It all starts with a short movie that Matt Jenkins produces and directs called "Mirror Man." At first this brash and campy alien farce is received with mixed reviews. A judge for the American International Film and Video Festival simply stated “Huh?”
Film Festival rejections are common. One rejection is from the Brooklyn Underground Film Festival. However, the following year things begin to change. The Brooklyn Underground Film Festival organizers ask to screen "Mirror Man" at its festival and actually apologize for rejecting it the previous year. They go on to state "Mirror Man" is, “A truly bizarre and unique piece of cinema.” Following this screening "Mirror Man" is Internet licensed for over 200 percent of what it cost to make. Simply stated, this movie found its audience.
Encouraged by this success Jenkins enlists the award winning production skills of Charles Stanley and the graphic design genius of Doug McAbee and they plunge headlong into the world of low-budget documentary and short movie production. The three grow to form a unique relationship where the lines of responsibilities blur. Essentially Matt, Doug and Charles work well together each picks up where another drops off and all three contribute in a truly collaborative fashion. They are good friends as well as filmmaking partners.
A highlight of this trio’s collaboration is the 2006 short movie, “The Last Dive.” Shot entirely on a submarine, this production wins six film festival awards including Best Poster design for Doug’s efforts.
All three feel the calling to move into feature length production. Along with co-producer Dan Perrin, their next effort is the feature length "Beaches, Buns and Bikinis." Among the essential ingredients to include in an independent production is to get as big as star as possible. Perrin begins looking for a recognizable name to play the crucial role of Crab Shack Sammy, a beach bum hot dog vendor who dispenses love advice to young couples. He manages to secure American Icon Ron Jeremy for the role.
"Beaches" also marks the first time Doug takes on a lead acting role in addition to the art direction of all collateral and web design associated with the film. Charles co-directs, assumes the role of director of photography and portrays a small role in the production.
Shot on location in the Houston area, just about the entire movie takes place outside. Having no plan in case of rain, the crew was very lucky to have clear weather up until the last day of the shoot.
This return to brash and campy fare is met with mixed reviews. Distributors are slow to warm up to it. However, after being made available as a download on Amazon.com, sales are picking up. It appears this movie is finding an audience.
Tired of hearing: “Had this been a horror movie it would have been distributed yesterday,” Matt decides the next feature he wants to produce would be a horror/thriller movie.
Attending the Bare Bones Film Festival screening of "Beaches," with Doug and Nashville recording artist and friend Allen Biffle, Matt hands Doug an untitled script for what will become their second feature length movie. Excited about working on a horror movie, not only does Doug give the movie its name, "The Secret of Sarah Pennington," he rewrites the ending, creates all the visual effects, acts in his second starring role, and takes on all art direction and web design.
Charles assumes all primary directing responsibilities and again plays a small on camera role. Matt produces and edits the picture.
As the elements for the production fall into place, Matt needs to attach a star to the project. He is part of a team that is recording post-production audio for the television show, "Hillbilly Handfishin’." Five time world champion noodler, Skipper Bivins gets his start in television by being profiled in a documentary about the sport. This exposure leads to his starring in the highly popular Animal Planet television series. Matt approaches Skipper and his wife Joann about starring in the movie. Enjoying life in front of the lens, Skipper takes on the role of Detective Tuf Turner.
Pleased with this, Matt also wants to include his long time hero of no-budget productions Pat Bishow. Fans of b-movies and no-budget horror flicks will recognize the name Pat Bishow of NYC based Amusement Films. Known for such epic horror movies as "Three from the Dead House" and "The Soul Tangler" and more recent no-budget cult fare as "The Adventures of El Frenetico & and Go-Girl," "The Girls from H.A.R.M.!" and "It’s A Haunted Happenin’," Pat takes a turn in front of the lens in "The Secret of Sarah Pennington." This movie also marks the first time that Pat and long time collaborator Jon Sanborne act together in a scene. Matt is thrilled to have Jon appear in the movie as talent agent Fred Lubbock.
As Pat and Jon’s scenes take place in New York City, Marjorie Zoe Negron agrees to direct this part of the production. Known for her acting in such television series as "PanAm," Marjorie takes on the challenge of second unit director and guides the New York City shoot admirably.
The rest of the production is shot in Southwest Oklahoma. Matt, Doug and Charles are pleased with the outpour of support from the communities of Cache, Lawton and Duncan. The city of Cache blocks off its main street so a visually stunning accident scene can be staged. Cameron University opens its doors allowing a variety of locations to be used. A hotel in Duncan agrees to let the crew shoot in a room. People come forward and provide free equipment usage and location access. This production is the first that the three work with Tiffany Hudson. Known for her excellent photographs, Tiffany also produces the short movie "Perception" during this time and it is well received in film festivals. Tiffany provides superior professionalism and is an integral part of the production.
Initially it is a struggle to find a high school hallway to shoot three scenes. Appearing before school boards, Matt’s request for using hallway interiors is routinely denied. Efforts in locating and getting permission to shoot in a high school leads to the headline in the Fredrick Leader “Board Rejects Request to Make Slasher Film on Campus.” The funny thing about this is that Matt never approached the Fredrick School board about filming in their school.
The rest of the cast is filled in with local actors and the usual participants in a Matt Jenkins production. All perform superbly. Allen Biffle and his band perform in the beginning and Allen plays an integral role in the film's story plot.
The second lead is played by actor Jed Fox. A seasoned actor, Jed comes to the rescue of the production when it hits a serious snag. Also his presence raises the acting quality for everyone.
Despite the snags, principal production is completed in eight days. Post Production begins and the results of Doug’s visual effects are stunning.
The movie opens its festival run to a highly appreciative audience at the Trail Dance Film Festival. As the movie gains momentum, Matt, Doug, and Charles look forward to it screening at the Fright Night Film Fest. Known as Mid America’s largest genre pop/horror/culture/film, Fright Night will be held July 26-28, 2013. They patiently wait for notifications from other film festivials that were entered and are extremely excited about other future endeavours for "The Secret of Sarah Pennington!"