Behind the scenes with Copper Pot Pictures
By KATHLEEN EDGECOMB
Dave LaMattina, an independent filmmaker, got involved with the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation because of his father John LaMattina, who is a founding member of the New London-based group that gives 100 percent of fundraising dollars to breast cancer research.
When my dad missed a BC game to go to the walk, I knew this was important to him,” Dave LaMattina said during a recent telephone interview. Both father and son graduated from Boston College.
But the younger LaMattina stays involved because of the heart and dedication of those who participate year after year in the signature marathon walk, those who organize the race, and even those who are participating for the first time. They all have a commitment to the organization’s quest to find a cure for breast cancer.
“I was really struck by their passion,” he said. “There are a lot of breast cancer charities, but honestly, everyone talked about the 100 percent going to research.”
LaMattina and his production company Copper Pot Pictures, just completed four videos for the foundation. The videos feature a long-time walker and friend of the daughter of the foundation’s namesake; a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer after her first walk; a first-time walker who was inspired by her father, who has been walking the marathon since 2018; and the late Terri Brodeur’s brother-in-law, who has volunteered every year since the first walk in October 2006.
The first video features Alex Interlandi, who has walked the marathon with her friend Ashley Brodeur for 10 years. To mark the 10th anniversary, Alex got a tattoo of the original TBBCF logo – a pair of pink sneakers. She explains in the video, which is in the January newsletter and on the website, what keeps her coming back year after year.
Other videos, which will be released throughout the year, will feature 15-year breast cancer survivor Shelley Gregory, long-time volunteer Doug Hoyt; and first-time walker Diane Felty.
In 2022, the organization surpassed its fundraising goal of $400,000 with more than 300 people signing up to participate. Other money was donated from businesses and individuals in the form of sponsorships to cover operational costs.
“It feels like a mom-and-pop organization, but their numbers are big,” LaMattina said. “It has a community feel to it, and that’s the draw for a lot of people.”
LaMattina, and his business partner Chad Walker, founded their production company in 2007 and have done, among many other projects, a documentary on Carroll Spinney, the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street, and a behind-the-scenes reality tv show for Animal Planet about the Bronx Zoo. The company also produced a series of videos for Sports Illustrated called “Exploring Planet Futbol.” Their work can be seen on www.copperpotpictures.com.
Copper Pot is an in-kind sponsor to the foundation at the Platinum Level and has never charged for any of its work, which has included travel to Washington, DC, New York and Boston.
They have done a promotional video of the annual walking marathon that takes place the first Saturday of October and starts in Old Saybrook and ends at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, and have interviewed researchers who have received $100,000 grants from the foundation to study treatments and a cure for breast cancer.
“I liked doing those,” said LaMattina. “They (the researchers) are so smart and they were able to explain what they do so anyone can understand.”
To date, the foundation has raised more than $5.5 million and awarded 55 research grants, mostly to new and upcoming researchers just starting out in their careers. This year, the group expects to give out five more grants.
“David and Chad from Copper Pot Pictures have managed to get to the heart, soul and commitment of those who support the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation,” said Patti Burmahl, president of TBBCF Board of Directors. “They have an incredible ability to really engage with those they are profiling and bring their stories to life, and as a result, capture the heart and commitment of the foundation to find a cure for breast cancer.”
For the latest video project, Copper Pot asked the foundation to send some names and stories of people who have made a difference. LaMattina said each suggestion was so good they decided to do four videos.
They followed Alex Interlandi as she got her tattoo. They filmed the 2022 walk in the pouring rain. They had Shelley Gregory explain why she chose to delay her breast cancer treatment so she could walk in the marathon. They interviewed Diane Felty, who went to high school with LaMattina, who said she walked for the first time in 2022 after being in awe of father, John Felty. They also interviewed volunteer Doug Hoyt, who is married to Terri Brodeur’s sister, Michelle.
LaMattina, who graduated from Ledyard High School, now lives in New York City with his wife and two children. His business partner lives in Trumbull. He said they are happy to return to the area and lend support to such a great cause. But LaMattina worries he’s not doing enough.
“I hope the videos bring attention to the foundation and appeal to those who may be on the fence about walking,” he said.
“It’s lovely to make a video, but it seems like a small thing. It feels like everyone is doing more.”
Some day he hopes to volunteer at a walk and bring his children, ages 7 and 10, so they can get involved – maybe handing out water to the walkers.