Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Learning from the other side

Having spent the last 20 years making independent films and balancing about half that time with creating commercials for brands, it has been an enlightening experience to become a brand owner.  After traveling Italy to make the film BELLA VITA, my friendship with winemaker Piergiorgio Castellani inspired a passion project called, ZIOBAFFA organic wine.

Castellani is a 5th generation Tuscan vintner and one of the larger exporters of Italian wine in all of Tuscany.  He has a strong voice in the winemaking community and was eager to try a project that, built on friendship, aspires to reach a youthful audience.  Dare I say, a... beer drinking, outdoor seeking, fun-loving audience... with our commitment to a 100% organic product that is sustainably produced in recycled packaging including a revolutionary new twist-off "eco" cork and our roots in surf-travel,  ZIOBAFFA is literally a modern take on an old tradition and we are selling worldwide.

My end of the bargain is trying to make some enjoyable content that reaches out to the masses so that a small, independent label like ours with zero marketing budget, somehow cracks through the massive amount of content that we are all bombarded with daily.  The same content, I will shamelessly add, I'm paid very well to make as a commercial director.

Jason Baffa on location in Namibia

So... as the aforementioned blog title tee's up...  I am truly learning from the other side.  For the first time, I'm not just commercial director... I am Brand Owner or Client as we say in the biz, which is entirely ironic as I'm often complaining about AD budgets disappearing, influencers taking precedence over great creative AD campaigns and the constant ask to do more for less... and make it look great... so clients can post it to social media.   And guess what we do with our wine marketing? uh... yeah, #hypocrite.  Damn, what a dose of humble pie.

But I get it.  Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, this is free real-estate to build a brand.  People are hungry for free content and if the Brand can grow and connect with a bigger community but entertaining the masses with a new edit or photo... well, I guess everyone wins.

Piergiorgio Castellani opens a ZIOBAFFA Rosso
My biggest fear, where is the ceiling?  There is just SO MUCH shit out there.  I certainly don't have time to process it all.   Regardless, I put the same passion into everything I create but for what?  What used to be work that people admired is now... well, as a friend recently said... disposable.  Ouch.  The creative in me really hates that word as I have always tried to make things that I hope have some staying power.

The good news, people enjoy drinking wine (and other things).  So, I'm excited to use @ziobaffa as a self-indulgent excuse to continue to create things.  If one can help sustain the other, well then, I guess I'm becoming a sustainable-creative.  Maybe that will be the new catch phrase, sustainable-creativity. I will also add, it feels really good to make content for a brand that you own.  This isn't new info.  I think we've seen many celebs sway away from paid endorsements and actually start their own brands with financial investors.  It's a bit like getting points or royalties on a movie.  You believe in the work, put your name on it and see how it works out as a team.  Like, Clooney made what on Casamigas Tequila... 1 billion dollars?   Cue every investor looking for their own tequila label.

I'm no Clooney, but the nice thing about our ZIOBAFFA project is that it is truly based on things we believe in...  organic farming, sustainable business practice, an ethos to be responsible with what we make and what we put in our body and moreover, an over-riding want to make something that we can share with friends and family... and eventually new friends.  I guess, in the end, it's really not that different than what I've always done with a film camera.

for more, check out:

Baffa and Chris Del Moro premiering BELLA VITA at the Santa Barbara Film Fest

Doctor's now say a glass of organic red wine per day is a good thing.  photo:  ziobaffa

weekend essentials for filmmaker, Jason Baffa, aka ZIOBAFFA

Saturday, December 16, 2017


I've been spending a bit more time swimming with a stills camera.  The ocean has always been a draw and it feels so good to get out in the waves, swim with friends and make images.  I've had many people in the water ask me, where can I see this work?

For the most part, I'll be posting to @jasonbaffafilms on Instagram but I did start a new Surf Photo Gallery in my online store called, LOCALS ONLY.  This gallery is built so that I can post any great shots and let people buy something if they want it.  I hope the images are as inspiring to you as the process of capturing them is to me!   enjoy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Jason Baffa Film's - Movie Posters & Fine Art Prints Buy @

I'm really excited to announce my new online store for our Official Movie Posters and access to a small selection of my favorite images from the last few years.  All of these are available as Fine Art Prints and will be created on-demand for you per your exact specs.  Metal&Paper Pro is my gallery certified print house and frame shop.  It gives you all the power, from choosing size, to media type (matte photo, color glossy, canvas, metal, etc) and you can also add a matte and frame if you like.

I know it's hard to order artwork online, I've tried it before with frustration but I was really impressed with my art-storefronts partner and their easy to use ordering platform.  This was a bit of a scary investment on my part to utilize their service and integrate it with my existing website but I really wanted to offer these items to the public.  Hopefully I made the right choice and people inspired by the movies we've made and the friends I've traveled with can enjoy their very own custom image at home - or better yet - gift a friend something special!

Please give it a look at  and feel free to hit me up with any questions.

You can always follow me on instagram via @jasonbaffafilms /  feel free to tag any images you'd like to see available for sale if they aren't already offer.  As always, thank you for the support of my creative endeavors.  cheers.
- baff

Monday, November 23, 2015

Andy Davis Designs + Said Space Gallery + Ziobaffa Wine

It was truly an honor to bring down some Ziobaffa Wine and help Ando kick off his new show, "Cooked Just Right" at the Said Space Gallery in Encinitas.  I have looked up to Andy's artwork for years.  He has such a casual and relaxed take on the surfing lifestyle and he is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.  Surf Art has always been a big part of the surfing sub-culture and Ando's work has established an often replicated style as well as inspired many fans.

Chris Del Moro was on hand to spin some vinyl and the party went late.  Ziobaffa was definitely in the house!  A big congrats again to Andy for a beautiful exhibit, please go check it out and take an original home if you can!  

Our hope with Ziobaffa Wine is to find opportunities to support artists, free-thinkers, lovers of food, drink and our extended global-surfing-family in a way that resonates by creating a sustainable product that is 100% organic and embraces bio-friendly production.    @ziobaffa @andydavisdesigns @saidspace

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Farm League & Jason Baffa Films shoot Brazil for Samsung

I recently had the opportunity via Farm League Productions, Cheil Advertising and the World Surf League to shoot a mini-documentary for Samsung.  We traveled to Brazil, a place I love shooting and spent a few days at the Oi Rio Pro.  Never in my life have i seen such a crazy seen at a surf contest.  The Brazilian fans are passionate to say the least and this was a big focus of our story.

Last year, Gabriel Medina won the world title, it happened not long after Brazil's soccer team suffered a brutal defeat on their home turf in the World Cup.  The timing was such that I think the Nation needed a hero and Medina, taking down Kelly Slater in pumping Teahupoo fit that role perfectly.  His title has truly ignited inspiration in the entire Brazilian cavalcade of pro-surfers, known as "The Brazilian Storm" thanks to some media reports.  A term, I think they like although I got the sense that they didn't love the fact that people were now making money off of printing Brazilian Storm Tee-Shirts, Hats, Foamie-Fingers (yes, foamy-fingers), did I mention it was chaos on the beach?!!!

I think what really caught my attention at the event was the fact that beyond the crowd and the chaos, every person was fixated on the actual surfing.  There were cheers and jeers for every wave ridden and the odd 100,000 people in silence when a non-Brazilian surfer did something good.  It was amazing and thanks to Globosat broadcasting the contest live on TV along with a strong internet audience, the WSL states that this event was seen by more people than any other event in the history of pro-surfing.  That's a pretty amazing statement.

On our end, two RED Dragon camera packages were in hand-held mode trying to capture the aforementioned chaos.  I chose RED because I was really impressed by it's ability to handle contrast while shooting my #Redirectsurf project.  I also love the slow motion capabilities.  It is a handful for shooting documentary work both physically and meta-physically with the amount of data you are capturing but the end images make it worth the effort.  We had a A-team crew from Rio.  These guys work on all the features that come through town and they really made my life a lot easier (not to mention the Brazilian bbq they cooked for us was stupid good).

The most brutal zone for our shoot was the spot we really wanted to get images of, that being the surfer exit and entrance from the main tent.  For those who don't know surf events, you have a main area with judges, media and athletes.  The surfers must exit this area to get to the beach and in this case, the beach was full, so the surfers just needed to get into the water.  A VIP roped off section allowed them a good 50 yards of protection but that still left an open area at the water's edge, where media, fans, $85K RED Camera carrying gringos, all congregated in the midst of 8-10 bodyguards in some kind of salt water soaked, sand-crusted, surf media orgy of sorts that could only be likened to a Rugby scrum.  Framing a shot of this train wreck, I did get run over once.  Farm League Executive Producer Tim Lynch got a pretty classic photo of that!

Luckily our final edit has access to the WSL production team's archives.  With RED production happening under the watchful eye of my old friend, Chris Merrit.  Those guys have the scene dialed.

We were also able to spend some time in and around Rio capturing lifestyle inserts and details.  It was nice to take some time to really create some nice moments.  As much as I enjoy the energy of the live events, it was difficult to truly achieve all the coverage I had in my head.  In the end, we will utilize a mix of pure documentary and controlled filmmaking to tell our story.  I've shot in the favelas above the city a few times.  It is amazing that some of the poorest people economically are rich in the phenomenal views they have of such a unique city.

Our team then moved to quieter zones where we were able to spend some time with the Medina family.  I truly thank them for their hospitality.  I also want to thank my hard working crew, including everyone at the Farm League offices as well as my right-hand-man in the field, Tyler Emmett and our fearless producer Arlo "the NYC veggie burger king" Rosner.  I look forward to where Cheil Advertising and Samsung take the final edit of our film.  Look for it to drop in the coming months.

UPDATE: see the director's TV edit here:

#farmleaguer #shotonRed @jasonbaffafilms #Rio #WSL

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bella Vita - water cinematography

Once Chris Del Moro and I decided to make Bella Vita, the first call I made was to my old friend Scott Kassenoff.  Scott has shot with me on Singlefin: yellow & One California Day.  He specializes in shooting from the water and loves to shoot film.  We discussed our desire to visually "raise the bar" with Bella Vita and a big part of my focus was telling the story from "in" the water.  I wanted the audience to really feel like they were with the surfers.  Obviously, there are many fantastic digital cinema options these days.  (I'm currently testing the RED Dragon for #REDirectsurf and I am very impressed by it's ability to handle light, dark and shoot slow motion, all very important things for capturing surfing)

But with Bella Vita, Scott and I wanted to pay homage to our previous work (shot on 16mm and super 16mm), yet explore it on a more cinematic scale.  So he suggested shooting 35mm Film in the wide-screen format.  For those who don't know, 35mm was the staple for Hollywood for many years and although filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan and Quinten Tarantino still use film, many have switched to digital.  Note:  there is an interesting documentary on the subject of digital & film in Hollywood on Netflix called, "Side by Side".

I loved Scott's idea.  It was bold, 35mm is a larger format film negative so the equipment is larger.  With a big Hollywood crew, the larger gear is just part of the machine but on a small independent Documentary, the endeavor was monumental.

We were able to find scott one of Don King's old surf-housings for an ARRI film cam and it was off to the races.  Scotty, Myself and our assistant Johnathon Taylor shlepped two 35mm camera bodies, batteries, lenses, film-magazines, raw film stock and peripherals along with two super 16mm film cams and 3 small digital cinema units all over Italy.  The gear filled up two Jeeps.  That's a lot of stuff for 3 guys guys to handle... but I'm so proud of the accomplishment.  Below is a short video with a few of Scott's water clips, truly beautiful imagery!

Bella Vita's Water Cinematography from jason baffa films on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ziobaffa - imported by surfers

a short clip i put together with the stylish, chris del moro for our ziobaffa wine collaboration.

ZIOBAFFA - Imported by Surfers from jason baffa films on Vimeo.

music by the honolulu jazz quartet.  written by dan del negro.