J.D. Thompson was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was raised in a low-income, urban working-class neighborhood before his family moved to a small rural town in Grady County, Oklahoma. His father is a professional musician and his mother was a professional ballet dancer who studied psychology before ultimately entering a career in experimental education and composition. Thompson has credited his parents with encouraging his creative endeavors but he insists that he has never considered himself an “artist” and prefers “skäld” – an ancient Norse term for a composer and reciter of poems honoring heroes and their deeds.
At the age of 21, Thompson left the United States to travel Europe for several years, earning a living as a street performer. While in Europe Thompson developed a close attachment to Irish culture and has called Ireland his second home. Thompson returned to the United States in 2005 after signing a songwriter agreement with 5-time Grammy Award-Winning L.A. producer Lou Adler. Disillusioned with Hollywood, Thompson left the entertainment business for almost a decade to pursue a career as a freelance journalist. His first articles were published by Playboy but editing disagreements between the magazine’s then Chief Content Officer, Cory Jones, and Thompson brought an end to the relationship.
Following his break-up with Playboy, Thompson went on to form his own company and produce and direct independent documentaries. Thompson’s first documentary, State of Fear: Murder and Memory On Black Wall Street (2016), was a short covering the subject on the wrongful killing of Eric Harris, a black man from Tulsa, Oklahoma by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. State of Fear won several nominations and awards at various small international film festivals. Thompson’s second independent documentary, The Life Exotic: The Incredible True Story of Joe Schreibvogel (2016) (a.k.a. “Joe Exotic”) also became an official selection of several international film festivals.
Since 2016, he has continued to create controversial self-financed films he describes as “guerrilla documentaries” relying on small independent crews with very small budgets. He has summarized his creative “ethos” with the slogan “To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth” coined by Swedish “death-n-roll” band Entombed and attributes his inspiration to “make movies no matter what it takes – no matter the challenge” to Werner Herzog.