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Published: Monday, 10/11/2010

Director puts lens on Lott Industries

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

It took a crushed right leg to open Victor Buhler's eyes to the challenges many disabled workers must overcome to hold a job.

Now, the 38-year-old, London-based filmmaker wants to share what he's learned with a broader audience by focusing his lens on Toledo's Lott Industries in a feature-length documentary.

The fledgling film, A Whole Lott More, will focus, according to Mr. Buhler, on the evolving world of work for people with developmental disabilities, asking how workers with disabilities can be integrated further into the broader work force.

“I was in a car accident last year, and I was on crutches for a year. I had that experience where I couldn't work,” Mr. Buhler explained. “I had a brief window into the life of a disabled person, and it was an eye-opening experience for me.”

An American citizen raised in England, Mr. Buhler said he first learned of Lott Industries from media reports about how the 55-year-old Toledo company was coping with the loss of work from the auto industry.

The Blade published a story in August outlining the company's struggles and how it shifted strategy to obtain other types of business.

Once a nationwide pioneer in providing work to those with physical, behavioral, or mental disabilities, Lott's ‘direct-employment' model was largely eclipsed by other efforts to integrate such workers across the general work force.

But there is at least one personal challenge Mr. Buhler will have to overcome before he can introduce Lott Industries' work force to his audience: money.

He has received more than $50,000 in grants and donations from supporters of his project, but needs four times that amount to finish the film.

He has begun with a Web site (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/vbuhler/a-whole-lott-more) with a goal of raising $15,000 by the end of October so he can continue to shoot video and expand his project. By the end of last week, he had raised half of that.

Right now, Mr. Buhler has a four-minute trailer for his proposed movie on his Web site, and he has used that to encourage financial backing for the project.

He hopes next that he'll have sufficient video and money to cut a 20-minute version of what he hopes will be a feature-length film. “The further along you go, the more money you can raise. I'll never get rich on this project, but you sort of do it in increments,” Mr. Buhler said.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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