“We’re looking for some kind of connection, you and me. Something that ties us to what we love, or want, or need. A connection with another person, with a moment, with an idea, with a belief that we can lean on. Through this connection, we can find ourselves.”
The quote above is from the opening of “Play It Loud,” a new internet-based series about Oklahoma musicians written, directed and hosted by Adam Hampton. He meets with great musicians to listen to their songs, explore the different ways music connects us and discuss the struggles and joys that come from pursuing your dreams.
Hampton is a bit of an expert on following your passion: He’s been writing stories since he was a child in Dale.
“In seventh grade, I won a writing contest that included a free trip to Japan. It was the first time I thought of myself as a writer,” Hampton says. “Then in eighth grade, my parents got divorced. It turned my world upside-down. That’s when I realized I could use writing for a cathartic purpose, to exercise and exorcise my demons.”
Hampton continued writing, earning a full ride to East Central University, where he signed up for a Mass Communication class and wrote his first script for a commercial. It was a basic assignment, but it changed his life.
“Writing that simple script and hearing it read aloud for the first time turned my black and white world to color,” Hampton says. “Writing is a lonely process, but writing scripts that could be read and performed was like having someone dance to your music. The collaboration felt like freedom. It’s a connection that I still pursue every time I work on a project.”
Since their first film, Looking for Hope, Hampton and his Outsiders Productions team of longtime friends Jason Alexander, Kenny Pitts and Chad Matthews have created several successful short projects, including four-part TV series “Rough Cut”; superhero film The Unusual Calling of Charlie Christmas; and “Play It Loud,” which is sponsored and produced by Grand Casino Hotel and Resort in Shawnee.
Hampton approaches each of these film projects like a philosopher. He proposes questions about big ideas, and then creates characters who argue, debate and fight for answers. His characters are flawed, but constantly in search of truth. It’s a major reason why his films are so successful on the film festival circuit, and also why other filmmakers line up to work with Hampton.
His most fruitful recent partnership has been with Oklahoma director Ryan Bellgardt. After connecting on the festival circuit, Hampton cast Bellgardt as a filmmaker in his “Rough Cut” series – and Bellgardt cast Hampton in monster film Gremlin, which became an international hit. Foreign distributors loved it and wanted more. So Bellgardt cast Hampton in The Jurassic Games, an action film with CGI dinosaurs that also sold well overseas.
Since, Hampton has been cast in six films, and the offers are not slowing down. But striking the right balance is always a challenge.
“Last week, I wrapped a movie called 90 Feet From Home,” Hampton says. “I was in Texas for nine weeks, drove all night on Sunday to get home and went to my day job at eight o’clock Monday morning. It’s hard on my amazing wife Angelina and our two kids, but she and I agree that we want to raise our kids knowing how important it is to work hard, believe in yourself and follow your dreams as far as they take you. You can tell your kids lots of things, but when you actually live it, it connects.”