Going Home: Memoir of a Small Town
(Current) Writer, director, editor, and producer. The French philosopher Albert Camus, no unbridled optimist, said that not everything could be summed up in negativity and despair. Going Home is the story of my hometown and a generation of onion farmers, two world-boxing champions, a particularly unique sense of humor, and a community that has remained family these past sixty or so years. As a father and professor, I know that young people need to take another look around at what matters and this story will help. My address to them is the spine of this story. Their response was to invite me to be their graduation speaker and to dedicate their yearbook, in part, to me. The film will soon be out of post-production and ready for broadcast.
The Wounded Come Home: Hope for the Warriors
(2011) Half-hour documentary. Producer/director. New armor, battlefield hospitals, and medical advances in Afghanistan and Iraq account for the highest survival rate in any American war. But that comes at a price. The returning wounded suffer more vicious injuries than ever before. These include severe burns, multiple amputations, an unprecedented number of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).
This is the story of Sgt. Sean DeBevoise, a Marine shot four times in Iraq. He came home to the Marine base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where the Corps has a program called “Hope for the Warriors.” It is dedicated to helping the returning wounded. This is also the story of this amazing organization. Soon to be posted on Amazon.com, with proceeds to benefit Hope for the Warriors.
The Lady and the “Outlaw Horse”
(2006) Hour-long. Interviewer, director, and editor. Co-produced with Ulrich Launhardt and Richard Rust. North Carolina premiere, Kenan Auditorium, UNC Wilmington. Theatrical release.
Heralded as the greatest rider in late 1940s America, Jane Pohl competed against men without gender concessions–and she beat them. Remarkably, she did it on a horse that was so unruly–and dangerous–the Army was going to shoot it. Jane Pohl’s courage and riding skill, and her work with the “outlaw horse” Fitzrada paid off. Together they changed the way female riders were viewed–and broke other barriers, including the prohibition against women being able to compete in the Olympics.
Media attention: “NY Film Festival Screens “The Lady and the Outlaw Horse.” NYIIFVF is the largest film festival in the world and is recognized by the film and entertainment industry as one of the leading film events on the festival calendar… NYIIFVF is known as “the voice for independent film” and receives extensive coverage in all major media, including Variety, Hollywood Reporter, New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The festival’s distribution wing, ITN, Distribution, Inc., works with 2 all major film and television markets.”
Broken Brotherhood: Vietnam and the Boys from Colgate
(2006). Feature-length. Director, interviewer, and editor. Broadcast on WNET-TV, New York City, November 13th, 2006. Premieres in New York and North Carolina. A co-production of Lou Buttino Films, Inc. and CUDU Films, Inc.
Story Synopsis: How the Vietnam War affected friendships at Colgate University, a small, upstate New York men’s school. A microcosm of what happened across America. Soon to be posted on Amazon, with proceeds benefiting the Vietnam Memorial Scholarship Fund at Colgate University, Hamilton, New York.
The Lessons of September: One School Remembers 9/11
In addition to doing the interviewing, I served as co-producer of the program, along with Kate Geiss and Robert Aberlin. Ms. Geiss was the cinematographer, and we shared directorial duties. I also contributed to the editing of the program. WNET -TV, NYC, Broadcast September 5th, 2002; re-broadcast September 9th, 2003; selected by PBS for the national catalog. Winner, Bronze Prize, Best Documentary, WorldFest Houston, July 2003. Actor John Turturro narrates.
Story Synopsis: A compelling portrait of a year in the life of Brooklyn Polytechnic Preparatory Country Day School (Poly Prep) which was particularly hit hard by the horrific 9/11 tragedy. Ten young alumni died in the World Trade Center, a current student lost her aunt, a recent graduate lost his father, and a teacher lost her brother.
The program relies on powerful interviews, which I conducted, with surviving family members, teachers who remember the victims, and Poly Prep students themselves. In this way, the program presents a spectrum of the different ways grief manifests itself and the creative outlets that helped the community deal with its tremendous sense of loss. Host/Narrator JOHN TURTURRO commented, “Working on this special episode really meant a lot to me; I am confident that it will touch viewers the same way it touched me.”
Troubled Waters: The Illusion of Abundance
Hour-long PBS documentary, broadcast October 8th, 2003. Chancellor James R. Leutze, story idea, interviewer, narrator and Executive Producer. Repeat broadcast over the next three years. CASE Award for documentary excellence. Gold Grand Jury Prize for Best Environmental Documentary, WorldFest Houston, 2005. Script available on UNCW website. INSIGHT Media, distributor. Writer, director, and producer.
Story Synopsis: Featuring North Carolina Governor Mike Easley, the late Senator Paul Simon, and world-renowned water expert Sandra Postel of the Global Water Policy Project, the program explores the main causes of water scarcity — population growth, uneven distribution of water and overuse of this finite resource. While looking at global implications, the documentary focuses on North Carolina’s issues including aquifer depletion, saltwater intrusion, overuse, upstream/downstream issues, transboundary conflicts and water quality.
Paving the American Dream: Southern Cities, Shores, and Sprawl
Hour-long. Chancellor James R. Leutze, story idea, interviewer, narrator and Executive Producer. CASE Award, “Best Documentary,” February 2002. Repeated broadcast on PBS in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Script available on UNCW website. INSIGHT Media, distributor. Writer, director, and co-producer.
Story Synopsis: Communities across the South are increasingly concerned that current development patterns are no longer in the long-term interest of their cities, suburbs, small towns, and rural areas. This documentary examines the challenges and offers possible solutions.
Even the Heavens Weep
The New York Times said that “Even the Heavens Weep” gives us an important chapter of American history, and it does it intelligently and well. Narrated by actor Mike Connors, I served as the writer and creative consultant. PBS broadcast the program nationally, an unprecedented three times on Labor Day, 1985, 1986 and 1987. Winner, The Ohio State Award for “Best Documentary,” also, “Best Documentary” for IRIS Award and CINDY awards. The documentary was also shown at the National Coalition of Black Lung and Respiratory Clinics, Inc., in Knoxville, Tennessee, at a meeting of medical and service staffs from 21 states, and introduced by Senator Jennings Randolph who helped in the passage of legislation establishing federal involvement in black lung care. Even the Heavens Weep was selected by the State Department to tour internationally.
(2000). Writer, director, and producer. 25 minutes.
Personal Statement: “I sought to see if the widespread perception of this most impoverished nation in Central America was accurate: that its people feared the military, would do almost anything to migrate to the United States, and lived in despair.
Yet what I found was invincible hope in the midst of devastating poverty and other ills. The head of the water project told me, as I was about to leave the country, “If you come to Honduras with materialistic eyes you will be disappointed. If you come with spiritual eyes, you will be glad.” This is a story of discovery and inspiration.”
I was the writer, director, and producer, ably assisted by UNC Wilmington colleagues Bill Bolduc (cinematography), and Frank Trimble (music). Actor Ed Asner narrates.
Broadcast regionally on PBS broadcast, Honduran Hope received a First Place award by the Broadcast Education Association and was an Official Selection at the Candela International Film Festival (Rotterdam, Holland), and the Smoky Mountain/Nantahala Media Festival (NC).
Choices of the Heart
Half hour radio documentary, co-produced with Peabody Award-winner Lou Giansante. Initially broadcast, National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” on the 25th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was rebroadcast by WBAI in New York City and its national affiliates, and by SANE’s “Consider the Alternatives” nationally syndicated radio program. It earned an Ohio State Award for Excellence was a radio program finalist, National Community Radio Award, 1989.
Steichen … A Century in Photography
Writer and creative consultant, PBS nationally, l980. An hour-long biography of one of America’s greatest photographers. Now part of the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art.
Fighting the Mob: The Carmen Basilio Story
Legendary boxer Carmen Basilio could not be bought by the mob-backed International Boxing Commission and it cost him plenty in time, money and even a shot at the title. But he kept his honor and in the end, helped bust up the mob and realize his boyhood dream of becoming the welterweight and middleweight champion of the world. Served as a consultant and on-camera interviewee for this ESPN documentary. Narrated by actor PAUL SORVINO, with music by ERIC MINGUS, Fighting the Mob is repeatedly broadcast on ESPN Classics.
The film is archived at the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Canastota, NY). It is also included in the World Boxing Archive and was selected by “Pound for Pound” Videos, “Boxing’s Best Documentaries & Shows,” MMA Underground: “The Best Boxing Documentaries,” and is cited often in numerous websites.
To view the entire program, click here.
Montford Point Marines: Fighting for Freedom
Written by Dr. Melton McLaurin and produced by UNCW-TV. I was asked to be a consultant on the film. The documentary was broadcast on PBS but also received airtime on Nightline, CNN, CNBC, and major national newspapers such as The New York Times and USA Today.
This hour-long documentary examines the experiences of the first African Americans to be enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. They received basic training at the segregated Montford Point base adjacent to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Some of those trained at Montford Point saw action in the Pacific Theater, while most served in support units in the United States and overseas.
After the Second World War, thousands who trained at Montford Point saw combat duty in the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War while all the while fighting for civil rights in their homeland. Until now, these men who desegregated the Marine Corps and loyally served their country in three major wars was largely unknown to the American Public. Subsequent to the documentary, 368 surviving MPM, were honored with the nation highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.