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EXCLUSIVE: Kevin Spacey, Whiskey and Sending the Elevator Back Down

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood June 3, 2012 at 1:14PM

Less than a year ago, Benjamin Leavitt moved to Austin, Texas. An aspiring filmmaker, Leavitt was looking to get back into the world of narrative film, but had few connections in his new home city. Tonight, eight months later, he'll attend the premiere of his new film "The Ventriloquist" at High Line Stages in New York's meatpacking district.

For Brunetti, the philosophy isn't a sound byte, it's a a reflection of his own trajectory in the film business.  Eleven years ago, Brunetti attended the Academy Awards as Spacey's guest, having recently gotten his start in the industry as the actor's assistant.  Two years ago, when Brunetti was nominated for Best Picture for producing "The Social Network" and attended the Oscars again, Spacey came as his guest.

In a world and a field where cynicism often holds sway, it's hard at first glance to understand how a project like the Jameson First Shot competition fits into the careers of a major actor and his producing partner.  For Spacey though, paying it forward seems be a way of life.  "The truth is," he says, "more people should do it.  It changes people's lives.  Why would you choose to spend your time sitting around in a kidney pool in Beverly Hills collecting residual checks?  That sounds boring."

"Not really," Brunetti interjects dryly, but his money isn't where his mouth is.

This article is related to: Kevin Spacey, Independents, Shorts, Short Film, Shorts

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.