Spotlight on Local Filmmakers: Lampton Enochs

By Helena Touhey

On producing “Stranger Things,” earning an Academy Award for an animated short, and advice for the next generation

Lampton Enochs. | Atsushi Nishijima photo

WHEN LAMPTON ENOCHS WAS a young boy growing up in small-town Mississippi, the possibility of one day working in the film industry wasn’t even on his radar, never mind one day earning an Oscar for an animated short film.

“For what I do, I’ve had a somewhat eclectic career,” he says, a few hours before boarding a flight back to Atlanta, where he works as a producer for the television show Stranger Things.

His career started in the mailroom of Castle Rock Entertainment in Los Angeles during the 1980s. Enochs worked his way up to producing, staying in the realm of live-action filmmaking for many years.

In 2005, he was living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, which caused him to move outside the city with his family. This is around the time his career “took a little bit of a detour,” he says.

A few years later, Enochs co-founded Moonbot Studios.

“It was off the beaten track to start an animation company in this small town in Louisiana,” he says, noting the studio needed a project and took on animating The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which tells the story of a book lover in New Orleans who is swept up by a hurricane and transported to another place, where books can fly and communicate in whimsical ways.

It’s an ode to the joys of reading, as well as a reflection on grief and the legacy humans leave behind. In 2012 it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, which Enochs said was an unexpected honor and really launched Moonbot.

“It was a great way to start a company,” he says with a laugh.

Moonbot eventually merged with a larger company, and after six years in the world of animation, Enochs returned to live-action filmmaking, which he says is his “first love, and what I love doing the most.”

In 2019, he was asked to work on Stranger Things as a producer for Season Four (and now Season Five) of the hit sci-fi series, which in 2022 was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Drama Series.

“It’s a job no one should turn down,” he says, “and a really fun show to produce.”

His role as a producer is in line with being a Chief Operating Officer in that he’s in charge of managing the crew and budgets, sorting out logistics, and making sure people get to work on time.

His connection to Aquidneck Island is through his wife, Elizabeth, who first came here when her father was stationed at the Naval War College. Enochs’s daughters also attended St. George’s School as boarders.

The show is filmed in Atlanta, so during filming he commutes from Rhode Island to Georgia, and returns to Newport to spend weekends with his family.

Six years ago, when he and Elizabeth were deciding where to move to next, they settled on relocating to Newport. “I’m a total Newport convert,” he says, describing the island as the best place to live. “It gets in your blood very quickly.”

He has since joined the board of newportFILM, where he is able to help nurture the local film scene.

“The world of documentary is fascinating,” he says.

When asked what sort of advice he has for aspiring or up-and-coming filmmakers, Enochs offers two suggestions: be prepared to work a lot and be a good colleague.

“It’s a very all-consuming job,” he says, emphasizing works days can range from 12 to 15 or even 16 hours. “You have to have a lot of passion for it and be willing to make sacrifices.”

And those who are hard workers and nice people tend to secure the most gigs. “You’re going to get hired because people like working with you,” he says.

The range of jobs — and skills — needed in the world of live-action filmmaking extends from hair and makeup to special effects, Teamster drivers, electricians, painters and carpenters. Sound people, lighting experts, film editors and camera operators are key parts of the production puzzle.

There is really something for everyone, says Enochs, adding that people outside the industry may not realize the “time and craft that goes into making every minute of television — they would be shocked.”

His work, especially on the Stranger Things set, is never boring, no matter the long days.

“It’s an intense job, but you get to be a family unit very quickly,” he says. “It’s kind of a mix of being in the army and working for a carnival.”

Lampton on the set of “Stranger Things” earlier this year. | Atsushi Nishijima photo