What: Whiskey Fist, an NSFW short film made in response to labor-exploiting branded content.
Who: Filmmaker Gillian Horvat
Why we care: In 2015, Jameson Whiskey held a short film competition called First Shot. The brand asked for submissions that evoked “the great and/or unexpected things that happen when you fear less and let life in.” Gillian Horvat, a budding filmmaker who won the Best Midnight Short award at SXSW that year, had considered entering the contest. Then she read the fine print and subsequently considered the whole thing a matter of creative exploitation. This realization soured her on the very concept of branded content. It also inspired her to create something in response.
“I don’t think movies are content,” Horvat writes on the Kickstarter page for the film she ended up making as a rebuke to brands. “I think they’re magic, I think they’re more real than real life. I make films or movies or smut or whatever you want to call it, and I do it because I want people to feel shit, not to sell shit.”
Considering what happens during the 10 minutes of Whiskey Fist, Horvat should rest well-knowing nobody will be using it to sell anything. The surreal, self-aware film follows a male intern at a toxically misogynist branding agency as he gets impregnated from a sex act involving a whiskey bottle. The film manages to mock brand culture and masculinity–while promoting women’s reproductive rights–all in one ridiculous package. Perhaps more short films should be made out of spite instead of corporate-sponsored contests.JB