Since the critical acclaim of Get Out the release of a new Jordan Peele film has become something of an event and Nope, his third feature film, is no different but what was it in the sky and how did the director and his team come up with it?
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Nope owes much to Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and there’s something that is in the sky abducting people and animals, but what it is, exactly, is a mystery to both the characters and the audience until the final moments of the film. In the film, OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) names it Jean Jacket. “That’s pure Jordan Peele,” producer Ian Cooper says. “Naming the entity Jean Jacket gave me goosebumps because it felt like a disturbance of pop culture. Also, there’s obviously an evocation of a jean jacket being essentially an empty shell. So, I think there’s something both pop and f**ked up about naming this alien entity Jean Jacket.”
In the film, Jean Jacket was the name of one of the horses at the Haywood Ranch that Emerald was promised as a kid. OJ chooses Jean Jacket’s name in honour of that.
Jean Jacket hides in the clouds, which required clouds to be in the exact same formation for three straight days of shooting or more, which obviously is impossible. So, the visual effects team supervised by Oscar winner Guillaume Rocheoron (interviewed by us HERE) had to create a CG cloudscape system to art direct the composition, formation and speed of the clouds. The effects team spent nine months implementing this system. In part because the visual effects team had to create so many specific shots of the sky and clouds, the film has about 700 visual effects shots. There are only a handful of shots with real clouds in them across the entire film.
To give Jean Jacket’s movements some basis in the natural world, the producers consulted with JOHN DABIRI, an engineering professor at CalTech who studies biological systems like jellyfish and birds and tries to apply them to create new technologies. They discussed ion propulsion and underwater animal biology to help imagine Jean Jacket’s motion. Once Peele explained to Dabiri how he imagined the entity would move and behave, Debiri explained the biology of jellyfish, which possess a similar combination of efficiency, voracious appetite, stealth and being very lightweight. Another inspiration for Jean Jacket’s look and motion was the hyper minimalism of Japanese anime, Evangelion, which has a “biomechanical design flair.” And in addition to organic references, such as sea creatures and birds, the VFX team studied origami to inspire the unfolding of how Jean Jacket unfurls and reveals its inner self. In the end it took 18 months of constant refining to design the look of Jean Jacket.
The final result is both impressive and understated making this an unusual addition to Jordan Peele’s previous horror films.