The Bader Brothers went deep into the criminal world to make a film that was true to the life of a professional burglar.
“We’ve always liked the crime genre but we’d never seen anything that we felt really portrayed a thief in a realistic way,” said director Malik Bader, who made the film “Grand Theft” with his brother, producer Sam Bader. “We felt we could bring something to the table that was more real.” The Baders shot the Super 16mm feature last summer and are now in post-production.
The Baders set about learning everything they could about a burglar’s lifestyle and working methods. Their search brought them to Cook County Jail.
“What’s awesome about guys in jail is that they’ll talk to anybody,” Malik Bader said. “One mistake we made was we gave our private line to this guy on the inside and in a two week period we got 40 collect calls from County, guys telling us they’d give us their story if we sent them money or helped with their case.”
Through acquaintances with criminal backgrounds, the Baders came upon one interview subject who had what they were looking for.
“We met a guy who was involved in burglaries but who’d never been caught, in fact he’d never even been a suspect by police ? he’s now retired,” Bader said. “We tried to stay true to the way a real thief would live, and you can’t do that if you only talk to the guys who’ve been busted. We need to see how you’d think about not getting caught.”
The Baders made “Grand Theft” in a strict cinema verit? style, as a documentary crew following a successful commercial burglar as he scopes targets, cuts through walls and safes and plots a way to get out of the life unscathed.
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t break any rules that we’d have to follow had we been a real documentary crew and he was a real thief,” Bader said. “We felt the viewer would feel more in tune that way with the burglar. We’re not trying to use the fact that it is or isn’t a documentary to make or break the film. We want people to watch the film and enjoy it, not base their enjoyment on whether or not it’s real.”
The Baders self-financed the low-six-figure budget. They shot for three weeks in August and September, and plan to complete the film in time to begin festival submissions in February.
The Baders’ short films “Ground Chuck” and “Lucky Strike” played the New York and Los Angeles independent film festivals. “Ground Chuck” won best comedy at IFP/Chicago’s 2001 Flyover Zone Film Festival.
The “Grand Theft” crew included DP Ken Seng, production designer Merje Veski, UPM Junko Kajino, 1st AD Matt Corrado, and sound mixer Mario Coletta. This writer was line producer. Derrick Grahn wrote the script. Nadav Kurtz is editing.