Phillips has no formal filmmaking training, so he read textbooks and attended film expos and even the Sundance Film Festival. He bought a high-powered RED Scarlet camera, and he’s currently working on a screenplay as an exercise to improve the dialogue in his ad scripts.
“I’m not some sort of genius by any stretch of the imagination,” Phillips said. “I’m a country boy from South Dakota. I think that I understand politics a little bit and I’ve certainly paid my dues in the trenches, but these ads are huge team efforts, and a lot of people are involved.”
Phillips relied on strategic partnerships, including with 8112 Studios, which is known for music videos, not political work. The partnership fit into Phillips’ effort to stand out. In that vein, he’s also hoping to help the GOP reach the next generation of voters, which Phillips believes is fundamental to its problem attracting minority voters.
“We have a marketing problem, which is something that I want to try to fix and I’m excited about,” Phillips said. “Because politics of division just don’t work anymore. And it’s too bad that they ever did.”
When he wasn’t on the road, Phillips worked out of a bedroom in his Arlington, Va., apartment. The lack of overhead helped the fledgling firm stay “light and nimble,” he said, but he’s looking to open an office and get some of the “bells and whistles” of a traditional media firm.
“This year,” Phillips said, “I’m going to certainly be more confident going into pitches against those established media firms, because I have a reel that’s sellable even against the best. I didn’t have that two years ago.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.