I remember a little over a year ago I was riding in a car in the woods with my friend Eric - on our way to take photos at the instafamous "Spot" in Ohio - when he told me about his friend Ricky. Eric couldn't help but smile a little mischievously as he spoke about his buddy. I could tell that they had become fast friends. And I remember Eric telling me that I "HAD" to meet Ricky.
Soonafter, Ricky - who can be found on instagram as @neighborhoodfilm - and I became friends online. And many months later we had the opportunity to meet in person when he visited Minneapolis for work.
Ricky sounded fascinating.
He runs a film company based out of Philly and LA called Neighborhood Film Company. It is the real deal. They have done everything from major productions to small artsy films. He has worked with Hollywood.. In fact, he "is" Hollywood. He makes it rain when it is sunny and he makes it sunny when it rains. You want it? You got it.
His clients include Nike and Coca Cola. However, none of this sounded nearly as fascinating as what Ricky does behind-the-scenes... and his "story."
I had the opportunity to learn Ricky's story when he visited Mpls earlier this year. We went on a photo adventure - which involved a couple of hours in the car - and we had plenty of time to chat.
When Ricky was in his early 20's he befriended a homeless man by bringing him a sandwich at a park while on break from filming. He began to build relationships with the homeless- and the people who care for them- including a nun who worked at a nearby shelter. And while he continued to work in film, he immersed himself in this drastically different world. He quit a huge hollywood gig and moved into a shelter.
He lived in the shelter for almost a year. While he was there, he unbelievably grew his business. He told me that he had struggled with the paradoxes of the two realities he was living in, until the kind sister told him that his best way to help others was to help himself. So he put his head down and built his amazing company: Neighborhood Film Company. And they not only make films, they give formerly incarcerated men a chance to work and to learn life skills that will help them grow.
So, yesterday Ricky was back in town. Filming a commercial. I had the opportunity to visit the location for the day and take some behind-the-scene shots of their work. I brought my intern Isabelle.
We were blown away at the amount of man-power and work that goes into film-making! They worked a huge day.
And in the end they had 11 more seconds of finished film for their spot! The fly-fishing scenes. The entire commercial took 4 days of shooting. Everyone there was incredibly welcoming! (A few of them- including Ricky - even came to my Traveling Umbrella show a week earlier!)
Thanks so much for having us out and for being an inspiration. I'm so happy that you had a great time in Minnesota! Come back soon!
Find Ricky on Instagram: @neighborhoodfilm