Works & Store

Stan Woodward's films explore the rich and often unheard stories of the south: the relationship between southern food and the blues, primitive camp ground religious traditions held each year in the backwoods of Low Country South Carolina by Southern blacks and whites, the rockfish fishing traditions with nets that produce rockfish muddle, and events like the National Turtle Day of Sutherland (VA). Capturing everything from the Stew Masters who still make Brunswick stew and hash in giant black iron pots, or the Burgoo, Cush, and sheep stew makers that carry on the communal cooking traditions of the South, Woodward's camera tells a lifetime's worth of tales that reveal a hidden treasure trove of American food culture in the southeast.

Burgoo! The Legendary Stew of the South
buy now- $25
 

From pioneer days on the western frontier came a stew prepared by farmers and hunters by the name of Burgoo. No one knows where the name comes from, but the folks in Western Kentucky around Owensboro declare that the authentic and historical burgoo has to be made with mutton, or mature sheep. Folks in central Kentucky prefer beef or wild game. But one thing becomes very clear in these documentaries – the passion for whatever is called Burgoo that is cooked in huge black iron cauldrons Is reflected in the titles given to the burgoo masters- they are called “Burgoo Kings”! And their reputations go beyond their years, as loyal stewmasters rigorously maintain recipes and cooking traditions generation to generation. And along with it comes a lot of leg-pulling, tall tales and fellowship around the pot. View the trailer here.   This film is available in two versions: the PBS length (56:40), and the Original length (1:56:40)

Brunswick Stew: The Virginia Tradition
buy now- $25
This film explores the stew wars between Virginia and Georgia. The chicken-based Brunswick Stew tradition of Virginia, which finds its roots in Brunswick County, is honored and maintained through a system of stewmasters and stew crews who cook for their constituent community. This documentary premiered at the Virginia State Fair on "Brunswick Stew Day" in 1998. Each stewmaster received special recognition with a framed citation signed by the Governor noting these men as "Virginia Treasures". When news of this hit the papers, it once again set off a response from "the incensed citizenry in Brunswick, GA"...and the Stew Wars were ignited again. The origins of this conflict is documented in both this documentary and elaborated upon in the sequel titled, Brunswick Stew: Georgia Named her, Georgia claims her. View the trailer for the Virginia tradition here.  This film is available in two versions: the PBS length (56:40), and the original length: 1:56:40).

Brunswick Stew: Georgia Named Her, Georgia Claims Her                                                   buy now -$25                                                      The Governor, two Georgia State Senators, a “man-on-the-street” in Atlanta, and folklorist, John Burrison speak in one voice authenticating Brunswick stew as a most beloved folk heritage stew of Georgia. The filmmaker reaches back into The Woodward Studio Folklife Archives in making this in-depth story of the origins of Brunswick stew in Georgia, ending up with freshly-shot footage of the Stewbilee in Brunswick, GA, where we hear from a member of the Georgia Sea Island Singers about her ancestors from the days of slavery who cooked  Brunswick stews. This is truly a “roots” story about the origins and celebrations around this folk heritage stew of Georgia. View the trailer here.

Barbecue and Home Cooking: Food That Makes You Smile                                          buy now-$25                                                                   The filmmaker is joined by SC folklorist, Saddler Taylor in this “road film” that travels a spontaneous investigating-and-recording-as-you-go journey through the farm roads and by-ways of four rural counties where homecooking and barbecue can be found cooked by folk heritage culinary food artisans cooking ancestral recipes using methods passed on to them by mothers cooking over wood-stoves and fathers cooking in BBQ pits dug in the ground. These cooks are part of the living folklife in agrarian South Carolina, and this entertaining and spontaneous film takes you into a portion of the 48 eateries that qualified to be listed as folk heritage dining establishments in Region III of the South Carolina Heritage corridor. Music is by folk heritage musicians in the region. View the trailer here. View a slideshow of still shots here

Carolina Hash: A Taste of South Carolina                                                          buy now-$25                                                         This CINE Award winning film explores a food unique to the state of South Carolina, confirming the myth that hash-popularity ends at the South Carolina borders. We learn that right across the state line in North Carolina, barbecue customers and restauranteurs "....don’t even know what hash is." The Brunswick stew states of North Carolina and Georgia which border South Carolina for the most part don’t know about it.   But the tradition runs deep in all of South Carolina, and most native South Carolinians not only know about it - they can tell you where to go  "....to get the best hash in South Carolina!" and the name of  the hash-master.

The true origins of Carolina Hash can be traced to the Carolina rice kitchens on plantations where black food artisans were required to make the most of the lesser parts of the hog at slaughter. They created a high-protein, thick “meat-gravy” flavored with hot spices familiar to their palate ladled over rice to provide energy for the rigorous labor required in working the rice fields.

Today in the Upcountry from border-to-border you will find a beef-based hash with a twang that’s  different from the pork hash found with their different sauces based on the region of the State. These traditions, in many restaurants and in the hash houses on many farms or churchyards or Volunteer Fire Departments, have been "Grandfathered-in", using black iron kettles in which many decades of hash traditions by local  hash-masters occur. But as the documentary shows as it pursues the mission of folk heritage preservation, these traditions are rapidly disappearing.

Cooperative Grocery: Hashing It Out At The Old Country Store                                 buy now-$25                                      This is a remarkable "inside" glimpse into Southern folk culture and the roots of Southern "raconteurship" at it’s most authentic and best. The short work is edited from the archival footage gathered while the filmmaker was producing the CINE Award-winning, Carolina Hash: A Taste of South Carolina.

Researching South Carolina upstate hash traditions led to an old time country store in Abbeville, SC - one of the first "cooperative grocery" stores in the state. Folklife field research pointed to the Cooperative Grocery and a "hash master" who was said to be among the best in the upstate - Walt Wilson, operator of the Cooperative Grocery. In one of the most spontaneously-shot and humorous "first-person" camera runs of his career, Stan Woodward becomes the "fourth wheel" in a conversation around a card table that ranges from what constitutes the most outstanding hash in South Carolina to Strom Thurmond's longevity to an invitation at the end of the shoot to "Come shoot Walt cooking a traditional hash at one of our Southern wing-dings…."

Edhardt Five and Dime                                 $25.00 - buy now                                                     While on the road shooting the Barbecue and Home Cooking documentary for the SC Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism and the SC Heritage Corridor, Stan came across an old five and dime store where the owner was keeping alive the store past down to him by his father. He owned a store across the street also, and when he had to be in one store he would lock the door of the other until business died down then watch to see which store had the next customer and would tend to it. During this short visit Stan shot footage coming through the front door and never stopped until the customers left the store. During this short 12 minute run the variety and peculiarities of this general merchandise store and its colorful owner and equally colorful customer leaves the viewer smiling and appreciating this nostalgic glance at what once was a store of necessity in small agricultural towns in South Carolina. View the trailer here. View still shots from the shoot here

It's GRITS!
$30.00 - buy now
“An engaging, sometimes hilarious celebration of one of America’s most interesting and singular (or is it plural?) foods. This is a film to be taken seriously by anyone who cares about America’s culinary heritage.” - Craig Claiborne, Food Editor, The New York Times

A film that started out to be a 10 minute short became a 44 minute Southern documentary classic on a classic southern treat: grits. It was the keynote film for the Margaret Mead Film Festival at the Museum of Natural History in N.Y. It won top honors in all the major non-theatrical film festivals when it first appeared in 1980. It is still shown today throughout the South in Museums, public libraries, schools and universities. However, in 2002 it was discovered that the 16mm printing elements for this Southern classic had deteriorated, leading to a campaign to preserve and restore the film. Patrons of the film classic contributed funds that enabled the NEA film preservation grant and the digital restoration of It's GRITS.

With all the native wit, rib tickling humor and ability to see what makes the South the South found in the literary classics of Southern writers like Mark Twain, documentary filmmaker Stan Woodward helps us discover the common thread that connects the South’s people across all social, economic, political and racial boundaries – Grits!

Woodward used what, at the time, was a highly unconventional camera style and interviewing technique – called “direct cinema” - a style of hand-held, spontaneous, first-person singular storytelling where the cameraman becomes an active participant and interlocutor for the story. Having learned this hand-held camera style from the New York filmmakers who invented the crystal synch system that freed the 16mm camera from the tripod in the 1960's, Stan uses the camera to initiate the interaction with folk as he moves his query into grits and its place within the culture of the South, we travel with him through the Southern cultural landscape catching people unrehearsed with a simple, story-unfolding question – “Excuse me…Do you eat Grits?” Then, with the surprise you come to expect as you are hurtled through this artist’s journey, the same question is posed on the streets of New York, leading to a wonderful creation of a grits souffle by New York Times food writer, Craig Claiborne.

At the time of the film’s release in 1980, it received a national screening over PBS accompanied by the following review in the New York Times by film critic, John O’Connor: “Grits is us” - or, if we are to be grammatically correct, “Grits are us” - could easily be the title of this uproariously funny and at the same time insightful and poignant personal documentary." The 30th anniversary edition has been digitally remastered and restored, and includes bonus footage. View the trailer here. View still shots from the film here.

Hallowed Ground: Primitive Camp Meetings of the South Carolina Low Country    
Contact Filmmaker Directly for Pricing: woodwardstudio@charter.net
This two DVD set contains five spiritual camp meetings from the South Carolina low country: Cattle Creek, Cypress, and Indian Field, the Anglo-American camp meetings and Saint Paul and Shady Grove, the Afro-American camp meetings. DVD 1 contains the story of Cattle Creek and Cypress camp meetings. DVD 2 contains the story of the Indian Field, Shady Grove and St. Paul traditions (Indian Field includes footage shot during the Bicentennial celebration in 2001).

The Olgers Chronicle                                      $25.00 - buy now                                                       The video documentary presents the filmmaker’s impromptus visit with Jimmy Olgers, a natural-born performer of the sort academic folklorists would label a “verbal artist.” Olgers is “on stage”, i.e. performing, throughout the encounter, much as he would do, presumably, in response to a visit by any inquisitive stranger who stops by his converted storefront Museum. The piece engages the viewer in an emergent experience, framed by the filmmaker’s first-person point of view in a skillfully executed hand-held camera style and developed through the filmmaker’s spontaneous interaction with Olgers and two friends who happen to be present – and constitute a kind of in-group audience.” - Gary Barrow, Folklorist


Rockfish Muddle 
$25.00 - buy now
From ancient times to the present, the East coast striped bass – an ocean and freshwater fish nicknamed “rockfish” by the native population that dwells in and around the village of Weldon at the annual spawning ground for these robust game-fish – have returned from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean up what is known today as the Roanoke River to the rocky falls and turbulence of the waters surging past the bend in the river at Weldon, NC (named the “Rockfish Capitol of the World” by local folk. Down a 130 foot drop from the piedmont to the coastal plain, nature provides ideal conditions each April and May for the annual spawn of rockfish at the stretch of river named "Moratuck" (the river of death) named by the Native Americans who gathered here to fish each year.

Today the last of a breed of traditional local fishermen who grew up making a part of their living from catching the rockfish during their colossal spawn keep alive a tradition of folklife, folklore, and the folk heritage foodway known as “rockfish muddle.” The filmmaker documents Weldon resident, J.E. Evans, Jr. as he cooks a classic Weldon “rock muddle” that he hopes will influence his young grandchild as he seeks to somehow pass on this local cooking tradition and the lore surrounding it to a young generation who are descendents of the “river people.”

Seeing Into Being: The Scrap Iron Art of Charlie Grimsley                                          $25.00 - buy now                                                       During the drive to Atlanta, GA from a shoot at the Brunswick Stewbilee in Brunswick, GA, the filmmaker and folklorist John Burrison passed an humble house well back from the road that would have gone unnoticed had it not been for a four-story tall mobile sculpture visible over the trees with a 30 foot metallic fish rotating in a circular motion high in the air trying to get away from a 40 foot metallic canoe with a fisherman aboard raring back on his fishing pole.

At Burrison’s request the car was turned around and when the day was done one of the most unusual and spontaneously-shot records of the work of a self-trained artist and “visionary” was “in the can.” Without the filmmaker receiving an NEA “Creativity in Folklife” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, allowing him the time to edit works from his extensive folklife video archive, this work would have remain unedited and unseen.
 
Southern Routes: Five Volume Collection 
Contact Filmmaker Directly for Pricing: woodwardstudio@charter.net
The National Endowment for the Arts awarded Stan Woodward a “Creativity in Folklife” grant to enable him to set apart the time to select and edit important Southern culture and folk heritage works contained in more than 1,500 hours in The Woodward Studio Folk Heritage Video Archive. This archive contains footage gathered since 1995 (the year Stan returned to documenting Southern folk heritage foodways and folk culture and their tradition bearers). The grant was in recognition of the rare and insightful record of these traditions with Southern culture in transition and many traditions disappearing. The works contained in the five volume disc-set of Southern Routes range from shorts under ten minutes in length to full feature length single volume documentaries (The Olgers Chronicle and The Morris Chronicle). 

Southern Routes Volume One
Drakes Bar B Que, The Ehrhardt Five and Dime, Cooperative Grocery, Joe Gunn Sheep Stew
The Scrap Iron Art of Charlie Grimsley, The Old Time Horse Farmers Gathering, The Stirring Stick
Southern Routes Volume Three
The Olgers Chronicle: On the Porch at Olgers’ Store
Southern Routes Volume Four
The Morris Chronicle: Wise Man of Hatiola
Southern Routes Volume Five
Rockfish Muddle, We Just Call It "CUSH", An Eagle Scout's Brunswick Stew Dilemma


Southern Stews Collection 
$160.00 - buy now
All the travel, field research and shooting Stan Woodward has conducted over the past 20 years traveling the South with various scholars and folklorists resulted in a unique set of documentaries that bring together a picture of the South and Southern folk culture through it's love of food and communal cooking. Now, for the first time,the opportunity to collect these videos as a set is possible. And in this set of videos you will come to see and understand the place of the black iron kettle community stews that are the signature of Southern Folk Heritage foodways - open air cooking that stands as a monument to Southern agrarian roots. 

These documentaries weave together the threads of folk culinary artisans - stewmasters, hash-masters and burgoo kings - into a tapestry that shows how the black iron pot and wooden paddles have become icons that stand for our ancestors, their field-workers, families, neighbors and friends over the past two centuries who have passed down recipes and secret ingredients that are being kept alive and in the pots today.

Southern Stews Collection Includes:
Brunswick Stew: Virginia
Brunswick Stew: Georgia
Burgoo! 
Carolina Hash
Sheep Stew of Dundas
Rockfish Muddle
We Just Call it Cush
Southern Stews: A taste of the South

Southern Stews: A Taste of the South
$25.00 - buy now
This spontaneously-shot surprising documentary looks across the South to see the connections between the folk heritage traditions of communal cooking in gigantic black iron pots stirred with wooden paddles maintained into the 21st century by culinary folk artisans called “stewmasters” with their stew crews.  With wit and humor, Southern Stews carries us from Kentucky and Virginia into Georgia and South Carolina to discover ancestral stews that honor an agrarian past and contain the blended history of our European, African, Native American, and frontier settler roots in one-pot meals. 

From hunter stews in Kentucky to Sea Island stews first cooked by African American slaves, to the hash that is peculiar only to South Carolina and the "stew-wars" that crop up between Virginia's Brunswick County and the coastal town of Brunswick, Georgia, these pottages include ingredients of local meats and vegetables, onions and potatoes (and some say "roadkill" and others "the kitchen sink").  But no-matter the stew, when the huge cast iron pots are steaming and being stirred with wooden paddles, you know that stewmasters and crews are drawn into community in preparing for a large stew gathering at volunteer fire departments, rural churches, family reunions, or stew festival competitions…and the stories and "leg-pulling" around the pots are continual & never-ending. 

Stewbilee: A Brunswick Stew Folk Heritage Festival  
$25.00 - buy now 
In the town of Brunswick Georgia in the month of October a very special celebration of the folklife and folk heritage roots of Brunswick stew occurs at the Brunswick Stewbilee Festival and Cookoff. The Brunswick Stewbilee began locally by the Brunswick/Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce in the late 19th century as a means of having fun with Brunswick Georgia's claim to the origin of this iconic Southern stew, to attract visitors interested in heritage tourism, and to establish a professionally conducted cooking competition with award trophies given to stew masters by a select team of judges and by ballot in "the people's choice award."

The Morris Chronicle  
$25.00 - buy now
The Morris Chronicle is a film that sets out to document a 93 year-old barbecue master, Morris Peeples, as he cooks a hog in the old fashioned way - the way that farmers in the Springfield community in South Carolina have cooked in this Edisto River region in Barnwell County. This film starts out to be about Morris setting aside a hog for a BBQ requested by an attorney in Barnwell - his attorney. As we move linearly through the cooking of the barbecue, we learn that Morris is supervisor and honorary member of a hunt club that in what Morris calls "the Big House" about 300 yards from his sharecropper house, where he and his 52 year old wife, Faye, live. When Morris takes us to the "Big House", we become connected to a story of the relationship between the landowner who began the hunt club, Morris Peeples, and the men who are members of the hunt club who spend weekend outings at the "Big House" The Hatiola Hunt in which Morris is an honorary member brings Morris together with men whose Southern roots are entertwined with Morris's.

Morris lived the life of a sharecropper. He is a man who inherited almost supernatural strength - on the inside and the outside - from his father, as well as a knowledge of the soil and how to get the most out of it that earned him the reputation of being able to get more quality product out of an acre of land than anyone else in the county. He is a sage - a man whom his brothers and their sons in The Hatiola Hunt club seek out for wisdom ,as well as a zest for living. As we come into Morris's life we find a person with the love for people that is so infectuous that it draws the young and the old to him.

This documentary was made possible by a grant from the SC Arts Commission Folklife and Traditional Arts program awarded to community sponsor, The Lexington County Historical Society and Museum, Lexington, SC.

The Olgers Chronicle                                    $25.00 - buy now                                                       In the South there are characters we all know who could be the source for great Southern fiction and novels. There is a quality about them that would lead one to say, “That’s what makes the South the South. One such person is Jimmy Olgers – the robust personality and grand proprietor of Olgers Store – which is part a museum containing remarkable and unusual artifacts from the material culture of the American South and beyond, and part the stage for Jimmy, which consist of a 6 foot by 100 foot front porch onto which people from all across the United States (and, as Jimmy likes to say, “…and all over the world”) have come to sit down and go back in time. Truly a Southern classic! 

The Sheep Stew of Dundas
$25.00 - buy now
This journey in search of the story of Dundas Sheep Stew and its preparation is poignant as we learn how fragile the tradition is; and it is filled at every turn with good humor and the extraordinary warmth of the people of Dundas. This documentary provides an unusual view back into the ways of our rural farm folk who took occasional breaks from the gruelling work of farming to come together around the cooking of a locally concocted stew, to enjoy fun and fellowship; and for the stewmaster and stew crews, a sip of whiskey here and there, some good-natured leg-pulling, and the comradery of a rural farm culture that occured around the stew-pot - not to mention the good eatin' that followed. The citizens of Dundas raised $2,500 through a rummage sale, a raffle, and the cooking of a special sheep stew to enable the editing of this documentary to occur during the editing of Southern Stews.

This documentary was edited as part of the Southern Stews documentary project from archival footage in the Woodward Studio collection. It was made possible when the people of the small village of Dundas, VA learned of the Southern Stews project and that there was enough material to edit the story of their proud stewmaking tradition - one that lies just over the county line from Brunswick County in the very region where the first Brunswick stew is said to have been prepared and named in 1828. Only this county is Lunenburg, and the village is Dundas, VA, and in between the three buildings in "downtown" Dundas stands a sign that reads - "Welcome to Dundas - Home of the World's Best Sheep Stew - A gastronomical delight". It stands next to the Dundas Ruritan Club stew shed where the "gastronomic delight" is only cooked twice a year in four 100 gallon black pots to help raise money for Ruritan community service projects. This arduous, 12 hour cooking of culled sheep in four 80 gallon cast iron pots requires five shifts and as many as 20 men. And when the recipe is compared to the first Brunswick stew recipe, it is more true to the original recipe of 1828 than the current version of Brunswick stew cooked by stewmasters throughout Brunswick county VA - only the squirrel in the original recipe has been replaced by sheep.  All else remains the same.

We Just Call It CUSH
$25.00 - buy now
In the once-thriving textile town of Piedmont, South Carolina and out of the textile mill folk heritage tradition of socializing and entertainment centered around traditional cooking of local foodways at communal gatherings sponsored by the mill owners and managers, a cornmeal-based and highly-seasoned concoction was created to compliment a fried fish dinner. It served as a means of economically extending the meal for large gatherings of 300 or more people.

This dish was named “cush”, and it is said to be so unique to the town of Piedmont located on the Saluda River and so bound to the existence of the mill’s “Fishing Club” that dates back to the late 1800’s and turn of the century that “cush” is not known to “outsiders.” In fact, the filmmaker found that it is not known to most of the younger generation of town-dwellers who do not have deep roots in the textile mill community or relatives who were a part of the “Fish Club Dinners” of old.