Maggie Gyllenhaal, star of Secretary, The Dark Knight and Crazy Heart, will be the next star of the annual Jameson First Shot film competition series. The New York-based actress will star in a selection of short films by the three winning writers/directors. Their films will debut next summer, funded once again by Pernod Ricard’s iconic Irish whiskey.
It’s just the latest entry in this Golden Age of Booze Branded Entertainment. (And we’re not even talking about James Bond’s numerous booze endorsements.) As for why brands, alcohol or not, continue to invest in branded entertainment and short films—cinema continues to be one of our great artforms, putting human connections and great storytelling at the heart of brands seeking to connect with people.
Cue the latest installment in the Jameson First Shot film series, the brainchild of Trigger Street, the production company co-owned by producer Dana Brunetti (The Social Network; Captain Philips) and the award-winning actor Kevin Spacey (House of Cards, American Beauty, eTrade ads and numerous other credits).
Each year for the last five years, a high-profile actor has been chosen to appear in a trio of short films by three up and coming filmmakers whose pitches have made the cut.
Spacey told The Hollywood Reporter that the goal of the competition is simple—to “send the elevator back down” and give talented unknowns a break. That, and the chance to work with an A-list actor, have their work produced and promoted, and get paid for the honor.
Previous stars of Jameson’s First Shot (below) include Adrian Brody, Willem Defoe, Uma Thurman, and, of course, Kevin Spacey.
The Project Greenlight-like Jameson’s First Shot is a well-aged branded entertainment franchise, but by no means unique, with a liquor cabinet full of other booze brands offering partnering with Hollywood on short films. Plucking a popular or award-winning star for a high-production-values branded film is all the rage.
Last year whiskey brand Lagavulin partnered with Parks and Rec star Nick Offerman for the mostly sincere series My Tales of Whiskey, which included a music video.
Last year also gave us Johnnie Walker’s The Gentleman’s Wager, starring Jude Law:
It followed that up this year with Law in Joy Will Take You Further —
That was for Johnnie Walker Blue; for Johnnie Walker Red, the brand (perfectly) cast Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks.
It’s been half a decade since Absolut vodka snagged indie filmmaker Spike Jonze for I’m Here.
Finally, a shot of Kahlua. The coffee liqueur brand went for the gag last year by casting Jeff “Big Lebowski” Bridges in its tribute to The Dude’s favorite drink, “Behind the White Russian.”