Robert Walker Emery won three Telly Awards for his video The History of the Christmas Tree that he made for the Dallas Woman’s Club. He won silver in the non-broadcasting category for directing and bronze for history and low-budget (under $700 per minute).

Emery said his award is for craft filmmaking that he produced on his computer, not professional filmmaking so he wasn’t competing against cable or broadcast networks or film studios, but there were thousands of entries for the New York-based Telly Awards from around the country.

He said the Dallas Woman’s Club hired him early last year to put on a stage show for Christmas, but when the pandemic hit, like everyone else, he had to pivot. The result was a 55-minute video about the history of the Christmas tree.

The video separates the facts from the myths and traces the origin to decorating homes with evergreen boughs that was borrowed from the pagans. Bringing trees indoors became a German custom. Prince Albert, who was German, introduced the custom to Queen Victoria. Upper class Americans eventually adopted the custom. Emery said Woodrow Wilson was the first U.S. president with a Christmas tree in the White House, which makes the tradition just about 100 years old in the U.S.

The video goes into the history of ornaments, which began as baked cookies. Edison’s company created the first string of electric lights, which were much safer than candles that were previously used.

Emery covers these and other details in his video which can be viewed below. And Emery said although he’s known in the community as just Robert Emery, he uses his full name, Robert Walker Emery, for video production because there’s a Robert Emery who produces and teaches video at SMU.

— David Taffet