On January 19, 2001, long-time writing partners Nicolas DeGrazia and Charles Turck co-founded Bitter Jester Entertainment, Ltd (BJE) to produce their already successful original sketch comedy troupe, The Comic Thread, as well as several original short films and documentaries. With aspirations including additional film productions, still photography, and continued work for the stage, BJE quickly expanded its horizons.
Charles (then a newly-licensed pharmacist holding a Pharmacy Doctorate from Midwestern University) sold his shares in BJE to Daniel Kullman, a long-time creative collaborator and close personal friend of both he and Nicolas. In November 2003, Co-owners Nicolas and Daniel opened the first BJE office in downtown Highland Park, IL, a suburb of Chicago.
From 2003-2005 Nicolas and Daniel both worked full-time during the day for BJE, producing various corporate and consumer productions, directing short documentaries, and videotaping gala corporate events in and around Chicago. During that time they both also had newspaper delivery routes from midnight to 6 AM, delivering more than 1,200 newspapers each to fortune 500 companies in the Loop, Chicago's downtown. Once BJE was able to stand on its own two feet, Nicolas and Daniel quit their night jobs and focused their time and energy entirely on creative projects through BJE. 2006 was a year of enormous growth for the company. A full-time editor was hired and the company began to redefine its creative focus and purpose. In that time BJE also formed many strategic alliances and networking partnerships with companies all across Chicagoland and northern Illinois.
Both Nicolas and Daniel came to be elected to various boards and committees. They strengthened their local ties and reinforced their firm belief in a strong local community by volunteering on dozens of projects related to (and unrelated to) their business. BJC also began to hone the skills of its creative photography department, helmed by Daniel.
On January 1, 2007, "Bitter Jester Entertainment, Ltd." became "Bitter Jester Creative, Inc." (BJC), a company focused on high-end corporate and commercial media and PR packages, personal legacy LifeStory videos for families, and feature-length documentary film productions on a variety of truly fascinating topics. BJC's photography began to take off in this time as various magazines and newspapers began paying for publication rights to Daniel's photos.
In 2008, BJC won its first two Telly Awards for documentary productions and in 2009 was honored to take home no fewer than seven Telly Awards for its corporate and nonprofit documentary work!
BJC now has an ever-growing entertainment division that produces live short story readings at private dinner parties, wine tastings, and other intimate events. The Comic Thread is beginning to hit its stride with appearances at venues across Chicagoland including The Second City's Donny's Skybox Theatre, The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, and multiple appearances at Highland Park High School's nationally-recognized "FOCUS on the Arts" program. BJC also co-produces the annual "Late Nite HP Bitter Jester Battle of the Bands" throughout the month of June in downtown Highland Park, culminating with the five top-ranking bands vying for the first place title and a cash prize provided by the City of Highland Park on the 4th of July.
Through BJC, Nicolas and Daniel give frequent presentations to Rotary Clubs across Illinois in which they discuss the importance of preserving one's family history through audio and video, showing samples of their work and teaching how one can (and why they should) do it at home.
To date, the crew of BJC has traveled to four separate continents, north and south of the equator, producing work in Israel, Haiti, Angola, Portugal, Germany, The Czech Republic, and all throughout the United States. They have interviewed presidents of companies, ambassadors to countries, foreign and US dignitaries, statesmen, soldiers, and everyone in-between. BJC is a world-traveling, world-class, award-winning production company always looking for the next, great story to tell.
Charles Turck currently acts as an advisor to BJC and sits on its Board of Directors along with Mark Sheahen, BJC's CIO and website administrator. Charles is also a producer/actor/writer for The Comic Thread and Mark serves as Technical Director for the troupe.