Northfield Now Magazine: Tech entrepreneur brings small-town sensibility to big-screen entertainment
Updated: Dec 17, 2019
by Anne Kopas This article originally appeared in Northfield Now Magazine
As a girl, Larissa Lowthorp was drawn - as many children were - into the realm of imagination and fantasy. As an adult, it's not something she's interested in giving up.
These days, the Northfield-raised Lowthorp is embracing her taste for the whimsical, turning it into a business concept that refuses to think inside the box as much as Lowthorp herself. The fledgling company, TimeJump Media - based in Toronto, Los Angeles, and the Twin Cities - aims to rethink entertainment, marketing and web design through an innovative approach to technology and creativity.
Looking back, Lowthorp can see the seeds of her entrepreneurial ideas planted at a young age, when she began writing stories, making films and performing onstage while growing up with her family in Northfield, She described a sense of delight and wonder with the world, accompanied by a sense of isolation that drove her to continually look for new ways to create.
By the time she hit her teenage years, however, Lowthorp's teachers pushed her to prepare for high school and later college, urging her toward more practical pursuits like many of her classmates. So she followed that path instead after graduation, eventually dropping out of college in her 20s when family obligations required her to seek a steady income in web design and information technology.
But the corporate world wasn't for Lowthorp. She knew she needed to revive her creative side, so she quit her corporate job in 2015 to focus on filmmaking - the same year her short film "Lacuna" screened out of competition at the world-renowned Cannes Film Festival in France. The film, which focuses on the aftermath of sexual assault, earned critical priase for its gripping depiction of post-traumatic stress disorder.
From there, Lowthorp's creative endeavors started to take off. Her website now includes an extensive list of roles, from author to fashion designer to filmmaker.
"My creativity felt like it was blossoming again," she said. "I'd promised myself that I'm never going to lose that again in my life."
A new name in entertainment
Since then, Lowthorp has taken her expertise to Hollywood, where she set her sights on big-screen writing, marketing, and filmmaking. She's working to develop a feature-length animated screenplay, and what she calls "guerrilla marketing strategies" attracted the attention of Fox, Universal Studios, and others, leading to marketing for films including "Water for Elephants," "Dreamgirls" and "Cowboys and Aliens." In addition to off-camera work, Lowthorp has also dabbled in acting, dance and modeling. She's been interviewed for both on-and-offline news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Medium.
Around the time that Lowthorp left her corporate career, she began moving forward with a concept she'd carried in the back of her mind for years: TimeJump Media. The name came from a conversation with friend and mentor Gino McKoy, who simply asked Lowthorp to name something that interested her about space (time warp) and her favorite animal (kangaroo). It also represents the leap of faith required to start a business.
The company's interests are as broad as Lowthorp's, working on various aspects of the entertainment business, from music video production to film marketing to social media, brand development, web design and other creative services. From her experience with film festivals, Lowthorp noted that the industry could, counterintuitively, still be focused on the analog. She noticed that one festival, for example, was filled with creative minds, yet struggled to disseminate its basic information online. It's these types of mismatches that Lowthorp wants to target.
But Lowthorp doesn't want to stop there. Though the company is still in a "long launch" stage, Lowthorp already has business partners ready to go. And she's already looking beyond basic marketing to new frontiers in technology and web design.
"It's uncharted territory ... But it felt like just when I would get to a corner with the lights turned out, my path illuminates. Everything is falling into place." - Larissa Lowthorp
"How can you turn a flat website into something immersive?" she said. "How can you take a unique brand story, infusing a new energy and life into the entertainment industry?"
The path forward for TimeJump has been neither straight nor easy. Lowthorp has hit a few bumps in the road, like her dad's serious illness and the struggle to brand and define a company with such broad focus.
"It's an interesting path because it hasn't been done before ... On one hand, I always have these big crazy ideas that I want to do, but on the other hand, I'm always looking for a roadmap. But maybe there isn't one."
"I see Larissa going very high in the entertainment industry. She'll put in the time, and she's critical of her work. She won't settle." - Gino McKoy
McKoy's help was also instrumental, Lowthorp said. In a business where connections are vital, McKoy's insider Hollywood knowledge as a musician and film director gave her a much-needed boost. When the two first met, McKoy would have described Lowthorp as an introvert - but through her work, he said, she's grown more comfortable with coming out of her shell and advocating for herself and her business.
Expanding Theater Access
While much of Lowthorp's work currently focuses on other people's projects, Lowthorp hasn't forgotten her own personal creative endeavors. She's developing a script for a festival-bound film set in Northfield during Defeat of Jesse James Days; other projects in the pipeline include animated movies, a dark comedy, and a sci-fi film.
The animated film projects in particular have captured Lowthorp's attention as a pathway to a new kind of theater-going experience she hopes TimeJump can pursue in the coming years. Drawing from her experience in IT and background in early childhood education, Lowthorp is in the research and development phase of designing a new sensory-accessible theater chain for audience that may struggle in traditional theaters - like viewers who are blind, deaf, or on the autism spectrum.
Many of these projects, said Lowthorp, "are centered around my personal love of and interest in young adult fantasy fiction and sci-fi, exploring the limits and playing with the medium of animation and taking that in new directions, as far as 3D and wholly immersive theatrical experiences."
The challenges of entrepreneurship drove Lowthorp to yet another project: Fem(me)Power, a new organization seeking to empower female business owners worldwide, especially in poverty-stricken areas or within communities struggling to support survivors of human trafficking.
Fem(me)Power aims to help these women develop and grow their businesses through free or low-cost in person and online education, as well as providing access to financing tools, mentorship, and workshops.
Like TimeJump, the organization is still in the early stages. For Lowthorp, it's the beginning of realizing a lifelong goal to enact change around the globe.
"I've long dreamed of creating a charity of organization that could make a genuine positive impact in people's lives...in a way that filled a gap, a space with a real unmet need." - Larissa Lowthorp
"I've long dreamed of creating a charity or organization that could make a genuine positive difference in people's lives, but my hope was for it to do so in a way that filled a gap, a space with a real unmet need, and there are many wonderful organizations working to better people's lives and make a positive impact in the world," Lowthorp said.
Between two worlds
No matter where she ends up, said Lowthorp, it was the Northfield community that instilled in her the love for innovation and imagination that transforms her work.
"You meet some people that come out of Hollywood who forgot where they came from," McKoy said. "But she grew up [in Northfield] and she respects that."
For now, Lowthorp said she often feels split between the two worlds, drawn to the bustling city while remaining rooted to the small town where she was raised. She pointed to organizations like the Northfield Arts Guild, as well as the schools' strong art programs, as markers of a creative community that is alive and well.
"I'll always have a home in Northfield," Lowthorp said. "It's such a tremendous home for the creative community. If you tell someone in Northfield an idea, they'll help you make it the best it can be."
As far as what's next, Lowthorp will continue to expand and develop TimeJump Media, taking on projects and challenges in whatever form they appear.
"It's uncharted territory...," she said. "But it feels like, just when I would get to a corner with the lights turned out, my path illuminates. Everything is falling into place."