Biography

Stan Woodward is an award winning filmmaker whose life's work has been devoted to the capture of last-generation practitioners of folk life traditions and their communities in the South.  

"Folk heritage foodways is a wonderful doorway into a personal up-close look at Southern life and the beautiful people who make up and give life and expression to the Southern character as it occurs at the so-called "grass roots" level. These are people of the earth who are keeping alive the most natural and authentic of their agrarian roots. And it is this that they have in common." 

As an an “auteur” filmmaker – shooting camera, directing, interviewing in the “first-person” and editing the works all himself, Stan becomes an interlocutor. This approach transforms the filmmaker into a facilitator of the story.

Stan was in New York during the 1960’s working for the International Film Foundation when Richard Leacock and Donn Pennebaker “freed the camera from the tripod” by inventing the crystal synch device that enabled a portable Nagra tape recorder to operate free from connections to the 16mm camera used in that day. (We call this "wireless" today.) Stan's hand-held, spontaneous, "you-are-there" style of "first person singular" film making was greatly influenced by these experimental filmmakers, as well as the Maysles brothers and other pioneers with the hand-held camera.

Stan took this style of 16mm documentary film making to South Carolina and introduced it in 1973, and began a career of documenting Southern life. He at the same time began a program supporting the work of young filmmakers working with Super 8mm cameras - a lifelong interest that accompanied the Media Literacy efforts in public schools.

His style of filmmaking has the viewer behind the lens as the story unfolds on location - unrehearsed, unflinching in it's reality and naturalism, and unadorned with "TV lighting" and other production methods that Stan felt intruded on the naturalism he prefers in the documentary process: "I do not like the artifice that the tyranny of lighting brings to film."

Using a low-profile mini-DV professional camera with a wide angle zoom lens, the filmmaker is able to move easily and intimately and in-close to remote folk life settings and communities to capture story elements in the "voice" of the practitioners themselves as they are working and interacting. “Stan becomes one of us," as one Stew Master put it.

This ability to immerse the viewer directly into the culture is what distinguishes this filmmaker's work, going all the way back to the Southern film classic, It's GRITS!.

Woodward's body of work has produced a diverse portfolio of Southern culture and folk life documentaries that capture the unique fabric of Southern folk culture.  His films thread through folk heritage foodways traditions deeply rooted in the agrarian South and threatened by massive shifts and changes in today's society, and by the passing of the tradition-bearers, people who honor their roots and keep them alive and well through a language we all speak: the sensory experience of food.