What I Did in 2021 – Roberto Serrini Year In Review.

Quite a year last year … amid a pandemic with an uncertain future I found myself having perhaps the most interesting and meaningful year of my life. Everything has been deconstructed and has us all a bit more focused on what is our own personal reality. Looking back all I can say is thank you, because each day is a gift. Thank you to everyone that made last year so special, and here is to this year, where hopefully more magic continues to find it’s way into all our lives.

What did i do last year. oh boy. Well, my pandemic project of launching www.onemanonecamera.com kept me busy, having 30 projects in the can so far. Some literally.

To save time I made the short All The Pretty Things which featured a dozen brands all in one action packed 5 minute festival film. I call it advertising multitasking. I mean all those episodes of Workaholics aren’t going to watch themselves.

One of the products was an ultra rare quarter of a million dollar bike which we I did a separate doc on.

I got up to do a tiktok tricky piece for buzzfeed which was fun.

Then got freaky with freakmount by hanging babies, filming strippers, Juggalo scientists and armchair jet dudes. its a quality product.

There was of course things with wheels, Like this launch I did for Indians new FTR bike,

A quick edit for my Honda friends with their new line of ATVs

and a quick piece for Wolverine cinema digitizer. I mean it’s kinda a wheel, deal with it.

I got into the real-estate game with AirBnB, one of which was Conde Nast’s best Airbnb in LA … there goes my friends and family rate.

And got very coochie coochie coo as I helped launch the new Ray-Ban stories with Facebook.

and if we’re dropping names I did a big project with Netflix which I’d love to tell you about but I’m under NDA so yeah.

Last year I think we all nurtured an unhealthy relationship with food and booze, so I starting off with a new series about home bars. Shelter in place never looked so good.

I did a quick jam for Absolute where COVID was just a dream.

Then developed a show for the History Channel that explored the fascinating history about booze in America. It had it all … stop motion, fanciful animation, hardcore gotcha journalism, and this guy who’s been training to be the Bourdain of booze his whole life. I knew all that drinking in college would pay off mom.

non alcoholic but just as addictive I did a romantic branded doc for La Colombe coffee featuring chef Tim Hollingworth of Otium and his signature blend he crafted with them. They gave me a crate of coffee and I had the edit done in 23 minutes. #lifehack #roastandrender #caffinecutting

Crashing hard I did a few tasty films for Tasty, like this brie and butter … oh …. oh man. This got flagged a few times on the tok no cap.

I put my laughing cap on for Sweetfin, getting very serious about their new bento box like it was a BMW commercial circa 2004. All tuna interior. mmm.

I brought it back to the boot with a few Italian inspired films for Butter Pat Cast Iron. This is one job I didn’t mind retakes.

finally my torrid romance with Allen Brothers boiled over as we completed 13 heritage recipes with chef Olivier Rassinoux. No one told me in college that I’d have to rib eye, roasted bone marrow tordelli, and wagyu beef cheek risotto for work. I would have gotten better grades.

Putting on my dancing shoes I did a very surreal music video for Chris Sullivan of Joseph the Spouse and got smoke in my eyes with French rap group Kame House out in the desert

quick rando break. I was accepted into the Explorers Club, which is like Soho House for nerds, I bought this red 80’s looker, and started to learn blender. I made a bench. I know it’s not going to win any awards.

But what did win awards are some of my films (now that’s a segway) With 88 official selections and 26 wins my IMDB page is getting downright respectable. I think. I have no idea what any of this means. I did get this dope poster, LADbible shared one of my films which put me over the 10k mark, and I won not one, not two, but THREE Taste Awards which is like the Oscars for food and travel, their words not mine. I knew high cholesterol would pay off.

Alright lets talk travel. Somehow I found myself exploring Utah for Get Lost Magazine which launched their new digital platform, and DC discovering amazing nightlife and whatever the hell this is and with the smokiest and most fire steak I’ve ever had. Over to the Twin Cities to Fargo it up for 3M, and then down to Guatemala for Jet Blue to do a story on their maiden direct flight from NYC, where I explore the colorful sanatoria depths of Atitlan, the vibrant explosion of life in Chichicastenagno, and of course get my Zacapa rum hat on in Antigua.

My last destination was good ol Italy where I did a series of films for The Gold Hotel in on the Ligurian coast. The papers claimed I was seducing American to come visit. Well I do declare. Then Felini’d down to Rome to win at the Motorcycle Film Festival at Cinecita. While I had my best friends there we thought we should film episode 2 of Italy in Bocca.

So first we rented a 500 year old apartment on the Tiber and planned the ultimate roman meal from the cookbook series.

From there we went to the birthplace of the most roman pasta, Amatrice, which was sadly destroyed by an earthquake in 2016. The mayor took us around to the absolute best purveyor of guanciale and roman pecorino cheese needed to make this ambrosia, and somehow got the local nonnas to share her secrets with us.

Then we jumped over to Arricia which is the home of the por por por porchetta, where we learned the secrets behind this mouth gift from the gods.

Back in Rome I met with epicurean royalty like the only female Roman Michelin star chef Christina Bowerman , the vanguard behind the carciofi judiche at Nonna Betta, the oldest restaurant in Rome la Campana to learn carciofi romani, and the charming Michela Di Maria of my favorite restaurant Due Ladroni to learn the impossible truths of real roman cooking .

Overloaded with this profound knowledge we hit up the best specialty shops and fresh markets in Rome before returning to our ancient apartment to cook. Lemme tell you cooking in a 500 year old wood burning hearth is not like my Brevel toaster oven back in queens. Somehow we had the courage to invite my Roman family to dinner who actually know how to cook, and one very special guest. Rodo, who was the original illustrator of the cookbooks, who not only came, but gifted us two new illustrations which are so special to me I don’t even know what to say.

The entire night was magic. The fact that Me and my friends, who are complete nobodies, could reach out to all these people that share this common love for food, family and culture and bring it together just with our own passion is amazing. In fact, it was so special, such a perfect example of what life should be, that I ended up proposing to my girlfriend Jackie. I never thought 2021 would be such an amazing year, and all I can say is thank you, you all mean everything to me. Here’s to us all in 2022, no matter what comes at us.

The 12th annual Taste Awards, oh my.

Well, tonight is the 12th annual International Taste awards in Hollywood, California, and I have not one, but TWO films up for 6 possible awards. I have no words other then wow. I am so excited to have these films be part of such an amazing event, one that has showcased the works of most of my idols.

Here’s the two films that have risen to the top…

Italy in Bocca – A journey of two friends to reconnect through four amazing dishes from the worlds funkiest cookbook collection.

  • Best Short Film or Documentary (10-40 Minutes)
  • Best Filmed at Home Episodes or Film

Sobrino De Botin – an intimate look at the worlds oldest restaurant and how it’s still making magical dishes after 300 years of continual operation.

  • Best Food Program – Online and Streaming
  • Best Food Travel Series – Online and Streaming
  • Best New Series
  • Best Mini Film or Documentary (5-10 Minutes)

Here is a livestream of the event tonight, 5:30PM PST:

Or join me on Facebook or Instagram where I will attempt to livestream me watching and quickly getting intoxicated off imported capocolla and Jura wine. 


Much love to everyone that made these films possible including Get Lost Magazine  Peter Boggia of Moto Borgotaro  Pete Crimi of Sound Lounge  Brad Stuart & Jackie Farris, and of course, my mother, who I promised I would thank first if I ever won an Oscar, and this might be the closest I will come;)

Fingers Crossed!

Rs

Roberto Serrini’s 2020 Year in Review

It’s March which means it’s Year In Review time cause I literally can’t even get it together these days and I’m a good 2 months late, not that anyone is really asking for these ridiculous recaps of what I did last year. I’m not even sure how I started these back in 2013, I’m sure it was a way to flex-without-flexing too hard but now I really cherish having them. Each year I watch the subsequent years and get a nice snapshot of my trajectory as a filmmaker and human. Spoiler alert: I’m nosediving.

This year is obviously a little different in some ways; lots less travel lots more at home creation, but overall you would hardly know that I spent most of it crying in front of the TV eating Trader Joes Potstickers watching RuPaul Drag Race. Hardly. There’s some highlights, like a new music video for Chris Sullivan (NBC’s Toby on “This is Us”) band Joseph the Spouse, the launching of One Man One Camera where I proved you can have it fast, cheap and good, and of course Italy In Bocca, the saving grace in this whole pandemic, which helped a few people get through this hard time through their stomachs.

Anywayz, what a year, and some really beautiful new projects and friends came out of the insanity which I am ever greatful for. Really just happy we got another 365 round the sun to play with.

Looking forward to ’21 now that we are all legal to drink. I have a feeling this will be a big year for booze;)

Rs

Italy in Bocca featured on Film Shortage

This week Film Shortage will be highlighting Italy in Bocca as one of their top pics. This is extremely exciting news, as lots of new people will be introduced to these amazing books and our little story. Also Film Shortage has always been an inspirational place to find really quality independent film, so I’m honored to be included in their collection.

Here is a snippet from their review:

We immediately fell in love with ‘Italy in Bocca’, the film speaks directly to our hearts and bellies. The nostalgia of it all, the trip, the people, the towns… the first part of the doc really brought us immediately to a happy place and kept driving us forward being dynamic, fun, and incredibly well produced, to a very satisfying ending. Bravo.

So very satisfying to us as well. What a wild ride it’s been and it keeps going. The little film we shot in one day has been shown so much love I honestly don’t know what to say. I guess when you do something out of love you get it back. I’ll eat to that. Thanks Film Shortage for sharing the In Bocca Love!

How I got my food show into the Taste Awards.

How did I get my janky little food show to be nominated for two Taste Awards? Short answer: no idea.

The day before lockdown in NYC my best friend and I decided to make a blow-out dinner. We didn’t need a pandemic to spark the idea of cooking a huge meal with friends, we do it often and with great relish, but this had the vibes of a last supper kinda jam, so we wanted to do something even more special.

Peter my buddy had been collecting this amazing cookbook series called “In Bocca” his entire life. They were extremely rare, printed in the 70’s on cardboard, and had these wild illustrations and very unique recipes from the 20 regions of Italy. He had recently found the last book to complete his 20 year quest of completing the series, so we thought we’d cook a meal from them.

As we live in Brooklyn, so grocery shopping is more than just hitting up the local grocery. We have specialty markets, like Pino’s and Caputo’s, or little mom and pop stores that sell impossibly good, authentic product that you only know of by paying years of ridiculously high rent to live in NYC. So we hit up these places to make the best version of these dishes we could imagine, sparing no expense.

Camera in tow as always, I documented the day, going from shop to shop, casually interviewing the purveyors, the butchers, the mongers and chatting about all of our favorite topic, food. This is the real pleasure of living in NYC for me, the people, the shared experience, and talking with folks who are masters of their trade, no matter if it’s in rotten milk or dead flesh, these are people that are dedicated to what they do, usually following a lineage of similar family members that if you let them will show you the magic that they know so well.

Fortunately New Yorkers aren’t really camera shy.

Back at home we dove deep into the books and got to cooking. Peter and I are definitely not chefs, but we do know how to cook, and we definitely know what’s good. So the process is always fun and interesting, there is constat laughing and cursing, and always a dramatic undertone of possibly ruining an entire meal. I will say this; I find “reality TV” really boring, but, there is one show I live and die for, and that is the Great British Baking Show. The reason is that the people on there are, like us, not bakers, but their passion, their love, and reason d’etre is baking. That’s where the authentic drama comes in, because succeeding at something you love can bring great elation, but failure truly devastated, and you feel it through the screen. Watching well seasoned chefs cook is like watching porn stars fuck; boring, Because everyone knows exactly what’s going to happen.

Food taste bests with drama, ask any Italian mother.

So there we were, a rainy, tempestuous day down in deep Red Hook, salty air cooling down the steamy kitchen. We had somehow completed 4 dishes and documented the process for better or worse. Friends started to trickle in through the door, a select handful who we know would be honest and good company, this, the last of gatherings for who knows how long, to sit at our table and share a meal.

Was it a success? Of course. Not because we nailed each dish but because food did what food is supposed to do when it is at its best; bring people together and satiate not just appetite but communion. I know it sounds hokey but Bourdain told me something once I’ll never forget, “just eat the fucking cake”.

Food can be elevated to this illusive level, too revered to speak plainly about (this is the beauty that is Chef’s Table). I think you can do that because of how powerful food can be, the feelings it can give you, the way it can control you, and the memories you can make around it. In reality, food is something that connects all of us, one of the very few things that make us human: we all eat. Doesn’t matter the country, the language, the color, the shape, the anything we all stuff our faces. These are wild times, a year has been turned upside down, we’ve all been looking inward in our confines and examining life a little closer. Food, this meal, and the idea of breaking bread, mean a lot more to me now, and while it can seem all very important, just eating the fucking cake is probably the most important thing to remember, because that’s what makes it real.

While the experience was amazing, honestly it was just another Tuesday night for us doing what we love to waste our time doing; cooking, eating and bullshiting with friends. What was really surprising was the love this project got online after I cut it up and made alittle website for it. Celebrity chefs and epicurean royalty were stopping by virtually to be interviewed and share their story with food and these books. I even got to talk to the illustrator of the series, Rodo, now in his 80’s in Rome, and still as passionate about these books as his paintings would suggest. We even partnered with the World Food Bank, and Food Bank of New York and did a live event with Atlas Obscura to raise money for those suffering from the pandemic. It seemed that these books connected not just me and Peter with what we love but a lot of people.

At one point I got a random phone call from a woman named Allesandra in Sicily. She was the daughter of Antonio Raspa, the very man that created and published the books originally. She was in tears, and couldn’t believe anyone even remembered these books. She told me amazing things about them that I would never otherwise know, like which recipes where from her mother, and that the handwriting printed in the book was from her aunt. To me, this was the real gift of the books, and what I think Bourdain would agree with is the real gift of food.

So how did this little film that one person shot one random night get nominated for two Taste Awards? I really don’t know, but I sure hope it was because they saw true love on screen. Now I’m just freaking out about even possibly winning. Just being invited to the party that has honored some of my greatest idols is like a dream.

If you wanna experience this little trip come on by www.italyinbocca.com and see the whole film, and buon appetito!

How I Thrived as a Filmmaker During a Pandemic (by making really bad films).

Pandemics, they’re the worst, amirite? We’re rounding nearly a year of a “new normal” and while hope is in sight, it’s still pretty far off. As a commercial director and filmmaker, this year has been particularly “interesting” for my career, but with a little innovation, some clever marketing, and a very open mind, I was able to make the best of it, and even, dare I say, thrive, even if not how I expected.

Flashback a year ago and I was just starting to hit a stride in my career. I had been in SHOOT magazines Top 30 New Director’s Showcase, had my first rep, and was directing broadcast spots for Nike, Google and Honda. Finally, I thought, years of hard work and dedication were starting to pay off.

Then someone ate a bat bisque and my life, like everyone’s, was put on hold.

A month in, when everyone stopped calling and all active projects were shelved indefinitely, I realized I had to make some creative moves. The first thing I did was put together a little documentary that I shot with a friend about these funky, rare cookbooks called Italy In Bocca. It was just a passion project, something I could shoot single handedly about a subject I hold dear to my heart (my stomach), and it just made me feel good to make something heartwarming when the world was falling apart; call it the filmmaker’s equivalent to baking bread. I built a simple little website for it, attached the World Foodbank to the project, worked with Atlas Obscura in promoting it, and started doing interviews with celeb chefs that now, like all of us, had time on their hands to talk to random strangers. The project raised some money, helped out some people in need, and ended up bringing in some welcomed attention that ultimately attached itself to some small projects. Little did I realize that this would be the beginning of a new way of filmmaking for me.

Starting with something you are passionate about can bring welcomed attention to new work.

It was clear that everyone was looking for new media, so I started reaching out to brands that I really liked, and creating content just on spec for them; mostly in trade for product or a very (very) small budget. Like most modern filmmakers, I am fortunate enough to be able to do a bit of everything even if not very well. From shooting, to editing, to even some light After Effects, these days it’s easier then ever to have full production capabilities in your living room. I tried being as creative as possible, working with whatever limitations the quarantine brought. For example, for Aegis, a data security company, my friend worked for, I was able to pitch the following idea, using a simple camera trick and remotely directing an actor on his phone, allowing me to safely turn one actor into five.

Shot on a cellphone with me on speakerphone you can easily turn one actor into five.

When I had a handful of these self produced projects completed I launched www.onemanonecamera.com, which was my answer to “contactless content creation”, a search term I saw skyrocketing in Google Analytics. Before long I was getting calls from all types of brands looking to do a wide range of work; from simple instructional videos, to fully budgeted spots. While my goal as a director naturally been to focus solely on bigger and more complex work, I now found myself happily playing all the roles in production, using every asset around me to its fullest, and getting to work with new brands every week.

Recently I just finished doing spots for Dosist, an elevated cannabis company, and Dennis Buys Cars, a crazy, used car salesman. Brand-wise they couldn’t be more different, but because I was able to offer a one person production team and hand-crafted concepts, they were equally eager to have content created for them. I don’t think I would have ever had the opportunity to work with either one of these brands before the pandemic; I don’t even know if they would have been on my radar. Now however I realize the best thing to come out of this whole shut-down has been how it’s opened up my eyes to new possibilities by just putting yourself out there, and sometimes trying to make the worst film possible ends up being your best option.

Good, fast, cheap; pick two doesn’t apply when you are trying to make a bad commercial on purpose.

I know a lot of filmmakers are going through strange times like everyone is. It can be depressing, unmotivating, and devastating economically, which is why I wanted to share my story, and offer three key concepts that not only got me through this time, but have let me further my filmmaking career during this crazy slump.

  1. Take Inventory

Taking inventory of what you have to offer is probably the best place to start if you want to see immediate results in creative productivity. For many of us, we were on some sort of path in our career, but when the pandemic hit, the road forward seemed to end abruptly. Taking inventory of what you have available is a way to cut a new path forward. What kind of gear do you have, or can have access to? It doesn’t have to be a RED or Alexa that you are used to shooting with on set, it could be your phone, a GoPro or even VHS. Anything becomes a tool when you use it as such. Do you have access to other professionals or actors now with time on their hands? How about locations? Your living room, a garage, a nearby park. Just taking inventory and making a list will spur creativity.

2. Take Initiative

The second most important thing to do is create. Anything. Use everything at your disposal to make something. For me (because I like to eat) I found it easy to make something about cooking. It was something I knew I could shoot, edit, and distribute without having to rely on anyone else. If there was something I needed to do, like build a website, now was a perfect time to watch some tutorials and put new knowledge into action. Making something you know you can complete with what you have available to you is key in connecting with new clients and more work.

3. Take Chances

One beautiful about the world is falling down all around you is the ease in which you can take big chances. Normally if you are on some career path, you want to make “smart” choices. Work with the “right” brands, do the “right” work, so that you can move forward in a specific direction. For me this was an extremely liberating time, offering the opportunity to take wild chances not just on new brands and clients, but creatively as well. For Ooni Pizza Ovens I did an entire multi-tiered campaign from my kitchen and backyard, cloning multiple versions of myself to create a full cast of characters even, despite being very shy of the camera. Gulp.

It’s been a crazy, crazy year without questions. For me, that resulted in getting crazy with the work. I’ve been told before that if you want people to take you seriously, you need to focus on one direction and master it. It would seem that during this time, the opposite would prove true. Open up your horizons, lend your unique perspective to brands and subjects that you normally wouldn’t have considered. I feel extremely lucky to have made it through this rough time creatively, and done some unique work that opened up new doors to me, and what’s more, connect me with new people, especially when the world is set on keeping us distanced from one another.

Rs

Roberto Serrini is a filmmaker and editor based in Los Angeles and NYC. His work can be seen at www.robertoserrini.com or his new contactless content creation production hub www.onemanonecamera.com