Having lived in California, Argentia seemed the more interesting option to Australian photographer Jonathan May when he did the Google search at home in Sydney. He began researching and was intrigued by the area’s military history, its remoteness and its scenery.
At that point, May was on a mission to photograph fog.
He and his wife, an actress, had previously come up with an idea for an alien film, but put it on hold after she fell pregnant. Upon booking a flight to Newfoundland by himself, May revisited the idea and the possibility of pulling off the project on his own.
“A couple weeks out from the journey I got a bit of apprehension, because it’s a very ambitious project and I’m used to having a crew around me,” he says.
Nevertheless, he ordered an alien head online and hired a friend to spray paint a white lycra full bodysuit to look like an extra-terrestrial’s naked body.
Because there wasn’t enough time for the head to arrive in the mail from the United States, May had it sent directly to Newfoundland, where a friend’s mom picked it up at the post office.
“She had no idea she was picking up an alien head,” May says, chuckling.
Arriving in St. John’s about 10 days ago, May rented an RV and headed to the Burin Peninsula to take some still photos and start shooting his short film.
May is an award-winning commercial photographer who’s been working in the field for the past nine years or so, and counts Google, Sony and Snickers among his international clients. He’s been moving towards motion projects over the last little while, and has worked on a few commercials.
His alien’s name is Trevor, and he has travelled the 82.6 million miles between his home planet and Marystown with the goal of studying humanity on Earth before a great flood is set to wash it away in 2024.
After seeing the new “Baywatch” movie, Trevor has decided he wants to be David Hasselhoff.
“He gets a bit caught up in Marystown,” May explains. “He has played hockey at the site with the boys, found a home in an abandoned old house, ordered some chicken balls from Dimmers, and downed eight whiskeys at Chalky’s after he was told he’d never be the Hoff.
“He got a job at Molloy’s (Auto Parts) but quit four days later. He’s headed out in boat today.”
When an extra-terrestrial lands in your town unannounced, naturally you take him in and show him a time. May says he has intended to leave Marystown a number of times to continue his journey, but has changed his mind and decided to stay an extra day or two every time.
“Whenever I say I’ve got an idea, the people here are just so open and embracing,” he says, adding all he has had to do is ask if Trevor can visit and film in a location and he’s been welcomed with open arms.
“I wasn’t really wanting attention, but then word got out and Trevor was spotted walking along the highway at sunset, and now I’ve got to kind of hide the RV in different car parks at night because people are coming up knocking, wanting a photo with him.”
May has connected with a number of local residents who’ve been helping him out with his film, including Joshua Power. Power is around the same height and build as May and has been playing Trevor in some scenes, freeing May up to shoot.
Though he had a rough storyline, May didn’t come to Newfoundland with a script for the movie, and is thrilled with how it has worked out so far.
“It’s been a really organic, fun process,” he says. “The ideas keep flowing and it kind of just snowballed. I’ve taken this on as a bit of a test, and it’s been great.”
May is headed to St. John’s on Friday (with a stop in Dildo on the way, of course) for the final three days of his trip.
Trevor will be looking for an acting studio in town, and hopes to audition for the next “Baywatch” movie. He has already bought a wig and had it trimmed in Hasselhoff style, May says.
Once he’s back in Sydney, May plans to get a hand with the post-production work on the short film, and plans to submit it to the festival circuit. If it does well, he hopes to return to Newfoundland to shoot a full feature.
He reckons he may have to come back in any case, since he hasn’t really encountered much fog to photograph, though he’s been looking for it in St. Bride’s, Placentia and other locations.
“I think I came a little too early,” he laments. “I’ll have to come back another time for that.”