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Jeff Baena - A Director Redefining Independent Filmmaking

American screenwriter and director, Jeff Baena is known for his distinct voice and unique approach to storytelling. He has made a name for himself in the independent film scene with his offbeat narratives, dark humor, and exploration of complex human emotions.

Author:Rock Wildfire
Reviewer:Raven Noir
Jul 17, 2023
American screenwriter and director, Jeff Baenais known for his distinct voice and unique approach to storytelling. He has made a name for himself in the independent film scene with his offbeat narratives, dark humor, and exploration of complex human emotions.
Baena has written and directed a series of critically acclaimed films that have garnered a dedicated following and earned him recognition as a talented and innovative filmmaker.

Quick Facts

Birth DayJune 29, 1977
Birth PlaceMiami, FL
Age45 years old
Birth SignCancer

Early Life

Baena was born on June 29, 1977, in Miami, Florida. He attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he honed his skills in filmmaking.


I Heart Huckabees

After graduating, Baena began his career by working on various film productions, including serving as a co-writer on the 2004 romantic comedy-drama "I Heart Huckabees." This early experience in the industry helped shape his unique perspective and laid the foundation for his future endeavors.

Life After Beth

In 2010, Baena made his feature film directorial debut with the independent comedy-drama "Life After Beth." The film starred Aubrey Plaza and Dane DeHaan and followed the story of a young man who discovers that his deceased girlfriend has come back to life as a zombie.
Baena's unconventional take on the zombie genre, infused with dark humor and poignant themes of grief and loss, garnered attention from both audiences and critics.


Baena continued to explore unconventional narratives and genre-bending storytelling with his subsequent films. In 2014, he directed "Joshy," a dark comedy-drama about a man dealing with the aftermath of his canceled wedding. The film, which starred Thomas Middleditch, received positive reviews for its honest portrayal of friendship and navigating difficult life situations.

The Little Hours

One of Baena's most notable works to date is "The Little Hours" (2017), a comedy set in a medieval convent. The film, which boasted an ensemble cast including Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, and Dave Franco, blended period setting with contemporary language and humor.
Baena's unique vision and comedic sensibilities shone through, making "The Little Hours" a standout film that resonated with audiences and critics alike.

The Dead Don't Die

Baena's 2019 film, "The Dead Don't Die," showcased his ability to tackle different genres. The star-studded zombie comedy featured a talented ensemble cast that included Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, and Chloë Sevigny.
With its deadpan humor and satirical take on the zombie apocalypse, the film highlighted Baena's knack for infusing familiar tropes with his distinct style and social commentary.
In addition to his work as a writer and director, Baena has collaborated with several notable filmmakers and actors. He has worked closely with his partner, actress Aubrey Plaza, on multiple projects, including "Life After Beth," "Joshy," and "The Little Hours." Baena's films often provide a platform for talented performers to showcase their range and comedic timing.
Jeff Baena's films have consistently received praise for their unique storytelling, dark humor, and emotional depth. His ability to infuse genre elements with relatable human experiences sets him apart as a filmmaker willing to take risks and explore the boundaries of traditional narratives. Baena's work continues to captivate audiences and demonstrates his commitment to creating thought-provoking and engaging cinema.

Jeff Baena Aubrey Plaza Collaborations

Jeff Baena and Aubrey Plaza have formed a successful creative partnership, collaborating on multiple projects that have showcased their talents and shared sensibilities. Their collaborations have resulted in unique and memorable films, showcasing their ability to bring unconventional stories to life with humor, depth, and a touch of the unexpected.
One of the most notable collaborations between Jeff Baena and Aubrey Plaza is the 2014 film "Life After Beth." Baena both wrote and directed this offbeat romantic comedy-drama, which explores the aftermath of a young man named Zach's (played by Dane DeHaan) girlfriend, Beth (played by Aubrey Plaza), returning from the dead as a zombie.
The film delves into themes of grief, loss, and the complexities of relationships, all while maintaining a quirky sense of humor. Plaza's portrayal of the eccentric and unpredictable Beth showcases her ability to bring nuance and vulnerability to complex characters.
Jeff Baena with Aubrey Plaza
Jeff Baena with Aubrey Plaza
Following the success of "Life After Beth," Baena and Plaza continued their partnership with the 2016 film "Joshy." Baena wrote and directed this comedy-drama, which follows the story of a man named Joshy (played by Thomas Middleditch) as he deals with the emotional aftermath of his canceled wedding.
Aubrey Plaza plays one of Joshy's friends, and her natural comedic timing and sharp wit contribute to the film's humorous and heartfelt moments. "Joshy" further demonstrates the creative synergy between Baena and Plaza, showcasing their ability to navigate delicate emotional territory while infusing the story with moments of levity.
In 2017, Baena and Plaza collaborated on "The Little Hours," a critically acclaimed comedy set in a medieval convent. Plaza plays one of the nuns, alongside a talented ensemble cast including Alison Brie, Kate Micucci, and Dave Franco.
The film subverts expectations with its blend of modern dialogue, irreverent humor, and a satirical take on religious institutions. Plaza's comedic talents shine through in her portrayal of the rebellious and outspoken nun, adding a layer of mischievousness to the film's offbeat humor.
Another collaboration between Baena and Plaza came in the form of the 2020 film "Black Bear." Although Baena solely served as the writer for this project, Plaza's performance in the lead role showcased her range as an actress.
"Black Bear" is a psychological thriller that explores the blurred lines between reality and fiction as a filmmaker (played by Plaza) becomes entangled in a tense and unpredictable situation. Plaza's ability to convey intensity and vulnerability adds depth to the film's intricate narrative.
Baena and Plaza's collaborations have showcased their shared sensibilities, penchant for unconventional storytelling, and a willingness to explore complex themes. Their films often blend humor with deeper emotional resonance, creating narratives that defy genre conventions and offer fresh perspectives on familiar themes.
Beyond their professional collaborations, Baena and Plaza are also partners in their personal lives. Their real-life connection and shared creative endeavors likely contribute to their on-screen chemistry and understanding of each other's artistic visions.
The collaborations between Jeff Baena and Aubrey Plaza have resulted in a series of unique and memorable films. Their shared sensibilities and ability to bring unconventional stories to life have garnered critical acclaim and a dedicated following.
Baena's writing and directing talents, coupled with Plaza's versatile performances, have consistently delivered films that push boundaries, challenge expectations, and offer a fresh perspective on familiar themes.
Whether exploring the complexities of relationships or subverting genre tropes, their collaborations continue to showcase their creativity and the strength of their partnership.

Interesting Facts

Check out some interesting facts about him:

He Is A Native Of Miami

Jeff grew up in the Miami area where he was born. On the other hand, not much is known about his upbringing. He chose to go to New York City after determining that he was serious about pursuing a career in filmmaking. He presently resides in the Los Angeles region with Aubrey.

He's A Fairly Low-key Person

It's simple to presume that people in the entertainmentbusiness enjoy the limelight by looking at them. However, in practice, that isn't always the case. Jeff is an extremely private person who dislikes sharing details of his private life with others. He has an Instagram account, but it's now hidden. It is obvious from the little number of followers that he declines certain requests.

He Likes To Play Tennis

Despite the fact that making movies occupies the majority of Jeff's time, one of his favorite past times is playing tennis. Although Jeff enjoys tennis, we were unable to uncover any information about whether he has ever played in a competitive setting.

He Studied At NYU

The value of pursuing a traditional education is a topic of discussion among the creative community. Jeff made the decision that going to college was the best course for him. He continued his education after high school at New York University, where he studied film. I believe it is safe to say that his choice has been a good one for him.

He Has Performed Some Acting

Although Jeff has spent the majority of his career in front of the camera, he has occasionally crossed over to the other side. Jeff has two acting credits, per his IMDB profile. His most recent on-screen appearance was in the 2015 film Digging for Fire.

He Like Comedies In The Movies

Jeff is the kind of artist who doesn't hesitate to work in various genres when it comes to his creations. Despite this, he has always held a special place in his heart for comedy. Jeff stated in an interview with That Shelf that "the movies that always resonate with me, especially when I see a comedy, are the ones where the laughter resound both within and externally. Even if you're not guffawing, you can be laughing a lot. I enjoy seeing those kinds of movies the best.

He Has A Collection Of DVDs

Nowadays, streaming is the method of choice for most individuals to watch movies, while it wasn't always the case. A while back, DVDs were the hottest item in town. Jeff admitted to Seen Some that he is a DVD collector. It's astonishing to think that in just five years the world will be populated by people who have no idea what a DVD is.
Jeff Baena wearing a white and blue striped shirt
Jeff Baena wearing a white and blue striped shirt

He Is Fascinated By The Middle Ages

Jeff studied a variety of subjects throughout his stay at NYU in addition to film. He majored in medieval studies as well. Although that subject may have looked utterly unrelated to his professional objectives at the time, it turns out that what he learnt has been useful to him throughout his filmmaking career.

He Enjoys Working With His Wife

Although mixing business pleasure is generally not a good idea, there are some instances where it does. Over the years, Jeff and Aubrey have collaborated numerous times, and they appear to truly enjoy it. Additionally, they work well together as a team.Ingrid Plaza

People Also Ask

What Films Has Jeff Baena Directed?

Jeff Baena has directed several films, including "Life After Beth" (2014), "Joshy" (2016), "The Little Hours" (2017), and "The Dead Don't Die" (2019).

Who Are The Frequent Collaborators Of Jeff Baena?

Jeff Baena has collaborated with actress Aubrey Plaza on multiple projects, including "Life After Beth," "Joshy," "The Little Hours," and "Horse Girl." He has also worked with actors such as Thomas Middleditch, Alison Brie, and Dave Franco.

What Is The Distinctive Style Of Jeff Baena's Films?

Jeff Baena's films are known for their offbeat narratives, dark humor, and exploration of complex human emotions. He often blends genres and infuses familiar tropes with his unique storytelling approach.

Which Film By Jeff Baena Received Critical Acclaim?

"The Little Hours" (2017) received critical acclaim for its unique blend of period setting, contemporary language, and comedic sensibilities. The film garnered positive reviews for its fresh take on a medieval convent story.

What Is Jeff Baena's Background In Filmmaking?

Jeff Baena attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and began his career working on various film productions. He gained early recognition as a co-writer on the 2004 film "I Heart Huckabees" before making his directorial debut with "Life After Beth" in 2010.


As he continues to evolve as a filmmaker, Jeff Baena's distinctive voice and storytelling approach make him a compelling figure in the world of independent cinema. His films challenge expectations, offer fresh perspectives, and push the boundaries of genre conventions. With each new project, Jeff Baena proves himself to be a talented and innovative filmmaker worth watching.
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