Former state senator brings re-tooled faith-themed movie to the big screen


A former state senator turned filmmaker is bringing a new faith-themed movie to the big screen on Thursday.

“The Amendment”, a film by Brooks Douglass, will premiere for a one-night-only event in select theaters throughout the nation. Several metro area theaters plan to show the movie, including AMC Quail Springs Mall 24 and Cinemark Tinseltown in Oklahoma City and Regal Spotlight Stadium 14 in Norman.

Now living in Texas, Douglass, 54, said the movie includes footage from his film “Heaven’s Rain”, which premiered nationwide in 2010. Like “Heaven’s Rain”,”The Amendment” chronicles the violent invasion of Douglass’ family home, his subsequent quest for victims’ rights legislation and his decision to forgive the man convicted of killing his Baptist missionary parents.

Douglass portrays his father in both films. Actors Mike Vogel (“The Case For Christ”) and Taryn Manning (“Orange is the New Black”) portray young Brooks Douglass and his sister Leslie, respectively.

Douglass’ parents, the Rev. Richard Douglass, who was pastor of Putnam City Baptist Church, and his wife, Marilyn, were shot to death during a home invasion at the family’s Okarche home in 1979. Brooks Douglass, who was 16, and his sister Leslie, who was 12, survived also being shot and went on to testify at the murder trials of the men who were charged with their parents’ deaths.

Glen Burton Ake, the man who shot the Douglasses, was convicted of the murders and sentenced to several life sentences. He died in 2011 in a prison hospital. Steven Hatch, who also was convicted for the murders, was sentenced to death. Hatch was executed in August 1996.

In a recent telephone interview, Douglass said “The Amendment” includes much of the footage from his previous film, though it is 11 minutes shorter. He said the new movie also has a new beginning and ending, new music and a few other new aspects, plus its focus is on his continued quest for victims’ rights — specifically a constitutional amendment guaranteeing victims the same foundation of rights that are given to those accused and convicted of crimes.

Douglass said there are more than 20 separate provisions in the Constitution for those accused and convicted of crimes, but zero for victims.

“That’s why I’m trying to pick the battle back up”, he said, noting that 35 states, including Oklahoma, now have victim rights laws. As a state lawmaker, Douglass successfully sponsored and passed anti-crime legislation including legislation regarding victims’ rights.

Appropriately, he said, “The Amendment” is making its way to the big screen during National Victims Rights Week, which began on Monday.

“It’s a great opportunity to highlight the need for rights of crime victims — to put the victim and the criminal on equal standing”, he said.

Douglass retired from politics in 2002 and produced and co-wrote “Heaven’s Rain” with Hollywood veteran Paul Brown, who directed the film. Douglass said he sold the distribution rights to “Heaven’s Rain” after it appeared in theaters in 2010 but that distributor did nothing with it for six years. Eventually, he bought the distribution rights back and began revamping it with some stops and starts because of his battle with colon cancer.

Many Oklahomans will remember the events chronicled in “Heaven’s Rain” and now “The Amendment” because they occurred in Oklahoma but also because “Heaven’s Rain” was filmed in Oklahoma in early 2010. It featured several Oklahoma locations including the state Capitol, Governor’s Mansion and historic churches like First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City.

Douglass said he thinks the one-night-only theater showing is perfect for “The Amendment” and he’s thrilled that it will be in 743 theaters across the country on Thursday.

“It’s a much more uplifting story than ‘Heaven’s Rain”, he said. “I’m just much happier with it, overall”.