Jazz biopic “Low Down,” hit theaters in limited release on Oct. 24, 2014 and we had the opportunity to attend a special screening of the film presented by luxurious jewelry brand Forevermark Diamonds. The film’s director Jeff Preiss was joined by stars Elle Fanning, Flea, Rain Phoenix, River Ross, memoir writer Amy-Jo Albany, producers Ron Yerxa, Albert Berger, and Mindy Berger at the special event at Arclight Hollywood. Additional celebrity guests we spotted included Joaquin Phoenix, Gus Van Sant, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, author E.L. James, Ryan O’Nan, Arden Myrin, Nev Schulman, Max Burkholder, Mark Romanek, Billy Drago, Keenyah Hill and Dominique Nicole.
“Low Down” is a film about the famous 70’s jazz musician Joe Albany and his daughter Amy-Joe. It is based on Amy-Joe’s memoir. Directed by Jeff Preiss and starring John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, and Flea, the story focuses on the era in which jazz was richly present in Los Angeles culture and also shows the darker side of the industry. The film authentically portrays the lifestyle of a musician and his many trials and tribulations. If you’re looking for a great story about the Hollywood jazz era during the 70’s, “Low Down” is definitely the film to see.
The film’s star Elle Fanning looked beautiful in a Marchesa dress, Christian Louboutin shoes and a Forevermark by Rahaminov flower ring with a round Forevermark diamond set in 18 carat rose gold at the special event. Read what she told us exclusively on the red carpet about playing Amy-Jo Albany in the film.
How did you prepare for your character? Did you read Amy-Jo’s memoirs?
Elle Fanning: I played a real person, so I felt a lot of pressure, but obviously Amy who I played was on set everyday so I kind of picked her brain a little bit. I read her book (her memoir) before. Also, it was nice to get into the 70’s clothes and feel it in that way. We also filmed in downtown L.A., so being in that environment you can’t really fake it. It smelled, we were there!
So how were your talks with Amy-Jo?
Elle Fanning: They were amazing. I kind of observed her a lot. I don’t know if she knew that, but I definitely did. But we became really close friends which was essential to create a bond. So it wasn’t like an interview it was more like we were just hanging out.
How did you discover the script?
Elle Fanning: They sent it to me and I read it and was told it was based off a true story, which makes it even more painful and impactful. Then I met with Jeff and Amy and that was it. The rest is history.
Flea also stars in the film. Read our exclusive interview below:
How did you know you wanted to become involved in the project?
The project really meant a lot to me personally. It’s about jazz musicians in the 70’s and about the story of a kid growing with a jazz musician parent who has a drug problem in Hollywood. I grew up in the 70’s at the exact same time blocks away from where this story happened with a jazz musician parent with a drug problem. So it was really amazing for me, so close to my own personal experience as well as me just loving jazz. Those guys from that time were great jazz musicians, they were all around my house when I was growing up. In and out of my house, jamming in the living room.
How did the connection with Amy make a difference as well?
It made a huge difference. You know it was crazy, when I read the script I couldn’t believe it, knowing that we had met briefly years before. I had no idea, it was incredible. We literally lived a mile away from each other having this very similar up bringing then all these years later as grown ups we meet each other and this movie is happening.
How has the music of Albany and other jazz musicians of the day influence your work as an artist?
Profoundly! I’m no jazz musician obviously I played in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but that music really inspired me as a kid. I would see those jazz players playing in my house and I’d be rolling on the floor laughing because it made me feel so good. And I couldn’t believe they could do it either. Like watching these old guys play the saxophones, the drums, the piano, it was so beautiful. When I grew up, I just listened to jazz all the time, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, Cannonball Adderley, Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk. These guys for me still are the high watermark of art in this country. That is the greatest art form that this country has come up with.
Speaking of music and art how as it working with your fellow band mate on the film?
It was cool. We didn’t really work together on it, we both invested money in it because we wanted to help out and make it happen.
Will we see you acting in more films to come?
We’ll see. It was really fun doing this and I really feel like I found myself as an actor a lot more than in the past. So we’ll see.
How did you link up with Jeff?
You know I worked on Jeff’s set years ago. Maybe 14 years ago, I was listening to jazz and we started talking and he found out Joe Albany was my dad and kind of freaked out and know one really knows who he is. We started talking and started writing these stories. It was just a strange sequence of happy events.
Did you ever imagine your memoirs would be turned into a film?
No, I never imagined having memoirs. You know I secretly always wanted to be a writer. I wanted to tell a story of these jazz musicians like my dad who was so talented and unsung and so influential. I’m so happy to be able tell his story.
How did you help Elle prepare for her role?
We talked. More I felt it was just being supportive and being there if she needed me. I was on set.
How did you get involved with the project?
I met Amy and I was big fan of her dad’s music and a jazz fan and couldn’t believe that I had met the daughter of Joe Albany. I asked what was it like? Where did you live? What was your dad like? She would off hand start telling me stories about her life. Her stories were addictive, very complex.
It’s funny how things come together.
Making this film was that experience over and over again. It’s a long sequence of miraculous acts of faith, good luck and charm.
How was it working with musicians that are actually in the industry now that can reference that sound?
Flea is such a great jazz person, he has a jazz soul. He loves the music so deeply and I couldn’t get enough of also hearing Flea flipping through Jazz records and talking about them.
How did Flea get cast into the film?
It was Amy’s idea to cast him. She had an instinct that he was exactly the right person. They kind of grew up together but didn’t know each other … they had a few encounters with each other but nothing of significance … but she knew that he had been a jazz musician. I shot Flea 25 years ago in a documentary.
Following the screening guests headed over to Wood & Vine for cocktails, canapés and live music. “Low Down” will hit theaters in Los Angeles at The Landmark on Oct. 31 and continue to expand. Read our coverage of the “Low Down” New York premiere below and read our exclusive interview with Elle Fanning from the “The Young Ones” New York premiere red carpet below!
Darius Stone contributed reporting.