Low Power Mode: a short film by Christopher Jorna & Giulia Aguiar
By Elise Czyzowska
26 June 2023
‘Imagine a civilisation living inside your phone.’
This is how MA Directing student Christopher Jorna introduces his upcoming romantic comedy short, Low Power Mode. The film, which will be shot using a hybrid Virtual Production model at Garden Studios, will delve ‘inside’ of our phones, exploring the different departments and roles that keep it running smoothly.
When the phone hits ‘low power mode’, however, the civilisation faces impending doom – and this is when Henry, an introverted cameraman, decides to finally tell musician Glimmer how he feels.
In today’s blog, we got the chance to speak with the project’s director, Christopher, and producer, Giulia Aguiar (MA Producing). Keep reading to find out more…
Meet the Director: Christopher Jorna
Can you share a little about the idea behind the film?
As a kid, I never understood how I could listen to my favourite band (the Black Eyed Peas) through my little iPod – it didn’t make sense, they weren’t physically there!
To make sense of it, I imagined zooming into the cable of my headphones, and finding a miniature version of the Black Eyed Peas right at the point where it plugged into the device, playing the music live with massive speakers behind them.
Many years later, on a sunny summer day, I revisited the concept with my brother, and we realised that it isn’t just limited to music; every function in your phone could be represented in this universe of ‘mini workers’. We had the most hilarious time imagining what life in your phone could look like.
How do you think Virtual Production is opening the world of filmmaking for new creatives?
We live in an interesting time: our industry is changing at such a fast pace, tools that we wouldn’t even dream of ten years ago are now revolutionising the way we make films. But because some of the innovations are that new, the labour market is not yet saturated with industry professionals, all with decades of experience in the area. In that sense, if you are motivated to follow these new innovations, it could be a great advantage to your career!
Virtual Production also allows filmmakers to film scenes in any environment that they can think of, all without the travel expenses. While the technology is still expensive, with Low Power Mode, we aim to prove that it is possible to use on a student budget – and our Director of Photography, Victor Moroianu (MA Documentary & Factual), has played a big part in making this happen.
With such a high-concept world, how will you maintain focus on the romantic storytline between Henry and Glimmer?
Collaboration is the key to making it work. As a director, I like to bring the initial concept, and then through a group effort, we make sure that the story we want to tell comes across as intended. I’m happy to be working with the talented Eden Bidwell (MA Screenwriting), who added:
Developing fully fleshed out characters with their own hopes, dreams, and anxieties is what allowed us to create the palpable romantic tension between Henry and Glimmer.
Their romantic story is a stark contrast to the mechanical world its set in, and perhaps is shining even more because of it.
What would be the one message you want your audience to take from Low Power Mode?
Next time your phone enters ‘low power mode’, imaging reflecting on the little people inside it, adding a touch of wonder to your day.
Through compelling storytelling and thought-provoking themes, we aim to create a deeply resonant film that leaves a lasting impression – and we invite you to join us on this captivating journey, as we bring this heartfelt story to life…
Meet the Producer: Giulia Aguiar
How has the Virtual Production format influenced your role as a producer?
Low Power Mode is the first project I’ve worked on that uses Virtual Production, so it’s definitely been a learning experience, and one that I did my research for.
In my opinion, one of the biggest changes that it imposes is in budgeting: while filming in a Virtual Production setting is expensive, it also eliminates the need for set building, or kit transportation – and since it’s a much more sustainable option, that makes it very appealing to me as a producer.
Low Power Mode is currently crowdfunding. As the Producer, can you share any tips for fundraising?
I’ve crowdfunded successfully a couple of times, and what I’ve found is that it varies from project to project. It’s about finding the one thing in your project that makes it stand out, and working with it.
For example, I once did a project about homelessness, and in order to make the campaign stand out, we partnered with a non-profit, pledging 5% of our funds to them – this made the campaign more attractive to the general public, as they were also donating to a cause.
One of the most crucial things to do is to plan your campaign strategy in advance. Determine who your audience is, and find ways of engaging with them. A lot of it is catering to your friends and family, and getting comfortable with the idea of having to ask for money.
The project is already over ‘25% charged’ – what do you think has resonated with audiences about the project?
I think donors are intrigued with what we’re making, and are curious to see what our world looks like. And we’re also selling this idea that young filmmakers can achieve these big production value type of films, which is really appealing.
The point behind the film is to explore the way people relate to their phones in a light-hearted, comedic way – in today’s day and age, that is a very important discussion.
How has your time on MA Producing helped you approach this project?
Overall, my better understanding of the industry has helped me to find the right people to talk to, and to figure out the best communication strategies with them.
The research tools MetFilm School have given me have also been really helpful when entering a project on something very new to me – so that’s definitely helped through the pre-production of the project.