Filmmaking Is My Profession.
Storytelling Is My Obsession.
I’m a StoryCrafter. I do what I do because it’s part of the very fabric of who I am. I honor others by sharing their stories with people who need to hear them now, those who are yet to come, and also those we’ll leave behind. Our stories are our past, present, and future. Our stories are our legacies.
I help my clients forge meaningful connections with their loved ones.
Stories are inside all of us, as part of our cultural heritage and family histories. Today's advanced technology affords us the potential to collect, archive, and preserve traditions. We have the ability to pass along our stories in place of the oral tradition of storytelling that’s disappearing.
My mission is to preserve storytelling traditions and maintain a connection with our past as we move forward to the future.
We are immersed in technology, yet some of us use digital media to share pictures of cats in snowsuits and refuse to embrace the real potential. Technology, particularly the internet, has the potential to bring us closer together by crossing geographic boundaries.
Sharing Stories Was My Destiny
If you wanted to eat, you'd better push your way to the front of the line. If you wanted to be heard, you'd better tell a damn good story and tell it well. If you wanted quiet, you were out of luck. I grew up in a large Chinese-Jamaican family comprised of colorful people. Thankfully, the people in my family knew how to weave a tapestry of storied tales, so things were never boring.
I knew at a young age that story was a powerful, meaningful part of my life and culture. What I didn't know was that I'd build a career on sharing stories with others. See "Where I Come From (The Long Story)" further down on this page for more.
What I Believe
"I believe in transforming traditions, speaking truths, sharing struggles + triumphs, and building connection through story. In everything I do, I look for the human element—that thread of connection that bonds us all together. Video is a stellar way to build connection by identifying and communicating through shared values. I help forge these connections by opening channels of communication with artful family films."
Danielle McClennan (Yup, that's me!)
Where I Come From (The Long Story)
My Grandmother was born in Cuba in the mid 1920's and moved to Jamaica as a young child. She quickly learned the dialect, customs, and most importantly the food! Grandma married my Grandfather, a Hakka Chinese man who emigrated to Jamaica, in the 1940’s. She moved the family to the States in the 1960's to make a better life for us.
Grandma and her two sisters would chat for hours as we sat around digesting a big meal. They would tell the same stories over and over though the years but each time they would recall forgotten details or add new bits as the eavesdropping grandkids got older. When I close my eyes I can see vivid vignettes of borrowed memories after hearing these stories time and again:
+ My Great-Grandmother slowly cracking the bedroom door, casting a sliver of light on a pair of fancy heels peeking out from under the blanket as she checked to see if her girls were home and in bed.
+ Standing up in my seat on my first trip to Jamaica with Grandma on a crowded plane yelling, “Who farted?!” (I was only three, gimme a break!)
+ My Uncle navigating a winding country road in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, screeching to a halt in his little beat-up car as he barely missed a woman crossing the road as he yelled out, “Jesus peace! You eva' see cyar in ‘ospital?"
My Grandpa Lee was Hakka, part of a group of migratory Chinese pioneers who spread their food and culture around the world. As a child, I often joined him in the kitchen to quietly observe as he prepared food. Cooking was our way to connect, as my grandfather was a stoic, traditional Chinese man who spoke very little English.
I watched with wide eyes as Grandpa selected freshly washed vegetables from a large colander in the sink. He would peel and chop and slice and dice using a large cleaver with the elegance of a surgeon. He would separate the garlic and ginger and scallions—and any number of items with which I was unfamiliar at such a young age—into their own bowls. Then he would line them up like little soldiers on the cutting board next to the stove.
The wok sat perched over the gas burner while flames licked at the sides and bottom. Grandpa would swirl in the oil and wait for the shimmer that told him the temperature was just right. One at a time, in a precise order to ensure each item cooked to perfection, in went the aromatics, the vegetables, and then thinly sliced meat.
I would scramble up onto my ancient wooden step stool and peer over the shallow side of the cooking vessel into a swirling, steaming, delicious-smelling concoction of jewel-colored vegetables hoping to actually see the transformation as they received wok hay, or breath of the wok. This is an ancient cooking technique using extremely high heat that imparts an indescribably delicious taste and texture into stir-fry dishes.
My Grandfather believed that life force was connected in every living thing and the best way to be nourished by food was to impart wok hay and then consume the dish while piping hot so the food didn't lose its chi.
I knew at seven years old that food was a powerful, meaningful part of my life and culture and that I would learn to cook and share stories with family and friends.
Little did I know, I would build a career on sharing stories.