Back in the day, the highlight of my New Year’s Eve was listening to Casey’s Kasem’s year-end countdown on Q-105 (holla back, Southeast Connecticut).  Casey’s been replaced by Ryan Seacrest and Q-105 now streams worldwide, but I still love a year-end review.

In 2011, Copper Pot abided by Mr. Kasem’s advice by keeping our feet on the ground while reaching for the stars.  Specifically, the Leone Stars.

We had longed to return to Sierra Leone since we said goodbye to our friends in April 2008, but we couldn’t ever seem to get it on the books.  Sierra Leone isn’t an easy–or cheap–place to visit.  If there was one thing that was going to get us there, it was the opening of the school.  (Quick refresher for those of you new to the blog: after wrapping production on BROWNSTONES TO RED DIRT, we committed to a campaign to raise enough money to both build a new primary school in Freetown, Sierra Leone and create a library in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.)  After three years of working with Schools for Salone, we were told that the school would open in September 2011.  In July, we began seriously considering our return.

As we did, we were also exploring the possibility of making a soccer documentary.  All three of us played the beautiful game at various levels (though it was less beautiful when played by some of us) and wanted to merge our love of soccer and film.  We’d been talking to Major League Soccer star Kei Kamara, who plays for both Sporting Kansas City and the Sierra Leone national team, about maybe profiling him for a short film.  Out of curiousity, we checked the schedule: the Leone Stars would be playing in Freetown just days before our school was scheduled to open.  I’m a planner.  I like to do things in advance.  Way in advance.  But this confluence of events couldn’t be missed.    We had to be in Sierra Leone in September.

I would’ve thought that this year would be remembered by a few things: work on our unannounced, top-secret next documentary and the release of BROWNSTONES TO RED DIRT to the home and educational markets.  Surely, those things made an impression, but, for me, our somewhat impromptu return to Sierra Leone will dominate my memories of 2011.  We had the chance to hang out with the kids from BROWNSTONES, without cameras, and really spend time with them as friends.  I’m eternally grateful for that.  We had a chaotic soccer shoot that included meeting the nation’s president, surviving a near-riot and running onto the pitch with the team, all of which culminated in KEI, a documentary short that I’m extremely proud of and which we expect to hit the festival circuit by early 2012.

It really was a tremendous year for us here at Copper Pot.  We look forward to sharing more adventures–both planned and unplanned–with you next year.

Thanks for your support–and now, my Christmas gift to you: the master recaps the top new acts of 1990.