That Was Welles: 'Man in the Red Bandana' to Tell Crowther's 9/11 Story

Welles Crowther, a former Boston College lacrosse player, became known as the "Man in the Red Bandana" after saving dozens of lives before losing his on 9/11.

Matthew Weiss never took a class on filmmaking, but he found a story that ignited his passion. Weiss, a traffic lawyer for the better part of 30 years, met Jeff Crowther a decade ago, and Crowther introduced him to the story of his son, Welles, who died while rescuing others in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Welles, a former Boston College lacrosse player, wore a red bandana every time he took the field. Nearly a dozen people who survived told accounts of “the man in the red bandana” who saved them.

With the help of Verdi Productions, Weiss recently finished writing and directing a documentary on Welles’ life and legacy. The film, narrated by Gwyneth Paltrow, debuts in select theatres nationwide on Sept. 8. Visit for locations and dates.

How did you produce a film with no experience?

I’ve been representing clients and telling stories and passing it off with evidence for 25 years. When it came to researching Welles’ story and backing it up with interviews and footage and stats, I felt totally at home and comfortable. When it came to sounds, lighting, editing, that’s where I brought in experts. 

What did you learn about Welles from your work on the film?

He was a guy that always thought of others first and himself second. He wanted to give more than he received. Most of the people that knew him say they were not surprised about what he did that day. That was Welles. I don’t know what I would do in a burning building with a plane crash. He went up and down that building three times and was on his way up the fourth time in the lobby. 

How did you learn about Welles’ story?

Over lunch, Jeff told me the story of his son and I was just blown away. In my head, three things came in quick succession. I said to myself: “What an amazing story. Everyone needs to hear this story. I want to share this story with everyone.” 

What do you hope viewers take away from this documentary?

I would hope that they are inspired to be better people, to think of others, to give without looking to get. That’s the real message of the film. The second message is to follow your heart and follow what you think is right. Welles followed his heart at the expense of his life.

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