Alien 6

Lately people have been asking Nick Charyk if he believes in aliens.

With a hit song called “Ethan Alien,” a band named Western Terrestrials, and an upcoming indie film titled “The Ballad of Ethan Alien,” the question tends to come up.

“(People) have told me just wild stories,” Charyk, 34, said by phone recently. “But I don’t answer that question. It’s my one cardinal rule, the mystique I (can’t) give away.”

But his twist on Ethan Allen, the well-known Vermont Revolutionary War patriot, is more about Vermont and identity than UFOs.

It started when musician Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show approached Charyk with the idea for an original song initially titled “Ethan Allen Was an Alien.” They co-wrote what became “Ethan Alien” — a catchy, fun, alt-country song.

Charyk took the idea and ran with it. He conceptualized a film based on the song, blending sci-fi and history, and made it in Vermont — with a wide network of Vermont talent. It premieres this weekend.

“For me it was a way to do a song about our Vermont identity and how it fits into what we’re doing with country music,” Charyk said. “It also was a metaphor of the debates happening in our country around citizenship. For me, everyone is an alien to someone else, and that is a big part of the Vermont story.”

The film was also a great excuse to start a creative project that would give him, and many others the same outlet, as well as a way to connect with fans during the pandemic.

“I wrote the initial draft of the film and started reaching out to other Vermont creatives who (felt) this loss of a creative outlet,” Charyk said. “If you’re a performer, it’s more than a lifestyle, it’s part of how you go through life and process challenges and connect with people.”

The end result was “one big special love letter to Vermont” which Charyk says has a barn-raising, everyone-chip-in quality. The film was shot over an intense two-week period this month.

“We’ve been calling it a sci-fi musical rock opera, with aliens,” Charyk said.

The movie has a Vermont stamp all over it, from the music to the crew, to the editors, actors, and beyond.

“They’re some of the most talented creative people I know, and to be a part of that feels vital right now,” Charyk said. “I think this is a topical story about Vermont, but it’s also about what’s going on in the world right now. It’s set in a dystopian future in Vermont with a leader who has banned music, singing and creativity. That sets in motion a rebellion and lots of singing and dancing.”

When asked if anything about making the movie took him by surprise, Charyk said without hesitation, “Oh, it’s much harder than anything I’ve ever done.”

“I’ve recorded albums and in my professional life, I’ve managed political campaigns, and renewable energy projects, and gotten legislation passed in the State House, and it all sort of pales in comparison to pulling a movie together.”

That said, would he do it again?

“Probably not anytime soon,” he said and laughed, “but I’m sure I’ll do something wild again.”

The film premieres Halloween weekend and will be followed by pop-up showings around the state.

janellefaignant@gmail.com

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