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DSHS Serves as Backdrop for Film

DSHS Serves as Backdrop for Film(Posted: December 4, 2013)

The Drennen-Scott Historic Site will be featured in a movie currently being filmed that chronicles the history of a historical venue in downtown Van Buren.

"Step Into: The King Opera House" is an approximately 20-minute historical docudrama that will be shown to the public at the opera house in the spring. The short film, produced by Mad Possum Production Company, also examines the societal impact of the performance venue and the legend of the Opera House Ghost.

The film doesn't involve the Drennen-Scott House directly; instead, the house, which is owned by the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, will serve as a backdrop for several scenes in the film.

Director Devon Parks of Fort Smith said the film is set in the early 20th century, and approximately half of the movie is being shot at the DSHS.

"The Drennen-Scott House played a huge role in this production. Its authentic structure and interior certified it as a primary target for several scenes we needed to film," he said. "Its original setup made it very easy for our designers to come in and create what we needed without altering much from its original state."

Tom Wing, director of the DSHS and associate professor of history at UAFS, said the site provides an appropriate setting for the movie.

"We have a good place for them to portray the time period in which the film takes place," he said. "They are using the parlor at the Drennen-Scott home, but they'll also use Aunt Caroline Mary Scott's room, which was done in the early 1900s."

Wing said there was also a historical link between the opera house and the Drennen-Scott family, as Scott performed there several times.

"We found a program in the family collection where Aunt Caroline played in a local production of 'Hiawatha,'" he said. "So there is a connection there."

Parks said he is excited and grateful to be able to film at the Drennen-Scott house.

"Any film that is set in a different time period is an exciting adventure to make. There are so many elements that have to be handled the right way to create a believable environment without it looking unnatural," he said. "The fact that we have been working on this film for almost two years now makes it extremely exciting to finally be in production."

"I can't express my gratitude enough to Tom Wing for offering his own time to help make this happen," he added.

UAFS acquired the Drennen home and acreage in 2005 and received several grants to restore the property and house, which dates back to the 1800s. The Drennen-Scott Historic Site, which opened to the public in May 2011, serves as a museum and educational facility for UAFS. John Drennen was a founder of Van Buren, politician, Indian agent, landowner and businessman.

The home was purchased from descendants of John Drennen and Charles Scott – Caroline Bercher of Lavaca, Scott Bulloch of Van Buren and Drennen Bulloch of Little Rock. The three are fifth-generation descendants of the home's original owner, John Drennen.

The film began shooting in October, and Parks said they plan to wrap up production at the end of December. The movie has an estimated completion date of April 5. For more information about the film, visit

Article by: John Post, Public Relations Assistant

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