In his debut feature “New Low,” Adam Bowers was so convincing as a fussy, unambitious loafer stymied by his expectations of himself and others that it’s almost difficult to believe that the same person, who was also behind the camera, would be compelled to make a followup. Yet the success of the droll comedy, which premiered at Sundance in 2010, left Bowers with no other choice but to make another and even though larger-scale projects beckoned, the actor/writer/director didn’t want to lose any momentum waiting around for them.
“I wrote this script, which I’d had in my head for awhile, about a year ago as a sort of rainy-day project that I knew I could do at this size,” says Bowers. “And well, that rainy day has come.”
But ever the appreciator of irony, Bowers’ sophomore feature “Paperback,” which is currently raising funds on Kickstarter before an August 16th deadline, will take place in the Sunshine State, a coming home of sorts for the filmmaker who went to college in Gainesville. Although the film isn’t autobiographical, Bowers allows that returning to Florida where he previously shot “New Low” did provide some inspiration for the romantic comedy in which Bowers will play a pizza cook realizing his limitations when it comes to both his work and his love life just as a friend whose enjoyed some minor victories returns to town.
“The choice to go back [to Gainesville] is not necessarily a ‘what if I never left’ sort of thing,” says Bowers. “But there is a feeling I have of ‘I haven’t gone and been able to make another movie since my first one, so in a way I’ve never left Gainesville’ and that feeds into the main character.”
While Bowers will once again be wearing at least three hats on the low-budget production, at least it won’t be the whole haberdashery he was running on “New Low,” which was shot on an ultra-sparse $2000 budget. For “Paperback,” the filmmaker has assembled a trusted crew of collaborators ranging from Roger Beebe, the owner of Gainesville’s Video Rodeo where Bowers used to work the register, to Andie Bolt, a veteran online video producer, to Adele Romanski, the accomplished producer behind such films as “Black Rock” and “The Myth of the American Sleepover” (not to mention her work as director of our fave “Leave Me Like You Found Me”).
The latter brought aboard Jay Keitel, the cinematographer who previously lensed Amy Seimetz’s St. Petersberg-set, sweat-soaked thriller “Sun Don’t Shine,” with whom Bowers is excited to build upon a distinctive look that he came across by accident on his last film by putting film lenses on a consumer-grade Panasonic DVX digital camera.
“My director of photography [on ‘New Low’] had noticed that it’s a very weird combination, but it gave the movie a grainy, almost 16mm look to it, which I really loved,” says Bowers, who noted how it’s particularly in sync with how he feels about his favorite parts of Gainesville. “That’s something we’re looking to hold onto: a grittiness in the image that’s not usually found in romantic comedies.”
Then again, with such steady hands behind the camera, production on “Paperback” should go smoothly when it commences in September, assuming that the film’s Kickstarter campaign is successful, and Bowers aims to turn it around quickly for an early 2014 festival debut so backers and the general public can see it as soon as possible.
“Like with ‘New Low,’ a big reason I’m making this is because it’s a very personal story that I feel a need to tell,” says Bowers. “So I’m excited to push it out of my head for people to see, and love, or hate, or feel some other emotion about.”