Posts Tagged ‘23andMe’

Making Movie Magic

May 6, 2017

It’s all about DNA and 23andMe. 

Sugar’s cousin Jordan has a fascinating story about how hIs family connects with Sugar’s family. Their most recent common ancestors are Joseph and Sarah Robert Lawton. 

Another of Jordan’s cousins is Tom. 23andMe wanted to make a short documentary about the link between these two fellows. 

Filming was going to be done on Edisto Island, Robertville, and Tom’s family place near the headwaters of the Coosawhatchie. (Remember? It’s pronounced COO-sah-HATCH-ee.)

The film producers did some telephone interviews with myself, Jordan, Tom, and some more of Jordan’s cousins, namely Boyce and Ashby. It was decided that they might need a guide for some of the locations around Robertville (waves hand wildly in the air). Plus Tom invited us to his family’s place to visit while the filming was being done there. 

The morning of the filming was at Edisto, the first known location of the Lawton family in America, before it was America. William Lawton died in 1757. 

The afternoon was a meeting at the meeting house of Black Swamp Baptist. 

Jeremy the director, Sugar, Tom, and Jordan. Sugar is pointing to the graveyard where the Lawton plot is located.

We did not know that they had already filmed for approximately 4 hours in a cemetery on Edisto. I had a list of places that seemed important, and they chose to film at the home site of Black Swamp Plantation. Or rather, what remained of it, since the house was burned by Sherman’s troops in 1865. 

Sugar went on home because he is a recluse, and this is too people-y for him. 

The arrival at the farm gate…

More of the entourage arrives…

We climbed over the gate. Locals driving by slowed down to see what was going on. 

Checking out the setting…

Here’s one of my favorite shots of Tom and Jordan in the afternoon light at the steps. 

I had warned them that there are fire ants living around the steps and that you wouldn’t know you were in them until you were in them. 

I wandered off into the bamboo to visit the rubbish pile of old bricks and debris. 

When I walked out of the bamboo, I saw a scene taking place at the farm gate. 

The gentleman leaning on the gate is the caretaker, and he stopped to make sure that no one was metal detecting. He unlocked the gate so we didn’t have to climb over. He told the crew to be careful and have a good time. 

Lighting is so important in photography. I took a photo of Tom and Jordan during a break, and the light was in my eyes. I didn’t know that Tom was taking a photo of the crew until later when I zoomed in on the image. 

Then even later, Tom posted a photo of the group, and there I am taking a photo of him and Jordan. See the difference in the lighting? So amazing. 

I don’t know who took this photo, but I’m standing at the farm gate with some of the crew. I enhanced the photo for your viewing pleasure. 

At the end of the day’s filming, the sun was dropping behind the trees and making the most perfect silhouettes on the backdrop of the steps. 

Ignore my finger blocking part of your vision. I have no skills at this point of the day. 


The next morning, I told Sugar we were leaving in 30 minutes to go to Tom’s family place about 45 minutes away to meet up with Tom, Jordan, and the crew. Because he is recluse-y, he had decided that he wouldn’t go, but because I posed the situation in a statement, not a question, he got in the car. 

The crew was setting up in the house for the interview sessions, and we got in a quick tour of the house before the set was closed. 

We rounded a corner, and stopped in shock because we didn’t expect to see this guy here. 

It’s Alexander James Lawton, the 2nd great-grandfather of Sugar. This oil hung in Sugar’s grandmother’s house in Savannah for about 50 years, and Sugar had always wondered what happened to it. 

The set was closed while Jordan was interviewed, and Tom took us on a tour of the area. 

Baby alligator out Tom’s car window…

The headwaters of the Coosawhatchie Swamp…

Hanging out over a waterway…

Mr. Turtle…

At one remote area, we saw a swallowtail kite. Only Sugar knew for sure that it was what it was, and later he produced his bird book with proof. “Uncommon and local. Most often seen soaring low over swampy woods…” Exactly this. 

We circled our way back to the house, and chatted a bit, and said our goodbyes. 

Because we have cats, and yarns, and other dead people to tend to.