Through a historic lens


Clinton Native Wins Emmy for Slavery Documentary


‘Liberty and Slavery’ is a documentary which recently received two Emmy awards at the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter Awards.

The documentary was the passion project of producer Troy Thomas, and he was assisted by Chris Marshall who was the editor and director of photography.

From first-take to the final edit, the documentary took nearly four years to produce. The awards were presented in late June of this year.

A native of Clinton and CHS graduate, Chris Marshall describes this documentary as a “passion project.” He says most of the principle photography was shot during the summer months, and editing alone took nearly a year. The film debuted in 2016 in various film festivals, notably the Virginia Film Festival. ‘Liberty and Slavery’ can now be viewed on Amazon Prime Video or purchased from the film’s website. 

When asked about winning such a prestigious award, Marshall said, “It was definitely a great experience to go to the Emmy’s and to win. Obviously, I’ve been studying film making and cinematography and all the other components of film making; to finally be recognized in a great way like this was pretty cool. It was definitely an experience I’ll remember.”

Much of the videography may be recognizable to South Carolinians, because much of it was shot in the Palmetto State. Examples include war re-enactments shot in Gaffney, and aerial photography from the Drayton Hall Plantation, now a 630-acre museum just northwest of Charleston. 

The intriguing documentary “explores the paradox of America’s Founding Fathers being champions of liberty – and yet simultaneously champions of slavery,” according to the film’s website. Altogether, some 43 historians and experts were interviewed for this film. Among the many well-known interviewees were Lonnie G. Bunch III, Founding Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture; Richard Beeman, author and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania; and Carl Westmoreland, the Senior Historian at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Historians, theologians, professors, park rangers, descendants of enslaved persons, and many more were interviewed. Together, their thoughts and stories tell a gripping account of the challenges faced by the Founding Fathers as they attempted to reconcile their ownership of slaves with their ideals of freedom and equality. 

Of special interest, the editor and director of photography, Chris Marshall, was born and raised in Clinton. The son of Dr. Bruce and Alice Marshall, he graduated from Clinton High School in 1988 and went on to the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree. 

He now works for Inertia Films, a production studio based in Atlanta. The film was nominated for two Emmy awards in the categories of Historical Documentary and Photography, and Marshall’s work was specifically tied to the latter. 


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