was most interested in the fundamentally romantic idea of contact: this search John had for something beyond him.
The 16-minute film is well worth the time spent on this man, who tried to bring the outside world to him. He eventually succeeded, but not how you would expect.
Rarely is a film 'too short' in my book, but this weird little film left me wanting to know more. It is currently streaming on Netflix.