Phillip Person likes risk. He sees it as a challenge to grow, to stretch boundaries. A graduate of Southside High School, he left the area to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. While there, he interned with filmmaker and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer. He worked with Bruckheimer after graduation, too, prior to returning to Fort Smith in 2005.
Fast forward. Phillip entered the BSavvy circle after the production of his short film “I Am We.” The five minute documentary was commissioned by local entrepreneur Steve Clark to tell the story of Fort Smith artist Ryan Starkey. Avid BSavvy readers will recognize the name, as Ryan Starkey appeared on the cover of our last issue. Though the “I Am We” story is Ryan’s, the outstanding cinematography is the work of Phillip Person.
Phillip’s work is familiar to the Fort Smith business community. Back before his college days, he worked with Mike Hart of 5 Star Productions. He’s been a field photographer for 5 News and paid tribute to Fort Smith with his freelance video, “Why Not Here.” He has worked with BSavvy in the production of a video interview with independent film director James Cotten, who co-produced The Painted Woman, which was released in December 2017. All safe gigs for a freelance risk taker who aspires to “settle for more.”
Phillip has always had a passion to see Fort Smith succeed. “Why Not Here” was Phillip’s gift to the city of Fort Smith. He was hoping to represent a new era of talented creatives. He has worked tirelessly over the past two years to capture Fort Smith in a way it has never been seen before. So, where does this talented Fort Smith native, Phillip Person, go from here? How does he reach the pinnacle of his talent in the River Valley?
“I don’t,” is Phillip’s matter-of-fact reply. “I have a passion for music and fashion. It’s a limiting field. For the work I want to do, location is everything. To reach my career goals, the path leads away from Fort Smith, to cities further east. Ideally, New York City.”
As Fort Smith looks back to its roots in this year’s bicentennial celebrations, it has a responsibility to itself and to its citizens to look forward, to define the future. Person has an idea, “Until leadership takes a new direction, the city cannot move forward. It will continue to lose creative talent.”
Now, as we look at our heritage, we must also beg an answer to the question, “Who are you?” It’s a question that, in order to move forward in a positive direction, will have to be answered by each of us as citizens, business owners, and city leaders. Will our city be stuck in the past of “that’s the way it’s always been?” Or will it move forward with exciting answers to “Why Not Here?”