NORMAN — Oklahoma filmmaker Lagueria Davis’ life was forever changed when she took a job she stumbled upon by coincidence.
The University of Oklahoma alumna was looking for a way to put herself through school when she found a newspaper ad for a position at the Women’s Resource Center shelter in Norman. Though she had no experience or understanding of what she was getting herself into, Davis accepted the job for its flexible schedule.
Three months later Davis was self-described a “mess of emotions.” It didn’t stop her from throwing herself into advocacy for abused women by creating the indie feature film “1 in 3.”
The film, loosely based on her experience at the Norman shelter, refers to the statistic that 33 percent of women will be abused physically and/or mentally at some point in their lives. “1 in 3” was recently named a Bronze Winner of the 2013 Telly Awards in the Social Issues category. It was chosen from among 11,000 entries representing all 50 states and international competitors.
“The award gives the film a little more validation and credibility,” Davis said. “In the industry, films are judged by recognizable faces and marketable subject matter.”
The Bronze Telly is a merit boost for what might be easily written-off as a downer movie because it’s about domestic violence.
Davis is currently plumbing the TUGG organization that brings independent movies to local theaters based by popular demand and negotiating with Netflix to put “1 in 3” before larger audiences.
“1 in 3” has been screened at several festivals including at Oklahoma City’s deadCENTER Film Festival. Much of “1 in 3” was filmed in Norman, Oklahoma City and Edmond using Oklahomans for the cast and crew.
From her own lack of knowledge, Davis understood that others were unaware of domestic violence as well and that the story needed to be told.
According to the movie’s website, the story follows an abused woman Ophelia Metz as she fights to flea from her own cycle of violence. Upon arriving at a shelter, Ophelia meets shelter worker Sydell Thomas, who becomes Ophelia’s advocate. Slowly, it is revealed that Sydell’s life is not unlike the lives of the women who come into shelter — for it is closer than she thinks.
Davis based the movie off of experiences at the Norman shelter but said she took creative liberties for entertainment value.
Davis received tips on authenticity from police officers to other more senior women’s advocates. One actual dramatic event from her work days used in the film involved a judge ordering Davis into a confrontational situation with a client who had a victim’s protective order against her abuser.
“In the film the abuser pulls a gun when the woman and her advocate go to the house to get her things,” she said.
For more information on the movie visit 1in3movie.com.
In a new current project Davis is searching for that elusive combination of marketability and social commentary. It’s a feature film comedy titled “Spectacular Testicle Spectacle” with a male character who suffers verbal abuse from his girlfriend.
“It’s entertaining and funny without selling out,” she said. “If you know what ‘The Vagina Monologues’ is about, it’s like that but in the realm of masculinity with my little stamp on it.”
Although she’s a Texan by birth, Davis is getting extremely close to being a sure enough Okie. One of her industry jobs involves the extreme sport of catfish noodling, where people go into farm ponds or along river banks and catch live catfish by reaching into their dens and grabbing them through the gills or mouth with their bare hands. Davis has been a production assistant for Brad Beesley’s National Geographic channel TV show “Mudcats” that premiered in 2012. All episodes have been filmed in Oklahoma with a cast of genuine noodling yahoos.
“You can even see me on screen in Mudcats’ first season,” Lagueria said. “I’ve become an Okie by default.”