A Social Study with Sanford D. Jenkins
by Bryan Carter
Sanford D. Jenkins and his grandmother by Darryl Cobbs
I’d like to believe a lot of things about the world. Of these truths is one regarding the chill of today. I will never gather enough bravery again to embrace this type of Antarctic breeze throughout the core of my brittle husk I call a body. Never again.
I walked down the street determined not to let the cold over take my speed. This was the first time I stopped at the Mausoleum of Contemporary Art. In other travels, I easily looked over the building; today was my last time doing so. The outside of PhilaMoCA gave a feeling of fatigue, as if it was tired of standing, yet its definition allowed it to withstand the side effects of time and remain as strong as it needed to be. Upon entering the building, all of the philosophical echoes of the mind went away as my eyes came to view the art on the wall. And like that, I was brought back to the 21st Century by the familiar faces of Speed Racer and the Incredible Hulk along with unfamiliar faces before my time.
Unknowingly, Sanford D. Jenkins, the director of Social Studies, greeted me. We started talking about the venue space and my thoughts on the event name. At that point, Sanford gave way to introducing himself and his title. After our conversation, I was shown the rest of the venue; the DJ booth in the back, the pieces of art covering the walls and the warmth a simple couch and a few chairs created. I darted for the couch immediately as if it was my favorite place to sit at home. A few minutes passed before Sanford introduced himself, and prepared us for a musical performance from Reek and Beano. Both Philadelphia natives, Reek, a local Hip-Hop artist and Beano, a singer, performed their song FaiRyTale together. Reek also performed Day DReaming (1st) and Wake Up (3rd), all from Reek's debut album F.a.n.T.a.s.Y. Following their performance Sanford introduced Social Studies describing his thoughts of the film and overall goal:
The film tells the story of Scout Rittle, a Millennial woman who inherits her family's long-standing photography studio. She moves to NYC to work on her craft, and in the process, discovers more about herself, sexuality, and freedom. The film is described as a coming of age tale that is "universal in nature yet, wrapped in our culture." – Social Studies Kickstarter
Central HS alumni and film director Sanford D. Jenkins is a Philadelphia native, and former Wall Street analyst. Recently, he discovered his love for filmmaking and storytelling which is now taking him to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts this January.
Beano and Reek by Darryl Cobbs
Main Course: What were you trying to convey through you short film?
Ultimately, I wanted to inspire others to be great in their art and their work and show that the power to do so is well within your grasp. You just have to believe it. As Steve McQueen once said to a student during a "12 Years" Q&A I attended at the Apple Store in SoHo last year, "just fucking do it." Live dangerously. Push your culture to new heights.
One member from the audience asked: What inspired the films score?
This film inspired by a lot of films that I watched last winter from 58 to 65. Most of the films were European films and French films shot with jazz scores and in black in white because it was less expensive and the pictures look better. Taking a lot of that, I spent much of my time listening to old jazz scores and musicians that I enjoy. I had a friend that I was talking to over this period of time and said, “hey, we should take what we like and what we enjoy out of those scores and create a contemporary idea of the type of music we like to listen to, like soulful music.” From there, we sat down, went through a bunch of ideas, and tied them into the images we had.
Local writer and blogger Lissa Alissa: What was the symbolism behind the mask?
The gas mask is my representation of what people don’t need what people are reaching out for that won’t really help them. If you look at the gas mask in the film, it’s actually incomplete in a way because there’s no oxygen attached. So, in effect it’s not really guarding her from or helping her whatsoever. She realizes towards the end that it’s useless for her to use the mask. She could’ve had a guy or gone to a bar to make herself feel better, but none of that stuff is going to solve her problem at the end of the day. We used the gas mask a symbol for all of those external factors that you bring into the fold that are not going to necessarily help you reach your goal.
Another member from the audience asked: Why is the film named Social Studies?
Well, literally this film is a social study. Most of the time, for marketing purposes, the title has nothing to do with the story you’re watching. I was not going to have a title, but everyone said that you have to have one so people can find it. So, I called it what it was. I made it so I can watch people’s reactions and see what they take from it.
Main Course: Describe your experience developing this film. What did you learn from putting it together?
This year has been bigger than that, but let’s start and focus there. Exactly six months ago was my birthday. And at the time, I was in between weekends of shooting for a short film, ‘Social Studies’ that I wrote over a really cold winter of clarity in NYC post quitting my Wall Street gig. My production team and I raised the money to shoot through Kickstarter in April, and all the while I kept thinking, “Where is this going?” More than “it” was “me” — where was I going?
Mausoleum of Contemporary Art by Darryl Cobbs
Philadelphia is the fourth and final stop in the film's East Coast tour, which took place in NYC (Manhattan & Brooklyn), and Atlanta. The film will also be shown in Los Angeles in 2015. On Christmas Eve and a bit thereafter, Social Studies will be available digitally on Vimeo. To read more about Sanford’s thoughts behind Social Studies visit their website and social media outlets:
Reek @Rookie_McFly (IG)
Beano's @JustBeano (Twitter) + @JusBeano (IG)
Composer: Spencer Greene - https://m.soundcloud.com/sgreenesavvy/social-studies-soundtrack