Podcast from Intelatin: Filmcraft | ‘Bella Vita’

Mar 22, 2016
1:11 PM

This month we welcome Jason Baffa to Intelatin. Jason is the director of Bella Vita, an Italian-American co-production featuring Chris del Moro. Bella Vita is the roots story of del Moro and his interconnection between Italy, the Aloha spirit of Hawai’i and California. Along the journey, he learns more about his heritage and the power of Italian artisanal craft.

Jason directs half of it as a surf footage film and the other half as a deep story about a tender, loving man not afraid to express his emotions. It is possible that the film may have two enormous obstacles to overcome:

  1. There is a limited audience in Italy for surf culture.
  2. In the surf culture, there is a limited audience for deep storytelling about nice people.

Throughout my life, I have questioned the longevity of my childhood friendships because it seems to me that the further we get from our childhood, the flimsier the relationships become. Oftentimes, the friend you once had becomes totally unrecognizable in adulthood and the paths we travel diverge so dramatically that we end up conflicting. Investing in the continuation of our childhood friendships becomes fruitless. But, when you peak into Chris Del Moro’s life and friendships, you don’t see this negative portrayal, you see someone who attempts to have the power to hip his friends and lovers to all the Italian things in his life that matter to him on account of nostalgia and craft and beauty.

Bella Vita was facilitated by a true Italian ambassador, Piergiorgio Castellani. Through his contribution to the filmmaking process, a wine-making joint venture has come about for Jason. In addition to the film and all the related merchandise, Jason now has the capacity to sell Zio Baffa Wines in the United States. There are three different varieties of Tuscan Zio Baffa wine available on wine.com for $16.99. The label design is the original, limited edition artwork of Chris Del Moro. The team focused on sustainable, zero-waste production and environmentally friendly bottling, including recycled materials and a re-useable cork closure.

I’m interested in helping Dreamers understand why I am featuring this film on the show this month. First and foremost, a film is a business. In the case of Bella Vita, it’s a creative project structured as a limited liability corporation and it’s Jason’s job to fund this business so that eventually his gains will be greater than his investment. So, let’s begin to break it down:

Jason produced this film in Italy over 108 days in 2012. He raised $33,777 from 270 backers on Kickstarter. Jason knew that his production budget was closer to $100,000 so he raised an additional $66,223 from friends and family. Then once the film was shot, another $400,000 went into post production. This was paid through loans and in-kind support.

When he was finished with the film, he toured it around 56 film festivals. He pressed the DVDs. He created the merchandise. He developed the web site. He posted the film to iTunes and Netflix and Vimeo. All with the hope that over a projected timeframe, the earnings gained from the sale of all things together would amount to not only more than half a million dollars ​but also to cover the 108 days that he spent working for free on the film and the opportunity loss that he experienced throughout the entire process when he could have been working on paycheck projects. Knowing the whole time, that his wife and two children were dependent on Jason making enough money for shelter and food and all the basic resources of life. Typically, this number is 20% of the budget so if the final budget was $500,000​. Jason should have been paid $100,000 for his effort.

Why is this important for Dreamers to know? There is something called the economic ladder and there are three primary vehicles used for climbing the economic ladder: The first is inheritance. I think it is fair to say that there are no Dreamers currently in the position to inherit a gangload of money. The second is through real estate and because Dreamers aren’t allowed standard social security numbers to allow them to build their credit and receive traditional real estate financing, it is virtually impossible to generate wealth through real estate.​ The third method is through entrepreneurship and creative business pursuits. This is not just the only option, but it might also be the best option.

Let’s agree that Jason has to earn about $600,000 to begin to profit from the film Bella Vita. After two years of distributing this film, they are finally getting to the point when the loans and credit lines are paid off. He has not come to the point where the $100,000 has been paid but here’s where I want to teach you about Cap Tables.

Capital Tables are the ownership of a creative product. In this case, structured as a limited liability corporation (LLC.) Jason owns 33% of the LLC. This means that once the film begins to generate profit, for every $100 dollars of profit, Jason will take in $33. Let’s shoot to a best-case scenario:

An influencer like Kelly Slater Instagrams out about Jason’s film. This post reaches his 1.5M followers. Of those 1.5M surfers, 10% downloads the film at $5. That’s 150,000 downloads at $5 each. That’s $750,000 dollars. Jason would make $247,500 dollars. This would make the effort of producing Bella Vita not only emotionally rewarding but also economically rewarding. It is highly likely that over time, Jason will make this kind of money because all investments have a timeframe. Most startups take about 5-10 years to generate these kind of profits so, since Jason started this investment in 2012, by 2022, he should be looking really good. He’ll be 52 years old.

Why does this matter to you as a Dreamer? It is my opinion that if you understand Cap Tables and are willing to put effort into a startup, you can definitely use your DACA socials to become beneficiaries of these types of startups. Imagine that I am Jason and that I am the lead shareholder in a startup. And I have about 30% of my cap table open for DACA Dreamers to put in some work, you could end up being a huge beneficiary if the investment proves profitable.

All of this stuff takes time to learn but if you are interested, please call on me. I am always available to help you understand how you can make some money and begin climbing the economic ladder. This shit ain’t easy. Especially if you’re smart, it’s not easy at all. One of my homeboys has a great theory. Im gonna tell it to you: I have never been super interested in money. Sure, I want to climb the economic ladder and provide stability for my wife but I have always viewed time as the ultimate currency. I like soaking in tubs, rivers and oceans. I need time to do all that soaking. So, this homeboy asks me, “Hey, why haven’t you ever made the effort to create a startup?” As I began to explain to him my position, he cut me off and he said: “I get it. You know that to get hit by the money bus, you have to stand in front of the money bus. And you know that when you stand in front of busses, you’re likely to get run over and its gonna hurt. So, you haven’t wanted to stand in front of the money bus. Eventually, you will,” he said.

I am 42 years old and I swear to you that I am trying to convince my homeboys Wil Dog and Justin of Ozomatli to stand in front of the money bus with me. Ill let you know if they do…. Thank you for listening to Intelatin.

Featured Guests: Jason Baffa, Bella Vita and AWWS de España

Music performed by Ane Brun, Mina, Nadastrom, Men at Work, Shane Stoneman, Aurora and AWWS

Correspondence: Sarah Bingham Miller for Cinelandia USA

The next Intelatin episode will be released on the supermoon of April 2016.


​Intelatin is a monthly radio broadcast hosted by Sergio C. Muñoz in Los Angeles, California. It is published on Latino Rebels, marketed by Audioboom.com ​and podcasted on iTunes. Latin American culture is the focus of the program: music, film, food, literature and business. It is in its fifth year of production and is dedicated to the passage of the federal DREAM Act. The radio broadcast for Intelatin was started in 2012 at California State University Long Beach as outreach for their majority Latinx campus. The broadcast aired on KBeach Global and KKJZ 88.1 FM. Connect on Twitter @Intelatin.