Going Home: Memoir of a Small Town

Downtown Canastota, in Central New York State.

(Current). 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. Writer, director, editor, and producer.

The Wounded Come Home: Hope for the Warriors

(2011). Half-hour. 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, NC, 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. A Lou Buttino Film, Inc.

“The Wounded Come Home: Hope for the Warriors.” Re-Search Magazine, UNC Wilmington, September 2009. “Soldiers Return Home: Beyond the Fanfare: Preparing for Life.” Snow’s Cut Monthly, July 2009.

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, UNCW. 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. An Eastwind Films, Inc.

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.

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.

Screening and lecture, Broken Brotherhood. Part of a Vietnam War topic series, inspired by Ken Burns’ documentary The Vietnam War and supported by a grant from the American Library Association, PBS, and WETA in Washington DC. Northeast Regional Library, Wilmington, NC, (December 11, 2017).

The Lessons of September: One School Remembers 9/11

John Turturro narrates and said the story was very special to him.

(2003). 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.

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

Troubled Waters film shoot with Chancellor Leutze

Hour-long PBS documentary, broadcast October 8th, 2003. I was selected by Chancellor Emeritus James R. Leutze to write, direct and produce this documentary. Dr. Leutze, provided the story idea, was the script editor, and on-camera narrator and Executive Producer.

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, trans-boundary conflicts and water quality.

Paving the American Dream: Southern Cities, Shores, and Sprawl

On-location for Paving the American Dream in Atlanta, GA

(2002). Hour-long. I was selected by Chancellor Emeritus James R. Leutze to write, direct and produce this documentary. Dr. Leutze, provided the story idea, was the script editor, and on-camera 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.

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

On the dais with independent filmmaker John Sayles. He said he showed my film Even the Heavens Weep to the cast making his film Matewan, which included Chris Cooper, David Strathairn, Mary McDonnell, and James Earl Jones. He told them that my film is what led up to the shootout at Matewan, West Virginia.

(2002). The New York Times said this documentary 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.

  • Special screenings and commentary on Even the Heavens Weep and Choices of the Heart. International Museum of Photogra­phy at George Eastman House/Video and Film Association, Rochester NY, (April 19, 1989).
  • Presentation, with John Sayles, discussion of respec­tive works, Even the Heavens Weep and Matewan, Webb Auditorium, Rochester In­stitute of Technology, Rochester, NY, (September 22, 1988).
  • Even the Heavens Weep: The West Virginia Mine Wars: Rochester’s Lou Buttino, an associate professor at St. John Fisher College, wrote this story of the 40-year effort by West Virginia coal miners to organize a statewide union that culminated, in 1921, in an armed confrontation with U.S. troops. Narrated by Mike Connore. Democrat and Chronicle [Rochester, NY], September 2, 1985.
  • “Buttino Documentary.” Courier-Journal, August 28, 1985.
  • WorldCat

Honduran Hope

(2000). Personal Statement: “I sought to see if the popular perception of this poorest nation in Central America was true: 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).

  • Selected for inclusion in “North Carolina Visions,” a PBS art series, broadcast three times in 2001; First Place, “Best Documentary,” Broadcast Education Association, April 3, 2000.
  • Radio Interview, on Honduras, WAAV, Wilmington, NC, (November 18, 2000)
  • “North Carolina Visions Remaining Schedule.” Indy Week [Raleigh, Cary, Durham, and Chapel Hill Newspaper], October 18, 2000.
  • UNCW College of Arts & Sciences Newsletter, Spring 2000.
  • Print. “UNCW’s Associate Professor’s Film Honored,” Wilmington StarNews,     Wilmington, NC, (April 16, 2000).
  • Lecture to Dr. Bruce McKinney’s Communication Studies class on the making of the documentary, “Honduran Hope,” (April 26, 1999).
  • Costello, Rebecca. “Understanding Hope.” The Colgate Scene [Colgate University Journal], May 1999.
  • Television Interview, on Honduras, WWAY-TV3, Wilmington, NC, (November 20, 1998).
  • Radio Interview, on Honduras, SURF 107 FM, Wilmington, NC, (November 19, 1998).
  • Print. “Filmmaker Finds Hope Among Honduran Poor,” Wilmington StarNews. Wilmington, NC, (November 19, 1998).
  • Television Interview, on Honduras, “Carolina in the Morning,” WECT-TV6, Wilmington, North Carolina (November 18, 1998).

Choices of the Heart

USS Nautilus

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 and a radio program finalist, National Community Radio Award, 1989.

  • Special screenings and commentary on Even the Heavens Weep and Choices of the Heart. International Museum of Photogra­phy at George Eastman House/Video and Film Association, Rochester NY, (April 19, 1989).
  • Radio Interview on the documentary “Choices of the Heart,” WXXI-AM’s “1370 Connection,” Rochester, NY, (October 26, 1987).

Steichen … A Century in Photography

Photographer Edward Steichen


(1980). 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, New York, N.Y.

Consultant for, and on-camera interviewee:

Montford Point Marines: Fighting for Freedom.

Narrated by Lou Gossage, Jr.

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 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 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, (2007).

  • Screenings: Feb. 14, 2014, at 10 p.m. on WRLN-TV. Sept. 20, 2007, at 10 p.m. on South Carolina Public Television. Sept. 25, 2007, at 10 p.m. on North Carolina Public Television (UNC-TV). Nov. 1, 2007, PBS stations across the nation will air the documentary, many in conjunction with Veterans’ Day programming. Nov. 14, 2006, private screening at UNCW. Over 200 guests. Melton McLaurin (writer & director) discussed the book and film on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch, which will air at 9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23.

Fighting the Mob: The Story of Carmen Basilio

Robinson said of Basilio, “He’s the toughest guy I ever fought.”

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. (1999)