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Jenkinson Denzel Southern — Barking filmmaker and accidental trailblazer

PUBLISHED: 17:05 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:42 10 July 2020

Jenkinson believes his status as a studio founder and director shows that anything can be achieved with determination and discipline. The 24-year-old works with teenagers across the borough who have expressed an interest in filmmaking. Picture: Jenkinson Southern

Jenkinson believes his status as a studio founder and director shows that anything can be achieved with determination and discipline. The 24-year-old works with teenagers across the borough who have expressed an interest in filmmaking. Picture: Jenkinson Southern

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Jenkinson Denzel Southern is not interested in being a trailblazer.

Stills from a production made by Jenkinson Southern's film studio Mavrik, the name of which derives from a university nickname. Picture: Jenkinson SouthernStills from a production made by Jenkinson Southern's film studio Mavrik, the name of which derives from a university nickname. Picture: Jenkinson Southern

The 24-year-old from Barking has found himself on that path, but not by design.

To Jenkinson’s knowledge he is the UK’s first black studio head, which he accepts gives him a voice in the wider discussion surrounding equality of opportunity.

That’s part of why he sat down with the Post: to talk about his journey so far, alongside his hopes for the future.

Born in the Netherlands, Jenkinson moved to Barking as a one-year-old.

Director Jenkinson Southern out on location. The 24-year-old from Barking is running a free course later this year for budding filmmakers in the local area. Picture: Jenkinson SouthernDirector Jenkinson Southern out on location. The 24-year-old from Barking is running a free course later this year for budding filmmakers in the local area. Picture: Jenkinson Southern

Always capable, if possibly a little distracted, Jenkinson plodded along nicely throughout his formative years.

Like so many, the director came into his own when he discovered his calling: filmmaking.

Watching Guardians of the Galaxy was a game-changer: “That movie changed everything. I started off wanting to be an actor, but I’m quite introverted at heart.”

Jenkinson decided to pursue a film studies degree, studying at London’s Kingston University for four years.

The start of his degree brought about a couple of realisations; one good, another less so.

Jenkinson’s first realisation was that his love of filmmaking translated to a love of the mechanics, shown by his enthusiastic description of the ARRI Alexa camera.

Forced to explain to the untrained ear, the director said this camera is something of a God for filmmakers.

The second realisation was somewhat lonelier; Jenkinson quickly gleaned that very few people on his course looked like him, and that this would determine where most of his lecturers thought his ceiling to be.

Many didn’t expect that Jenkinson, as a black, working-class man, could achieve the lofty ambitions he had set himself.

Without malice, they taught him according to the limits of what they believed he could achieve.

This only served to motivate the director, who in his second year trademarked Mavrik.

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Originally a YouTube channel — named after his university nickname, Maverick — Jenkinson registered that trademark as a statement of intent.

After his degree he returned to Barking and started working in a shared space with Seun Oshinaike, a Barking and Dagenham Council employee involved with the Street Tag app.

Jenkinson credits Seun as the man who “gave me an opportunity”, without whom his journey to success would have been slower.

But make no mistake, Jenkinson would have got there.

In 2014, when Mavrik was still a YouTube channel, Jenkinson’s production, Simon Says, received just 100 views.

However, in a flashback video released to mark the studio’s anniversary, he is seen celebrating that “little victory”.

That passion for success — however big or small — propelled Jenkinson to the point he reached in late 2019, when he secured the deal which saw Odeon host an exclusive screening for his production, Peanut Butter Cartel.

Jenkinson has a raft of projects in the pipeline, with few more important than the online filmmaking course scheduled for December.

Open to all ethnic minorities aged 14-18, the Mavrik Studios owner is funding the course as a way of putting into society something sorely missing when he was growing up.

He explained: “There is so much talent in east London. When I was helping kids in Street Tag’s space, a young boy came to me and said: ‘There’s no point doing this, I won’t get far’.

“It makes my blood boil — we have to change this mindset.”

The second project is an anthology series based on six individual accounts filmed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jordan Lewis, Elsie Wang, Alexandra Cook and Natalya Micic, Emily Stride, Georgie Halford, Daniel Davids, Emma Lo, Sarah Dawson, Matt Blin and Ed Newman make up the cast of Unicorn King, alongside photographer Salam Zaied.

All proceeds raised will be split between Save the Children (Yemen Crisis), Islamic Aid and MIND.

Jenkinson’s overriding priority is to demand change in the UK film industry.

He is drafting an open letter to industry bodies, petitioning for both the improved inclusion, and equal promotionof black people in film.

He sincerely hopes his words ring true, particularly at this time when the daily struggles faced by black men and women are at the collective forefront like never before.

He feels privileged to be a director, a studio owner, and a black man. He wants to create a more obvious pathway to success than that available to him.


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