Connected through breath – Interview with Jens Raunkjær Christensen & Jonas Drotner Mouritsen, the directors of Danish PA short „Connected”

We invite you to read an interview with Jens Raunkjær Christensen & Jonas Drotner Mouritsen, the directors of Danish PA short „Connected”, which today had its online premiere and can be seen here.

How did you guys team up? Could you tell us how the whole „Connected” idea was born?

We became friends during our studies at Designskolen Kolding. During our time at the school we made a few, small film projects together, each time with both of us in front and behind the camera.

Over the years we gained a lot of experience working with visual effects in films, on commercials as well as smaller personal projects and it came natural that we should make a film on our own. What we needed was time on our hands to come up with a story that would fit well with our skills.

During the winter 2008, a year after our graduation, both of us where working with post production at a small animation company in Copenhagen. In that period we would meet up after work and discuss ideas, draw sketches and look at various inspiration and slowly the idea for the movie evolved. We liked the idea of making a movie where a simple twisted postulate/setup drives the whole story. In this case, two people so dependent on each other that they share their breath.

Since we were working on the project in our spare time, making the film was a fairly long process. We received financial support from the Danish Film Institute in June 2008, and after meeting our producer Hui Rose, the project really began to take shape. Over the summer the whole crew was gathered and we found three great actors. We shot the film over three days in September 2008 and worked with our editor Johan Albrechtsen until we had a final cut around Christmas. After that we worked on and off on the visual effects for about 5 months. Color grading and sound was created during the summer of 2009, and the film premiered in Copenhagen in September, about one year after the film was shot.

How do you treat 'Connected’? More like something made for fun, hobby, passion or rather kind of signal for potential future sponsors. Something like: „Hey look, there are two talented guys here in Denmark waiting for your money, so we could do something really visionnary together!”?

Probably a little bit of both. We started on the project because we we passionate about film making and thought that it would be a fun project to work on. But it was definitely also a driving force that it would be a great showcase for our creative skills. And that’s why we decided to make a film like this where we could focus a lot on the production design as well as the visual style and effects in the film.

It was also a clear strategy for us to invest some time in documenting the process behind the film. Our whole crew had worked really hard on the project, and a lot of work went into even minor details in the film. We really wanted to honor this by showing some of the stuff that happened behind the scenes. That’s why we decided to launch an official website for the film:

We have received a lot of positive feedback and interest from people from all over the world after they have seen our website. This has obviously been really great, and has also helped us establishing many new contacts for future projects. Based on our experiences we would definitely encourage fellow indie filmmakers to invest the time in creating a good online presentation of their film work.

After watching „Connected” I have an impression that you guys have to like not only sci-fi but also spaghetti western movies? Few ideas remind me Leone flicks quite clearly. Am I right?

You are absolutely right. Though it was not the intention in the beginning, the idea of adding a few western touches to the film came quite natural during the production of the film. We found that it would work quite well with the setting of the film: The vast deserted landscapes, the lone travelers and particularly during the final showdown scene in the film.

While we were storyboarding, we talked about framing a few of the shots in a classical western style. And while we were shooting our director of photography Niels A. Hansen continued to work with that idea as well.

Later, when we were mixing the sound for the movie, our sound designer Jess Wolfsberg suggested that we should work with a western theme in the music. Jess introduced us to two very talented and industrious musicians Peter Peter Schneidermann & Peter Kyed. They put a lot of hours into creating a unique music score for the film drawing inspiration from classic sci-fi music soundtracks (Blade Runner) with a touch of western (Once Upon a Time in the West).

I’d like to ask you about quite impressive visual side of „Connected”. All these dead city panoramas… What was the greatest challenge for you during creating the visuals of the movie?

It was obviously a big task to get the abandoned cities look convincing and to make them blend in with our footage from our location at Faxe Kalkalkbrud (a limestone quarry) where the entire movie was shoot. But as it often is, the devil is in the details. Over all the most time consuming was actually creating the small blue light on the helmets that lights up when the characters breathe. Really really boring visual effects work, but we found that it was absolutely required to tell the story.

I think that when people speak about  new PA productions, the most common reference these days isn’t any movie or novel but „Fallout” video game. But what were your inspirations? Were you in any way influenced by that game?

The Fallout games are absolutely a great inspiration for a post apocalyptic scenario. We knew about the game of course, but our original inspiration for the movie actually came from the stories of the French comic book artist Moebius.

He has a wonderful blend of humor and seriousness in his comics, and an amazing surrealistic universe blended with science fiction elements . All something which we felt could be great to incorporate in a short story.

For various aspects of the film we also were inspired by movies like Sunshine, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, Alien and Dune. And, as we have mentioned before, we also found a lot of inspiration from classical western movies.

There is some „retro” feeling in „Connected” – faded & bleak colours, these characteristic outfits, the poster… Is this „retro” style forced by a budget (which I assume wasn’t very impressive) or you had such vision of „Connected” from the very beginning?

We settled on the general look of the film quite early in the creative process, the bleak colors, the desolate landscapes and the poisonous yellowish sky. We really liked this retro steampunk look and would definitely have made it in the same way, even with a larger budget.

But you are right, the final look of the scenarios and costumes is also a result of the low-tech approach we took in making the film. That was partly chosen because of the budget, but also because that’s the way we generally like to work. We like to create as much as possible of the movie „in camera” and really want to stay away from working with green screen and advanced 3D renderings whenever we can. We believe that if you want to make things look real, you are always better off using real stuff whenever you can. Also we would rather spend some time outside in the sun photographing metal scrap to insert in the matte paintings, rather than sitting at home building complex 3D models and doing textureing.

The same approach was used when we created the helmets, equipment and costumes. We worked with industrial designer Michel Riis and fashion designer Susanne Guldager, who we knew from Designskolen Kolding. We brought three full face motorcycle helmets, remodelling and painting them to match our concept sketches. Likewise Susanne transformed tree used pilot suites, into retro steampunk protection suits. All this helped to create an unique and authentic look for the film.

I’ve noticed that „Connected” was made with a help of Danish Film Institute. Was it only financial help or something more?

The film was supported by the Film Workshop at the Danish Film Institute. The Film Workshop supports upcoming directors on smaller productions with a limited budget. They don’t finance crew salaries but the money we received almost covered our expenses creating the costumes and helmets as well as transportation and catering at the shoot. The Film Workshop also supported us with most of the gear we needed, camera, light etc. We also edited the film at their facilities, used their computers for visual effects work, and they helped us with additional financial support for sound mixing.

Any plans for the future?

We continue to work together on various ideas for new short films. On Connected we where lucky to have a very professional and hard working crew that helped us undertake our vision, but next time it would clearly be preferable to be able to pay for peoples hard work.

And last but not least I’d like to ask you who designed that fantastic „Connected” poster?

The poster was designed by two very skilled graphic designers from the company Barq; Anders Baden Nielsen and Joaquim Marques Nielsen. Check them out at
They are personal friends of us, and worked very dedicated on the project. We asked them to create a poster that was inspired by the classical sci-fi posters of the 70’s like Solaris, THX 1138, Clockwork Orange, 2001 A Space Odyssey etc., but with an added a modern touch. We are obviously really happy with the result. The poster was printed on a high quality offset printer, and we are now selling the poster through our webshop: The poster has been a great success and has definitely met it’s purpose of promoting the film.

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