Martha Weeks Daniel
President, Daniel Design Associates
Producer and Director for Miss Nancy Minds Their Manners
Southern Stories; a film running through my head...
I have always loved story telling. It's a big part of life in the South. As child, I recall sitting on the porch swing on steamy summer evenings, listening to my grandmother and aunts telling stories of their childhood and people they knew, and envisioning the action as a film running in my head as they talked into the night. The tales were usually about the doings of remarkable people, those "larger than life" characters that you would never forget. Years later, when I followed my husband around the country during his Air Force years, I found that my newly made friends loved hearing me retell some of these stories, which I embellished with a thicker than usual Southern accent. The longer I lived away from North Carolina and the South, the more I missed it, and I began to really appreciate what makes our neck of the woods so special and the colorful cast of characters that abound.
Meeting Miss Nancy....
It was a hot July day in 2005 and I was invited to attend the Graduation Tea for my 9 year old granddaughter who had spent five days at a camp that had been held every summer for the past 12 years, “House Parties at 1812; Etiquettes for Young Ladies & Gentleman”. I had no idea what to expect. I sat in the hallway of Nancy Rascoe’s nearly 200 year old historic home and watched her graciously welcome her guests and oversee the tea that her 12 young charges had prepared, and I listened to the charming recitations. I was completely enthralled and almost dumbstruck with the realization that what I was witnessing was a rare event in a remarkable and rural setting. I had discovered an authentic “southern character”, a 73 year old delightful woman who with great charisma, sincerity, and humor, was teaching etiquette and hospitality to a handful of rambunctious young children. What a great story, a wonderful documentary this would make, about this extraordinary woman and a slice of southern culture and a more genteel way of life that may be soon passing by.
Without further ado, I asked Miss Nancy if I could shoot a session of one of her manners camps; she most graciously agreed. I purchased the equipment (a good professional video camera) that I thought was all I needed at the time. I had NO IDEA where this would lead, but I felt very passionately that this was something I simply HAD to do!
So, like a fly on the wall, in cinema verite style, letting the camera roll with no advance direction or notice as to what would be happening next, I shot 20 hours of footage, of each day's activities at the camp, thrilled with the poignant, charming, funny, and remarkable scenes I was capturing.
Continuing Education: Center for Documentary Studies
What to do with the hours of camp footage? I found the answer at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke. I began classes in the fall of 2005 and with great technical and philosophical help, and the patience and wisdom from my instructors and colleagues, I wrestled the footage of Miss Nancy into edited versions. In June 2007, I received my Certificate in Documentary Studies after more than 120 hours of valuable instruction. Without a doubt, my experience at the Center set me on fire with passion and great confidence to continue my work in documentary filmmaking.
Sharing the vision…
Like a bolt - literally out of the blue - Caroline Paxton joined the Miss Nancy project in May 2007! I am thrilled to welcome the enthusiasm, talent and creative abilities that she is adding to this production. She shares with me the excitement, the passion, artistic vision and a real commitment to "do whatever it takes" to launch this documentary film successfully. I love working with Caroline and admire her extraordinary talent and energy . I can't imagine taking on a documentary project totally by myself... and even though this project is going into its 3rd year, the focus and determination to complete it with high production values is even more exciting and thrilling to work on with Caroline on board!
My Spec sheet…
A wife, mother, and now grandmother, I graduated from St. Mary’s in Raleigh and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I taught art in Texas, Alabama, California,and Puerto Rico when my husband was in the Air Force but I have lived in Rocky Mount, NC most of my life. For the past 20 years, I have been busy with my graphic and website design business ( www.danieldesign.com ) which still keeps me very busy. I have been very active with various civic groups in my community. A founding member of the the Triangle East Advertising Marketing Association, I have also served on the board of the Friends of the Rocky Mount Arts Center, the Rocky Mount City Club, the Board of Visitors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and for many years served on the John Motley Morehead Scholarship regional selection committee. In 2004, I was named Small Business Woman of the Year by the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce. I am fortunate to have a very patient and supportive husband (also my tech guy). I have two wonderful daughters who live in Raleigh and Charlotte, and 5 grandchildren.