Jonathan May is a photographer based in Sydney Australia, he does advertising photography for big companies like Google and Snickers. When I spoke to him, he’d just spent the night roaming through the woods outside Marystown in a skin-tight alien suit.
“I’m pretty much in the nude, ‘cause that thing is so thin. I was running around in the brush in Marystown last night and it was zero degrees, so it’s not fun,” May said.
Initially, it was the fog that brought May to Newfoundland, he wanted to photograph fog for a personal project. After Googling ‘world’s foggiest place’ he booked a flight to St. John’s. In the two weeks between booking his ticket and boarding the plane May decided he’d also shoot a film while he was in Newfoundland.
The film is a comedic short about an alien named Trevor who arrives in Newfoundland to study humanity and ends up learning things like, “… North Harbour is in the south, people don’t come by chance to Come By Chance, and some people of Dildo smile more.”
Before leaving Sydney, May did some research about Newfoundland, sketched a storyboard of the scenes he needed to grab, and put together an alien costume. He ordered a mask and an artist friend helped him by airbrushing a white bodysuit to look like a very muscular alien body.
“I ordered the alien head online from the guys who did the Game of Thrones costumes, and got it sent to a friend’s mom who lives here. She had no idea she was picking up an alien head from the post office,” May said.
May arrived in Newfoundland a week ago and rented an RV, he began his trip by visiting Ferryland, Trepassey, Argentia, and Branch; shooting drone footage of himself running through the wilderness in his alien costume all along the way.
“Flying a drone around Newfoundland is crazy. I actually had to buy a spare drone because the winds are so bad here. Every time I fly the drone it says, ‘warning: caution high winds’,” May said, “It’s dangerous but I’m going to keep using the drone because having a drone’s perspective is great, especially for this project.”
When we spoke May had just met with the bartender of Chalky’s Billiards in Mary’s Town. He was preparing to shoot his first scene of Trevor interacting with Newfoundlanders at Chalky’s later that night. While some of the film is scripted, it’s important to May that the process be organic so most of footage will be improvised. The plan is to have Trevor play some pool and try his luck at the VLTs.
May said the owner was excited about having some of the film shot in his bar and ended up visiting the RV after the meeting to chat some more about the film.
“I told him not to tell too many people though, I don’t want it to be cast of thousands down there. I want it to feel authentic and intimate, which is what Marystown is,” May said.
Soon May will be heading back to St. John’s where he’ll shoot some more scenes with multiple characters before flying back to Australia.