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No-budget indie film chosen for Sundance Film Festival

Valerie Jones makes her screen debut in ‘New Low’ When Blountstown’s own Valerie Jones decided to join a fellow student at the University of Florida on a no-budget film project, she had no idea where it would lead. But come next week, she will land in Park City, Utah, where she will see herself on the big screen at the Sundance Film Festival. Valerie is among the stars of New Low, a film written and directed by Adam Bowers, one of her UF classmates. The movie is about a neurotic twentysomething (Bowers) who struggles to figure out which girl he really belongs with: the best (portrayed by Jones) or the worst one he’s ever known (Jayme Ratzer, who happens to be Bowers’ real life ex-girlfriend). A 2005 graduate of Blountstown High School, Jones describes herself as “that girl that watches the ‘behind-the-scenes’ feature DVDs” who has always been fascinated by filmmaking and acting. When she arrived at UF to major in public relations, she was looking for ways to get involved when she spotted a flyer advertising auditions for Upstart Films, a filmmaking club run entirely by UF students. A few auditions later, she was working on a short called Hedge Clipping where she met Bowers. “Not long after we finished Hedge Clipping, Adam approached me about a role in New Personal Worst, a short that he had written. I think we filmed that in the summer of 2007,” Valerie recalls. “The next year, Adam had finished the script for New Low, the feature-length version of New Personal Worst, and he wanted me to play Joanna again. Now that I think of it, he didn’t even really ask me if I wanted to be in New Low. He just kind of told me when we’d start filming!” During the hot summer of 2008, production got underway in Gainesville. “My scenes took two full weeks of shooting–and I mean full,” says Valerie. “This film was literally the last thing I did while living in Gainesville. I actually stayed for two weeks longer than I planned to so that I could be involved. A typical day usually meant filming for 10 or more hours. I had my little bag where I would pack my costumes and shoes then head out to meet the team. Sleeping and eating became luxuries during that time.” According to a story in the Tampa Tribune, the film crew with no budget “borrowed camera equipment, used a Pier One china ball for lighting and had to routinely chuck pebbles at chirping cicadas to keep quiet on the set. For moving shots, cast members stuffed the cameraman into an old Volvo. They muffled the sound by pushing the car barefoot.” Valerie was not pleased with one of Adam’s requests to help make her character more believable: absolutely no make-up. “I’ll definitely be giving him a hard time about this while we’re in Utah,” she remarks. After filming was complete, Adam moved to Los Angeles, Valerie headed for a job in Tallahassee as a legislative assistance, and others on the film moved on to other endeavors. However, Adam spent the year editing his film and, a day before the deadline, a friend urged him to submit his work to the Sundance Film Festival. From around 10,000 entries, New Low was among 200 chosen to premiere at the festival. Valerie is excited about being at the festival to support Adam and help promote the film. “When I tell people about my trip, some ask if I’m looking to get ‘discovered’ and if I want to be a movie star,” she says. “Honestly, that didn’t even occur to me. I tell them, ‘I’m just going for the party!’” As grueling as production on New Low was, Valerie says, “I loved every second of it. Some of my favorite people in the world were involved in its creation, and I am so proud to have been a part of such a wonderful project.” Check out Valerie in the film’s trailer at www.newlowmovie.com

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