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CF grad shares vision through film

by Michael Hanich | May 25, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Photo Submitted Denzel Jenkins operating a camera

A lot of of people have a story or a vision that is worth sharing.

Camden Fairview High School graduate Denzel Jenkins is telling his story and more through film after recently graduating from the University of Southern California with a Master of Fine Arts in Film and TV Production.

Among Jenkins' primary interests are God and his love for Costa Rica. Having a unique and surreal vision, he said he looks to find way to integrate both in his work in film and television production.

He is currently in Los Angeles working as an executive producer on a documentary for a local PBS outlet about an Asian American theatre called East West Players. The documentary focuses on the history of the thriving theatre, whose alumni include BD Wong, John Cho, Kal Penn, Daniel Dae Kim and James Hong.

Jenkins is already starting to thrive in his field, but he originally had a different vision after graduating from Camden Fairview High School. He originally enrolled at the University of Arkansas to study computer science.

Much like any other student in a new environment, Jenkins had plenty to learn, both in and out of the classroom. He soon discovered that a lack of diversity at the University of Arkansas had an affect on him. Jenkins said the lack of diversity, changed his vision for his future. Later on, he was a victim of sexual assault while at the University of Arkansas, he said, and moved back to Camden shortly after.

This traumatic experience left him having to pick up the pieces of his life and venture away from his original vision. It was back in Camden that he would find a new purpose in life with the support of his mother, Sarah Tyler, and God.

"I was back in Camden. I remember around this time when it happened, that's when I began to start writing poems -- it started the healing process for me. From there, God kinda led me to do film and to go back to college."

Jenkins enrolled at the University of Arkansas Little Rock to double major in mass communication and Spanish. While at UALR, Jenkins learned more about the television and film industry from behind the camera. He produced the documentary "The American Dream Today," which won the Moet Proactive Documentary Award at the 2016 UA Little Rock Film Festival.

Later that year, Jenkins studied in Costa Rica, where he took Spanish, acting, multimedia and documentary production. It was in Costa Rica where his love for film production grew and he realized he wanted to consistently work there.

His biggest step in his academic journey came when he chose to go to Los Angeles to enroll at the University of Southern California to get his Master's degrees. Jenkins would take a more personal approach his film work and his experiences in Arkansas.

At USC, Jenkins kept busy working his craft as a film maker and storyteller.

"Just being at this school, USC," Jenkins said, "it's just on a lot of work within itself. So one a time, I was really just been trying to put my head down and do the work, but it was a positive transition. I think it is because of what I've kind of already experienced kind of how it prepared me."

For his thesis project at USC, Jenkins wrote and a directed a film entitled "Measure of a Man." The film follows a young man, who becomes a victim of sexual assault but eventually finds a way to heal with his estranged father. The 15-minute film debuted at in USC's Thesis Films Winter 2022 Screening at the Eileen Norris Theater.

"Throughout, like, my hearing process, like, when I was in school, I would encounter mentors and people like older men and I would end up sharing what happened to me and they would also share a similar experience. So God was really just surrounding me with people and older men who had a similar experience and that kind of help create a healing space. One of those people was my father," Jenkins.

The process allowed to tell his story and is it as an inspiration for others to share their vision.

His next big goal is to make a feature-length iteration of "Measure of a Man," he said.

In the meantime, Jenkins is continuing to learn about the film industry and building himself in the busy and thriving industry of film production in the best setting possible -- Hollywood.

photo Photo Submitted Denzel Jenkins sitting near the USC School of Cinematic Arts star

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