The New York Times has created a unique and compelling 9-minute original video comprised of brief interviews with seven Oscar-nominated actors.


Shot in low light on 16mm b&w film, the seemingly unrehearsed sessions are gritty, refreshingly honest and open.  The actors seem a little on edge.  We get a glimpse of superstars so often hidden in their roles and in orchestrated press appearances.  This is something different and I think it really works well online.

Cate Blanchett, Helen Mirren, Brad Pitt, Abbie Kornish, Leonardo DiCarprio, Penelope Cruz and Ken Wantanabe speak about the films that made the first impressions on them as youngsters. "The First Ones" was directed by Jake Paltrow ("The Good Night").  It was commissioned by The New York Times magazine and shot in Los Angeles in January.

The video was launched on Friday and has been heavily promoted throughout the site.  Beet.TV has learned that the film ranks as one the most widely watched clips ever on the paper’s site.

Sure, major star power is driving traffic to this video — and the rawness is highly stylized by Paltrow, a veteran television and film director — but I think this is a very successful experiment in how newspapers can embrace new ways to produce content.   

Andy Plesser

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