A Michigan man transforms his grandparents' unassuming rural home into a module-stuffed control center dedicated to contacting alien life forms in the Netflix original, John Was Trying To Contact Aliens. Weighing in at under twenty minutes long, this short documentary nevertheless provides us with a powerful story of a life spent yearning for connection.
Beginning in the 1970s, John Shepherd attempts to communicate with aliens by broadcasting "the universal language of music" into space from his grandparents' living room. Any extraterrestrials that had tuned in would likely have been grateful for his impeccable taste, choosing to send obscure Krautrock and Afro Pop over the airwaves rather than Top 40. As radio and electronic equipment increasingly begin to overrun the house (to say nothing of the huge signal tower on the front lawn), John's grandmother agrees to build an addition onto their home so that there is more space for John's obsession to flourish. The film uses archival television footage as well as recent interviews with John in order to tell his story: abandoned by his parents, gay, nerdy, isolated, and with eclectic musical tastes, it's no wonder to anyone watching why John is obsessed with making contact. And though John's quest to find aliens never comes to fruition, it does fill his life with meaning on his way to finding a deeper connection here on earth.