Southwest Oklahoma's Resource For News and Entertainment
Tuesday April 23rd 2019

The Secret of Sarah Pennington

With the forthcoming film festival season looming closer, film producer and Cameron University Professor Dr. Matt Jenkins is ready to reveal The Secret of Sarah Pennington — a movie that straddles the line between horrifying with its killer twists and thrilling with its stunning special effects.

The story of The Secret of Sarah Pennington intertwines several mysteries into one: Famous drummer Jonathan Grayline, played by Doug McAbee, finds himself down on his luck, performing in a band at a high school reunion and then arrested for the murder of the lead singer.  While trying to exonerate himself of the crime, he discovers that everyone in town believes high school mass murderer Sarah Pennington is once again killing as each person who can testify on his behalf meets his or her demise.

Dr. Jenkins said he started developing the idea for The Secret of Sarah Pennington with co-writer Doug McAbee with the challenge of making a movie could be could subscribe to certain genres.

“It is really the first time we made such a thing,” Dr. Jenkins said. “The idea came about because we produced a campy movie called Beaches, Buns and Bikinis, and every distributor we talked to said, ‘had this been a horror movie, we could have distributed this yesterday.’ So we said, ‘okay, let’s try that.”

Though Dr. Jenkins has been making films and documentaries for over 16 years while teaching at Cameron University, he said shooting The Secret of Sarah Pennington made for another learning experience.

“This is the first film that we have shot using a DSLR camera,” Dr. Jenkins said. “At first I was very reluctant to shoot without film or without tape — because I have never done it before and did not have experience with it — but our Director of Visual Effects Doug McAbee said ‘you’ve got to do it, you’ve got to do it,’ and so we did, and I am so thankful that we did because I have learned so much,” Dr. Jenkins said. “I have learned so much about media management and using lenses and shooting video with a still camera. I will never go back to using film or tape again. It was a phenomenal experience, and it gave us a beautiful image, too.”

According to Dr. Jenkins, sharing ten years of experience working with Director Charles Stanley together on various film projects enhanced the execution of their vision they shared for their latest film.

“The nice thing about it is we all work well together, we share a common vision — producing the best movie we can — And Charles is the greatest at directing and shot framing,” Dr. Jenkins.

Dr. Jenkins said the cast brought additional resources and expertise to accompany their acting talents, and went on to emphasize how the film benefits because of these contributions.

“One of the characters in the film — my hero in production, a guy named Pat Bishow of Amusement Films — we gave him a cameo and he in turn help us get a location that gives us a beautiful view from downtown to midtown Manhattan,” Dr. Jenkins said.

Dr. Jenkins said he is fortunate to feature a cast that includes Cameron University students, graduates and faculty as well as stars like Skipper Bivens from the television series Hillbilly Handfishing. He also cites Jed Fox as an actor whose efforts the cast and crew appreciate having onset and between takes.

“Jed was an inspiration to the other actors and easily played a range of emotions,” Dr. Jenkins said. “When the production had a major problem, Jed stepped up and provided an excellent solution.”

Since filming the scenes and wrapping production, Dr. Jenkins said he has submitted The Secret of Sarah Pennington to three festivals in Oklahoma, counting the Trail Dance Film Festival in Duncan, the Bare Bones International Film Festival in Muskogee and the deadCENTER Film Festival in Oklahoma City. He said he has also submitted the film in other festivals, including the Marfa Film Festival in Texas and others in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Dr. Jenkins said he sent the film to another festival located in Prague in the Czech Republic called Febiofest.

Film aficionados can stay privy to all the pertinent details surrounding The Secret of Sarah Pennington online by consulting or liking the film on Facebook at