John Was Trying to Contact Aliens is a short documentary film about a man named John trying to contact aliens through radio-waves. After spending most of his life dedicated to this quest, John eventually packed up his things and looked for a different kind of connection here on Earth.
It’s a simple film, clocking in at 15 minutes, and one that has a nice message running throughout. At the end of the day, everyone is trying to find their own purpose and meaning of their life. Some find that in spirituality, others through constant self-growth and learning. Others still find that by going for long runs up in the tranquil hills while others look to the stars for answers. John Shepherd falls into the latter category.
Having dedicated 30 years of his life to the search, his unquestionable enthusiasm is certainly infectious. Seeing him talk proudly about his past endeavors is partly what makes this film so quirky and engrossing. Like many documentaries of its kind, this film blends archival photos of his home and family with present day face to face interviews.
This combination works relatively well and late on there’s a heartwarming twist to the tale that ends things on a suitably uplifting note.
The biggest problem with this documentary comes from the sound mixing. While the second half does level out a bit, the opening 8 minutes include a cacophonous collection of high-pitched dings and synthetic waves. While this in itself is fine, it actually drowns out John’s soft voice and makes it difficult to discern exactly what he’s saying.
As a short documentary there isn’t an awful lot of time to dive into the full story here either. Instead, we’re granted a snapshot of John’s life. Personally it would have been nice to hear from his grandparents or people from his childhood but alas that’s not the case.
Instead, this is very much a grounded, personal story about one man’s quest for finding extra-terrestrial life. It’s not a groundbreaking film but it’s a heartwarming one nonetheless and reminds us all that sometimes what we’re looking for is much closer to home than we first thought.