Question: What do the University of Cincinnati, City of Cincinnati and a romantic comedy have in common?
Answer: Brad Wise, a 2002 graduate of UC’s DAAP graphic design program.
“I am a visual storyteller who relies on a team of people to accomplish a goal,” Brad noted in a recent interview with UC Where You Are. “I owe UC for giving me that foundation and teaching me how essential it is to have a relentless work ethic.”
That work ethic was put to the test recently, as Brad wrote his second feature film, the romantic comedy A Strange Brand of Happy. The film revolves around Joyce Heller, a single Christian life coach who falls for an agnostic client. Proving that life is never as simple as we’d like to make it, the film delves into such complicated topics as faith, hypocrisy, relationships and spiritual compatibility.
“Screenwriting is great if you're very comfortable rewriting,” Brad explained. “I started writing in January of 2009, and was still making changes to the script on-set. I can't tell you how many drafts I went through… dozens and dozens. I spent countless hours alone writing to Miles Davis and his contemporaries and then emerged to collaborate with a team of trusted readers and critics… only to go back to the drawing board with a glass of Cab and my friend Miles.”
The film wrapped production in early September after four weeks of shooting in Cincinnati, where Brad lives and works as the Creative Director of Vineyard Cincinnati. The film’s cast included Academy Award winner Shirley Jones (Elmer Gantry, The Partridge Family); Grammy Award winning, Rebecca St. James; comedian Marty Ingels; award winning producer/director, Joe Boyd; Joe Stevens (True Grit); Venida Evans (The Adjustment Bureau); and Ashley Palmer (Paranormal Activity). The process of editing the film and searching for distribution partners will take place over the course of the next several weeks, after which Brad will begin the writing process anew.
“I just have to decide which idea – there are about five! – I’m most passionate about right now,” he said.
Passion is a recurring theme in Brad’s life. He got his start in filmmaking after shooting a documentary and a short film at Vineyard Cincinnati in 2008. “We discovered we had a community of people passionate about telling stories together.”
Further experiments in screenwriting, producing, directing and even acting followed… though perhaps Brad’s most awe-inspiring role to-date is that of father. He and his wife had their first child in July, a son named Henry, shortly before filming A Strange Brand of Happy.
As for his current project, he hopes a little of his own passion for self-discovery will rub off on viewers.
“I hope this film starts conversations among friends about their life passions and purposes,” Brad says. “I believe people can change the world (and have fun while they're at it) when operating out of their passion.”
If Brad’s career trajectory is any indication, we think he’s hit the nail on the head.