Kevin Spacey-Dana Brunetti Production Company Triggers New Talent

Dana Brunetti Trigger Street Productions
Dan Doperalski for Variety

Dana Brunetti was supposed to be Kevin Spacey’s assistant for only three months. Fifteen years later, he and Spacey run Trigger Street Prods., one of the most innovative production companies in town, making waves with such films as “The Social Network,” “Captain Phillips” and the upcoming “Fifty Shades of Grey,” as well as Netflix series “House of Cards.”

“I think it’s a good yin and yang,” Brunetti said of the partnership. “I’m usually more on the cutting edge (of technology) than he is. But he’s a fast learner. He’s very quick to pick up the trends I’m chasing.”

Emerging talents have been among the notable beneficiaries of the company’s innovation. In 2002, the pair launched the Trigger Street Labs website, an online platform for amateur screenwriters to receive feedback and exposure. Three years ago, they added Trigger Street’s support to a short film script contest — Jameson First Shot — established in partnership with the Irish Whiskey maker. The competition offers three winners the chance to create a short with the Trigger Street team and an A-list actor. Spacey himself starred in the JFS shorts in 2012, followed by Willem Dafoe in 2013 and Uma Thurman in 2014. The three winners in 2015 (with submissions accepted now through Feb. 1 at www.jamesonfirstshot.com) will direct Academy Award winner Adrien Brody in their work.
“You want somebody who’s capable of being diverse in the characters they play, and you want a big name that’s going to bring attention to the filmmakers and to the project,” Brunetti said.

That formula worked for 2012 JFS winner Aleksey Nuzhny, for example, who has gone on to write the Russian feature film “Legok na pomine” and is at work on a second.

However, Brunetti is quick to point out that he hasn’t pulled strings for the JFS winners. “It’s not like we’re just handing over the keys to the kingdom,” he says. “We’re just giving them the chance to get their foot in the door. And it’s up to them to take it from there.”