Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti Tap Trio as Jameson First Shot Winners
Travis Calvert from the United States, South Africa’s Mark Middlewick and Stephan Tempier of Canada were selected from nearly 2,000 applicants to work with the Trigger Street principals.
Kevin Spacey and 50 Shades of Grey producer Dana Brunetti have unveiled this year’s Jameson First Shot winners.
The fourth annual shorts festival, founded by the Trigger Street Productions principals with the mandate of bringing the work of three aspiring writers to the big screen, was held Saturday night on the Paramount lot.
Travis Calvert from the United States, South Africa’s Mark Middlewick and Stephan Tempier of Canada were selected from nearly 2,000 applicants to work with Academy Award-winner Spacey, who serves as creative director of the competition, and Oscar-nominated producer Brunetti (Captain Phillips). The pair presented the trio of finished shorts at the party and screening attended by Jameson and studio executives. Academy Award winner Adrien Brody (The Pianist) starred in all three shorts and was on hand for the festivities.
"I was very fortunate when I was quite young to meet Jack Lemmon," Spacey told The Hollywood Reporter of his interest in supporting emerging filmmakers. "Jack had this wonderful philosophy that he passed down, which was, 'Listen kid, if you’ve done well in the business, then it’s your obligation to send the elevator back down.' The Jameson idea really was born out of that."
Applicants submitted seven-minute scripts written with Brody in mind as the lead, and the winning projects were chosen for their production feasibility, originality and storytelling.
"Something has to be compelling. It has to be something I want to see on the screen, something that I think I could get an actor to respond to," Brunetti told THR. "What makes a good short? The simple answer is it has to be engaging and entertaining."
Calvert, Middlewick and Tempier directed their shorts — titled The Library Book, The Mascot and Boredom, respectively — over a two-day shoot. It marked each director’s first time working with a professional crew. The winning shorts are produced by Brody and Trigger Street.
Brody cited great character development as the common thread among the winning shorts, in which he plays a former basketball mascot, a philanthropist returning an overdue library book and a 40-year-old man who refuses to grow up.
"You know where there’s a character that’s identifiable within that that you want to embark on," he said. "That’s basically how you find the ones that speak to you.”
Spacey and Brunetti started the festival as a way to offer young filmmakers the opportunity to work with every member of a crew and study the process of how a film comes together. The goal is for winners to carve out a career in the industry.
"What I’m looking at specifically is not just what offers Adrien three distinct and interesting roles," Spacey added. "I’m also looking at not so much where the filmmakers are today, but if they’re nurtured and supported and they get this opportunity, where they might be in 10 years."
Brody agreed. "It’s a really wonderful, nurturing environment that they’ve provided for them," he said during the post-screening Q&A. "It’s really a wonderful thing to watch them take on the role of the filmmaker and blossom, and that’s really special."
Middlewick will return to South Africa and pursue directing there. Calvert and Middlewick are hoping to direct features for the North American indie market.
"For some reason, it felt really natural to me," Tempier told THR of working with Spacey, Brody and the crew that was provided by Trigger Street. "I thought, 'That’s what I’m meant to do. I’m meant to try and see this whole project through.' And it felt very easy. The whole process has been amazing so far."
All of the films will be available on Jameson First Shot’s YouTube channel.