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Filmmakers see progress for Nellie’s documentary

NATCHEZ — The filmmakers chronicling the life of madam Nellie Jackson have been busy the past few months unfolding the life of one of Natchez’s most interesting residents.

With a little more than $5,000 raised from recent fundraising efforts, director Mark Brockway said the film’s team was able to purchase camera equipment and other gear.

“Mississippi Madam: The Story of Nellie Jackson” will trace the life of “Miss Nellie” from her birth in Woodville to her death in Natchez in 1990.

Jackson operated a bordello at the corner of Rankin and Monroe streets for decades.

Jackson died in July 1990, a week after a neighbor allegedly doused her in gasoline and set her afire, reportedly angered because she had turned him away from the bordello for being drunk. She had operated the house since the 1930s, and one of her rules was that clients had to show up sober.

Brockway said he, producer Lauren Jones and cinematographer Tim Givens have made great progress in chasing down leads and interviewing those who knew Miss Nellie.

The filmmakers have interviews scheduled nearly every weekend this month and next and have been able to track down people who lived on Rankin Street and benefitted from Jackson’s generosity to the community. Jackson was known to help neighboring families out with food and money.

Brockway said a trip to Covington, La., allowed the filmmakers to document recollections of an 87-year-old doctor who tended to Jackson’s girls.

“The content of the interviews have been, in my mind, really great,” Brockway said. “It’s all been very exciting.”

Jones said she has been pleased with the progress that has been made in the film.

“The progress that has been made as far as scheduling interviews and getting people to come forward and communicate has been phenomenal,” she said. “We’ve come such a long way and found out so much more.”

Givens said he believes those interviewed for the film will be of particular interest to Natchez residents.

“If you’re from Natchez or you’re familiar with the area, then you will not be disappointed with some of the people that will be interviewed for this documentary,” he said.

Beyond just Jackson’s life, the documentary will also explore how Natchez is tied to Jackson and how her business operated during different eras in the city, from the oil boom to the Civil Rights Movement, Brockway said.

Jones said the team is currently searching for photographs from the 1930s to the 1990s to use for the film.

Anyone with photographs they would like to share for the film can contact Jones at 601-660-0412 or by email at mississippi.madam@gmail.com.

For more information about the film, visit the film’s Facebook page or nelliejackson.com.

The crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo raised only about a quarter of the film’s goal, but Brockway said another campaign would soon be launched.

Anyone wishing to contribute funding to the film can mail donations to PO Box 18752, Natchez, MS, 39122.