Featured Artist


By Published On: January 2nd, 2024

Ted Perotti of Pig Iron Films has his feet firmly planted in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut, both in his connection to the area as well as through his work with local organizations, businesses, and individuals. It is from that home base that he captures moments in time and creates beautiful films, commercials, and more that have a global impact. We were fortunate to catch up with him and learn more about his background and work. 

Who’s Ted Perotti?

I grew up in East Canaan, CT, next to the Beckley Iron Furnace. I went to North Canaan Elementary and Housatonic Valley Regional High School, where I played sports and eventually found an interest in musical theater. I took a film studies class my senior year of high school and decided to pursue a communications degree from Endicott College in Beverly, MA. 

In college I played rugby and then got in with the theater crowd. I was in a variety of musicals, including Pirates of Penzance and West Side Story. I had played around with cameras and Adobe Premiere Pro (an editing software) in high school, and my freshman year internship was with a public access TV station in Lowell, MA.

During my sophomore year I met a documentary film professor at Endicott named Steve Liss, who was working on a film about addiction at Northshore Recovery High School. I assisted Steve on interviews and shoots with his production company, Boston Filmworks. I learned various observational documentary techniques for how to tell a story through a lens. I also learned the basics of sound recording and how to boom interviews. The project was very real. Steve spent three years at this high school filming and building relationships with the staff and students. I spent about six months with him on and off throughout college. This film was picked up in 2020 by MTV as a limited series called 16 and Recovering.

My senior year I interned for a corporate video production company in Boston called Copperhound Pictures, where I worked as a camera operator, grip, sound operator, and editor. Some of the projects included video campaigns for Smith College, various private high schools, pharmaceutical companies, biotech companies, and hospitals. My senior year was cut a few months short due to COVID-19, and I returned home to Northwest Connecticut.

How did that lead you to Canaan and Pig Iron Films?

After receiving my bachelor of science in digital media, I decided not to return to my summer job in high school and college as a plumbing apprentice for the family business Perotti Plumbing and Heating. I started doing freelance video work for Copperhound Pictures and Boston Filmworks. I became an independent contractor and started a DBA called Pig Iron Films. 

One of my first local independent films in 2020-2021 was with the American Mural Project. I produced, shot, and edited short profile vignettes on 12 young people in the workforce in Northwest Connecticut, showcasing the various local careers people have and why they enjoy them. We filmed factory workers, a farmer, a nurse at Charlotte Hungerford, a real estate agent, a chef, a brewery owner, a director at the Sharon Playhouse, a teacher, etc. This was all paid with grants obtained by the American Mural Project. The results are displayed on its website as well as on the website for Discover Litchfield Hills. 

So what is it that you do?

I’m a videographer and a video editor and sound guy. My freelance camera operator work took me back to Boston and the surrounding areas, where I assisted Copperhound Pictures for two years on more video projects as well as on several high-end photo shoots. I was lucky to gain experience working as a sound recordist, camera operator, video editor, photo assistant, grip and electric, and other technical positions on high-end corporate video campaigns. When a client approaches me for a video, I act as the producer, director, director of photography, and editor. We create documentary-style films that can be used for a brand, non-profit, or company – documentary storytelling but with a specific goal and audience that the client presents, aka branded storytelling.

What is Pig Iron Films?

I registered as an independent contractor/sole proprietor in North Canaan in 2020 and had to think fast for a DBA name. I decided Pig Iron Films was weird and cool because my family had a connection to the iron industry in the Tri-state area. My great-great grandfather came over from Italy to work at the Beckley Furnace in East Canaan in the early 1900s. And I love learning about the history of the iron made in this region. (Pig iron was the name for the iron made in this area because the troughs of molten iron at the bottom of the furnace looked like pigs feeding on a sow.) This iron was used for train wheels, anchors, canons, etc. The name stuck.

What do you do at PIF?

Because I’m a sole proprietor, I take on multiple roles on a film set. Occasionally when I collaborate with other filmmakers, I’ll act as the director/interviewer. As most of my work is documentary and not scripted, I have to think of questions ahead of time and how I want to tell the story before we start filming. During production, I also shoot b-roll and scenes and have to make decisions on how we will use those in the edit. Once I’m in the edit bay, I pull selections from the footage and interviews and begin to string the video together. Once I’ve got the story through the audio sound bites, I’ll color correct and send it to the client to review.

Tell me about some of your projects.

Since 2020, I’ve been fortunate enough to work for a lot of local non-profits to create short videos for their websites. In addition to creating a short series with the American Mural Project, I also taught a two-week long documentary filmmaking class to high school and college students in Winsted with a mentor of mine and high school library media specialist, Vance Canon. We’ve taught this class for three consecutive years.

To name just a few other local projects: I worked for Jocelyn Ayer and the Northwest Hills Council of Governments to create a short video about affordable housing in Northwest CT in 2021. I also made a short film for the Canaan Foundation’s year-end appeal in 2021. I went to Montana to film a behind-the-scenes doc of a Western directed by Myles Clohssey (a fellow Housatonic grad) in 2021 called The Redeemer. I created a short film for North Canaan Railroad Days in 2022.

In the spring of 2022, I met with Nancy Martin, who works for Region 1 Schools, with an idea to create short videos encapsulating life at each elementary school in the region and some programs at the high school to show on its new website. I used what I had learned from filming campaigns at private schools and colleges with Copperhound Pictures, and in the fall of 2022 we spent two weeks filming and a month editing the series (14 videos). The three-person crew included, me, Nancy Martin, and Eli Hill. Eli is a fellow Housatonic grad from Sharon, CT, who also helped with a variety of other projects throughout the years.

How do you promote and market your work?

Most of my jobs come from word-of-mouth and recommendations. I am truly very lucky to have a lot of family in North Canaan and the surrounding Tri-state area. Because of the small population, a wide range of companies and non-profits look for video for their websites and social media in this digital age. 

Do you have an area of specialty?

I enjoy working as a camera operator the most, shooting footage and interviews is fun, and there’s always more gear and tools to learn. I also enjoy the challenge of editing four terabytes of footage down to a two- to five-minute video. I spend a lot of time looking for the best copyright-free song to use in a video. It’s tedious, but once you find the perfect music, the video is even better. I also love doing sound on set.

I specialize in creating medium-form content (two to five minute) doc-style videos for companies’ and organizations’ websites and social media. As TikTok and Instagram reels have changed the field of social media marketing, I’ve begun to adapt and create shorter edits for companies. For example, I worked this summer for the Next Street driving school, where we made 30-second, 15-second, and 6-second deliverables for Instagram and YouTube ads. But I still enjoy building out an interesting and catchy three-minute video for the client because I have slightly more time to tell the story.

Do you work solo, or do you have a team?

As a DBA, I do not have any employees. However if a project calls for it, I can assemble a team of freelancers. I often work with Eli Hill, Max Vadakin, and Jacob Johnson. And if you want a drone operator, I call up the best: Brian Wilcox. Collaboration is key.

Are you currently working on any interesting projects?

This summer I created two series for Connecticut Children’s Hospital and UConn. I traveled to Hartford in May and created a video about the Connecticut Children’s Research Institute. I interviewed and filmed top doctors and researchers for a video displayed at the Pediatric Academic Societies conference. They liked the video and had me back in July to film three short videos on some of the fellowship programs at the hospital. For the shoot in July, I reached back out to Boston Filmworks and had my mentor Steve Liss collaborate on the production. That was a very unique experience.

This past summer, I also had the pleasure of spending one day a week at Great Mountain Forest in Norfolk and Falls Village, documenting its 75-year-old forestry internship program. I followed the current interns in the woods and interviewed alumni from the program who are now doing environmental research and working in the field of forestry. I also collaborated with Brian Wilcox to capture some incredible drone footage. It’s pretty cool that this forest exists and has a moose population, as a century ago the land was completely barren because all of the hardwoods were used in furnaces to create pig iron. 

This year I’ve also had the opportunity to shoot a few beautiful weddings locally, and apply my documentary filmmaking skills into the wedding video sector. I also shot my first no-budget short narrative film called The Salesman starring local actor, Campbell Scott, written and directed by my best friend since kindergarten, Max Vadakin.

I’m currently working on a video with Great Mountain Forest and Yale about regenerative architecture and building practices. 

What would you consider unique to your work?

I’m no Werner Herzog or Michael Moore or even a Steve Liss. But I do enjoy learning and honing my craft, and I am critical of my own work. I think anyone can create content online in their own creative style, but I hope local people continue to choose to hire me to create something that has a little more depth or story and can last for a longer duration in the digital age. Also I have two Sony cinema camera packages and a professional sound set up and lots of other gear. •

To learn more about Ted Perotti and Pig Iron Films you can call (860) 459-9253, email Ted at pigironfilms35@gmail.com, or visit online pigironfilms.com.