Composing Duo Robl + Sutta Score ‘Grasshoppers’

The composing team blends classical orchestral and modern ambient sounds, crafting a soundtrack that heightens the cinematic elegance of award-winning director Brad Bischoff’s feature film.

The composing duo Robl + Sutta recently scored the original soundtrack for ‘ rasshoppers,’ award-winning LA-based filmmaker Brad Bischoff’s directorial feature film debut. An Official Selection of the 18th Annual BendFilm Festival in the narrative category, the emotionally charged drama recently made its world premiere at the event. The director, a native of Chicago, shot the film in the city’s suburbs. ‘Grasshoppers’ script, one of ten selected by the prestigious Gotham (IFP) Narrative Labs, is the first feature-length screenplay penned by Bischoff, most recently recognized as one of the ’25 New Faces of Independent Film’ (Filmmaker Magazine).

The LA-based director called on Adam Robl and Shawn Sutta to compose a score with the depth and texture that enhances the story with a cinematic elegance. The talents of award-winning cinematographer Daphne Qin Wu (ASC’s Rising Stars of Cinematography 2021) were tapped to capture the dark, romantic, tumultuous look of the inner lives of a couple, while the music complements the film’s aesthetic with a range of styles, from European classical to modern ambient.

‘Grasshoppers’ is set in a Midwestern gated community all but deserted for the winter by its ‘snowbird’ residents.  The film opens as a couple, Nijm and Irina, hatch a plan to ditch work and visit every house in the neighborhood. With each visit, another drink is poured, and startling revelations of their relationship are revealed.

“We began discussing the score with Brad long before shooting began on location in a suburb of Chicago,” says Sutta. “The director/writer had a very specific artistic vision of the world he wanted to create around his characters and how the music could be crafted to draw the audience into their story.”

“The opening music is a carefully calculated ‘theme.’ The cue echoes the couple’s mood as they start the day with unbridled exuberance about their future – with just the slightest foreshadowing hinting that maybe things are not as they seem,” says Sutta.  “The soundtrack begins with the rich tones of a refined piano-driven, classically orchestral sound, blended with textures created by guitars and synthesizers adding a modern feel.”

Robl and Sutta, both multi-instrumentalists, composed parts for the piano, violin, viola, cello, and double bass that are the foundations of the score.  The sound of a woodwind section was created on a mellotron – a vintage instrument that plays recordings of flutes on mechanical tapes inside a keyboard. Played by Robl, the mellotron adds a quality reminiscent of film scores from another era to the traditional orchestral sound.

As the film progresses, the music subtly shifts, gradually becoming more emotionally intense with a foreboding underpinning as we are drawn deeper into the emerging drama. The tone of the score begins to unravel as the tension between the intoxicated couple escalates, revealing the realities of their melancholy lives.

“While Nijm and Irina’s fundamental views of their future put them at odds, their deep romantic bond is unwavering throughout the storyline – and the film’s score,” explains Sutta.  “We transitioned the music from classical to a modern ambient feel with a style and texture that builds on their deep emotional connection.”

All of the music for the score was performed by live musicians and recorded in Robl and Sutta’s studio. The mix of technology utilized includes Neumann CMV 563 microphones, Schoeps m221b microphones, Gordon Microphone Preamps, Nagra IV-s tape machine, recorded in Logic Pro.

For more information about the composers, visit www.AdamRobl-ShawnSutta.com or or call (310) 999- 5949.

CREDITS:

TITLE: ‘Grasshoppers’

GENRE: Feature Film/Drama

Production Companies:

Bad Taste Media Productions

Draw Me A Sheep Productions

Knight Shamrock Pictures

Paradise Electric

Director: Brad Bischoff

Writer: Brad Bischoff

Executive Producers: Gill Holland, Sherman Brown, Jared Smith

Producers: Brad Bischoff, Justin Nijm, Lisa Rudin

Cinematographer: Daphne Qin Wu

Editor: Jack Bishop

Music / Original Score: Adam Robl & Shawn Sutta

Sound Designer:  Cindy Takehara

Starring: Saleh Bakri, Iva Gocheva

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