AAPEX Interview: Keith Hampton — Keith Hampton , Nashville International Black Film Festival — AAPEX

Sunday, September 27, 2009

AAPEX Interview: Keith Hampton

Keith Hampton

Kieth Hampton's film EARSHOT will be screened at 2:30pm on Sunday, October 4th at the Nashville Black Film Festival. This is my interview with him.

What role did film, acting and the arts play in your childhood and upbringing?

I was always attracted to the arts growing up, particularly writing and drawing. I was always amazed at what filmmakers could do with a story, but I was interested in being a great storyteller on paper first. There was no actual film industry around me growing up, so it wasn’t a tangible resource. Writing stories and poetry was something I could do by just grabbing a pen a paper and tapping into my imagination. I wanted to be known as a great writer, like William Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, James Baldwin, and Steven King. I wanted to say things in a way they had never been said before. I wanted to intrigue people’s minds. My greatest reward was always having someone read a poem or a story I wrote and say “Wow! That was a great story! How did you come up with that?” or “You know, I never looked at it like that before.” I think God spoke through my Mom by creating me through her and allowing her to pass along to me her passion for poetry. When I began to see the work of the writers I most admire being made into films and hear the conversations comparing their written works to the movie versions, I knew I had to learn how to make films so that I could bring my own stories to life on the big screen. That didn’t happen until I was in college.

Tell us about your own evolution as an artist.
Having evolved from a writer of poetry and short stories into a writer, producer, director and editor of film, the greatest change I’ve made as an artist has been becoming courageous enough to put my art out there for the public. I was introverted as a writer, because I knew I didn’t write like everyone else. I wanted to be great, but I was afraid about whether or not other people would get what I was writing and whether they would like it or not. My intuition told me that there would be criticism on both extremes about my work. I also was shy and afraid of not being able to handle my own nerves if my work would bring me a lot of attention. The thing I have maintained is that affinity for the unknown, both socially and in my artistic expression. I’ve learned that what I like most is to evoke thought, suspend reality, bring new questions to light, and be original. I’ve also learned that if I want something done, I have to be willing to do it myself. That is what makes me an independent. I got that from my Mom too who taught me that there is nothing in life that I cannot accomplish.

What inspired EARSHOT and what is unique about the film?
I began to write EARSHOT when I overheard an argument happening, did not hear what the argument was about, but by its tone sensed it could grow into a potentially violent ending. My imagination took me further than the argument actually ended up going. It did not grow violent, but I thought “What if I was the one who was affected by their argument more than they for being nosey and listening in?” My imagination took me on this journey that evolved into this story, which I originally called “One Man Show,” because I then thought about making it completely from the main character’s perspective. I knew that if we saw no one else in the movie, it would give us a more intimate connection with the main character. As I wrote the screenplay, I realized that shooting an entire feature film with only one on-screen actor would be both unique and affordable. I knew I wanted Vincent Cheatham to play the lead role because I’d worked with him before and know of his tremendous acting ability. I had no concern for whether or not he was well known. I wanted to make a great and unique film that I could have the resources to make, and I wanted the performance to be delivered the way I knew V could deliver it.

What other projects are you working on?
I have two scripts and a third story idea that I am considering. Ideally, I would like to announce which one is next after EARSHOT fully takes on its life and I am certain about when the funding for the next project will be in place.

What are your thoughts on Atlanta as a city for film making and film makers?
I think Atlanta is the chosen place for both film making and film makers, in the same way Hollywood was chosen back during the days of film makers like Frank Capra and Oscar Micheaux. People have been making films here for a little while, but the film industry and this town has almost come to the realization about the true potential that lies within here. I don’t think we’ll know completely until it’s all said and done, but I do feel that the potential of this city is on that level.

Please click the post's title to visit Mr. Hampton's website.

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