Alan Shelly with Ryan O'Connor and Kevin Spacey

Lauren Manning


NOT many 26-year-old film-makers get to direct an Oscar-winning actor – but Capetonian Alan Shelley won the opportunity to do just that.

Shelley, a graduate from the CityVarsity School of Media and Creative Arts, is the SA winner of the Jameson First Shot Competition. He showcased his short film, Spirit of a Denture at a red carpet premiere this past Saturday in Joburg.

The film was one of three winners selected from more than 748 submissions to the competition.

“It didn’t sink in for a long time. The whole thing has been quite surreal,” Shelley said yesterday.

Through the contest, Jameson Irish whiskey partnered with Kevin Spacey and his production company, Trigger Street Productions, to give “fresh, fearless film-makers” from SA, Russia and the US the chance to submit their scripts for a short film competition.

Spacey and a panel of industry professionals produced a shortlist of 20 entries. The shortlisted screenwriters and directors participated in a rigorous second-round selection process before the winners were chosen.

The three winners – one from each country – flew to Los Angeles in March to have their scripts produced and to direct Spacey in one of the lead roles.

“Trigger Street put together an entire crew so I could fly in and just do the director’s job,” Shelley said.

“We did pre-production for a week and a half, shot for two days and post-production for another week and a half.”

The result: a nine-minute film based on Shelley’s script about a workaholic dentist who gets a visit from a pirate.

The film can be viewed online at

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