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Sam Davis: From LCC to the Oscars

Sam Davis: From LCC to the Oscars
  • On March 22, 2019

By Ashlee Buhler
Editor in Chief

Sam Davis was up before the sun one January morning in Northern California.

Gathered around the TV half asleep with a cup of coffee in hand, Davis and his team learned that their film, “Period. End of Sentence,” had been nominated for an Academy Award.

Davis, 26, started his film-making journey at LCC. Dual-enrolled at LCC and Potterville High School from 2010 to 2011, Davis said he always knew his passion was in filmmaking.

Fast forward eight years and Davis is standing on one of the biggest stages in the film industry. The documentary he helped produce, “Period. End of Sentence” has won an Oscar for Best Short Documentary.

“It was amazing,” Davis said. “How much more exciting can it get for a young filmmaker? It was one of the first projects that I did after graduating (from the University of Southern California) in 2016, so it was really exciting to be there.

“As cool as it is on a personal level to experience that, it’s even cooler to know that the project is making a difference.”

The film was shot by Davis and his girlfriend, Rayka Zehtabchi, in India in 2017. The film, which premiered on Netflix in May of 2018, chronicles the hardships females in India face during menstruation.

The goal of the film was to end the stigma surrounding menstruation, and examine the limited access these women have to products like pads and tampons.

Davis said he was happy to be able to share the Oscar-winning moment with some of the women featured in the film.

“A couple of the subjects from our film came from India, so that was special,” Davis said. “It was shocking and over-stimulating for me, but these women had never left their village and came straight to the red carpet at the Oscars … It was a long, stressful day, but also one that we will never forget.”

Jeff Hamlin, a professor in the LCC Digital Media, Audio and Cinema Program, had high praise for his former student.

“Sam was a great student,” Hamlin said. “He came into the program knowing what he wanted to do. From the onset he wanted to be a cinematographer, and his class projects backed this up.

“His mastery of camera techniques and creating images was apparent from the beginning. I am so happy for Sam. He had a dream and he followed it through. It is an amazing story.”

With the prestigious award now in his back pocket, Davis has his sights set on creating his first feature film as a writer and director. “Cents” is the title for the proposed film, which will be based on a true story with local ties.

“In Potterville there was this massive train derailment in 2002,” Davis said. “The train was carrying liquid propane and sulfuric acid and the whole town had to evacuate … The movie is about a kid who thinks he caused that train derailment. It’s a coming-of-age story.”

If Davis can secure funding for the film, he said he plans to begin shooting in and around Potterville this summer.

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