Jan 19, 2023 - Things to Do

Utah filmmaker's "Alien" production showing at Sundance

A man by the window.

Filmmaker Jake Van Wagoner (right) and actor Thomas Cummins (left). Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Utah filmmaker Jake Van Wagoner said it feels "surreal" to have his second feature film included in the Sundance Film Festival for the first time this year.

What's happening: His all-ages, sci-fi comedy, "Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out," is an official selection in the festival's kid's section.

  • There were more than 4,000 feature film submissions across all categories.

Details: The coming-of-age movie centers around the friendship between Itsy, a teenager and aspiring reporter, and her neighbor, Calvin, who has an obsession with space and believes his parents were abducted by extraterrestrial beings.

  • While the movie is set in the fictional town of Pebble Falls, most of the film was shot in rural Utah in 2021, Van Wagoner told Axios.
  • "Even though the movie doesn't take place in Utah … just based on the economics and landscape … we knew that we wanted to shoot it in Utah," Van Wagoner, who lives in Wasatch County, said.
Two children looking up at the sky.
A still of "Aliens." Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Of note: His directing credits include the TV series "Studio C" and the 2021 film "Christmas Time."

What they're saying: He said he wants audiences to leave his movie embracing their differences and feeling hopeful.

  • "I want to entertain people, but I also want to make people think a little bit and maybe have the film stay with them for a little while," he said.

What's next: "Aliens" — for short— premieres tomorrow at Broadway Centre Cinemas at 6pm.


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