His parents met at the lake as teenagers, started dating there and eventually settled in the same house they live in today when Kinlaw was three years old.
Kinlaw was born in Fayetteville but said he doesn’t remember life anywhere other than in White Lake.
He’s bringing that life to the screen tonight, as his documentary, “White Lake: Remembering the Nation’s Safest Beach,” premiers on UNC-TV at 10:15 p.m.
Kinlaw started to consider making a documentary during his junior year of high school. Since he already knew some of his small hometown’s history, he decided to set his film right in his backyard. Kinlaw conducted countless interviews with residents on the town in hopes of painting a fuller picture of the town’s history.
“There’s a lot of history passed down through families, but nobody had ever recorded everything and said for the history books, ‘Here are the details of what happened,’” Kinlaw said.
“There are newspaper clippings, different stories from people and hearsay, but I thought I would love to make it into a cohesive narrative.”
As it turns out, documenting the generation-spanning history of an entire town is no easy task. Kinlaw finished his final edit of the movie during spring semester of his freshman year at UNC, completing a two-year process. But according to Robert’s mother Cathy Kinlaw, her son’s first full film has been a long time coming.
“Robert has always been interested in filmmaking for as long as I can remember,” she said.