Gullah Gone continues post-pandemic

After a long covid-cation, the Gullah Gone documentary team is back in action. I’ve been back to St. Helena Island to film and get updated footage. For a long time, I stayed away for fear of contaminating someone with COVID. Many of the people I’m filming are at high risk for contracting COVID, and I knew they were staying isolated. Finally, we can meet carefully, share our COVID stories and get caught up on one another’s lives.

Back in Columbia, two students are working with me this summer updating the website and editing interviews.

Aaron Falls of Clover, SC, is a third-year visual communications major. He is heading up the web design revamp, modernizing it to meet security needs and to keep the information relevant. He is also editing the most recent footage. Aaron is not new to The Gullah Project. Even during the COVID crisis he worked from home to help catalog our photos and video. He helps us keep things organized. As a student in the SC Honors College, Aaron is required to complete 150 hours of a beyond the classroom experience, and we are proud that he did all of them for Gullah Gone.  

Aaron says, “I have been involved with The Gullah Project for the past year and a half. What I enjoy the most about working on this project is learning more about a group found right in our backyard of South Carolina and sharing their unique stories.”

New to the team is De’Andrea Cobb of Columbia, a rising senior and also a visual communications major. She is part of the SMART program that pairs minority students with UofSC professor mentors. De’Andrea’s tasks are working with Aaron on web content and doing some video and audio editing. We work together two days a week.

De’Andrea says, “I decided to join Gullah Gone Project to learn more about the culture and how important it is to preserve your heritage while gaining new skills in web design and editing.”

It’s going to be a good summer. Keep checking back for more news.

Summer volunteers pitch in

Tariq Edwards, left, and Maddie Hilliard

The Gullah Gone documentary film is not on summer break. Four young volunteers are making critical contributions by transcribing interviews, posting online and helping edit footage. The big goal this summer is to emphasize our message: the goal of our movie is to help preserve Gullah land and culture.

In return, volunteers attend weekly Film School meetings to learn the Gullah Geechee heritage, its origin, and how the Gullah Project is advocating for the preservation of the Gullah Geechee community on Saint Helena Island.

Our two new students are Madison Hilliard, a Public Relations major at the University of South Carolina and Tariq E. Edwards, a Mass Communications major at Claflin University. Both are part of University of South Carolina’s SMART program in which USC faculty mentor minority undergraduate students through summer research projects. They are working with Associate Professor Denise McGill to create strategies to bring awareness to local communities, build relationships with our audience and learn about film production.

We sat down with the student researchers to talk about why they are giving up summer time and get involved:

Hilliard, a native of Anderson, S.C. states, “Gullah heritage is so close to home and so relevant in this day and age that I couldn’t help but be interested as soon as I heard about it.”

Edwards, from Dumfries, V.A. says, “I decided to become an intern so that I could get an in-depth behind the scenes look at an actual documentary that regards black life and culture.”

In addition, two recent graduates and returning volunteers, Jai-Anna Carter and Steven Tapia, have shown their passion and commitment to the project through numerous hours and in many capacities. The Gullah Project family appreciates all of our students for their interest and engagement.

The Gullah Project is passionate about its pursuits and love you to be a part of a great team.  For more information on how to get involved, reach out to us the


Loads of talent join multicultural film team

An impressive lineup has joined the Gullah Gone filmmaking team, bringing formidable expertise to the project as we work to complete production.

Byron Hurt is executive producer. The award-winning documentary filmmaker, writer and anti-sexist activist will serve a mentoring role and consult every aspect of the one-hour documentary as it completes production.

Hurt is an Emmy-nominated TV show host and adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Journalism School. His critically acclaimed documentary, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and broadcast nationally on PBS’ Emmy-award winning series Independent Lens. He is also a consultant for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Forward Promise initiative, a storytelling project for boys and young men of color.

“Byron will help us shed light on an important untold African American story,” said director/producer Denise McGill. “He understands the rich history of the Gullah land and culture as well as the need to preserve it.”

Lacy Barnes is crowdfunding manager for our upcoming campaign. Barnes was line producer for the documentary Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, produced by Coffee Bluff Pictures and nominated for the 2017 NAACP Image Award. She also worked on the film’s incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign. She has extensive experience in event planning and marketing.

Kim-Kim Foster Tobin joins production crew, recording audio and video on location. Foster Tobin was formerly an award-winning staff photographer for The State newspaper.

Wesley Broome is assistant editor. Broome has a BFA in filmmaking from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She has directed and edited several short films.

Finally, we say goodbye to Sherard Duvall. Divergent visions for the film required him to step down from his role as producer. Duvall says, “I’ve truly relished working with project director/producer Denise McGill to tell this absolutely remarkable, timely and necessary story. I am very proud of all that we’ve accomplished in the past two years.” We wish you well, Sherard.

Gullah Gone is currently in production phase. Recent honors for the film include selection by Working Films and Cucalorus Film Festival for their Work in Progress Lab at Wilmington, N.C.; by Southern Documentary Fund for its Spring Showcase in Durham, N.C. Additionally, the team was invited to pitch with Docs in Progress at Double Exposure Investigative Documentary Film Festival in Washington, D.C.



The Gullah Project Participates in Film Festival


The Gullah Project continues to share its work and message with new audiences. Gullah Gone: Preserving the Land, Water, and Culture of the Sea Islands is screening on Thursday, November 8th at the Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington, North Carolina. The film is one of the selected works-in-progress featured at the festival. The Gullah Project is also part of the Cucalorus Works-in-Progress lab that runs November 4-7.  

The Cucalorus Film Festival takes place November 7-11 in downtown Wilmington. Since being founded in 1994, Cucalorus takes place every year to celebrate independent film.
More than 300 films are screened each year, making it one of the largest film festivals in the South and is recognized as “One of the Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by Moviemaker Magazine for three years in a row.  

The Works-in-Progress Lab focuses on strengthening the community impact of documentaries about social justice and supporting the development of African American filmmakers. W-in-Progress Lab includes community engagement events, public and private screenings, impact strategy sessions and one-on-one consultations. 

The festival is an incredible opportunity and we wish our director, Denise McGill, and producer, Sherard Duvall, the best of luck. For more information about the event time and ticket prices, visit

The Gullah Project is headed to Washington, DC!

DoubleEX Header

Next week our director, Denise McGill, and producer, Sherard Duvall, are heading to the 2018 Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival in Washington, DC! Our film, Gullah Gone: Preserving The Land, Water, and Culture of the Sea Islands is one of nine documentaries chosen to be a part of the Docs in Progess DX Pitch Program.

Gullah Gone was selected from over 50 works-in-progress documentaries presented around the country over the past year. The Peer Pitch program is a full day program giving documentary filmmakers an opportunity to make a verbal pitch, receive feedback, and learn about real opportunities for distribution on prestigious national platforms to some of the leading film distribution and funding organizations in the country. Previous participants in DX Pitch have gone on to be funded by prestigious organizations like the Sundance Documentary Fund and been accepted into other industry pitching opportunities.

The sponsor of the Peer Pitch program, Docs in Progress, in a non-profit organization whose goal is to foster a supportive community for documentaries and the people creating them. We are so excited for this opportunity and wish McGill and Duvall the best of luck during their time in D.C.!