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Young Alum Designs Career as Movie Writer and Director

UC design grad Brad Wise has just completed writing and directing a movie, which is now in post production. And a previous movie he directed, “Fenced Off,” will show in this weekend’s Cincinnati Film Festival.

Date: 9/30/2011
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Provided by Brad Wise

Young University of Cincinnati graphic design alum Brad Wise has a career with star quality – literally.

After all, he’s just finished directing a new movie, “A Strange Brand of Happy,” with well-known Hollywood stars, including Academy Award winner Shirley Jones (who many will remember from “The Partridge Family); veteran comedic actor Marty Ingels; Grammy Award Winner Rebecca St. James and others.

Wise, 32, of Columbia Township, credits his UC College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) education with providing him the work ethic and drive for excellence necessary to make movies.
Brad Wise
Brad Wise

He recalls, “DAAP was really hard. The workload is insane. You’re up all night to meet your deadlines, but at the same time, quality is a given, and you have to collaborate with others in learning, achieving and communicating. And then, you have to be critiqued and maybe do it all over again.”

So, yes, he states, DAAP was a great rehearsal for his movie writing and directing career:
“People tell me all the time that I’m surprisingly open to feedback when I send out a script to five different people to read and respond to. Even when that means I have to start all over from scratch. The same goes with rewriting on set and editing. It’s just like the design process at DAAP.”

And just as when he was a UC student juggling design projects, Wise is balancing work on “A Strange Brand of Happy” with the opening this weekend of “Fenced Off.” It tells the story of two men, one white and one black, both of whom are convinced they are not prejudiced until the day they become neighbors. “Fenced Off” will show this weekend, at 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Cincinnati Club, during the Cincinnati Film Festival.

Wise, who graduated UC in 2002, originally moved to Cincinnati from Tiffin, Ohio, drawn by UC’s internationally ranked School of Design.

He recalls, “In high school, art class was my favorite because you got to decide on a project, and then, you had the responsibility to pull it off. You also got to talk and have fun in class. It was a great mix of fun and responsibility.”

And while he says he came here because “UC’s design program was the best,” it was a UC writing and literature class and a cooperative education quarter in Venice Beach, Calif., that set Wise on his movie-making career.
Brad Wise, Marty Ingels and Bobby Rogers
UC grad Brad Wise with Marty Ingels and Bobby Rogers while working on "A Strange Brand of Happy."

He recalls, “In a writing and literature course, I discovered that I love to write. I took the chance to further explore that during a co-op quarter. While I had traditional design work experiences during co-op, I also took one co-op quarter as a travel quarter to Venice Beach, Calif. During that time, I read classic novels while also practicing photography and writing. It was life changing.”

And while he may have found a different medium through which to work than many of his design classmates, Wise says there are plenty of similarities in process no matter the medium.

“Designing in a studio course or for a co-op employer requires work ethic, skills and community where we rely on one another. Making movies is exactly the same. We have to rely on one another, or it doesn’t get done. And just like design projects, we never stop. It’s a relentless pursuit, making a project as good as possible up the very last second. Just as in DAAP, I just don’t stop,” says Wise.

In other words, he plans for no intermission in his work.