Scottish Migration Documentary Film

$825 of $19,000 goal

Raised by 12 people in 21 months
"Why They Left: A Scottish Migration" is a documentary film that tells the story of the first large group to migrate to the United States, the Scots. Film website:

 Most people think of the romantic Highlands as the place our ancestors came from. And many did. But the purpose of this documentary is to explore where the majority of Scots migrated from - the Lowlands of Scotland. Most Americans of Scottish descent don't know where their ancestors came from, why they left, and on what ship and where they arrived. These details have been lost to the generations. This film tells why the Scottish Lowlands became so crowded, and what life was like there. The reasons that caused people to leave everything they knew, climb aboard a crowded and dirty ship, and sail in unspeakable squalor for many weeks to start a new life, penniless, in an unforgiving land.

 One man, William Gregory, left his family's carpet factory in Kilmarnock in 1807. He boarded a wooden sailing ship and sailed to Alexandria, Virginia. This film tells the story of how William fared once in Alexandria. Letters written home to his family in Kilmarnock and letters to America tell the fascinating tale of life in transition.

Ellen Hamilton shows us the cities of Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, and Greenock at the mouth of the River Clyde, where so many people left from, never to return. The busy Ocean Terminal port in Greenock has changed since the late 1700's, but it is still a vibrant port today for shipping containers and tourist ships.

Hamilton interviews the Scottish author Derek Alexander in the 400 year old, beautifully preserved Newark Castle, by the River Clyde, to learn about how how that area became a major seaport for Glasgow.

 Lance Malamo, head of the Office of Historic Alexandria talks about how Alexandria started out as an important seaport town and place where Scottish migrants started their lives in America.

Americans of Scottish descent were interviewed at a Scottish Games in Virginia to find out how much they know of their family's past.

We are in the stages of putting the film together and are in need of your donation to pay for the usage of images, help with film editing, illustrations, sound editing and so many things. Every donation is very much appreciated. Thank you for your help!
(Yellow Dot Designs is not a Non-profit organization. So please know that your donations will not be tax deductible. )

If you would like to sponsor the film, and have your name or logo displayed at the end of the film, call
703 - 328 - 8046. Thank you!

Visit the Film Website:

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We had a wonderful turnout for our Scottish Tea held on September 30th. The Tea benefits the making of the documentary film, Why They Left: A Scottish Migration. I spoke about finding original documents used for the film. Genuine British cakes and sandwiches were enjoyed and prizes were awarded from sponsors, Mount Vernon and ThinkFun. Click to see photos from the event!
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We are having a Scottish Tea in support of the film, Why They Left: A Scottish Migration.
Tickets to the tea are available on the film's website here:
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Join us for a Scottish Tea
on Sunday, September 30th.

Ellen will speak about how she found William Gregory, the film's subject
and how a trove of family letters from the early 1800's were found in England.
Your ticket gives you the chance to win 4 tickets to
George Washington's Mount Vernon (value of $18 each)
or a new board game from Alexandria's own game producer, ThinkFun!

Where: In a home in Del Ray, Alexandria
(details with ticket purchase)
When: Sunday, September 30th, 2018
2:00 pm

Genuine British cakes and sandwiches
will be made by our Scottish tea expert, Lynn.
Lynn happens to be from Glasgow, Scotland, and has moved here recently.
Proceeds benefit production of "Why They Left" which is happening now!
News about the Film
Why They Left: A Scottish Migration

The script is finished! After MUCH rewriting, cutting and tweaking, the script is finally done. A rough voice over has been done, with a timing of 47 minutes. The final film length may come to about 50 to 60 minutes. The next set of expenses includes renting a sound studio. With the preliminary voice over laid down, work has begun on graphics and footage for a rough cut of the film. Illustrations and some animation will be done, so 2019 is still the goal for finishing.

"Why They Left: A Scottish Migration" is a documentary film that tells the story of why the Lowlands of Scotland was the place where most people's Scottish ancestors left from. William Gregory's voyage from Kilmarnock, Scotland to Alexandria, Virginia in 1807 is featured. Screenings in Alexandria, Scotland and film festivals are being planned.

The documentary is being produced by Ellen Hamilton of Yellow Dot Designs in Alexandria, Virginia. Yellow Dot Designs produces video, printed materials and websites for businesses and organizations. Yellow Dot has been in business for over ten years. Ellen has been involved in the Alexandria business, film and history communities for a number of years.
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Exciting news! My first glimpse of main subject William Gregory happened 2 days ago! When the family member who I have been working with, found photos of the family at his brother's house! He sent this smart phone photo for my first look at William. Now we have something to work with - after 2 years of researching and writing! I am still looking for a painting of William, last in the possession of Edith Snowden of Alexandria. And a painting of Margaret Bartleman Gregory, William's first wife, last in the possession of Mr. Llewellynn Powell of Richmond, Va. Both have died. Any help is appreciated!
Today I went looking at a sound studio for recording the voice-over narration. The script is finally near completion, so voice recording is next. The studio costs $95 per hour. I am hoping to complete the voice work in a 2 or 3 hour session, and possibly a second one-hour session for small parts and any do-overs. If you know of a less expensive audio studio, let me know! Otherwise a few hundred is our next goal for voice-over work.
Thank you so much for your generous donation to this project!
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$825 of $19,000 goal

Raised by 12 people in 21 months
Created January 25, 2017
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1 month ago
Dan Simonds
2 months ago

Wishing you all the best with your project!

2 months ago
Daniel Gillis
2 months ago

My ancestors left Loch Morar in the highlands for Cape Breton Isle Nova Scotia in 1826. Very interested in your work.

Lon Jones
4 months ago

A very interesting topic. My curiosity is stoked. So less time ice skating, more time film making to bring in the highly anticipated product :).

Margaret Rettig
8 months ago

Sorry I wasn’t able to attend the dinner. Good luck with the documentary.

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