ABOUT THE ALIENS

SYNOPSIS

JACOB waits every Saturday night in the Mojave Desert, believing that one day he will be visited by extra-terrestrials.  He is carrying on his FATHER’s work, a former NASA scientist who developed his own theory of life outside earth and passed that faith onto his son.  But the father lies in a nursing home bed, unable to speak due to the effects of a stroke.

 

Asleep in his camp, Jacob is awoken by a strange noise.  Into his camp limps MARIA, a guide taking illegals across the desert at night.  Unable to go any further, Maria sends her people onto the next guide and sits with Jacob til morning where he gives her a ride to Santee Alley in Los Angeles.

 

Jacob tell his only friends and fellow believers, RON and JERRY, about the stranger he met but will probably never see again.  But the following weekend, Maria stops by for a visit with a new set of travelers.

 

Soon Jacob looks across the desert instead of up into the skies.  But Maria has her own secrets and must take advantage of Jacob’s friendship in order to accomplish her hidden agenda.

 

As they help each other and are drawn into each other’s conflicting worlds, Jacob must decide whether to wait for the aliens above that he has never seen, or to pursue the mysterious Maria who continues to walk into his campsite.

A FILMMAKER'S JOURNEY

I was scouting desert locations for a short film I was to make with a friend when I stopped by the California visitor's center in Yucca Valley.  The volunteer told me that I should go visit Giant Rock, a local landmark near Landers, CA.  She gave me a Xerox copy of historical information and a crudely drawn map to the site.

 

Forty five minutes later as I drove over the dirt roads that even my 4 wheel drive SUV had trouble navigating, I stood in a barren, desolate valley that was pretty much uninhabitable.  Except that it had been before.

 

As the local history goes, this was once a sacred Native American meeting place.  Giant Rock was exactly that - a seven story boulder that rolled off the small mountain next to it several million years before.

 

A reclusive German immigrant named George Critzer actually had dug a home underneath Giant Rock as he scoured the surrounding land for mining claims.  But with the beginning of World War II, he was immediately labeled suspicious and the San Bernardino Sheriff's department was sent out to bring him in for questioning.

 

Critzer, who had nothing to do with any German activity, barricaded himself underneath Giant Rock.  The deputies sought to smoke him out so they threw some smoke bombs into the underground dwelling to force him out.  What they didn't know was that Critzer had a fair amount of dynamite stored underneath and the situation did not end well for everyone involved.

Location Photos

Outside of Landers, CA

Several years later, Critzer's friend, George Van Tassel moved his family to this site and set up a small airfield.  As the legend goes, Mrs Van Tassel's pies were so good that Howard Hughes used to fly into this airstrip just to get a taste.

 

But Van Tassel had a UFO "experience" at Giant Rock and soon started to tell others what had happened to him.  He became one of the leaders of the UFO movement in the 50's and began to host conventions where people from all over would come to camp and hear personal testimonies of alien encounters.

 

LIFE Magazine covered one convention in 1957 as the photos to the left document.  The article was written in such a way as to mock these believers.  But this publicity had the opposite effect. Two years later, over 10,000 people from all over the world came to this remote part of the Mojave Desert for an entire weekend to celebrate UFO's.

 

But the UFO movement started to fade as most sightings of the time were actually glimpses of the top secret U-2 and SR-71 spy planes.  Van Tassel still believed that his site was where they would come because of geothermal, magnetic, and fault lines had created a beacon for visitors from outer space.

 

He built the Integratron, a structure built without any nails, that would serve as a portal to outer space and that contained a secret machine that would facilitate this.  But Van Tassel died of a heart attack before his work was completed.  His heirs gave up on this dream and the Integratron still stands today as a testament to this man's failed dream.

As I stood on this arid plain, the hot desert wind whipping around me, my imagination got the best of me.  Over ten thousand people came to this place as believers.  Fifty years later, there is no one.  The storyteller in me asked, "What if there was one person left who still believed?"

 

I thought about this character.  Why was he doing this?  What kind of life did he have?  What were the sacrifices that he made to be true to his faith?  What could cause him to lose his faith?

 

I have my own personal theory (which I think is shared by many) in that a guy can believe in something with all his heart until the right girl walks through the door.  Or in this case, when she walks into his campsite.

 

Do UFO's exist?  I'm a skeptic.  I think not.  Is there intelligent life in the Universe.  The optimistic side of me says yes.  Have we been visited by beings from another planet?  I don't think so.  But there are plenty of people out there who believe we have.

 

I have a curiosity about people that do have such strong beliefs in whatever they believe in.  It's the leap of faith, the resolve to hold onto these ideas in the face of pressure or ridicule.

 

I wrote and made this film because I thought these were ideas worth exploring.  It's my own journey about belief and faith.  And as a first time filmmaker, I have been personally challenged in bringing this story to life.  If you do get a chance to see this, I hope you enjoy it.

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