Captured: Dr. Hampton Rutland
Surgeon and videographer Dr. Hampton Rutland shares his captivating passions for medicine, film and Louisiana culture.
article by Dan Chason | photography by Martin G Meyers
My first impression of Dr. Hampton Rutland was that just moments after meeting him, you can almost hear the wheels turning in his head. I’m sure among the many items on his plate, there is a lot rumbling around in there as well as a daily schedule that can make a young man old. Dr. Rutland and I met for lunch in West Monroe to discuss yet another opportunity for a national network to showcase our great state. What I found out quickly was that Dr. Rutland had no agenda and no ulterior motive when it comes to his passion for video, video production and his purpose. He just enjoys the challenge of taking nothing but an idea and making it a reality.
Dr. Rutland was raised in South Louisiana in Opelousas. The son of a Presbyterian minister, he remained in Cajun country while his parents founded Westminister Christian Academy. At the ripe age of 12, the call came and they moved to Central Florida to start a new church. I could identify with him closely as I remember my feelings when my Dad would relocate to another church as pastor when I was a youngster. New friends, a new environment and when leaving or coming to Louisiana, there will most certainly be a distinct culture shock. Our other mutual ground was the task of hosting a television show and a burning passion for creativity and producing a product forged from many hours of work. I knew right away that Dr. Rutland and my roads may have taken different routes, but the destination was very similar.
At the age of 16, Dr. Rutland convinced his parents and a close family friend, Reggie Dupre’ to allow him to return to Louisiana for his last two years of high school. Graduating from Westminister Christian Academy proved to be the beginning of his career path as he was accepted and enrolled in Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Based on his interests, he began his degree path in Mass Communications with a desire to go into the advertising/marketing business. He discovered quickly that a man can have multiple interests and found this to be the case when taking some science classes. He soon switched his degree choices to Zoology and pre-Med and remained there. Finishing well above the curve (to put it mildly), he was accepted to medical school at the University of Florida, which ironically gave him a chance to be near his parents who were living in Orlando. Fate was in full motion . While in medical school, he met his wife, Tiffany.
After graduating medical school, Dr. Rutland accepted an opportunity in Jackson, Mississippi for a residency in Urology while his wife went to pharmacy school. Career paths and interests soon merged when during residency, graduates were “roasted” with video skits and sketches. Hampton had found a way to explore his other passion and was put in charge of shooting and editing the videos. It was a great outlet to break the strains of long hours and tedious work required at the hospital. But what he really found was a way to challenge his creative skills while being able to maintain a demanding career path that would lead him to future opportunities.
Everyone wants to be a television host. It looks easy and the thought of autograph seekers touting the fame and fortune is a common denominator. The reality of it is that to host and produce a show, the hours are long, the fame is a crooked dealer… and the fortune? Let’s just say the odds are right up there with the number of kids playing Dixie Youth Baseball who will eventually become a professional ball player. The odds are incredibly stacked against you. Those odds are even higher when it comes to hosting a national television show. But to be a successful host, the most important ingredient to possess is a knowledge of production and the part that you, as a host, will play. Most folks assume that an idea comes to bear, a television crew shows up, you stand there and recite a few lines and wallah….you have a show. An average 30 minute show takes an estimated one and half hours per video minute to produce. Most shows produce 26 episodes a year. That is notwithstanding bad weather, reshoots, production issues, commercial shoots, appearances and all of the other demands on a host. If you do the math, the task can be overwhelming.
Dr. Rutland moved to Ruston in 2011 where he and his wife decided to start a family. After four years and assistance of good fertility doctors and the good Lord, their son Henry was born. They are expecting their second child this month. As a physician, Dr. Rutland enjoyed his practice and increased his skills with his training in robotic surgery. He soon became in great demand as this type of procedure reduces recovery time, as well as increases the accuracy of the surgery. While raising a new baby and growing his practice, it wasn’t long before a piece of property near Ruston caught his eye. Call it fate, but the property had a beaver pond within its boundaries and being the die-hard duck hunter, a duck blind was constructed. After discovering that the pond attracted ducks, the good doctor decided to utilize his video skills to set up some time lapse video there and record, over time, the construction phase of the duck blind. With a GoPro camera in hand, he meticulously videoed the project and downloaded it to YouTube. The rest, they say, is history. Shortly after the video was posted, Yeti Coolers contacted Hampton as well as GoPro, who not only were impressed with his work, but licensed his video and published it on their channel. The future was looking good.
Realizing the limitations of the hand held, stationary camera, Dr. Rutland decided to invest in some quality video equipment. From experience, this is where most aspiring hosts/producers make their biggest mistake. Quality is not cheap and you can spend twice as much money trying to cut corners and piece together a good rig. But Dr. Rutland made the right call and after much research, purchased his video equipment and put it to use.
Post duck season is always hard on die hard hunters. Most of us quickly transition to a bass rod or crappie pole. Dr. Rutland starts his post duck season with “do-it-yourself” projects. With video camera in hand, he decided to produce a video showing a rebuild of his camp on Lake Claiborne. One of his hobbies is to take reclaimed wood and metal and give roofs, kitchens, floors and walls a new look with the old material. Such was the case here and the video project began. One of the most time consuming and mind numbing features of a Dr. Rutland video is called stop motion animation. Animation has been around forever, all the way back to the original cartoon days of black and white television. To put it simply, picture a single object. You photo that object. Move it a millimeter and photo capture it again. You do this over and over….and over until the image appears to move. It takes a tremendous amount of time, patience and skill. Much like the surgeon that Dr. Hampton has become. I call it mind numbing. He calls it fun.
His first stop motion video posted on YouTube went viral with over 560,000 hits. The video was so impressive, many thought the construction video was produced by the Dewalt company since he was using their products and the tools were featured throughout. Soon after the birth of this video, the phone started to ring. Production companies saw a unique talent and were looking for ways to produce this style and format it throughout internet sites as well as on broadcast television.
One of these projects was named Louisiana River Builds which depicted remodels of houseboats and camps on the Ouachita River. A three minute reel was produced and the DIY channel reviewed the product for their channel. Out of 65 sizzle reels (video sent to a network for possible retaining as a future show) only three videos made the cut. Louisiana River Builds was a reality and a pilot was ordered.
The biggest step for a potential show is to have a pilot ordered by a network. This process not only means the network intends on producing a show based on your idea, but it means that our area will again be blessed with production crews from New York. Network folks and production crews will return to our area, bringing promotional value, potential tourist dollars and incredible positive content for our area. One of the things I noted in our conversation was Hampton’s desire to promote our great state and area without the stigmas currently on national television. This is a guy who loves to duck hunt, loves to be creative and wants folks that are not from our area to see what a regular outdoor enthusiast from Louisiana really looks like. There will be no alligator wrestling, or shooting or dragging of same. There will be no set up comedy and skit related reality show type content. A real guy doing a real show featuring our river region and overall area.
The pilot of this show will be shot in July with an airing expected in late September to early October. There are many obstacles and many questions to answer as this surgeon is in great demand. He recently transferred his practice to Glenwood Regional Medical Center in West Monroe and, from all accounts, has found his niche. Although the hospital on Thomas Road may be his new home, I guarantee that his second love flows right through the twin cities. And that love will be transformed in a very unique way, by a very unique man. Like he said, “Don’t be scared to be yourself and be different or creative.” I think that attitude is going to take him far. Good luck, Doc. We all wish you well.
*Dr. Rutland’s work can be found on his YouTube Channel, “Hampton Rutland.”