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The Essential List

The Essential List: Jo de Fina

The Otto Empire, Mon, Oct 16, 2017

The Otto Empire Founder and EP on her dogs, cheesy snacks and her Melbourne food and drink tips

The Essential List: Jo de Fina

Jo de Fina is the Founder and Executive Producer of The Otto Empire, a production company that’s been making commercials, content, films, music videos, TV, documentaries, live performance and more, in Australia and New Zealand since she started it in 2009.

Her career has taken her around the world. She spent years in London, where she dabbled in casting for the first Harry Potter films, worked in production on long-format features and eventually got into TVCs and music videos. She also worked at Hungry Man and Droga5 in New York, before returning to her mother country.

Having experienced life and work on three continents, we were fascinated to know what motivates Jo, so asked her to share her Essential List with Little Black Book.


o Place of birth: Melbourne

o Hometown: Melbourne, but in the past this has been London, NY and Sydney

o Staycation: A mud brick house on the Mornington Peninsula – stunning bushland surrounded by incredible wineries. 

o Vacation: Filicudi where my father’s family is from. A tiny island off the coast of Sicily still catching up with the rest of the world

o Place of work: A warehouse covered in a one-off by Australian artist Paul McNeil down the end of a tiny lane way – so Melbourne!

o Place of workout: Walking my dogs, Otto and Dougal McDougal the Poodle along the beach

o Mode of transport: Car

o Miscellaneous Travel Essential: My two passports (always good to have back up and I can choose to be Aussie or Italian).


o Artist: Chagall 

o Musician: Courtney Barnett

o Commercials director: Frank Budgen

o Film director: Mike Nichols

o Photographer: Leila Jeffries

o Film: The Intouchables

o Series: Suits, Ozark

o Commercial: Sony Playstation ‘Mountain’

o Music Video: Of the last few years, Tame Impala, ‘The Less I Know the Better’. Golden Oldies, Basement Jaxx ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ or Paul Simon ‘You Can Call Me Al’ 

o Book: The Princess Bride… ‘As you wish’

o Newspaper: I don’t read the news. It’s too depressing… 

o Podcast: Anything in the same vein as Serial

o Miscellaneous Art: Melbourne’s street art scene – it’s so vibrant and changes daily.

Food and Drink

o Restaurant: Ricky and Pinky in Fitzroy. Their Ma Po Tofu is the best! They also have Lazy Susans; love a Lazy Susan

o Cheap bite: Thai Red Chicken Curry with extra broccoli

o Working lunch: Fratelli Pradiso in Sydney. The guys who own it are some of the best hosts around, and my order never changes - Calamari Sant’Andrea followed by their Scampi Pasta. 

o Dish: Homemade Bolognese

o Snack: Belle’s Hot Chicken. Their fried chicken comes in varying heat levels; Sex Panther being the hottest. I have survived the Sex Panther! It’s not for everyone though. I’ve seen it make grown men cry

o Guilty Pleasure: Anything sweet. I’ve got a massive sweet tooth

o Bar: Cherry Bar, AC/DC Lane in Melbourne

o Tipple: A great wine

o Soft Tipple: Sparkling water. Or as I call it, ‘advertising water’

o Miscellaneous food: Cheezels

o Miscellaneous Beverage: Chocolate Big M


o Phone: iPhone

o Computer: MacBook Pro

o TV: Sony

o Headphones: The annoying fiddly ones that come with an iPhone

o Camera: Fuji X100

o Sound system: Bose

o Pen / pencil: Uniball pen

o Where you document an idea: Battered old Smythson notebook that has circumnavigated the globe several times with me.

o Watch: Don’t tend to wear one. I tell the time the old fashioned way – the clock on my phone.

o App: Shebah

o Website: MySpace. Ha, I joke…

o Work program: Showbiz budgeting

o Digital work tool: Skype/Facetime

o Analogue work tool: Talking to someone in person

o Grooming: Jojoba oil 

o Miscellaneous Kit Essential: YSL Touche Eclat

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