CGI Digital has a team of videographers and scriptwriters but they also contract with approximately 2,000 freelance videographers. One that CGI has been using for more than a decade is Rhonda Ray. Rhonda is the owner of Agápe Films but provides CGI with fantastic video content from southeastern states including Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.
In this article, Rhonda gets the opportunity to create video content for her hometown of Brewton, AL, through CGI Digital. Her experience serves as an interesting read and paints a beautiful picture of the culture of Brewton, Alabama.
Brewton, Alabama – My Hometown
Every small town has a story to tell.
One of the reasons I love being a CGI contract videographer is because, in some small way, I get to help tell those stories. They’re the stories behind the faces that make those towns what they are today and of the hands that built them generations ago. They’re the stories of favorite gathering spots, celebrated traditions, great tragedies, and even greater triumphs.
I’ve been a contract videographer for CGI since 2008, working with producers and editors to gather the stories and images of small towns from throughout the Gulf Coast of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. However, the latest CGI assignment was different – much different.
This time my assignment was taking me to a place I knew like the back of my own hand – My Hometown. Although it’s been 20+ years since I last hailed a Brewton address, it’s the place I still call home.
A Proper “Community” Working Together
Like many small towns scattered throughout the southeast, Brewton was built on the railroad and lumber industry. Nestled between two creeks, it’s the perfect place for people who enjoy nature and a simpler way of life. Most of the time, the creeks provide visitors and residents alike with a place to enjoy some relaxation and recreation—most of the time.
However, just one week prior to the CGI scheduled shoot, record rainfall caused the waters to rise and flood the town. It’s not the first time this has happened, and assuredly it won’t be the last. But in true Brewton fashion, the residents came together to clean up and rebuild as they have done so many times before.
It’s that sense of community that makes Brewton so incredibly unique. It’s where people help each other for no other reason than “just because” – be it a flood, hurricane, or another disaster.
How many other towns can say they have a restaurant where there aren’t any prices on the menu? Donations are welcome, but if you can’t afford a meal, well, that’s OK too. At the time of the CGI shoot, Drexell & Honeybee’s Restaurant was still closed due to the flood damage – but something tells me they’ll be back even stronger than before.
Instant Nostalgia in Brewton
As I crossed the creek and turned left onto Belleville Avenue, I was overcome by a flood of memories: my childhood best friend’s home, the stadium where my friends and family gathered on Friday nights to cheer on the mighty Tigers, and across the street, the YMCA where I had my first “real” job as a summer camp counselor and later as the Aquatics Director and lifeguard trainer.
I saw the steps to the Board of Education building, and immediately my mind drifted back to 1985. It was there where, at 9 years old, I gathered with so many familiar faces and watched as a parade of antique cars and marching bands passed by during the city’s centennial celebration. A soapbox boat derby followed a satirical thumb at the city’s ordinance banning the operation of any motorized boats on the streets of downtown Brewton.
“Picking Up” Where I Left Off
I could go on and on about the memories that make this little town so special to me but to do that would be to tell my entire life’s story. That’s because so much of who I am today is contained in that tiny little dot on the map called Brewton.
As I walked around with my camera in hand I was greeted by friends that I’ve not seen since high school, our conversations flowing as naturally now as they did back then. When I was involved in an unavoidable accident on the second day of the shoot, before the dust even settled, it was a family member who immediately rushed to my aid. You can’t find that in a big city.
They say you can never go back. That’s not true. When you grow up in a small town like Brewton, you’ll always have a place to call home no matter where your life takes you.
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