The Ghosts In Our Machine

Taking Stock – Notes from Director Liz Marshall


I write this blog from a bird’s eye view, taking stock of the rich materials gathered and created for the film over the last year.  I am refining the films overarching thesis; a moral conversation based on 10 international interviews, and we are working towards a rough cut of the documentary this month.

Here are a few highlights ~

Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York
We filmed at Farm Sanctuary three times from July 2011 to July 212, it’s a very important environment within the context of the film – not only is it Jo-Anne’s “home away from home”, where she goes “to be with happy animals” but it’s a place of reflection; a kind of utopia. Farm Sanctuary models a human-animal society where humans and farm animals are friends. They do as they please and have the right to life.  Our scenes at Farm Sanctuary are magical, a departure from society, as we know it. 

The Foundation for Animals in the Law, Zurich
This summer we were shooting a field investigation in Europe and we ended our trip in Switzerland so that I could interview two prominent animal welfare lawyers about the country’s unique legal system. Under Swiss law animals are defined as “creatures of dignity”, which is halfway between “persons” and “objects”. There is detailed legislation to protect animals, especially pets. Are animals property to be owned and used by humans? The truth is that despite these progressive laws, animals are “property”, worldwide.

Redux Pictures in New York City
Jo-Anne McArthur’s photo agency in New York City is known for its roster of celebrated international photographers. While Redux morally and professionally supports Jo’s work, it struggles with how to market her photographs to mainstream publications. Is the quest for animal liberation really such a singular voice? It is the taproot of Jo-Anne’s message, and is arguably what it means to be a humanitarian.

Edit Meeting
Post-production meeting. Left to right: Roland Schlimme, editor; Kevin Caners, assist-editor; Liz Marshall, director/producer; Jan Keck, assist-editor; Nina Beveridge, producer. Photos by Liz.

I will end with this quote from one of the inspiring interviews I conducted for the film:
“Someone once said that animals are another nation and I think that’s a pretty accurate description of how I would like to relate to other species. They are not aliens, they are not property, they are not dangers but rather they are other beings with whom we share life who have as vested an interest in their own lives as we do … All we need to do is make certain that we don’t become the plague, the vermin that takes it all over but rather makes sure that there is always room for them because without them it would be one hell of a lonely place.”

– DR. THEODORA CAPALDO, President and Executive Director, New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS)

Thanks for following our progress.
What would you like to know more about?

For the ghosts,

Liz  Marshall

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. Diane September 6, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Excellent glimpse of how the film is unfolding! I like the wide scope, and sensitive awareness.

  2. Diane September 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Thank you for the glimpse into the creative process. I like the breadth and sensitivity.