Gianni’s North Beach: Tuscan Black Kale

If you’re even vaguely aware of food trends, you know that kale’s been a thing. Everyone seems to have their own take on how best to cook this ridiculously good for you superfood, but we think that the latest episode of  Gianni’s North Beach shows one of the better ways to prepare it. Of course, we could be biased since we, uh, produce the show.

This episode was a lot of fun to shoot. It was our second shoot day working together as a crew, so things started to get more into the groove. Part of that was probably due to this awesome app Shot Lister. If you haven’t used it, it’s a pretty great piece of tech that obfuscates the printed excel spreadsheet with all the crossouts and notes you’ve been using to track your shots and stay on schedule. Shot Lister gives you a nice interface to manage all that and, since it’s on your device, it also gives you info about how behind or ahead (ya, right!) you are. It seriously kept us on track. Totally worth the $14.

On the gear side of things, our FS700 was camera A–notice that super slow mo vegetable washing at the beginning?–and our Canon 5D Mark III was camera B. Both used Canon 24-105mm L glass. As for other stuff, lights were Linco, tripod was Sachtler, slider was Konova, and slate was Pearstone.

Gianni’s North Beach: Tortellini in Brodo

As you know, we produce Gianni’s North Beach, a hyper local cooking show based in SF’s traditionally Italian American neighborhood of North Beach. To make the production efficient, we of course produce multiple episodes when we shoot. So the same day we did cioppino, we also did tortellini in brodo.

It was also the first time the three of us were working together on set, so we also had to learn everyone’s unique style. Crazy day.

For this shoot, the A camera was our Sony FS700 armed with the Canon 24-105mm L. B camera for video but A for photography was our Canon 5D Mark III with a second 24-105mm L. Gianni has a tiny home kitchen, one of the soft boxes was “mounted” on top of the fridge. And by “mounted,” we really mean “placed precariously on top.” Yes, the inevitable happened, and one absent-minded trip to the fridge send the light crashing. No damage.

Final victory: One of the best things about shooting a cooking show is you get to sample what the cook makes. That tortellini was duh-licious.

Keba Konte zesting an orange in slow motion

Like most folks in the video biz, we love gear. We totally dig using sliders, rigs, follow focuses, fancy lights and all the rest to make our shots look that much more delicious. Plus, it’s fun to play – and to show off.

But it also takes time, space, and back strength. In other words, it can be a pain in the ass. Sometimes it’s nice to strip things down and make a shot work with a simple setup.

This video is a clip from an upcoming piece we’re doing on Keba Konte, a food entrepreneur in the SF food scene. We shot on location at one of his places, Guerrilla Café, in Berkeley. The space is small and the café was open while we shot, so, for the camera and lens, Jeff used the Sony FS700 with the trusty Canon 24-105mm f/4 and shot handheld. For the light, we used a $30 LED with a CTO filter that Gwen held. (You can see it slide into frame at the end of the clip.)

Unexpected things often happen with super slow motion. In this case, we knew to back light the shot so the oils could be seen flying away from the orange. What surprised us was the way the rind bits pulled loose and exploded off the fruit as well, which was only fully visible once we reviewed the slowed-down footage.

Why was Keba zesting an orange? It was to flavor his home made waffles, which we also captured him making. To know when we release the short documentary, Like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Gianni’s North Beach: Cioppino – Christmas Eve Stew of Seven Fishes

We produce Gianni’s North Beach, a super local cooking show based in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. This video was shot handheld in his tiny home kitchen on a Sony FS700, but there’s some Canon 5d Mark III action if you know where to looking. Lenses used were the Canon 24-105mm L and the Canon 100mm Macro L. The set was lit primarily by 2 Linco Flora lights. Two-person crew.

This is what Gianni has to say about cioppino in his blog post:

Cioppino, the famous fish stew invented down on Fisherman’s Wharf by the immigrant fishermen from Liguria and Sicily is just the quick and easy dish I need for a busy day in the kitchen with the cameras rolling.

The local tale is that when the boats were all in a big cauldron was put over a fire to cook the tomato broth. After selling their catch, the fisherman one by one would bring whatever fish were leftover on their boat. They “chipped in” and the dish they all shared on the wharf got its name. More likely the name is derived from the classic Ligurian dialect for the fish stew found around Genoa,  ”ciuppin”.

We got to sample the finished product and as usual, it was delicious. No animals were harmed in the making of this video. Unless you count the ones we, uh, ate.


Gianni: From Italy to North Beach

Gianni Mola lives an Italian “village lifestyle” in San Francisco’s North Beach, cooking recipes from love and with love, informed by travels back to the Old Country, and shared with others the way it’s been for generations in his family. Hungry Village produces his website and his cooking show on YouTube.

This short promotional documentary was shot on location in Italy and San Francisco, using Canon DSLRs and a Sony FS700.

Cocktail Humor, Slow Motion, and a Jackalope with the FS700

Sure, we built this whole short film around the FS700 super slow motion money shot from under the cocktail glass. But we gave it our signature brand of humor as well.

It was a test, and it was something fun to do on a Saturday night in the Mission. We shot at Jeff’s place in his “parlor,” with our friends Wayne Cunningham, who you might know from CNET’s Car Tech, and Ron Vargas, who you might know from videos such as – well, ours. Also featured (and chewing up scenes) is Armand, the jackalope.

If you can tell us what’s going on between these two, please let us know.

Dungeness Crab

Dungeness Crab

I was on assignment for Where Magazine shooting images of SF’s Fisherman’s WharfI saw the crab guys doing their thing at their stalls and got a few shots of them in action, but it’s the food that’s the money shot, right? So I popped out my trusty 85mm f/1.8 prime–alas, no f/1.2 yet–got up as close as I could for framing and got the shot. I’m pretty happy with how this turned out and I guess Where was, too, since they used it in their June 2013 issue.

North Beach Old and New – Promotional Italian Food Documentary from San Francisco

In Jeff’s early video days, he did a short video on a friend and co-worker John Mola, also known as Mola and as Gianni of Gianni’s North Beach. A long-time resident of SF with vocal opinions–hey, he’s originally from Jersey–and a long history with the Italian American neighborhood of North Beach, Mola was the perfect subject for a short video about the neighborhood. He took Jeff around, talked about his old world lifestyle when it comes to food and schooled him on things Italian American in the NB. This video got enough attention when it was released that Jeff and Gianni decided to join forces and create Hungry Village 1.0. Their first show was the very successful Gianni’s North Beach.

Jeff  shot the footage on a Canon T2i pretty much winging it as he went along. We’ve since become more sophisticated in our gear and planning and know how and such, but after watching this video, you kinda realize that storytelling pretty much trumps all of that. All hail to the storytellers.

Corn Dogs

Corn Dogs

I shot this at the same SF Zoo event with  yummy sliders.

I love the way the light wraps around the corn dogs in this shot. It was late afternoon and the sun was additionally diffused by some trees, so the light’s nice and soft. I got some other decent shots at the event, but this one was probably my favorite. I thought it came out great and, apparently, Jeff did, too, since we use it at the beginning of our videos. And for you camera geeks out there, I shot this with a Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 24-105mm L lens at f 4.0, ISO 100, 1/100 shutter.

If you have a chance, go check out the zoo. I didn’t get to see the whole thing, but the few areas they had open seemed pretty amazing. And, yes, I did see the tigers and it was perfectly safe.



I do freelance work for various clients and one of my favorites is Where Magazine. They hold frequent events for hotel folks to get the skinny on various joints and attractions around town, and they often call me to get some event photos. Luckily, they like good food as much as the next person, so I get to sneak in some food shots for pretty much every event.

This event was held at the SF Zoo and immediately upon entering we were greeted by jugglers, stilt walkers and a person in a fuzzy penguin suit. We then followed the sounds of a mariachi band and found ourselves presented with lovely hors d’oeuvres like corn dogs and the sliders you see above.

Unlike the deep fried perfection of a corn dog, these sliders were really messy, so there’s stuff exploding out that hints at what’s to come. Were I to do it again, I might try to sneak in some viscous sauce like mustard or mayo or ketchup, but, hey, it was a live event and people probably wouldn’t have appreciated my grubby hands on the food they were about to eat. But I think overall the shot works pretty well in that I kinda want a slider right now.

For the technically inclined, I shot this on my Canon 5D Mark III with the 24-105mm L lens at f/4.5, ISO 100 at 1/60 sec.