When I listen to music, I can’t help but imagine visuals for it. It’s like watching movies in my mind. Certain sounds evoke certain colors: sadness is a murky blue-grey, nostalgia is burnt ochre, freedom is a vibrant red. When Jaclyn Lovey came to me with her song ‘My Extraterrestrial’, my head started swarming with ideas immediately. From the beginning, I heard pink, purple, shimmering silvers and playful primary colors. The song is about falling in love, and the otherworldly happiness and nervousness that can occur when you choose to be vulnerable with another person. Together with Jaclyn, we conceptualized the story of a girl that is falling in love with an alien. I wanted to tell the emotional journey from feeling guarded and anxious and then to ethereal bliss when she finally opens up to them. Falling in love sometimes feels like floating in space.
For this project, my job was to create a vision with my client and then bring all the details of an idea together into a final, polished piece. We knew that we wanted Jaclyn to fall in love with a character whose face was never revealed. We also dreamed up one image in our first meeting: Jaclyn lying in a meadow, pink smoke floating by.
With those two ideas to guide me, I started sketching up scenes and writing a story frame by frame. Below are the sketches compared to the final shots.
I decided to tell the story in 4 different parallel locations, a living room, an arcade, a meadow and in “space”. For each scene, I developed a distinct style, color palette and mood that would represent the tones we were going for. Heavily inspired by film photography, analog technology and old NASA footage – I let my imagination guide me through a landscape of vague concepts and colors until I had a clear story to tell. Of course, the lyrics themselves had plenty of storytelling in them.
Many other aspects of the shoot needed to be done after the creative concept was finalized, so I started securing all of our locations and crew. Joey Katches and Doug Stanley were our 1st and 2nd Director of Photography. I hadXander Ernteman develop all of the makeup and styles for each look. We cast our faceless love interest/alien boy. There were about two weeks of pre-production which involved gathering props, costumes, testing lighting/FX and creating shooting schedules. We also had to work with COVID-19 limitations and make sure that everyone on-set was safe and healthy.
The living room and arcade symbolize the ordinary realms of the relationship. In all of these scenes, Jaclyn is shy and harboring her secret feelings. I wanted the mood in these scenes to be innocent, vibrant, and nostalgic. In the meadow, Jaclyn is contemplative and introspective as the light slowly fades. When the alien boy finally arrives, she shares her truth, “There’s no one but you.”
In that moment, she feels invincible, ethereal, light and joyous. As night falls, a beam of light appears and Alien boy arrives at the meadow – and they are finally together. And we see them in a beautiful star-filled space, glowing and smiling. From there on out, Jaclyn is much more open, relaxed and joyous around him. This starry night sky space represents the magical and whimsical joy that the two finally share. I wanted to be intentional about never revealing the alien boy’s face – because I felt that lyrically, this song was more about Jaclyn and her perspective on the relationship. It was a one-sided story. I directed the love interest, Alex Thomas, to stand very still, in an unnatural and aloof manner to portray the odd nature of the alien boy.
On the days of our shoot, everyone was focused and excited. Some things that I especially loved doing were finding an old antenna TV to use in the living room, sourcing the fabric for the retro couch, picking out flowers to put in Jaclyn’s hair in the meadow, and manually moving haze and pinhole filters over lights to emulate our “space” look.