Southern Culture & Folklife Documentaries
Stan Woodward Lifeworks Collection
(A Collection of 33 Southern Americana Documentaries)
"Outstanding collection of works by this award-winning documentary filmmaker for use in universities teaching courses about the South."
- John Egerton, Southern Writer and Author
Total Price: $429.95* (plus $20.00 S&H)
*$725.00 list price when purchased separately
From my Lifeworks Collection I am making available a grouping of documentaries that have been widely used in courses teaching Folklore, Folklife, Media Studies, Southern Studies, and Southern Americana with emphasis on Southern folk heritage traditions, Southern foodways and other communal practices maintained by the iconic "keepers" of the traditions of their fore-bearers in the agrarian South
- Stan Woodward, Producer
Stan Woodward Lifeworks Collection, 1815 Cleveland Street Extension, Greenville, SC, 29607
Phone (864) 901-9738. E-mail: email@example.com
"Stan Woodward's Lifeworks Collection containing documentaries on the South and Southern culture should be in every university teaching about the South. No course in Southern Studies, Folklore, Southern History, Cultural Anthropology, Southern Americana, Folk Heritage Traditions and especially Folk Heritage Food-ways should be without them."
- John Egerton, Writer and Author (Southern Foods)
- Dr. William R. Ferris, Joel Williamson Eminent Professor of History & Senior Associate Director Center for the Study of the American South, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"Upon my retirement in late 2012, I began the process of donating my documentary collection with thousands of hours of video footage in The Woodward Studio Limited video archive to the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina's Wilson Library. However, several Humanities scholars and advisors who had worked with me on my films felt it important that I make the entire body of my works available to Universities teaching about the South and Southern culture. As a result, I have assembled this 35-works package and have successfully piloted it's sale to University and Museum film libraries in the Southeast (the University of South Carolina, Virginia Tech, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Furman University, Wofford College, and College of Charleston were among the first). The package of works documenting Southern culture and the folk heritage traditions maintained by its people as an extension of their historical and agrarian roots has been well received, so I am devoting the remainder of 2013 making available my Collection to directors of university and museum film libraries across the United States. At the end of 2013, my Collection will not be available for sale. - Stan Woodward, Producer/Filmmaker
- Barbecue and Homecooking: Food That Makes You Smile
- Brunswick Stew: A Virginia Tradition
- Brunswick Stew: Georgia Named Her; Georgia Claims Her
- Burgoo: Folk Heritage Stew of Kentucky
- Carolina Hash: A South Carolina Tradition
- It's Grits!
- Hallowed Ground: Primitive Camp Meetings in the South Carolina Low Country (5 titles)
- Mac Arnold Returns to the Blues (3 titles)
- Stewbilee! A Brunswick Georgia Stew Festival
- Sheep Stew of Dundas: A Gastronomical Delight...
- Volume 1 - Southern Americana Walking Billboard Lady, Drake's Bar-B-Que, Ehrhardt Five and Dime, The Cooperative Grocery: Searching for a Legendary Hash Master, Joe Gunn's Sheep Stew...
- Volume 2 - Cush: A Piedmont Folk Heritage Tradition, Rockfish Muddle: A Roanoke River Folk Heritage Tradition,The Sheep Stew Stick...
- Volume 3 - The Morris Chronicle...
- Volume 4 - The Olgers Chronicle...
- Volume 5 - The Old Time Horse Farmers Gathering, Seeing Into Being: The Scrap-metal Art of Charlie Grimsley, Scouts Honor: A Brunswick Stew Dilemma...
- The American Super 8 Revolution
- The Licorice Train
- The People Who Take Up Serpents
- The Tower of the Potomac
- To Kill a Mockingbird Then and Now (A 25th Anniversary Interactive Satellite Broadcast reuniting the Movie Cast, Screenwriter, Title Designer and Producer/Director- Sponsored by The National Council of Teachers of English Distance Learning Lyceum, hosted by Charlayne Hunter-Gault).
"Stan Woodward is the most distinguished Southern Americana filmmaker in the United States. He has spent over 40 years documenting with his inimitable "first-person" camera style that part of the South and the "keepers" of deeply-rooted folk heritage traditions that we know so little about. These forgotten people and their traditions have been disenfranchised by the mainstream media. We are fortunate that universities teaching about the South can now have access to the very broadening and intimate view of Southern culture contained in Stan's Lifeworks Collection."
- James H. Williams, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions
Vero Beach Museum of Art, Vero Beach, Florida
Description of the 36 Titles in the Stan Woodward Life-Works Collection
of Southern Culture and Folklife
(Featuring music by regional folk heritage musicians)
Barbecue and Homecooking: Food That Makes You Smile (56 min 40 sec)
Produced for the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism in partnership with McKissick Museum Folklife Resource Center, University of South Carolina, this documentary was made to promote folklore and folklife experiences visitors might experience in the economically depressed four-counties of the Region III SC National Heritage Corridor. These counties bear primary roots to the beginnings and growth of barbecue in South Carolina as well as the locus of indigenous eateries that this film discovers and validates as official and authentic "South Carolina Folk Heritage Foodways Sites - eateries where we have established that the cooks heading up the kitchens or barbecue pits have agrarian family roots and were first taught on wood stoves or by the side of pit-men, and maintain today recipes with ingredients and cooking methods learned at the side of mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles or grandparents in these farming communities. Music by SC roots musicians move the viewer along as they hit the road with the filmmaker and the folklorist from McKissick Museum as they "root-out" these sites.
Two stand-alone documentaries provide the opportunity to compare two popular and famous folk heritage Brunswick stew traditions in the South:
Brunswick Stew: The Virginia Origin of Brunswick Stew (1 hour 56 min)
After four years of travel, field work and videotaping in North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina (which didn't trouble itself with Brunswick stew because it had a much older tradition of cooking a concoction called "hash" in the black iron pots that all these stews had in common), Stan completed the feature length documentary, Brunswick Stew: The Virginia Origin of Brunswick Stew. He began his quest after he learned that Brunswick, Georgia holds a festival each year called the Stewbilee in its efforts to support the claim that Brunswick Stew originated in the State of Georgia. (There's even an enshrined black iron stewpot at a rest stop on I-95 signifying this.) This Georgia event was an indignant reaction by Brunswick, Georgia and the State of Georgia to the Commonwealth of Virginia, whose legislature passed a resolution in the mid-1980's that named Brunswick County, Virginia the original home of Brunswick stew. Georgia's legislature then passed their resolution declaring Brunswick, Georgia as the place of origin for the stew - and that's when the "Stew Wars" began, pitting each state's best stew-masters in competition with each other. These legendary stew wars led Stan into Brunswick County, Virginia where he began research on and completed his film on the Virginia origins of Brunswick stew.
Brunswick Stew: Georgia Named Her; Georgia Claims Her (56 min, 40 sec)
The corresponding documentary - Brunswick Stew: Georgia Named Her; Georgia Claimed Her was produced after Stan's return to his home-state of South Carolina in 2000. While conducting field research for the Virginia stew during the 90's, Stan had gathered footage on the Georgia folk heritage roots of their stew. He added to this additional footage he shot from 2002 to 2004 so that it could be combined and edited into the story of the folk heritage origins of Brunswick stew in Georgia, resulting in the one hour documentary titled Brunswick Stew: Georgia Named Her; Georgia Claims Her. When viewed together, these documentaries provide an unusual in-depth and humorous look at the shared folk culture and parallel folk heritage traditions that make possible comparisons between both of these Southern Americana communal stew traditions.
BURGOO: Kentucky's Legendary Folk Heritage Stew (1 hour 56 min 40 sec)
After opening his documentary, Southern Stews, with a brief look at the Burgoo stew and stew-master tradition found each summer at the famed Catholic Parish Picnics in Owensboro, Kentucky, Stan reviewed the footage he had shot and the field research conducted in Kentucky on this deeply rooted folk heritage foodways tradition. He determined to seek grant-funding that would allow him to traverse the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky along with folklorist, Saddler Taylor to gather additional footage that would round-out the remarkable and little-known story of Burgoo by turning it into a major work.
While Burgoo, with a completely different geographical and historical origin, is a distant cousin to Brunswick stew, sharing its stew-master and black iron pot traditions, this communal stew is distinctively embedded in Kentucky lore and traditions, its role as a "frontier"state, and the use of a great variety of game and, in western Kentucky, mutton. From horse-racing at the Kentucky Derby and Keeneland, to the Kentucky Gentleman tradition and the history of the early distilleries, Burgoo has etched it's place deeply into the folklore and folklife of Kentucky. With the use of mutton in Western Kentucky, a most fascinating picture takes shape that takes us back to Burgoo's agrarian and early frontier origins. Music from folk heritage musicians in this ever-moving documentary travels the viewer from the Tennessee border to the Capital of Frankfort, where we attend the Kentucky Folk Heritage Festival and talk with its Burgoo-master and several politicians who grew up eating Burgoo in their different regions of the state. We discover a county Burgoo Festival where the family of legendary "Burgoo King", Hollie Warford is honored and we learn about the early distillery Burgoo tradition which he came from and so famously spread to others who were his understudies.
We are then joined by writer, John Egerton (Southern Foods). Egerton leads us to western Kentucky and the Catholic Parish Picnics. We learn that in the eight years since our first visit, the younger men had grown disinterested in the hard work and long hours preparing Burgoo, resulting in the radical changeover to mechanization. We drive from Kentucky to a "Bergoo" festival in Webster Springs, West Virginia, where we conclude the documentary learning that in the 1800's a party of hunters from Kentucky settled camp on a tributary of the Elk River and filled their iron pots with so much stew from the game they shot that in sharing the overabundance with nearby backwoods folks, the local people decided to name the creek "Bergoo".
Carolina Hash: A Taste of South Carolina (56 min 40 sec)
The original story of this stew resulted as an off-shoot of both the Brunswick Stew and Southern Stews documentaries, when the filmmaker gathered footage on hash-making while moving through South Carolina researching and shooting these other works. Updated with new content that answered questions about the unusual place that mustard had in the barbecue sauce and hash ingredients found in the midlands of South Carolina, the story of hash was enhanced to accompany the rich origins of hashiers (called-so by Charleston French Huguenots who wrote home about the hash) cooked in Carolina Rice Kitchens in the hands of artisan cooks who were given poor parts of the hog and told to make an edible concoction that provided a high-protein content for slaves working in the scorching heat. Hash-cooking migrated inland to small farms and became commonplace - along with puddin and liver mush - as a bi-product foodway that was cooked as part of the hog-killing that took place on these small farms as they spread up and into the Palmetto State. Hash today is a common side-dish eaten over rice along with barbecue. We see that it can range from a pure liver hash to a hash made up of an assortment of the delectable parts of a pig cooked down, ground and stirred into a thick gravy-like covering for rice and flavored with mustard or vinegar-ketchup sauce.
Cooperative Grocery (20 min)
(Southern Routes Series - Vol.1)
Stan Woodward's documentary short that superbly displays his iconic spontaneous and highly personal handheld camera style has us walk in with the filmmaker and experience the first-person singular exchange between three men playing cards in this throwback old country store that, until recently, served as a local cooperative for selling the produce, eggs, poultry and meats provided by local farmers. The purpose of the shoot was to locate a legendary hash master who was said to be affiliated with the grocery. As the camera rolls, we become the fourth wheel in what emerges as a hilarious conversation that centers on hash but has leg-pulling and a Southern tease of humor that reveals not one, but three hash-masters - all sitting around playing cards and leading the filmmaker on a uniquely homespun journey during which the camera stops rolling once.
Cush (26 min)
(Southern Routes Series - Vol. 2)
In Piedmont, South Carolina a dish is cooked that elders in that community, who once worked at Piedmont Textile Mill many, many years ago, say is only cooked in their little community. It is a cornmeal-based dish they call Cush. Cush was cooked with secret ingredients passed down from the original cooks who started cooking it during the annual fish fry held by the Fisherman's Club at the mill. Everyone in the mill village would come to the fish-fry party to dance and eat and listen to their musicians. On their plates would be an "all-you-can-eat" pile of fried fish accompanied by the skillet-tossed spicy-hot Cush having the consistency of a cornmeal mush. One man remains from that era who still cooks Cush - the Fire Chief at the Piedmont Volunteer Fire Department. Stan captures his cooking of Cush on a day when a large group of visitors is touring the mill's museum room and being fed at the firehouse.
Drakes Bar-B-Cue (18 min)
(Southern Routes Series, Vol. 1)
Stan Woodward and Jay Williams (Chief Curator, McKissick Museum) are on the way to a shoot in Brunswick, Georgia to be used in the Southern Stews documentary when they come upon a barbecue shack back off the road that has a hooded area in front for shade that is loaded with taxidermied as well as plastic animals and a large white stuffed dog. As they pull in and Stan begins to shoot, the owner appears and begins waving and calling him to come eat "the best barbecue and brunswick stew in Georgia." The spontaneous handheld camera follows this leg-pulling and joke-cracking owner to the ordering window where a hilarious exchange about brunswick stew ensues and soon extends itself to a sampling as well as a personal tour into the owners Elvis relic room, ending with an introduction to her caged pet hog!
Ehrhardt Five and Dime (18 min)
(Southern Routes Series, Vol. 1)
While on the Barbecue and Homecooking shoot in the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor we visit one of the townspeople we interviewed at a local eatery in the small town of Earhardt. He has invited Stan to the old family general store which he had kept running for fifty years, just as his deceased father had run it. "Something for everyone is here," says the owner as he greets the camera entering the front door. The next 18 minutes is filled with the man's humor as he shows us his wares - plus some very peculiar, idiosyncratic "not for sale" items around the store that have been in stock for many years. When a pair of customers come in the door - a 20 year old man with his mother - they get into the flow of humor and wit shown by the proud store owner, and try out some of the novelties. By the end of the short documentary this five and dime country store experience will live in the mind of the viewer as the wonderful relic it is.
Two-disk documentary set containing five historical primitive camp-meeting titles: Indian Field, Shady Grove, Cypress, Cattle Creek, Saint Paul:
Hallowed Ground: Primitive Camp-meetings of the South Carolina Low-Country
Here are the stories of five centuries-old primitive Methodist-originated camp meetings in the Dorchester County pine forests of South Carolina - all separately attended by their own long-standing family-trees of community congregants, all located within a 20 mile radius of each other - three Anglo- and two Afro-American. At five different times each year from 7 to 10,000 former congregants and family return to the small town of St. George in the SC Low-country to stay for a week and attend the "tents" of family members, the worship services, and the home-cooked feasts at these hallowed family camp-grounds for the week of camp-meeting meeting. Over a period of three years, Stan Woodward met with the leaders and got permission to document the story of each of the camp meetings. The result is a set of documentaries that provide a unique opportunity for scholars - especially cultural anthropologists, musicologists, and those interested in religious history and still functioning primitive religious camp-meetings - to examine, compare and see the striking similarities and differences between the Afro-American and Anglo-American traditions: Cattle Creek (founded in 1786, still active), Cypress (founded in 1798, still active, Indian Field (founded in 1800, still active. Afro-American traditions: Shady Grove (founded in 1868, still active), Saint Paul (founded in 1898, still active) Humanities scholars visit the Indian Field and Shady Grove camp-meetings with the filmmaker and add commentary in the areas of religious history, contemporary views of these time-worn traditions, and comparison to other regions where camp-meetings still are active.
It's Grits (30th Anniversary Edition of the Film Classic, Digitally Restored
(With commentaries, 1 hour)
Considered a classic Southern culture and folklife documentary, It's Grits received immediate acclaim and recognition upon its formal release in 1980: Broadcast nationally by PBS and WETA's New York Public Television Experimental Laboratory; Shown to keynote the 1981 Margaret Mead Film Festival at the Museum of Natural History; Blue Ribbon winner at the American Film Festival, 1982 and winner of multiple national film festivals. The first folk heritage foodways documentary shot by Stan Woodward. Still purchased by individuals, university film libraries and film studies programs nationally.
The filmmaker begins with a simple, straightforward question - "Do you eat grits?", and this question metaphorically goes on to capture the very heart and soul of the South and what is best about Southern culture. It includes an iconic interview with Southerner and food editor for the New York Times, Craig Claiborne as well as his preparation of a mouth-watering grits soufflé. SC Senator Strom Thurmond appears to announce that "Everybody in the South eats grits. Grits is made from 'cawn'. People in the South like 'cawn in several ways - on the cob, in a bowl,or by the glass."
Joe Gunn's Sheep Stew (36min 40 sec)
(Southern Routes Series - Vol 1)
In the western corner of Brunswick County, Virginia in an old churchyard, sheep stew-master, Joe Gunn, assembles women and men for the overnight and into the next day ritual necessary for cooking his recipe for sheep stew. Joe Gunn had invited Stan to come shoot his version of a sheep stew and had invited two of the "old heads" - Brunswick stew and sheep stew-masters in their late 80's - who knew the history and beginnings of the cooking of sheep stew on local farms to meet at the stew-site in the afternoon, when the stew was being sold to members of the community and folks gathered to purchase the church-ladies' baked goods. This was the scene of a classic stew-cooking as a fundraiser to support church missions.
Interviews with the elders as well as women and men working the site reveals surprising insights into the cultural and agrarian roots of the stew as well as a forecast of whether such traditions would be able to continue in these changing times.
Lord Have Mercy: Olgers Store (37 minutes)
While shooting the story of Virginia Brunswick stew in Southside Virginia, Stan happened upon Jimmy Olgers who keeps alive the memories of his parents old country store which served as center of the historic Sutherland village community starting in 1918 through the end of their lives. Today Jimmy has turned the store into a museum filled with relics from its agrarian past, antiques and miscellany from the Civil War. On the porch of the store Jimmy serves as entertainer and raconteur. 'People from all over the world have been on this porch wanting to see my museum," Jimmy says. On the porch in his rocking chair he waves at every car that passes, spins yarns, recites his poetry, and conducts tours of the store and museum. When Stan asks what he knows about Brunswick stew's origin, Jimmy waxes eloquent about the stew as he fetches a sealed jar of the stuff from among the stash he keeps in the porch refrigerator. "Mama's secret recipe," he says."I keep it here because friends and neighbors are ever asking me for it." From the start of the short documentary Jimmy is very animated and on a roll which only ends when the remaining 35 minutes of tape runs out in the camera. The result is a wonderful capture of Southern Americana.
Three-disc set containing one feature length version and the original 2-volume version:
Nothing to Prove: The Story of Mac Arnold's Return to the Blues
(Original Version, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2)
Original Version - Volume 1,"The Legacy" (1 hr 56 min):
This begins the story of a South Carolina share-cropper farmer's son who went to Chicago in 1966 and ended up as a sideman playing base with the Muddy Waters Chicago blues band. Mac Arnold took his Piedmont blues base-beat - a blend of Southern country and gospel, rock and roll, and rhythm and blues - and added this new beat to Muddy's rhythm section. The blues was in need of new blood as the popularity of rock and roll had swept the country. For Muddy, Mac was the temporary answer.
Stan Woodward met Mac in 2005 while shooting a concert as a favor for another producer on the night South Carolina bluesman presented the release of his first CD, "Nothing to Prove", celebrating his return to the blues.Stan slipped backstage. He interviewed the musician about the derivation of the name of his band, Plate Full O' Blues. From his brief interview Stan realized that here was a Southern Americana folk heritage musician whose story had to be told. That summer in 2005 Stan began his three year run of traveling with Mac and the band and shooting the day-by-day climb back into the business of performing the "old timey blues" in a day when the blues had been warped into a quasi-rock and roll/pop music style. In Volume 1, "The Legacy", we see Mac bring to the blues a musical throw-back to the days when Mac played with Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, and the legendary bluesmen who were just getting their start in Chicago. The documentary moves with the band from local concerts and festivals to Helena and Memphis and the Mississippi Delta, then to an opportunity to compete at the prestigious International Blues Competition in Memphis. As Mac moves back into the midst of the blues festival circuit he re-establishes old friendships as he is welcomed back by legendary blues artists.
Original Version - Volume 2,"Mac is Back!" (1 hr 56 min):
With Mac back in the mainstream he and his band strengthen their promotion and schedule of bookings and invest in their own bus, which they gut and reconfigure so that the Arnold brothers, Vonda, Mac's wife, the band, and invited fans can travel to distant performances. Mac recalls the old playing days with Muddy during Volume 2, "Mac is Back!" We follow him to performances on Beale Street and to the Delta and to the studio of IBC winner, Super Chicken. But when Mac begins performing in the Blues in the School program we see a change in him. He becomes focused on encouraging young people to discover and develop their talents in music. Finally we see Mac realize of his dream of bringing together old Muddy Waters blues band side-men to play in his own hometown concert - The First Annual Mac Arnold Cornbread and Collards Festival in Greenville, SC. Shot with five cameras interspersed with interviews, the two-day festival manifested Mac's heart for encouraging and showcasing young musicians who were serious about playing their music by having them perform alongside blues greats.
Nothing to Prove: Mac Arnold Returns to the Blues (PBS Feature Length 1 hr 26 min.)
Edited for PBS broadcast, this cut-down version concludes with Mac Arnold receiving the prestigious Jean Laney Harris South Carolina Folk Heritage Award.
Rockfish Muddle (30 min)
(Southern Routes Series - Vol. 5)
Along the banks of the Roanoke River near Weldon, NC, and below the rapids where the native rockfish swim up-river to spawn each year when the dogwoods are in bloom and the water temperature reaches 73 degrees, a stew that locals called "rockfish muddle" used to be cooked during the Rockfish run. This stew tradition faded when the wildlife department banned the use of specially fabricated nets made by craftsmen and used among the local fishermen who could haul-in an entire spawn-field in one netting. This would include 40 to 60 pound females which were set aside for the traditional cooking of rockfish muddle on the banks of the Roanoke around Weldon. However, several seasons occurred in succession when the river was low and resulted in a decline in the return of the rockfish females to the spawning ground. This reduced the rockfish population and produced higher prices and greater demand for the large-sized fish, prompting locals to overfish and sell to the black market the females that brought the most money pound for pound. The further depletion of females put the fish on the list of endangered species bringing about laws restricting use of the nets and the keeping size of fish in the early 1990's. This ended the netting tradition and cut off the availability of large fish and consequently shut down the rockfish muddle tradition. When Stan learned about rockfish muddle from a Brunswick stew-master while shooting the Virginia Brunswick stew documentary, he was referred to a Weldon elder named J.E. Evans, considered by locals as an excellent muddle stew-master. The filmmaker helped JE. coordinate with his friends during spawning season to supply him with specially-sanctioned 30 pound rockfish. The result is the documentary of a traditional Rockfish Muddle cooked by J.E. Evans - his last, it turns out.
Scouts Honor: A Brunswick Stew Dilemma (4 minutes)
(Southern Routes, Vol. 5)
While interviewing stewmasters from Brunswick, Georgia at a nearby Interstate Highway rest area where a black iron stewpot is mounted as a monument to Brunswick, Georgia being the birthplace of Brunswick stew, Stan overhears the conversation as a the mother of a family from Virginia begins explaining how this monument's tablet contains statements that cannot be true. Quickly Stan swings his camera around and initiates a conversation with the Boy Scout who is a member of the family and is the target of the explanation. What ensues is a hilarious dialogue that ends up with the Virginia Boy Scout questioning the authenticity and "Scouts Honor" pledge of the local Boy Scout troop that is credited with having sponsored the tablet for the plaque. A slice of the life of controversy about the origin of the stew.
Seeing Things Into Being (28 min)
(Southern Routes Series - Vol 5)
A spontaneous stop at the sighting of a four-story tall mobile circling above a grove of Georgia pines with an enormous metal fabricated fish being chased by an equally enormous metal fabricated man in a huge boat who has hooked the fish with his giant fishing rod drew the attention of folklorist, Dr. John Burrison as he rode with Stan Woodward back to Atlanta from having documented the Brunswick "Stewbilee" in Georgia. "Stop and pull over", said Burrison, and thus began an unforgettable encounter with scrap metal artist, Charlie Grimsley, a one-time materials-handler at a local industry in Helena, Georgia. Grimsley, who was used to stoppers-by who were drawn by his "big-fish" mobile, came out of his house to welcome his new visitors. When he saw Stan shooting video he got excited and shared how he came to make artworks from scrap material and gave a guided tour through his most peculiar collection, explaining the different pieces and how he had visualized them into being. By the end we have seen his home-made casket made of "space- material", met his wife, who expounds on how long she has lived with this man and his quirky ideas, and says how our appreciation of Charlie helped her see Charlie as a "real artist."
Southern Americana Walking Billboard Lady (4 min)
(Southern Routes - Vol 1)
Stopping to interview a lady dressed in a clownish polka dot costume with huge, over-exaggerated white-rimmed dark glasses and holding up a sign saying "Quik Cuts" every time cars passed by yields a humorous and unexpected slice of Southern Americana.
Southern Routes - Volumes 1 through 5
(Individual Title Descriptions can be found in the listings above and below)
Southern Stews: A Taste of the South (56 min 40 sec)
Throughout the South the tradition of cooking communal stews in huge black iron pots and stirring with wooden paddles has long been one of the ways of feeding people at any kind of gathering - whether at hunt clubs, church or family reunions, at the end of harvests, to feed workers putting up tobacco or helping out at hog killing time. Southern stews cooked for a crowd required a number of workers, with a division of labor usually split between women who would prepare vegetables for the stews on or before the evenings the stews would begin to be cooked and men working in shifts under a stew-master to constantly stir the stew for up to 18 hours to keep it from sticking to the pot and ruining the stew. With a grant from the Southern Humanities Media Fund, this documentary was produced based on the extensive travel and field research begun when Stan Woodward shot his first Brunswick stew documentary. Stan searched out and began documenting stew cultures that were ongoing in Southern states but were under the radar as far as documentation was concerned. The documentary, introduced and narrated by Southern food writer, John Egerton, takes the viewer into the midst of the folklore and folk heritage roots that maintain these traditions, enabling them to experience, compare and see the associations between such Southern stews as Burgoo, Brunswick stew, Carolina hash, frogmore stew, chicken bog and sheep stew. These are stews that require long hours and hands-on hard labor and increasingly are becoming fragile traditions as the agrarian South gets away from its past and its roots.
Stewbilee (56 min 40 sec)
Every year in Brunswick, Georgia the town holds a folk heritage festival celebrating the roots of Brunswick stew - roots that they claim which are also claimed by Brunswick County, Virginia. Stew-masters from far and wide in Georgia - and often stew-masters from Virginia whenever a "Stew War" competition and stew cook-off occurs - gather and compete for awards for best stew. A panel of judges is invited to sample-taste the stews in competition and vote for the ones they prefer. After learning that folklorist, Dr. John Burrison was invited to be a judge at the festival, Stan asked Dr. John Burrison, who had served as advisor on a number of other of his films, to join him as he documented the festival. Together, prior to the festival, they explore the lore and folklife surrounding the Brunswick, Georgia claim to origins of the stew and come up with surprising stories of authentication that attribute the origin to both African American Sea-Island cooks and a longer tradition of stews cooked by the coastal Indian peoples.
The Old Timey Horse Farmers Gathering (18 minutes)
(Southern Routes, Vol 2)
In Blacksburg South Carolina in the fall of the year a most unusual event occurs that is sponsored by a farm family interested in keeping alive an awareness and appreciation of what it was like on farms when mule teams and work-horses were vital to the tasks of breaking ground and furrowing rows for planting seeds. At an 1890's farm house and barn thousands come each year to experience what life was like in the old days and witness yarn weaving, jam-making, shucking and shelling corn and beans, making straw hats, using a small foundry to fashion tools, and many other activities that were required for a family to feed themselves and make a living off of farming. We take the viewer to this gathering and move them throughout to the accompaniment of local country and bluegrass folk heritage musicians.
The Morris Chronicle (1 hour 56 min 40 sec)
(Southern Routes, Vol. 4)
While shooting the documentary on Barbecue and Homecooking in 2004, Stan got a tip about one of the last great barbecue pit-men who still cooks by hand in the old fashioned Springfield, SC style. At first meeting when Morris Peeples welcomed the filmmaker to his home in his old sharecropper cottage the two men struck up a friendship that opened up into an opportunity to tell this unique Southern Americana story. Morris was a patriarch and looked upon as a man of supreme wisdom, both in life and in the agrarian knowledge that he used to manage the land of many area land-owners. In two years of shooting, Stan captured the story of Morris as the embodiment of the very special relationship of an Afro-American ex-sharecropper to the land and to the white land-owner's estate which was once the Hatiola plantation. We see documented the inside story of how Morris, the son of his slave father who worked as foreman on the Hatiola Plantation, had become endeared to it's current owner and the hunters who had turned the "big house" into a hunt club, where Morris was honored with a membership and held the keys to Hatiola which he now managed.
The Olgers Chronicle (1 hour 56min 40 sec)
(Southern Routes, Vol. 3)
Shot over an extended period of four years from 1995 to 1998 while working on the Virginia Brunswick Stew documentary, Stan captures the unique and unquenchable spirit of one of the South's most unusual and gifted humorists and raconteurs, who also is a rare primitive folk heritage foodways artisan. Jimmy Olgers is a front-porch poet and storyteller who sits in front of his parents old country store surrounded by peculiar artifacts which he uses to attract visitors as he preserves and maintains the country store as a rustic museum. A highlight of the documentary is the celebration of National Turtle Day of Sutherland" with the stew cooked in celebration at Jimmy's "Little Cabin in the Woods".
The People Who Take Up Serpents (38 minutes)
In 1974 when Stan took the position of Filmmaker in Residence at the South Carolina Arts Commission he initiated a grants program for SC independent filmmakers that began with a trial grant to an investigative reporter with the Greenville News. The reporter had applied for the pilot grant having been following the story of the members and ministers of the primitive Holiness Church of God in Jesus' Name in Greenville, SC - a snake handling church - after a sister church in Newport, Tennessee was padlocked by order of the State Attorney General.Two men had died at the Tennessee church after being taunted by members of another sect to drink strychnine to prove the authenticity of their faith, and the Greenville church had invited the members of the Tennessee church to come worship with them. Stan served as executive producer for filmmaker, Gretchen Robinson as she captured a disenfranchised people worshipping in the South.
The Sheep Stew of Dundas (56 min 40 sec)
The most esoteric and rare agrarian stew cooked by a seasoned stew-master using a stew crew of 23 men using gigantic black iron pots to cook a stew over wood fires that is stirred for 14 hours with wooden paddles is the Sheep stew cooked by the Dundas Ruritan Club in the farm village of Dundas, Virginia. This tradition is said to have been started by a stew cook in nearby Danieltown, Virginia during the very lean times leading up to the Great Depression. Stews were cooked and served to large gatherings attending the Danieltown baseball games played with area farm towns. Sheep was plentiful on area farms and the stew was made from the mutton of old cast-away sheep no longer useful for reproduction. Sheep stew was patterned after the method used in cooking Brunswick stew - the more traditional stew cooked on farms and for fundraisers in adjacent Brunswick County.
The Sheep Stew Stick (18 min)
(Southern Routes - Vol. 2)
On a farm in Brunswick County, Virginia near the communities of Danieltown and Alberta a farm family with a long tradition of cooking sheep stew have over the mantlepiece in their home a three-pronged forked stick. This stick was used whenever time came to cook a sheep stew. The stick is very different from the usual wooden paddles you find being used to stir Brunswick stew, because, as the family says, "Sheep are bony and it takes a lot of muscle and this stick to cause the bones to separate from the meat when it is being cooked." The patriarch of the family and his wife describe the lore behind this prized sheep stew stick and turn to an album of photographs that visualize the process and steps required to cook a sheep stew. These stews were only cooked in a small 10 square mile area that sits on the Brunswick County/Lunenburg County line, and are little known to those beyond.
BONUS: The Early Works
The Licorice Train (8 min)
In 1966, as a student at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, Stan studied Advertising Design and Visual Communications, where he won the Pratt Institute Student Film Festival. That year he started a youth photography and filmmaking hands-on workshop in the Fort Greene/Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. He lived in the neighborhood, where the oldest elevated train in New York - the Myrtle Avenue El - rumbled through. The idea for his first independent 16 mm film used this quaint train in a lyrical musical story inspired by a young photography student in his workshop who lived in a Myrtle Avenue apartment building where his bedroom looked out at the old elevated train. The El passed by so close to his bedroom window it seemed he could almost reach out and touch it. The train became his friend. And if the El broke down at night, the child said he couldn't go to sleep because he was so used to the distinctive click-clack and squeal of brakes as the old train ran past his window. This love of the old train by the child is what gave birth to the idea for The Licorice Train. Stan realized the rhythm and sounds of the train had the same beat as a children's song recorded by his friend and composer, Steve Gould. The lyrics were fairy-tale like and loaded with fantasy-land imagery - quite a contrast to the dilapidated neighborhoods that the Myrtle Avenue El passed through. This song set against the drastic contrast of the run-down neighborhood lived in by the boy led to Stan's first 16mm film - The Licorice Train.
The American Super 8 Revolution (34 min)
The culture of young filmmakers and the folk culture of amateur filmmaking movement that spread across America during the 1970's with the availability of super 8mm cameras that were being mass produced and readily accessible to the public is the subject of this landmark documentary. A 1972 winner at the Educational Film Library Association's American Film Festival in New York, The American Super 8 Revolution is a 16mm film that documents the process of 8-year-old students in an elementary school class producing and editing a film telling the story of Paul Revere and the Battle of Concord. The children had asked their teacher if they could make a movie instead of writing papers on the American Revolution. Stan was hired to run filmmaking-in-the-schools workshops for teachers for the Darien, Connecticut public schools. When he arrived, he immediately found himself in a classroom where 5th graders had asked their teacher to let them produce a film telling the story of Paul Revere's ride and the battle that began the American Revolution in lieu of writing a paper. Students had already organized into a production unit with a director, cameraman, historian, costume manager and a "technical difficulties" (special effects) committee. With Stan serving as producer/adviser, the student film and Stan's documentary surrounding it stands today as a historical marker documenting the early beginnings of hands-on personal media usage which was a pre-cursor to today's "everyone-a-filmmaker" U-Tube social media.
The Tower of the Potomac (56 min, 40 sec)
In 1996, Prince William County Public Schools in northern Virginia invited post-modernist German folk artist and sculptor of public art-works, artist Mo Edoga, to be artist in residence and work with the public school art teachers and students while he created an original public works sculpture and taught about his art based upon the principles of what he described as "Non-Euclidea" - an approach to art diametrically opposed to the Western use of the straight line and Euclidean "right-angle" thinking, which Edoga believes is restrictive to the imagination. Stan was engaged to produce a documentary about Edoga, following his process of construction and teaching during the creation of "The Tower of the Potomac" - a ten-story sculpture made of giant driftwood collected from the banks of the nearby Potomac River, with each piece lifted into place by hand by Edoga and secured to one another by the use of powerful industrial strapping thread which the artist called the "Thread of Ariadne", used to hand-tie each piece into place. As the tower grew, it's location - the center of the parking lot of the largest mall on the East coast - drew many visitors who walked up to the boundary of the artwork to discuss with the artist the nature of art and culture and this new work. When completed the film was uplinked by satellite and fed to 800 participating public schools and universities one week before the live, two hour satellite interactive distance learning forum broadcast nationally.
To Kill A Mockingbird: Then and Now (2 hour live, interactive satellite lyceum)
(Sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English and broadcast to public schools and universities nationwide in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the release of the film)
In 2009, Gregory Peck and the cast, screenwriter, director and title designer for the Film "To Kill a Mockingbird" were re-united on-stage for a special live, interactive satellite broadcast lyceum to honor the film and the book's author, Harper Lee. The actors who played the parts of Scout, Jim, and Tom Robertson appeared on stage live while Gregory Peck appeared via video and director, Sidney Pollock, and screenwriter, Horton Foot, participated live by phone. Questions phoned-in by participants and e-mailed live to the broadcast live were fielded by host, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and fed to a panel of experts on stage as well as to the actors. At the end the actors are surprised by the unexpected appearance of the title designer, who introduces the original cigar box used to shoot the main title, and who presents to Jim and Scout the original soap-carved figures of their characters used in the film when they were left in the old tree by Boo Radley.