14 DAYS: 'MAKE PIZZA' WITH OONI
‘We need music!’ Suddenly a VW Microbus whips around the corner, the driver jumps out and throws open the side door. ‘Some of the best jazz music you’ve ever heard came blaring from the speakers. The party was on!’, says Director Jeff Bednarz who recently wrapped a whirlwind 14 day global shoot for Ooni, the makers of stylish, portable pizza ovens.
Ooni has been making their pizza ovens for a decade. In that time they have developed an amazing pizza culture that has created a diverse community of pizza lovers and ambassadors who simply ‘make pizza’. ‘In the past 2 years so many people started really getting into making pizza, especially with the Ooni and they all were communicating on social media. It became a movement and created an unbelievable network’, says Bednarz. Within the Ooni network, pizza makers share recipes, cooking tips and so much more that goes beyond pizza. For the campaign Ooni wanted the joy of making pizza to shine through and Bednarz did not want to get in the way of the magic and simplicity of this idea.
The campaign shows a wide range of scenarios from single pizza makers to parties of 20 or more. There is a natural beauty to the collected images presented in the spot. What really stands out are the layers of what the viewer sees. In order to get these varied looks and stories of humanity, Jeff and the Ooni team shot for 14 days all over the world. Starting in Austin, TX the crew began an epic shooting schedule that took them to New York City for 2 days meeting and filming Ambassadors in Brooklyn and Queens. They then jumped across the Atlantic for 3 straight days of shooting in England, even tackling the iconic Calf & Cow Rock, a part of Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire.
For Day 8, the team filmed Till and his family in Dusseldorf, where the owner of the now infamous VW Microbus and enthusiastic aficionado of great jazz. ‘The best part about the shoot was all of the families we met, and how hanging and eating pizza created such great energy. We found that pizza is an international language’.
Days 10 and 11 took the crew to the origins of pizza, Italy. ‘In Santa Maria A Vico we were at Vincenzo and Antonio’s kitchen, which is a part of a beautiful four story flat. During the day different people drifted in and out grabbing slices and sampling the goods. We learned that all of the passers by were actually Antonio’s family who all lived in the building. One of them being his 84 year old grandmother who made comments in Italian after every bite.’‘Needs more olive oil!’, she would say. ‘She loved our reaction to this and continued giving us wise cooking tips.’
After a quick 2 day jaunt to Paris, the team reached their fourteenth and final shoot day in Rome. An idyllic ending place for a story about pizza and the people who love it. The entire campaign greatly benefited from the breakneck timings of each location documented. Certainly the images are gorgeous but there is a restrained clarity to it that sets it apart. What you don’t see, you feel. This is heightened by talents of Camp Lucky editor, Sai Selvarajan, a frequent collaborator with Bednarz. ‘Jeff has a knack of getting his subjects to let their guard down and just be themselves, so you just have to look for those intimate moments’, says Selvarajan. Sai’s rhythmic pacing is a wonderful companion to Bednarz’s visual language.
If you know Jeff’s work, you see the connection between people and how they are embedded in the environment. It’s a studied eye captured through the lens that few filmmakers understand. ‘You start with respect and love of the human condition. This allows you to create a space for real people to become comfortable and let the camera’s melt away’. A beautiful sentiment from a director who truly understands his purpose.