About the Documentary

Documentary Summary

The largest bay in the United States is dying.  But the Chesapeake Bay, once brimming with life and commerce, is not dying alone. It's taking with it a way of life for the thousands of watermen whose families have made their living on the bay for generations.

It’s not too late to save them both.

about_picThe Last Boat Out documentary weaves two tales:  The inspiring story of a family of watermen tirelessly trying to preserve their life working the waters of the bay. It is also the story of a bay battered by development and pollution yet struggling to stay alive.

It is a story of neglect, mistakes, diminishing harvests, and development run amok, but it is also a story of hope and human determination:

• Watermen and the Virginia community is helping to replenish the bay through oyster farming and oyster gardening.
• Environmental organizations are working with watermen by suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to remove the bay from the nation’s dirty waters list.

Your support will help educate the public about the potential demise of the Chesapeake Bay and its watermen.

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About the Production Team

 Sam Waterston, an Academy-award winning actor and activist, is the Narrator of The Last Boat Out. Waterston is perhaps best known for his portrayal of District Attorney Jack McCoy on the long-running NBC television series Law & Order, as well as for his Academy-award nominated portrayal of New York Times journalist Sydney Schanberg in "The Killing Fields". During his lauded 40-year career, Waterston has been equally at home on stage, in movies, and on television. He's appeared in many films, including "The Great Gatsby", "Rancho Deluxe", "Journey Into Fear", "Capricorn One", "Heaven's Gate", "Hopscotch", "Interiors", "Hannah and Her Sisters", "Crimes and Misdemeanors", and "Mindwalk".  Waterston is a six time Emmy Award nominee, and earned a Golden Globe in 1993 for Best Performance By An Actor in A TV Series Drama for "I'll Fly Away".

An active humanitarian, Waterston also donates considerable time to organizations such as Oceana, Refugees International, City Meals-on-Wheels and The United Way.

Laura Seltzer is the Producer, Director and Writer of The Last Boat Out, which is currently airing on PBS stations throughout the country.  The film tells the story of a family of watermen who are trying to continue harvesting the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Their livelihoods are threatened by diminishing harvests and relentless development. 

As a native of Newport News, Virginia, Seltzer was inspired to give voice to the few remaining working watermen in her hometown.

Laura Seltzer has been producing, directing and managing the production of award-winning documentaries and educational programs since 1993.  She founded Seltzer Film & Video in 1995 for the purpose of producing social action videos that inspire change.

Seltzer is the Senior Producer on the 26-episode series Made in Spain that is airing nationally on PBS.  Her company, Seltzer Film & Video, produces the annual American Psychiatric Foundation series, Conversations. The series features profiles and in-depth conversations with well known personalities who have coped with mentail illness, such as Brooke Shields, Mariel Hemingway, Patty Duke and Terry Bradshaw.

Seltzer co-produced the multi-award winning interactive DVD, Changing the Face of Medicine, with MacNeil Lehrer Productions as well as the accompanying series, Local Legends, for the National Institutes of Health.  Both programs profile courageous female physicians who have made invaluable impacts in their communities and around the world. 

Seltzer Shooting during Oyster SeasonShe was a Producer for the History Channel's two-hour documentary, Ronald Reagan: The Private World of a Public Man, and an Associate Producer with MacNeil Lehrer Productions' PBS documentary series, Modern First Ladies. The series premiered with The Biography of Lady Bird Johnson. Seltzer has also produced numerous TV segments for the PBS series Religion & Ethics News Weekly, the RLTV Channel and the NBC's Hispanics Today.

Detailed list of Seltzer's Production Credits 


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Bob Kanner is the Editor of The Last Boat Out. He has been producing and editing projects for domestic and international clients for over twenty-five years. He has extensive experience editing in all formats including documentary, series and feature films. Kanner is also proficient in High Definition editing.

Kanner is Vice President and Senior Editor of Team Sound and Vision, the premiere Washington, D.C. based production house. He co-produces and edits award-winning programs for several documentary and entertainment clients. Kanner’s recent projects include Made in Spain for PBS, American Occupation for the History Channel, Eco Hotspots for the Voom Network and Animal Rescues: Hurricane Katrina for Animal Planet.

As Staff Editor for CBS News, Kanner was responsible for cutting feature news programming for the network. He edited the lead stories for the prime time news shows; Nightwatch, the CBS Morning News, the CBS Evening News and Face The


Kanner has received five Emmy Awards and numerous TELLY Awards for excellence in programming. His work has been recognized by NATAS and he edited the national Emmy Award-winning special Life On Mars for Cronkite Ward Television.


Documentary Credit List

Produced, Directed & Written by:
Laura Seltzer

Narrated by:

Sam Waterston


Laura Seltzer  


Bob Kanner

Associate Producers:

Melissa Nix

Ashley Kent

Jimmy Cooney


David Kenneth Waldman


Joey D’Anna

Audio Mixer:

Jeff Mullen

Graphic Designer:

Kristine Carney at Yellow Dog Design

Production Assistance:

John Atkinson

Kat Moon

Javier Pierrend

Rebecca Sheetz

Script Editor:

Melissa Nix

Helicopter Pilot for Aerials:
Neil S. Kaye, MD


“When the Watermen Are Gone” by Selma Peterson

“Downeaster Alexa” by Billy Joel

Fiscal Sponsoring Organization:

Video Action Fund

Additional footage courtesy of:

Martha Ann Ashberry

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Family of Snooks and Bill Burroughs

Maryland Public Television

The Nature Conservancy

Newport News Television
Stark Jette

The following have contributed to the making of this film:

Bonnie M. Atkins

Dudley Biddlecomb

J. Calvin Boyd

Victoria Bruce

Larry Chowning

Charles Davis

John M. DeMaria

Ruth Melzer DeMaria

David Duny

Walter Gotlieb, Final Cut Productions
Elliot Harkavy

Karin Hayes

David Heller

Amy Insley
Roy Insley
Sonny Insley
Phil Lerman

Toby Morewitz

Leon Nicosia

Eddie Oliver

Lee Parker

William P. Parker

Dennis Parker

Ines Perez

Sally M. Seltzer

Steven Seltzer, DPM

Scott West

Patsy Jenkins

Allison West

Ernest West

Marian West

Tom Walker

Harvey Withrow

Darnet Withrow

Jim Withrow

Bubba Withrow

Wendy Withrow

Billy E. Withrow, Jr.

Ruth Withrow

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Quotes About the Film

“ When your local public television station airs The Last Boat Out this spring, watch it. I hope... it drives viewers to take action to help Save the Bay. …the film reveals the … fiercely independent nature of the watermen, and the difficult future they face as the Bay’s once bountiful seafood harvests dwindle and blue-collar, working waterfronts are displaced by pleasure-boat  marinas and upscale condos…”

-- The Chesapeake Bay Foundation

"…(the film) can help us bring about real social change regarding issues of water quality along the Chesapeake Bay watershed…The Last Boat Out creates awareness of the environmental and social challenges of the Chesapeake Bay."
-- Members of the Congressional Water Caucus

“(The film is) right on target. Every emotion the watermen in the film feel, I have felt. Every decision they struggle with, I have struggled with. They’re in a tough, tough spot.”

-- Tommy Leggett,

CBF Oyster Restoration & Fisheries Scientist and working waterman

"This is the story about a few people in a tough spot.  It's vivid and personal.  Very directly, it opens up the bigger stories, of the
collapse of the Chesapeake's shellfisheries, and our generally
irresponsible management of the once-rich resources of the sea.  

I'm glad I was asked to be part of it."

-- Sam Waterston, Actor and Activist

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