When most people think of independent films, they think of gritty, raw, eclectic filmmaking. However, when an independent cinema is made with Hollywood style and polish, it is something to behold. I was surprised when I was able to work with local Filmmaker Jonathan Vinazza. His work has the look and feel of a mainstream Hollywood movie; the colors were rich; the acting was convincing; and the direction was strong. This is what many indie filmmakers hope to achieve – the look of Hollywood production while retaining the independent control over the whole project. I had the pleasure of discussing the life of this amazing local filmmaker while having brunch at The Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach, I hope you enjoy it!
Jonathan Vinazza was Born in Lima, Peru and raised in New York and South Florida, he has been passionate about art and storytelling. It would only be natural that he would soon involve himself in films. He wrote his first screenplay at age 16 inspired by the 1990 resurgence of Independent Films with titles such as Pulp Fiction, Desperado and Trainspotting. His drama teacher was so impressed, he had the class give it a read-through.
His dream led him to earning a degree in Media Arts and Animation, where he applies his knowledge of storytelling and visual effects to create shorts featured on his website www.UnderlabStudios.com. Like his art, J. Vinazza touches on dark subjects coupled with interesting visuals.
He is noted for promoting and documenting many South Florida music and art events as content for Underlab Studios and has had interviews with artists and entertainers such as Jeru The Damaja, Bill Grefe, and Alex Grey. He as also produced music videos for acts such as The 7D, Pilot Rai, John Paul James and The New Taste, Renda Writer, and The J Hexx Project.
Since 2005, J. Vinazza has been working on a project much to the likes of Dr. Dre’s Detox Album – meaning tons of footage has been shot but it’s been on the backburner. This footage is set to be released as a Web Series called Self:Direction 7. J. Vinazza took to making shorts after the school of hard knocks of what would’ve been a feature film.
In 2007 he has competed alongside a team of artists and filmmakers creating beneath the Underlab Studios umbrella, for the Miami 48 Hour Film Project. Notable 48 hour films include Isabella (2008), Break Bread (2009 – Winner Best Score),and Quantum Savior (2011, Honorable Mention Best Acting).
After his first taste of Short Filmmaking competitions he competed in local South Florida events such as Improv Exports Grindhouse Deathmatch. His film “Cut Your Hand on the Good Book” starring Renda Writer and done in true grind house beat out 24 filmmakers and 3 finalists at the now defunct Mental Ward. Film also sought interest of South Florida renowned filmmaker and Grindhouse Pioneer Bill Grefe (Impulse, Stanley, Mako Jaws of Death), who offered an interview during Grefe’s screening of Mako at Cinema Paradiso.
Months later, J.Vinazza co-produced another film with talented director Dawn Dubriel. Champagne (2008) also won another Improv Export film competition “Quick and Dirty Film” at Kevro’s Art Bar.
In 2009 J. Vinazza and Dawn Dubriel managed a unique film, art and music event known as The Auteur Explosion for an entire year. The event was often covered by City Link and Broward New Times with numerous articles written as well as winning City Link’s Best Film/Art/Music Event. His adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe classic, “The Tell Tale Heart” screened in the same venue of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival – Cinema Paradiso.
In 2012 a Miami entertainment group Women in The Arts Miami recognized J. Vinazza’s achievements and gave him Miami’s Best Director Short Films Excellence Award. J.Vinazza, in gratitude, made a mocumentary starring many of the awardees called “Award Show Miami” and is currently featured on UnderlabStudios.com
Is Great to see our local talent growing. Thank you Jonathan for sharing your success story with us.