Monday, November 17, 2014

Presenting ZioBaffa Filmmaker Edition Wines!

I am honored and ecstatic to announce a new collaboration endeavor with the Castellani Winemaking Family called, ZioBaffa.

These bio-dynamically produced, 100% organic Italian wines are the brain child of Piergiorgio Castellani.  The first two (a Toscana Red and Pinot Grigio) are "The Filmmaker Edition Wines" and inspired by my experiences with Piergiorgio and Chris Del Moro making our new film, BELLA VITA.  We put a lot of effort into creating something good, affordable and moreover eco-friendly.

100% of energy used in manufacturing is from renewable resources and NDV certified with a "zero waste" program, recycling all possible waste and purifying polluted water.

Our ZIOBAFFA bottles utilize recycled glass in their creation.

100% of the paper  we use for our label is FSC (The Forest Stewardship Council) certified and is produced from raw material obtained through sustainable farming practices.  The labels are printed with non-toxic ink and affixed using bio-friendly, non-toxic glue.

We are also introducing the new & revolutionary HELIX™ cork closure, which is a bio-friendly re-usable seal.  We consider this seal  more elegant and effective than aluminum screw caps.  Cork production preserves bio-diversity and is generally regarded as a highly sustainable crop due to the fact that the entire cork tree is not harvested; merely its bark. The tree continues to live and grow.

Chris drew a limited-edition label representing our surf adventures in the Mediterranean Sea on FSC certified paper and the glue is non-toxic.

You can learn more about this exciting project via the video below or please visit us at

The wines will be in available in the United States in the coming weeks.  A big thanks to the team at Sage Beverages and Young's Market for their hard work on distribution.

My favorite things in life are sharing movies, surfing and good food with drink amongst family & friends.  This new adventure really ties all of my passions together and I'm tremendously excited to share it with you!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Press, Pause, Play

"Press, Pause, Play" is a fascinating and beautifully shot documentary film about the digital revolution.  It came out a few years ago and I'm truly amazed how often I speak to people about it and they have never heard of it.  SO... here it is - and better yet - you can watch it for FREE.

Yes, everyone's favorite word.  FREE.   I truly know how hard it is to make an independent film.  They are hard to finance.  They are hard to execute.  They are hard to distribute, especially in this current sea of information we swim through daily.  This film speaks to that and much, much, more.

In fact, a key point in the film is that for anything in this modern media world to go viral, to capture our attention, it must be FREE.  So the filmmakers give you a choice, watch it for free or buy it on iTunes - your choice!

Including interviews with Mobie and other media giants, it gives a fascinating look into our rapidly changing world.  From print, music, film-tv, we all digest our media differently from say, 10-15 years ago... and we creators need to adapt to that.  ENJOY.

official website:

watch NOW on youtube:


The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent of people in an unprecedented way, unleashing unlimited creative opportunities. But does democratized culture mean better art, film, music and literature or is true talent instead flooded and drowned in the vast digital ocean of mass culture? Is it cultural democracy or mediocrity? This is the question addressed by PressPausePlay, a documentary film containing interviews with some of the world's most influential creators of the digital era.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

LMU Magazine talks Bella Vita!

A big thanks to my Alma Mater, Loyola Marymount University (recently making the top 5 film schools in the Nation list) for taking the time to talk Italy, filmmaking and production on, BELLA VITA.  #GoLions!

you can read the interview here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bella Vita Now Available Worldwide!

I'm so happy to announce that my new film, Bella Vita is now available on DVD, iTunes, Digital VOD and in Select Theaters throughout the world.  If you are reading this and you've seen the film, please share this info with your friends and family- and ask them to share it with their friends and family.  Large Hollywood movies have marketing budgets upwards of 30 million dollars, Bella Vita has you and your voice.  We thank you for all the support.

For any and all info or to purchase, please go to

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

Making Movies - JB Films Podcast Interview

I had a blast hanging out with David Scales recording an exclusive podcast interview for  - we talked about surfing, making movies, family and specifically, my features "Singlefin: yellow,"  "One California Day" and "Bella Vita."

This podcast was recorded at "Zeke's Handle Bar" in the Tyler Surf Shop, El Segundo, CA.

to listen to the show:  click here

photos: m. annunziata

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Surfing's Storytellers Night

What an honor to be included in a solid line-up of surf-filmmakers and surf-photographers for a hang-out session hosted by The High Line Festival of Surfing in Hollywood's, Haus of Strauss.  It is always a pleasure to see old friends and make new, trading war stories over good food and a few cold libations.  Cheers to Ari Lurie for all his hard work putting on the event and to Jamie Brisick for attempting to corral this group of "usually-behind-the-lens" misfits into the spot light.

Surf fans might not recognize all the faces in the above photo but you've surely seen the work of greats like, Art Brewer, C.R. Stecyk, Jeff Divine, Steve Pezman, Taylor Steele, Cyrus Sutton, Scott Soens, Tim McKenna, Luccia Giggli, Hayley Gordon, Jamie Brisick and Chris Burkhard.

On a somber note, the night was dedicated to the memory of our group's friend, Sonny Miller.  A filmmaker who lived life to the fullest, with a smile on his face.  He was definitely there in spirit - it was Miller time.

Friday, May 9, 2014

ZioBaffa - Simple Pasta Sauce

My nona passed along her great skills in the kitchen to my father and through the years i've tried to watch, learn and embrace his favorite dishes.  On my recent trip to Italy- I really tried to pay attention to simple techniques the locals were using.

Whenever we can, my wife and i host close friends for some good wine and home-made Italian food.  Often, my friends ask me for recipes, so here is the basic of all basics, a simple tomato sauce that has evolved through my travels.

I love this "as is" with garden grown basil (if ya have it) and some freshly grated parmesan cheese or it can be built on by adding other ingredients.  I call these dishes comfort food, whether i've been on the road for a while or perhaps indulged a bit too heavily the night before, these are dishes that take me back to why I love cooking and sharing food with friends.  Savory, satisfying,  they feel like a warm embrace to the senses.  For wine, I suggest a Toscana Red, perhaps a Chianti or other Sangiovese blend.  My good friend Piergiorgio Castellani sells his "Grifone" Chianti at Trader Joe's for Under $7- a wonderful table wine for the price.

As the rule goes in Italy - good, fresh ingredients go a long way for giving a quality experience - at any price.

note: you can adjust this with vine ripened roma tomatoes mid summer for a wonderful light sauce.  Sometimes I use white wine with the fresh tomatoes.

¼ cup extra virgin OLIVE OIL
1 brown ONION, chopped in ¼ inch dice
4 garlic CLOVES, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh BASIL leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
2 28-ounce cans PEELED WHOLE TOMATOES, crushed by hand and juices reserved
SALT to taste (i use a dash every time i introduce a new ingredient)

½ medium CARROT, finely shredded  (i discovered this in Tuscany and love the touch of sweetness it introduces - but one can easily remove)

1/2 cup Wine (i use red for heavier dishes / white for lighter)

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Basil and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Add Wine.  Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.  (mix in a little butter before plating for extra savory).

This sauce can hold one week in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 5, 2014

South Bay Mag Cover

A big thanks to South Bay Mag for sitting down with me and talking life, travel, family and making independent films... and cheers to the photoshop artists who fluffed enough pixels to make my mug cover-worthy.  On newsstands now.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 28th - Teaser Vid

a Q&A has been added to our April 28th screening of Bella Vita at the Newport Beach Film Festival. please join us for an evening of film on the big screen and behind the scenes stories.  tickets are limited.

ticket info:

Bella Vita - Newport Beach Film Fest from Bella Vita Film on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bella Vita - Orange County Premiere - April 28th - The 2014 Newport Beach Film Fest

we are proud to be included in the 2014 Newport Beach Film Fest.
screening at the Traingle #5 on April 28th at 5:45pm.

click HERE for ticket info

or go to:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Film School 101 - Meanderings on the digital era & DYI production

I recently got an email from a young filmmaker asking about the logistics and revenue of doing an independent film.  In particular, this person was interesting in the "to shoot film or not to shot film" question.  Since I get asked this questions often, I thought it might be worth posting my response.

A response, I will say, that looks more at the big-picture issues behind that decision.

Feel free to keep this dialogue going with me on twitter or my Facebook page, I'd love to hear from you.


Hi Jason,

I really enjoy your films and the mellow tone they are set in. I appreciate the flavor of surfing you choose to cover as I feel the mainstream style is kind of predictable.

I have a surf related film idea I'm considering and wanted to ask about your choice of film. I graduated from art school in photography in 2003 just as digital was becoming a serious contender in production. I know you chose to stay in the medium and I wanted to ask if you recoup the cost of production with DVD sales. I love the grain and liquid feel of film - I'd like to use it but fear of taking a huge loss. Was there a difference between Singlefin Yellow and One Ca Day? I realize this question is much more complicated due to partnerships and advertising with sponsors/companies but if you have the time, I'd be grateful for any feedback.

my response:

hey -
that’s really cool that you are fired up to make a movie.

your question is a very difficult one to answer.  in the event i may be the bearer of bad news… here is some quick info / thoughts.

1.  do it because you love making films or want to improve your reel, experience, etc - not to make money!

2.  surf films no longer sell well on DVD - this is a huge hit to your income - you need to make a film knowing that   80% of sales will be iTunes or other Digital

3.  as you can imagine - if you are willing to drive people to your own website - for Digital download or DVD sales - you don’t need to pay expensive royalty fees.

*for example / on iTunes - you pay an aggregator (middle-man) and iTunes.  so on a $15 movie download - you may see $6 income.

4.  sadly, a good surf title these days might do 10-15,000 units worldwide.  it is rare for a surf title to sell over 25,000 units (but it does happen).

5.  rental downloads are killers - you might see $2 income on a $6 rental.  

6.  marketing is huge - if people don’t know about your movie - you won’t hit any of these numbers.

*a successful title like One Cal Day has done over 50,000 units - yet i still meet people who have never heard of it and they are die-hard surfers.  So market awareness is tricky and can always be improved.  soc. media helps.

7.  the quality of the product defines the success (here is where the film debate really happens.)  if you make it really good.  you can be successful.  no matter what you shoot it with.

what does all this mean?

1.  Sponsors!  find sponsors to cover the costs - it is really the ONLY way the surf-movie biz model makes sense right now.  

2.  keep your costs as low as possible - but Quality as High as possible - this is REALLY hard.  but it is the game.
a.  if you want to shoot film - find a deal on film-scanning / color correction etc / many companies will support “to do something cool”
b.  save money on music by having a friend’s garage band do the soundtrack.  music license can be costly but so necessary - the bands need to earn a living too.
c.  creative marketing - leverage sponsors and your own social media connections to “get the word out” //  make a kick-ass trailer
e.  Kickstarter - crowdfunding is great / use kickstarter or other website to generate support.
f.  do a film you can shoot in one or two trips - look at September Sessions - one of my favorites by Chris Malloy - 1 boat trip - 1 movie
g.  ask for help - many people want to help - i still ask for help / i could never make my films if people didn’t help out - it is crucial

3.  The power is in the idea and the quality of the work
a.  have you made a film before or is this your first, experimental project?  if it’s the first - don’t risk too much on costs and time.
b.  do you work in commercials or tv / film production?  do you have resources, contacts, experience?  great!  use that to fuel quality in your project.   if you are experienced and love surfing, then take some risks- push the genre.  the audience is really supportive for new work and unique voices.

4.  Draft a Business Plan
a.  my sister has an MBA from UCLA and helped me with a business plan on Singlefin: yellow.  This was tremendous
b.  i was able to bring in investors on the film and share the equity or revenue the film created to pay them back
c.  it gives you a focused document on what your vision is - from creative through how the business end of releasing the movie will work.

5.  Do a creative brief / pdf
a.  for your own vision and to have something to show to investors, sponsors, musicians, friends (who might help), create a PDF of images and words that represent your vision.

a.  this is a personal, creative, business decision.  you need to evaluate everything about the project and decide.
b.  does the audience care?  hard to say - iTunes even states that they don’t like “grainy formats” like 16mm due to compression issues.
c.  will it make your film better?  different?  unique?  memorable?  and promote success?  **this is why i shot film.  i think yes.
d.  is Digital easier to use, more accepted, sometimes hard to discern from film - yes, at this point i think it is getting close.
e.  does using film mean success - NO WAY - plenty of projects shot on film fail - and plenty shot in HD succeed.  the key is good production (on any format).

I suppose, which may be evident in the info above - by making an independent film, you are starting a business.  There are many hats to wear beyond the creative.  This part is really frustrating for me at times.  So, unless you enjoy being a business person or entrepreneur, find a biz partner.  Share the duties of creative and administrative.  It is a huge help.  Taking these projects on solo is doable but pretty masochistic.

i hope this helps.  there is no right or wrong answer.  you just have to be smart and excited about making something special.  making these films was really, really, hard but also, some of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

best - jb


PS -
so there's a ten minute free thinking overview of taking on one of these projects.  Man I can blab.  As I re-read it for this blog, I don't know if I really answered the question properly.  So, I will add these details.

I shot the film alone with some help from Scott Kassenoff (water cinematography) and some support in Hawaii from Mike Prickett (one day water & the huge help of loaning me his camera for Bonga's pipe session).

Shot entirely on 16mm film.  Telecined in L.A. on a student rate to Digibetacam Tape.  I did multiple trips over 3 years to the different locations and cut the film with editor, Carl Cramer on Final Cut Pro (one of the first versions).  

I maxed out $65K on my VISA (not recommended) and with my business plan - raised another $30K in investor money.  So I share the profit with about 6 investors but own the majority.  The film has been selling for 10yrs now consistently and has been financially successful.  That said, if you opportunity-cost my 4 years making the film - I would have made a lot more money working in film or on commercials.  But we made a movie we are proud of.

made with Mark Jeremias and Build Worldwide.
Scott Kassenoff shot Water cine.  Carl Cramer edited on Final Cut Pro - home studio.

3 years of shooting on Super 16mm Film.  Transferred to HDcam at Co3 L.A. - mostly late at night or around 3am in the morning.  We still spent a huge amount of money on film transfers.

We brought on a group of investors to support us and Build, as the production co. was the key investor.  After three years of shooting, I had to sell some of my equity in the film to pay for my personal bills (we don't pay ourselves a salary - we work for "ownership" equity in the projects).  So, taking time off work to make these films is a huge part of the cost-equation.  I actually took on a fair amount of personal debt making One Cal Day.  

It had a pretty big budget for a surf movie but has been successful.  All the investors have made their money back and the film continues to sell - although the death of DVD and TV licensing money has made it challenging. We are happy it is now available here on iTunes.  OCD is a good example of a project's overall quality helping it sustain over a long period of time - and improving it's chance for profit.

Moreover, the market success and experience gained doing the project has helped me as a filmmaker do other projects- like the commercials i'm directing now.  So in the end, totally worth it.  

I hope that info helps!

photos by:  Jeremias / Kassenoff / Maffei

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bella Vita - North American Premiere

It's been an amazing week at the Santa Barbara Int'l Film Festival.  We are so grateful for the amazing turn-out at both our screenings and all the positive feedback for the film.  Even the L.A. Times found our Arlington Theater marquee for the Calendar section.  I've also seen some awesome films and met some really inspired filmmakers.  Kudos to my new friends from Austria who made, "The Young, The Old & The Sea," for a job really well done.  Also, a big cheers to the "Queens & Cowboys" team who played to great reviews.  I also enjoyed the Japanese remake of "Unforgiven."  If you loved the Clint Eastwood original but have a soft spot for Kurosawa films like Yojimbo and RAN - this pic was epic-good-fun.

Here is a link to some moments from our big Arlington Theater Debut.
- click here - 

- I'll post some more photos soon.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Arts London News calls Bella Vita "a stunning piece of visual art"

Reviews scare me.  I know not everyone is gonna like the stuff we make.  That said, after years of blood, sweat and tears, it is really nice when someone connects with the content.  A big thanks to the London Arts News for their kind words about Bella Vita.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bella Vita to Premiere at the 2014 Santa Barbara International Film Festival

We are excited to announce our U.S. Premiere of Bella Vita at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.  SBIFF has been very supportive of my work through the years and it was actually the first place I met Chris Del Moro.  He was screening Sliding Liberia and I was screening One California Day.  So it is truly an honor to be a part of this year's gala.  SBIFF will announce screening times the 3rd week of January.