While Ricardo was head of story on Horton Hears a Who!, he met Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina, two Blue Sky employees. At the time, Chad was a story PA and Dave was an assistant to the director. On the side, however, the two had joined with their friend Clay Frost to form a production company called Copper Pot Pictures. Chad and Dave casually told Ric about a documentary Copper Pot was making called BROWNSTONES TO RED DIRT, which was about a pen pal program connecting sixth graders living in Brooklyn, NY housing projects with war orphans in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Ricardo offered the support of House of Cool and, over the next few years, he and Wes helped mentor the first-time directors. BROWNSTONES TO RED DIRT went on to a successful festival run, with stops at the Sarasota, Aspen, Tallinn, Brooklyn, San Francisco and Seattle International Film Festivals among others. In Seattle, the film was a runner-up for the Golden Space Needle Audience Choice Award. Additionally, it was a centerpiece for the San Francisco International Film Festival's Schools at the Festival.
Now, Canadians will finally have a chance to see it. The film has just been added to the lineup at the Toronto International Film Festival's "TIFF Kids" and will have it's Canadian premiere on Wednesday, April 18th at the TIFF Lightbox Theater. To view BROWNSTONES TO RED DIRT's TIFF screening schedule, please click HERE.
While on the festival circuit, Copper Pot Pictures also undertook a significant fundraising campaign to help the kids profiled in the film. In September 2011, the team returned to Sierra Leone to attend the opening of a new school built by their efforts (see the new school HERE). During their trip, they shot with Major League Soccer star Kei Kamara, who was in Sierra Leone to play with the national team. The resulting short documentary, simply titled KEI, will premier at the Bermuda International Film Festival later this month. Next up for Copper Pot is I AM BIG BIRD, which profiles Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who has been Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since Sesame Street began in 1969. At 78 years old, he has no intention of stopping. For updates about all of Copper Pot's projects, follow them on Twitter.