Every year, 10 of the world’s most lethal death row criminals compete for their freedom in The Jurassic Games, a TV show where contestants must survive against ferocious dinosaurs and each other. The last survivor is granted freedom, fame, and fortune. In this deadCenter Q&A session Ryan Bellgardt and Adam Hampton talk about the film.
1. Tell me a bit about yourself and your role in the film.
RYAN: My name is Ryan Bellgardt and I’m a movie director based in Oklahoma City. I wrote the screenplay and directed “The Jurassic Games.”
ADAM: My name is Adam Hampton. I’m a Shawnee resident, graduated from Dale High School, went to East Central University in Ada. I’ve been involved with filmmaking for well over ten years and I have my own production company, Outsiders Productions, along with three very close friends and filmmakers – Kenny Pitts, Jason Alexander, and Chad Mathews. I play Anthony Tucker, a family man whose wife was brutally murdered by an intruder one night. Unjustly convicted and sentenced to die, I’ve entered the games as a means to get home to my kids and try to maintain my innocence.
2. How do you personally describe the movie to people?
RYAN: I describe the movie as a fast-paced, fun time with exciting Dino action!
“This movie is a throwback movie to action flicks from my childhood. It woulda been the kinda bonkers movie I woulda watched with buddies during a sleepover as a kid.”ADAM: This movie is a throwback movie to action flicks from my childhood. It’s got more in common with a Running Man type movie than it does the Jurassic Park flicks or The Hunger Games. It woulda been the kinda bonkers movie I woulda watched with buddies during a sleepover as a kid. It has a lot of craziness, a really intense pace, and a good guy to root for. And dinosaurs, of course. And neck collars that make your head explode because why not? I tell people it’s a fun movie. It’s a ride, man.
3. Why should one see it?
RYAN: Well the obvious answer is because I believe it’s entertaining and fun to watch, but I think people should watch this to experience what a team of dedicated people can do when they set their sights high. This was a very ambitious project and everyone involved went outside their comfort zones to deliver a movie that, in my opinion, is better than the sum of its parts. I can honestly say that I’m really proud of everyone from the crew and cast to the post-production team. Everyone believed in the project and it shows.
ADAM: think we need movies to do many things. They need to teach us about the world around us, they need to teach us about ourselves. But it’s also absolutely necessary to also have a movie that’s just fun to watch, too. This is a super ambitious film that Ryan has put together – and it has the craziness and the roller-coaster aspect of it – but there’s also some pretty entertaining satire in there. In the era of a President who was, in fact, a reality show host, a movie about reality shows – especially one where people are being killed to satiate a public’s bloodlust – doesn’t feel far enough away. So there’s that. Or, how about this: it’s a blast.
4. What are your thoughts on the deadCenter Film Festival?
RYAN:To me, it’s THE festival. When we were starting out, our goal, like a lot of local filmmakers was to get accepted into deadCenter. They go above and beyond to provide a very high-end experience for not only the filmmakers, but fans as well. The screenings are always packed, the panels are awesome, and I love hanging out with everyone there. We get to meet up and share ideas and talk about each others projects.
ADAM: I love the deadCENTER film festival It’s absolutely electric and the crowds that show up make you believe that this state is really hungry for this type of endeavor. It’s fantastically run, it’s a highlight for any filmmaker fortunate enough to be included. I’ve had my own films accepted and I’ve also been denied; it’s the type of festival you keep striving to be a part of. It’s the girl in Oklahoma that every filmmaker in our state wants to date. I can’t wait to be there. I love Lance McDaniel and I love how much outreach they’re doing.
5. What was the most challenging aspect you had during production?
RYAN: This movie is pretty much wall to wall action. That meant brutal fight scenes in really hot and humid conditions. The cast and crew were sweating buckets and fighting off ticks. Other times it was bitter cold with 40mph winds. No one ever complained though and no one died either. Adam Hampton came close, though. That guy is one of the hardest working actors I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. He really gives all he has and that’s contagious on a set.
ADAM: I think the physical aspects of shooting were by far the most grueling. Which, I guess, is almost all of the movie; there weren’t a bunch of speeches to be made in Jurassic Games. I had trained hard for the film the month or so leading up to it but getting up to Robber’s Cave in July with enough humidity to drown a mosquito and some brutal heat, combined with hours of fight choreography with a genuine badass named Gary Frazier and a touch of pneumonia, almost did me in. I love it though. Typically what i find in filming is that the most challenging aspects of anything turn out to be the most rewarding. Or: Working with Ryan. He is out of control. Yeah, put that. And maybe having to deal with Katie Burgess being such a bratty kid (laughing).
6. What was the best part about filming in Oklahoma?
RYAN: I’ll always say I love the people here, but in this movie, we got to explore some amazing locations. Robber’s Cave, The Gloss Mountains and Little Sahara all are featured prominently and I really enjoyed filming there.
ADAM: I love Oklahoma. We have such beauty here. I love THAT. We shot in the woods, we shot in the mountains, we shot in the desert. You’ll look at the geographical spectrum of this flick and be amazed, I think. It’s almost got a Star Wars quality; each set feels like a different planet. And I love the people here. It’s always a blast to be working on a film out in some small town – say covered in fake blood and grime – and then walk into a 7-11. People barely blink. Oklahomans are the coolest people on the planet. We just don’t know it. And that makes us cooler.
7. What were some particular scenes or moments that were enjoyable to film?
RYAN: There’s a scene where Ren (played by the amazing Tiger Sheu) Kung Fu fights 3 raptors. We had a blast filming that. I don’t usually operate the camera but I did for a lot of that scene. I was terrified that Tiger was going to smack me or the camera with his prop chain. I’ve gotta say, that guys got some incredible control. It whizzed by my head a few times but he never hit me!
“There’s a real “love of the game” mentality of indie people who are giving it their best and who are hungry and trying to kick down the door, man. That aspect of it is beautiful.”ADAM: I loved working with this cast, man. That’s what I loved the most about the movie – the camaraderie. It’s that way on most sets – on the good sets – as an independent filmmaker. There’s a real “love of the game” mentality of indie people who are giving it their best and who are hungry and trying to kick down the door, man. That aspect of it is beautiful. I loved working with Ryan, of course. He’s a very close friend of mine and I love working with him and pushing each other. And his team – Josh, Chris, Jessi, Andy, Stephanie – all of them, I really love working with. Katie Burgess was a blast; she really pushed herself and it was fun to be able to really engage her. She’s a talented kid. I love Luke Wyckoff in this, we had battles, man. Just all of the guys and gals. All of the talent. One night we were filming out in the Glass Mountain area and they had booked us a hotel; I shared it with Dylan Cox and Kyle Pennington and Rett Terrell and it was about as close to being in high school as I can remember. Hilarious guys. Honestly – everybody on set was so cool. I loved doing all of the fight scenes; if I had to pick one, I’d probably go with the maze sequence. It was a lot of fun.
8. What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
RYAN: I try to stay active in the gym and I watch Forged in Fire. I love that show.
ADAM: I think to tell stories you have to live stories. Try to be as alive as possible. So I try to keep my eyes open, man. I have a beautiful wife, Angelina, and two kids who have reintroduced me to magic. I have everything. And then I’ll be home for awhile soaking it in and my wife will be like, “alright? what’s next?” or “shouldn’t you be writing?” because she knows I get restless. And then I get really depressed, honestly. So when I’m restless, I’m fairly intolerable. I always wanna be working. So either she’s really supportive of me and knows me or she gets sick of me quick.
9. What do you think should be placed as a marker for the dead center of the universe?
RYAN: Sumo Japanese Steakhouse in Edmond.
ADAM: Clearly it needs to be a statue of Lance McDaniel engaged in mid-conversational laugh. Because when he laughs, I laugh. And we need more statues like that.
10. Anything else you wish to add?
RYAN: Thanks for talking with me! I hope people get a chance to see The Jurassic Games!
ADAM: Thank you for asking me these questions.
The Jurassic Games Schedule:
Friday, June 8th, 7:00 PM @ Devon Theater at Harkins Bricktown Cinema
– The Jurassic Games on Facebook
The 2018 deadCenter Film Festivals runs from June 7-10. Read more Question and Answer sessions with other deadCenter filmmakers, past and present, here.