The Making of Alien Love Affair, A DIYphonic Production

The short film/music video "Alien Love Affair" has been recently released on Broken Jaw Studios and Play-Yah Records.
Alien Love Affair is the second single off of Sidewatcher's newest album Drive, which is available on Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, and other digital music players.

Be sure to watch the video below:


Pretty cool, right?
For this video, we embraced the DIY low-budget film, giving way to just the right amount of graceful cheesy-ness as Ed Wood films do beautifully. In this blog, I am going to discuss the process of filming and the steps I took during post-production to make our alien love scenes glow. I'll give a few looks into the making of the video and some behind-the-scenes commentary.

Alien Love Affair was filmed on Pismo Beach, California during #sidewatcherwestcoastadventure in August (2016). We used an iPhone 6s Plus to shoot with and recorded the video using the iPhone app, 8mm Vintage Camera by Nexvio.

Bright and early we drove to Pismo Beach ready for a full day of shooting. We wanted to have the grey and fog of the early morning on the beach for a bit of atmosphere. Pismo Beach was also a great location for this shoot since it is one of the few beaches in California you can drive on. Our prop/costume "trailer" was easy to access during filming because of this.

Zoe Kissel Blog Writing In Filmic Terms the making of alien love affair a diyphonic production sidewatcher

Costuming was a big part of this production. AJ wore a green alien suit, simple enough to unzip between takes and Dylan wore pedestrian/beach clothes. I have a costume change halfway through the film. I begin in pedestrian/beach clothes and then when my alien boyfriend and I go shopping, I change into a silver space costume.

Zoe Kissel Blog Writing In Filmic Terms the making of alien love affair a diyphonic production sidewatcher

Props for this shoot included binoculars, a beach towel, flying saucer, ray gun, beach ball, umbrella, shopping bag, and alien sunglasses. The flying saucer was probably the coolest prop that we used. We attached a 3D printed flying saucer to a fishing pole and used that to fly the UFO in and out of our shots. The motion of the flying saucer was smooth for the most part, although it did take a couple of takes to capture the proper speed.

The day we were shooting ended up to be pretty windy. The beach ball flew away a few times while filming, but our biggest struggle with the wind was the scene where my alien boyfriend and I sit on a beach towel under an umbrella. You can tell by how much the towel is shaking as we try to lay it down on the sand. The umbrella kept flying out of the ground, so we actually had someone sit behind the umbrella and hold it during our shot. DIY all the way.

Zoe Kissel Blog Writing In Filmic Terms the making of alien love affair a diyphonic production sidewatcher

Another challenge was trying to not get any people in our shots. When an alien is walking around town, people tend to stop and stare or try to come closer to talk which does not make for a very good shot. I remember that during the last scene we filmed, as we walk down the beach together, a lady kept coming close to watch. We had to keep filming the same shot for a bit until she was out of view of the camera.

In order to shoot the scene where the alien and I go shopping, we first asked permission to use their storefront in the video. The manager didn't quite understand what we were talking about until AJ entered the store in his alien costume. Luckily, they agreed and we were able to walk in and out of their store about six times for the shot.

Zoe Kissel Blog Writing In Filmic Terms the making of alien love affair a diyphonic production sidewatcher

For most of the day the sky remained the same amount of grey, so we didn't really come across any issues with lighting.

Going into this project, we had discussed and planned for costuming, props, equipment, and of course storyboarding. For example, before filming, I knew I wanted three cuts of the same shot, all at different distances, for the beginning scene. While we had the main shots in mind, we had never been to this exact location so we had to adapt as we went. I knew I wanted a scene of the alien and I walking together, but I wasn't sure where this would be. This was the same situation with the ray gun scene. I knew I wanted to film this, but I was not exactly sure what the shot would look like until we saw the dunes around us. Speaking of the sand dunes, I love how they take the viewer away to another world! Such a cool place for filming. It was a neat experience to see how the film unfolded as we were shooting.

For most of the footage I ended up using one camera, but we did film with two iPhone cameras in case we needed another angle. By having only two cameras, often times we shot the same scene more than once. Sometimes we would need a shot from above, the side, and face on all for the same scene to keep the cuts interesting.

I have put together a short behind-the-scenes video for Alien Love Affair. You'll be able to see some of the things that I just talked about in the video below. Give it a watch!


Now on to.... Editing!
Post-production for this short film was a ton of fun to do, but of course took a while to get done. Most of the time was spent in making the certain things glow in the different scenes. I used Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects for post-production. I began in Premiere Pro, compiling the footage and deciding which shots I wanted to keep. After getting the main outline for the video, I used dynamic link with After Effects to seamlessly work between the two programs for visual effect editing.

I started with creating the beginning credits, and then adding a glow to the last text that worked with the beginning audio. As I mentioned before, most of the time editing was spent on making things glow. I used the Roto Brush tool in After Effects in order to create the glow.

Normally the Roto Brush does a great job at selecting what you want selected, learning, and following that from frame to frame. I ran into a slight issue because I filmed with the 8mm Vintage Camera by Nexvio app. My footage already had effects placed on it by this app, including a filter, grain, and dust. This made it a bit harder for the Roto Brush to recognize the contrast between shapes so often times I had to correct the selection for the frame. While fixing this was not impossible, it definitely added on more time than necessary. I love this app for quick videos, but next time I shoot a video like this I will keep the raw footage clean and apply the effects after the fact.

The photo below shows how the Roto Brush selects an object. Going frame by frame I adjusted the Roto Brush outline to select the correct parts of the footage.

Zoe Kissel Blog Writing In Filmic Terms the making of alien love affair a diyphonic production sidewatcher

From there I was able to apply the Glow effect and adjust it to the proper threshold, radius, and intensity.
I also included a photo of the settings I used for both the Roto Brush and Glow effect.

Zoe Kissel Blog Writing In Filmic Terms the making of alien love affair a diyphonic production sidewatcher

After applying the Glow effect, I adjusted the opacity of certain key frames to create a pulsing effect.

Alien Love Affair was a super fun video to film, edit, and produce. I am very pleased with how it turned out. I cannot wait until our next DIYphonic Production!

Also, if you haven't seen Sidewatcher's other video for Drive yet, be sure to check it out below.


Directed by Zoë Kissel.
Music Written and Performed by Sidewatcher (Zoë Kissel, Dylan Kissel, and AJ Picciuto).
Produced by Broken Jaw Studios.
Executive Producer: Russ Kissel
Post-Production Editing, Coloring, and Visual Effects by Broken Jaw Studios.
"Alien Love Affair" is a DIYphonic Production.

Filmed on Pismo Beach, California using 8mm Vintage Camera by Nexvio on an iPhone 6s Plus.

Thanks Mom & Dad.

Music recorded and produced by Zak Mouton at Route 2 Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA.

Copyright © 2016

Sidewatcher Music is the author of this motion picture for the purpose of copyright and other laws.

This motion picture is protected pursuant to the provisions of the laws of the United States of America and other countries. Any unauthorized duplication, distribution and/or exhibition of this motion picture may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution.

Characters and incidents portrayed and the names herein are fictitious, and any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

No animals were harmed in the making of this film.

Zoe Kissel Blog Writing In Filmic Terms the making of alien love affair a diyphonic production sidewatcher