Grasshopper: A Taste of Ambition

Grasshopper’s documentary film, Waterboy, is subtitled, “A Taste of Ambition,” which could just as easily be the subtitle of a biography of Grasshopper himself. Grasshopper’s ambition is evident in the work he produces, and in his efforts to continually push his work to its limits.  He has set high goals for his production company, Grasshopper Philms, and dreams of it going global.  As an article in the Examiner put it, he wants to be “running from meeting to meeting and from state to state to production company’s demanding the ideas and concepts of Grasshopper Philms for the silver screen and television networks.”

Grasshopper's documentary film, "Waterboy," looks at individuals who spend their summers selling water on the streets of Baltimore.

The work Grasshopper produces is itself evidence of his ambitious nature.  The film alluded to earlier, Waterboy: A Taste of Ambition, explores the lives of a few individuals who spend their summers selling bottled water on the streets of Baltimore.  When asked why he decided to work on the documentary, Grasshopper responded, “I was bored, and I wanted to operate in my craft.”  Grasshopper started the interview process without any extensive planning or expectations.  Most people would not make the assumption that water salesmen could be interesting subjects for a documentary, but Grasshopper took this risk, and struck gold.  Each of the subjects of the film has a unique story to tell, and Grasshopper shares these stories in a way that really grabs the viewer.  A large part of this success, I believe, stems from Grasshopper’s interview style, which allows his subjects to do most of the talking.  The script used during the interviews was minimal, and consisted of only five questions: What’s your name?, Where are you from?, How long have you been doing this?, Have you ever run into any problems in your work?, and What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?  This allowed most of the content of the interviews to flow naturally from the subject and his own experiences.

Grasshopper is also a two-time winner of the CAMM SLAMM 48 hour movie making competition, and is now involved in organizing the event.  At CAMM SLAMM, video artists are given a prop that must be included in their video, which they have 48 hours to create.  BROKE’, which received the award for 1st place in the competition, was not only written, directed, and produced by Grasshopper, but also features himself playing one of the characters, Bug.  The short film takes a look at a group of four people who enjoy dancing.  It is an extremely funny video largely due to the passion each of the characters has for dancing.  Grasshopper’s drive and passion for what he does is again evident in BROKE’.  “I knew I was going to win,” Grasshopper commented—and win he did.

A shot of some of the actors in Grasshopper's upcoming feature film, "Better Recognize Theater"

Grasshopper’s is now working on producing a feature-length film he has written, entitled Better Recognize Theater, which he describes as “The Wire meets Kung Fu Masterpiece Theater.”  He is also, as always, working hard to get his work out in the public where it can be viewed by larger audiences.  He intends to distribute DVD copies of Waterboyfor free, and sends letters to production companies hoping they might like one of his projects enough to produce it.  In a City Paper interview, Grasshopper commented, “What I want to hear is, ‘I just got that DVD and we would love to have you come to the studio and produce these films for the Bravo network.’  That’s what I want to hear.  But if I don’t hear that, it doesn’t deter me from doing it.”

References:

Gardner, Lee. “The Black Box: Baltimore’s African-American indie filmmakers search for an audience.”City Paper. 16 06 2010. 

Grasshopper. “Visiting Artist Talk.” Baltimore Filmmakers 2012. JHU. Baltimore. 15 Feb 2012. Address.

Williams, Corey. “Grasshopper-Baltimore’s Magician of Filmmakers.” Examiner. Examiner, 03 Aug 2010. 

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