On November 7 Mark Gamble (second camera) and I spent the day shooting the cotton harvest on Carl Brown’s farm near Aiken, South Carolina. We shot on three different fields over the course of the day, spending the majority of our time in a couple of fields on Montmorenci Road and finishing on a very large field called the Middle Field. Carl Brown and his partner Grover, along with Grover’s son Grover Jr., each worked a machine: Grover drove the cotton picker, Carl drove the cotton buggy, and Grover Jr. packed the cotton into the module builder. Together they worked nonstop until sundown at 6 PM. The weather was perfect: sunny and warm. The sight of cotton boles in full bloom in a field is astonishingly beautiful– and every farmer will tell you this.
On Saturday we went to Cameron, South Carolina to Cameron Gin to film Carl Brown’s cotton being ginned. Moss and Drake Perrow, the owners of the gin, had already been hauling Mr. Brown’s cotton from Aiken for at least two weeks. In fact, they had been stacking his cotton on their farm and holding it for me until I was ready to come to Cameron to film. They had 12 or more modules at their own farm and several on site at the gin. The gin’s truck driver hauled several modules from Aiken twice on Saturday but he didn’t want to be filmed doing this, so Mark and I stayed at the gin and filmed with Moss Perrow and about a dozen workers as they ginned Carl Brown’s cotton all day long. By the time we left I believe they had ginned about four or five of his modules into many bales of cotton, each one marked with a PBI tag containing a special number that will allow the gin and his merchant to keep track of the bale and assign it characteristics that will rate its quality. As each bale comes out of the gin’s press, a sample is also taken from the bale and sent to a classing lab in Florence, South Carolina. I hope to see Mr. Brown’s cotton samples classed on Tuesday this week. Pictures will be posted soon. Tomorrow I’ll return to Cameron in the afternoon to gather a few more interviews and photographs of all the workers. Andrew Cline, Production Assistant on Cotton Road, is taking portraits of all the workers we’ve met since early May so that I have an easy way to introduce workers in China to the workers that grew the cotton they are turning into products.