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Amy Jo Albany: Low Down and life in Los Angeles

LOW-DOWN-4The New Hampshire Film Festival was proud to welcome Low Down to the Portsmouth Music Hall Saturday. Low Down is based on Amy Jo Albany’s book Low Down: Junk, Jazz, and Other Fairy Tales from Childhood. Amy wrote both the book as a memoir of her childhood and later adapted it into the screenplay for the film.

Immediately following the film, Albany was available to answer questions from the audience. She was joined by Flea (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) who portrays Hobbs in the film and producers Chris Stinson and Amy Green.

Low Down is set in Los Angeles during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It follows Amy Jo and her father, Jazz Pianist, Joe Albany as he tries to balance raising Amy with his music career and his crippling heroin addiction. It is the story of the undying love between a father and his daughter. It is also a coming of age tale for Amy Jo who navigates many pitfalls of life with an absent mother and brilliant father who has is battling his own demons.

Low Down is an incredibly powerful story and it inspired a lot of questions from the audience about Amy’s life and her struggles. Amy lamented that the story was very true to life and there were instances during production when she had to step away because it felt so real. Much of the film takes place in Amy’s grandmother’s apartment, which was the actual apartment she grew up in. Her grandmother “Gram” took Amy in during her father’s absence and houses both of them for much of the film. Amy said that it “is [her] greatest sadness” that her grandmother never saw the film.

The audience was quick to focus on the struggles of the story and Amy’s strength as a person. Flea grew up in the same time, the same area, and under similar pretenses as Amy. Flea was quick to point out that there was a silver lining to their childhood: “We ran around the streets being free, having a great time,” he recalled. “There was great music and art everywhere.”

Amy also provided insight into the inception of this project. When asked how she started documenting her life, she said that she “always had a secret desire to write” but it was director Jeff Preiss that really got her started. Jeff is a huge Jazz fan, and while they were working on a set together he would ask her for stories of her life. Amy began writing the stories down and sending them to Jeff. These stories eventually ended up in the hands of a publisher and became the basis of her book.

Low Down’s world premiere was at Sundance Film Festival this year. The film is currently in the midst of its Festival Tour which has about 30 stops scheduled.

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