Joe Penna

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Joe Penna
Penna in concert, June 2012
Jônatas de Moura Penna

(1987-05-29) May 29, 1987 (age 36)
Years active2006–present
Known forStop motion, animation, music, and videography
(m. 2011)
Musical career
Instrument(s)Guitar, bass guitar, drums, keyboards, vocals
Years active2006–present

Jônatas de Moura Penna, best known as Joe Penna (born May 29, 1987), is a Brazilian filmmaker and musician, best known from both his YouTube channel MysteryGuitarMan and his feature films. He resides in Los Angeles, California.


In March 2016, his short film Turning Point was selected to play at the Tribeca Film Festival.[3]

In February 2017, Penna began production of his directorial debut feature film, Arctic. It was shot in Iceland and stars Mads Mikkelsen.[4][5] Arctic garnered enthusiastic reviews as an Official Selection for the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.[6] Its theatrical premiere was on February 1, 2019.

In June 2019, Penna began shooting on the sci-fi movie Stowaway starring Anna Kendrick and Toni Collette.[7]

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the release of Stowaway was delayed from its initial summer 2020 release by Sony.[8] Netflix subsequently acquired the rights to the film, which achieved the #1 spot worldwide. This success led Netflix to also acquire the US rights to Penna's earlier film Arctic, which similarly achieved #1 ranking in the country.[9]

In August 2022, Penna signed on to direct the sci-fi thriller Trespasser, produced by Jason Fuchs and Brad Fuller. The film, based on a Black List screenplay follows a father and daughter living in isolation who encounter a mysterious otherworldly creature.[10]

In December 2022, Penna was tapped to produce Anna Kendrick's directorial debut Woman of the Hour. The thriller, based on the true story of Cheryl Bradshaw, a bachelorette on the 1970s TV matchmaking show The Dating Game whose chosen bachelor turned out to be serial killer Rodney Alcala, was acquired by multiple international distributors at the Toronto International Film Festival.[11] The film sold to Netflix for $11M and debuted with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[12]


Penna maintains the YouTube channel MysteryGuitarMan. He registered the channel on June 16, 2006.[13]

By January 2011, MysteryGuitarMan became the most subscribed channel in Brazil.[14] As of January 2024, his channel has garnered over 2.6 million subscribers, and his videos have accrued nearly 400 million views.[15]

On September 11, 2005,[16] Penna launched a second YouTube channel, where he uploads his making-of videos and vlogs. Within 6 hours, it became the third most subscribed channel in Brazil.[1]

In 2007, Penna was one of the first YouTube channels to receive mainstream media coverage, including attention from DC Fox News,[17] after his video The Puzzle was featured on the front page of YouTube.

In 2009, Penna was again seen on the front page of YouTube with his video Guitar: Impossible, which has been covered by De Wereld Draait Door, the highest-rated primetime show in the Netherlands.[18] On December 6, 2009, Penna was featured on FM4, an Austrian national radio station.[19] Shortly after uploaded, his "Guitar: Impossible" video was featured on the front page.

Best Buy announced Penna as the $15,000 winner of their Tech-U-Out Video Challenge. He was also a finalist in the "Oreo Global Moments" video competition. Ford selected Penna as a Fiesta Agent for the 2009 Ford Fiesta Movement.[20] Penna's "Guitar: Impossible" video was also featured by YouTube as one of the best videos of 2009.

In 2010, Penna's Root Beer Mozart was featured on CNN's morning show Morning Express with Robin Meade and on Germany's nationally broadcast Taff show.


In 2009, Penna directed a commercial starring Rhett and Link titled T-Shirt War. It garnered international attention.[21] Shortly after, Penna was selected as one of the top 10 new directors at the 20th Cannes Lions Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors' Showcase.[22]

Following the success of the original, Penna and the original cast were hired to produce a national television and cinema spot for Coca-Cola and McDonald's.[23] A year later, Penna directed and starred in yet another commercial for the two companies.[24]

In June 2010, Penna was highlighted by CNN Money on their Best Jobs series.[25]

His stop-motion short film Guitar: Impossible was selected to be displayed at the Guggenheim museum.[26][27]

In 2012, Penna co-wrote and directed an original interactive thriller series titled Meridian starring Orlando Jones and Rick Overton in conjunction with Fourth Wall Studios.[28]

In August 2014, Penna was announced as the host of Xploration Earth 2050, a technology-oriented television series.[29] Xploration Station went on to receive eight Daytime Emmy Award nominations.[30]

Generative AI[edit]

In May 2023, Penna was part of a team that authored a paper on text-to-image generation which introduced PickScore, a scoring function showing superior performance in predicting human preferences. The team recommended using PickScore for evaluating future text-to-image generation models and using Pick-a-Pic prompts as a more relevant metric than the commonly used MS-COCO and Fréchet inception distance, the latter showing a negative correlation correlated to human preferences.[31] This paper was followed by the release of another paper detailing improvements to latent diffusion models for high-resolution image synthesis.[32]

Upon the peer review and acceptance of these papers as a scientific publication, Penna will have an Erdős–Bacon number of 7.[33][34]


  1. ^ a b "Fantástico: Brasileiro larga a medicina e ganha dinheiro fazendo vídeos no YouTube". Archived from the original on 2010-02-23. Retrieved 2010-02-20.
  2. ^ Penna, Joe (August 25, 2011). "Love Story". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
  3. ^ Penna, Joe (2015-10-28), Turning Point, Jade Harlow, George Capacete, Michael Reed, retrieved 2018-04-12
  4. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (2017-04-19). "Mads Mikkelsen To Star In Thriller 'Arctic' From Armory Films". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  5. ^ "Mads Mikkelsen on Surviving the Polar Wilderness in 'Arctic'". 2017-04-21. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  6. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (2018-04-12). "Cannes Film Festival 2018: Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard, Jafar Panahi In Competition; Whither Von Trier? – Full List". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  7. ^ "EP#14 | Joe Penna aka MysteryGuitarMan". Archived from the original on 2021-12-20 – via
  8. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (2020-12-04). "Netflix Boards Joe Penna's Sci-Fi Movie 'Stowaway' Starring Anna Kendrick & Toni Collette From XYZ Films". Deadline.
  9. ^ Glenn, Kevin (2021-09-23). "Mads Mikkelsen's Survival Thriller Is The Most-Watched Movie On Netflix". Giant Freakin Robot.
  10. ^ Kroll, Justin (2022-08-24). "Joe Penna To Direct 'Trespasser' For Jason Fuchs, Brad Fuller And Endeavor Content". Deadline.
  11. ^ Roxborough, Scott (2022-09-20). "Anna Kendrick's Directorial Debut 'The Dating Game' Sells Wide". The Hollywood Reporter.
  12. ^ Sarkisian, Jacob (2023-09-20). "Anna Kendrick's new movie debuts with 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating". Digital Spy.
  13. ^ "Joe Penna / MysteryGuitarMan – about page". MysteryGuitarMan. YouTube. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Most Subscribed of All Time – Brazil". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
  15. ^ "MysteryGuitarMan". YouTube. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
  16. ^ "JP – about page". YouTube. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Fox 5". Retrieved 2009-03-31.
  18. ^ "De Wereld Draait Door – 31 maart 2009". Archived from the original on 2010-05-15. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
  19. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  20. ^ "Ford Fiesta Movement". Retrieved 2009-03-31.
  21. ^ McGlynn, Katla (2010-02-09). "Amazing Stop Motion T-Shirt War (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  22. ^ "Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase Bows in Cannes – Extreme Reach". SourceCreative – Extreme Reach. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  23. ^ "T-Shirt War 2". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
  24. ^ Joe Penna (2011-02-24), Rhythm – McDonald's TV Commercial – Joe Penna, archived from the original on 2021-12-20, retrieved 2018-04-12
  25. ^ "CNN Money". Retrieved 2010-06-26.
  26. ^ Kit, Zorianna (20 September 2010). "YouTube and Guggenheim showcase video artists". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  27. ^ "CNN – YouTube search for most creative videos". Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  28. ^ "MysteryGuitarMan Joe Penna Brings Interactive Thriller To". Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  29. ^ "MysteryGuitarMan is the latest YouTube star to get his own TV show". The Daily Dot. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  30. ^ ""Xploration Station" Earns Eight Daytime Emmy Nominations". Archived from the original on 2018-04-12. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  31. ^ Yuval Kirstain; Adam Polyak; Uriel Singer; Shahbuland Matiana; Joe Penna; Omer Levy (2023). "Pick-a-Pic: An Open Dataset of User Preferences for Text-to-Image Generation". arXiv:2305.01569 [cs.CV].
  32. ^ Dustin Podell; Zion English; Kyle Lacey; Andreas Blattmann; Tim Dockhorn; Jonas Müller; Joe Penna; Robin Rombach (2023). "SDXL: Improving Latent Diffusion Models for High-Resolution Image Synthesis". arXiv:2307.01952 [cs.CV].
  33. ^ "From Bill Gates to Paul Erdős in four papers".
  34. ^ "The Oracle of Bacon".

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