Bradley Bischoff chicago

Kickstart a Kickstarter - Featuring: The Grasshopper Film

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 HALFSTACK MAGAZINE

The Kickstart a Kickstarter feature series launched out of the idea that as a magazine that stemmed from a Kickstarter success, I wanted to share the love and feature projects that the team and I found interesting. It's even better when the projects are local and are doing interesting things right here in the Chicago community. When I started seeing bits and pieces of "The Grasshopper" filling my social media feed, I was instantly intrigued. 

I've kept up with Bradley Bischoff (Writer and Director based out of Chicago) over the years as we have some mutual acquaintances from our Art School days. He's an alumni of Columbia College's Film Program. His work has continuously grown and it's been amazing to see how far he has come since I first heard about the projects he was working on in 2008. Here we are, eight years later and he is still creating, following his dreams and creating meaningful work.

Brad with his little human on set 

His skill for story telling through beautiful visual imagery is intense. I can remember the first time I saw his early short films WET and EYELIDS; I was immediately drawn into the stories. His innate ability to create a connection between his main characters and the audience through simple, but incredibly impactful moments is truly poetic. He is a true creative visionary and his journey is a testament to that. His road hasn't been paved with gold, but his vision and ambition has kept him focused and going. The film industry comes off as glamorous and yet Brad keeps it real - it's not pristine or perfect and it takes hard work and a whole lot of hustle to create a film. You have to get your hands dirty to create something beautiful and work the odd job here and there to pay the bills, but it is always worth it. 

The Grasshopper Film Poster

Brad recently launched a Kickstarter for his latest feature: The Grasshopper (a feature film born and raised in Chicago). The film is a modern take on Aesop's classic fable, The Grasshopper and the Ant - a man and his wife who are pursuing the American Dream of old, but are tempted by play and relaxation, seeking out a way around the hardworking 9-to-5 lifestyle, that for so many young people, is no longer a reality. He took some time to talk with Halfstack to talk about the project and what his goals are. Keep reading for the full interview and check out the Film's Kickstarter Page HERE. Also, make sure to check back this month for our podcast interview!

1. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself; your background and what led you to your current career/creative entrepreneurial endeavors?

I grew up about 45 minutes northwest of Chicago in the suburb of Buffalo Grove with my parents and two older brothers. I often credit my parents for the structure they provided in my life as to why I was able to be spontaneous and fall in love with art… I had a lot of time to create growing up, and try new things. I fell in love with rollerblading and spent every hour after school rollerblading until it led to wanting to film our skate sessions with the hopes of getting sponsored. I met Jake Zalutsky, also a rollerblader, who later became a cinematographer and we started making skate films together. By high school that led to an interest in directing and I just never looked back.

2. You recently launched a Kickstarter to help fund your latest film: The Grasshopper – can you share details about the film, what viewers can expect and the back story behind the concept? Also – what are some of the awesome rewards they can get if they back your project on Kickstarter?

I’ve been referring to the film as my “dark version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Instead of following a kid from the suburbs ditching class and having the best day of his life, we follow a middle-aged man from the suburbs ditching work, but finds it seemingly impossible to ditch responsibility. That’s how it goes… the older we get the harder it becomes to run away and hide. The sun may set for a day, but be prepared for the morning when it’s up and waiting for you.

If you donate to our film, which I sincerely hope you will, we have some incredible things you will get in return. An award-winning chili recipe, custom made beer glasses (16 oz. arc can style which is my personal favorite), a beautiful movie poster done in the style of American films of the 70’s, or an HD-download version of our film… to name a few. Think of it this way, donate the $30 dollars you were going to spend on 2 tickets to see Transformers 9 and instead give it to us as your reservation to see the movie as soon as it’s done (we will send it to you!), in addition to getting a bomb chili recipe and your name in the credits to show off to all your friends what a cool movie you supported.

3. What does the development process look like when you are coming up with a concept for your movies/documentaries and other creative projects?

It always begins differently. I have phones that broke their data limit because of the Notes inside of it. I have storage boxes of notebooks, notepads, cocktail napkins, scribbled on receipts, and old cassette tapes with voice recordings… it’s habitual, maybe OCD. But, I can’t throw any of it away. You never know when you’ll need it. If it came to me at some point, it was for a reason. I try to my damned hardest to tap into the ether, to listen when it’s speaking. Half of it may be gibberish, or maybe I’m just not old enough to understand it yet. But I’m always listening. Sometimes I write it down and try to decipher it later in life.

4. Where do you find the inspiration behind your work – where do you draw ideas from when it comes to your story telling?

A lot of my stories are character studies. People falling victim to their own vices, succumbing to psychological shortcomings, or struggling to keep romantic ideals alive in the modern world. Like how Stan Lee would create a superhero out of his insecurities. I hesitate to say my characters are all versions of me, but a lot of what they think, feel, come to fruition from thoughts I’ve had, obsessed over, or feared. My whole life growing up I thought life was supposed to be lived a certain, specific way. I grew up in the suburbs where all of my schools are on the same street, like a block from each other. Then there's a golf course behind my house. Growing up, I was made to believe that these are the steps in life. After this, you go to college and get a degree, then you get a job. Then after that you get a house. Then one day you wake up and you're 45, but you don't feel any different from what you've always felt. A lot of my ideas spawn from that person going through those steps and fighting them at every intersection. Battling structure and tradition with spontaneity and progressive thinking.

5.  What are your goals for this upcoming film project – what are your goals in terms of continuing to grow here in the Chicago market?

The Grasshopper is my first feature film after a decade of making short films and documentaries, and it’s going to be such a kick ass movie. It’s the type of movie that’s missing from today’s theaters and it’s my hope that people can really connect to the material and also enjoy it as a film. The characters and their ideals are very strong. It’s heartbreaking. I’m focused on telling this story the best I can, while I’m living it, and putting this piece of my heart out for people to view and talk about. It should open up a lot of conversation about how we’re living our lives as millennials versus how our parents did it. I battle with that bridge every day.

6. Have you faced obstacles as you have pursued a creative career in film making? If so, how have you overcome and how do you manage to keep going forward? How do you balance taking on work to pay the bills and finding time to execute on projects that are creatively fulfilling?  (or do you even have to do this at all?)

For many years, I paid the bills with odd jobs… I’ve had over 20 part-time jobs, and each time I would apply I would pull from my melting pot to create a resume that spoke to what I was looking to do. I’ve delivered flowers, packaged adult diapers, bussed in a steakhouse, cashiered in retail, and told someone I was a black belt in karate to get a job as a security guard. It was always about getting money when I needed it. I currently work as a full-time commercial editor at mcgarrybowen, an advertising agency downtown, and I’ve been there over a year. By far the nicest group of people I’ve worked with and they have been so kind to me and are very supportive of my filmmaking.

The balance is the hardest part of life. When you feel like you are succeeding in your personal art, that is usually a sign that you underachieving either at work or at home with your family. When the work is hot, something else is cold. I should have went to culinary school to learn how to cook… I’d be better at balancing heat.

7. Are there any people that have made an impact on your life, career and journey and if so how?

Jordie Field was my first art teacher at Buffalo Grove High School and I had him for all 4 years. He challenged me every step of the way. Anytime I’d come to him with a piece of art, he would give me the last critique I wanted to hear. But, it always made me think deeper and work harder. Just last week IFP Chicago held a retrospective of my short films at the Music Box Theatre and he even showed up! Even when he left he gave me a critique. And then the last thing he told me before taking off was to always listen to the hardest critiques, and study them. Even if you don’t agree, years later you find out they were right. Never be hot on your cool.

8. Were you prepared to take on the role of a creative entrepreneur – if so what do you think has helped you succeed, if not what skills have you had to develop in order to make things work?

I don’t know if I could ever say I was prepared, it just felt good. It’s all I want to do. I always try my hardest to follow what feels good and making movies feels good. In that sense, it’s easy to follow what you love, if you are fortunate enough to know what that is. But, love can be deceiving, it can be blinding. You can lose focus of everything else in life because of this love, and it’s happened. Like I said, the hard part is balance. Balance and making sure your bills are paid. Being in love is easy. Keeping logs on the fire is hard, because you always have to go chop the wood, right? You can’t just sit and enjoy the fire. It will burn out.

9. If you could go back and tell the 18 year old Brad 1 thing about your future, what would it be?

I would say the same thing my friend Artem said to me when I turned 21, “Don’t stop!!!!”

10. Finally, where can we learn more about you? More about Grasshopper? And where can people donate to Kickstarter?

Making a feature film is incredibly hard work. You need a support system. That’s why I’m asking you to please take 3 minutes out of your day to visit my film’s page and at least watch our teaser and read more about the movie! Then make your decision. Support local, backyard filmmakers if you want to see more than comic book movies in the local theaters. Visit:

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