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When Hollywood Came to Town

Barrington Plays Host to Brad Bischoff’s First Feature Film.


Produced by Lisa Stamos | Photography by Linda M. Barrett

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Photo By Michael Kunicki

This year, in late February and through mid-March, Brad Bischoff and his team filmed “The Grasshopper”, the director’s first feature-length film, one that he also wrote. Bischoff grew up in nearby Buffalo Grove, as did one of his producers, Justin Nijm. The two went to Columbia College together in Chicago. The movie’s team found remarkable connections and generous residents in support of the independent film. They held a fundraiser at the local SIP venue, and offered the cast and crew housing, meals, and locations. The community members involved completely embraced the project, enabling its tight film schedule to be completed. We caught up with the busy director to see how the movie’s post-production is going.

Restaurant and bar scenes were filmed at the Palm Court in Arlington Heights.

What are your personal ties to Barrington?

I was born in Barrington at Good Shepherd Hospital but had not been back in years. I grew up in Buffalo Grove. Choosing to film there happened as a coincidence during a location scout when I fell in love with the Wynstone neighborhood. It was one of the best decisions we made.

How did the Barrington community help in the making of this film?

It’s hard to express just how important Barrington was to this film. Since we’ve wrapped, I’ve referred to my time there as a transformative life experience. The generosity of the locals, the storied houses, vast landscapes, and serene families of deer who visited us almost every day was exactly the energy we needed to make such a production possible. Seeing as this is an independent film, we had to rely on many available resources and the good hearts and homes of Barrington stepped up to the challenge. It takes a village to raise a baby, and it took Barrington to make a movie.

Who are some of the people who helped you?

John and Christina Hatherly of the Wynstone community generously introduced me to Lori Rowe, an incredible human being and realtor who poured her passion into this project. Through her extensive and supportive network, we were able to not only secure houses for filming, but also houses for our own lodging.

Our crew stayed in several wonderful homes throughout the duration of our stay… alongside the most accommodating, lovely homeowners: Jack and Noreen Burgeson, Jeff and Judy Tolle, and Christine Shelton. We filmed in spectacular, local houses that belonged to Bryan and Josie Croll, Craig and Lexy Zachrich, Kristen Delghingaro, and Carol Levy.


Top: Saleh Bakri as Ray. Iva Gocheva as Lisa. Bottom: Lauren Stamos plays the hostess in the restaurant and bar scenes. Bartender Hamilton was played by Matty Ryan.

What other locations in our area will be seen in the film?

North Barrington (Wynstone golf course, clubhouse, and surrounding houses); houses in West Dundee, Barrington, and St. Charles; The Palm Court restaurant in Arlington Heights; King-Pin Lanes in Fox River Grove; and a beauty salon in Elgin.

How long did this script take for you to complete?

In 2014, I wrote the script off-and-on during the nine months my wife Mirella was pregnant with our first child, as I was finding myself on the brink of parenthood. We were used to living a carefree, freelance lifestyle. She was a waitress and I was a filmmaker… we lived paycheck-to-paycheck, didn’t have health insurance, and thought we were invincible. Like the character of the grasshopper in the old fable, we sang… we danced… and we played our way through life. We only had ourselves to look after. Suddenly, I felt the surmounting pressures of responsibility and I knew that our lives were about to change. In many ways, the script was a critique of the American Dream and a cautionary tale for those who put the “play” before the “work.” But, as with life, the story finds a way to tie in the looming reality that is impossible to escape: we are all victims of our own actions.

What type of camera did you use for the filming?

We filmed on the Red Gemini with a set of Kowa anamorphic lenses.

In what amount of time did you complete the filming?

We lived locally for a month and a half and had a total of 17 production days.

Where are you right now in the process of post-production?

Currently, we are about halfway through a rough cut of the entire film and are in contention for the Sundance Post-Production Track Labs and the IFP Narrative Labs.

What would you consider a success for this film?

Our goals have been to premiere at a strong film festival (Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Telluride, Venice, Berlin, etc.), to go on a successful run through the festival circuit both nationally and internationally, find a home and secure distribution for the film, and eventually open in select movie theaters for a limited run in major cities before launching on a direct platform (Netflix, Amazon Originals, Hulu, etc.).

Do you know if the film will be included in the Cannes Film Festival?

Currently, we do not know. Submissions open early next year and our goal is to compete for the “Caméra d’Or” (Golden Camera).

How will the film be distributed?

We will have a further distribution plan available once we find out the premiere status of the film.

Will you have a premier?

We noticed The Catlow as soon as we arrived in town for our film shoot. It is truly a stunning venue and would be our absolute pleasure to screen a private, sneak-preview of the film for the local community as soon as it’s completed. We will be in-touch as we continue through post-production.

When might a premier happen?

Ideally later this year, closer to fall.

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Introducing Brad Bischoff

Recently named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine, Brad Bischoff is an award-winning writer and director from Chicago, Illinois. His work has been featured on The Atlantic, Short of the Week, and was voted one of the best short films of the year by Vimeo in 2013.

Bischoff is an alumnus of the Telluride Film Festival student symposium (’07) and Columbia College Chicago (’09). Recently, he was named a finalist for the acclaimed Sundance Screenwriting Labs and just last March was the recipient of IFP Chicago’s first ever Member Spotlight, which included a retrospective of his films at the historic Music Box Theatre. Later that year, he was selected by his peers as a Film 50 screen gem in the acclaimed NewCity publication.

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“The Grasshopper” Production Team

Left: Cinematographer Daphne Qin Wu. Right: Producer Justin Nijm with extra Christine Shelton.

  • Writer/Director: Brad Bischoff
  • Producers: Brad Bischoff, Justin Nijm, Lisa Rudin
  • Cinematographer: Daphne Qin Wu
  • Editor: Jack Bishop
  • Production Designer/Associate
  • Producer: Mike Kunicki
  • 1st Assistant Director: Johnny Woj
  • 1st Assistant Camera: Isabella Norton
  • Director’s Assistant: Jewells Santos
  • Camera Operator: Kevin Veselka
  • Key Grip: Chris O’Malley
  • Gaffer: David William Keyser
  • PA/G&E Swing: Barbara Dageforde
  • Sound Mixer: Jacob Brown
  • Hair & Make-Up: Amya Alverio
  • The Grasshopper Fundraiser

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The Grasshopper Fundraiser

On Thursday, March 14, the Barrington theater crowd and friends of the film gathered for a fundraiser in support of “The Grasshopper” at SIP Barrington, a local food and bar venue. Guests learned about the film from its director, Brad Bischoff, and producers Lisa Rudin and Justin Nijm, and met lead cast members Saleh Bakri and Iva Gocheva.

Left: Producer Justin Nijm, Director Brad Bischoff, and Producer Lisa Rudin. Middle: Emily Reynolds. Right: Patti Stickney, Colleen Konicek, and Michelle Maison.