Bart Phillips is a maverick creative with a background in music that includes tenures at Warner Bros. Records and So So Def Recordings. He founded Sunseeker in 2003 to crystallize his growing focus on producing and directing, which was fostered by overseeing music videos and art direction for the So So Def roster. According to Phillips, Sunseeker Creative executes storytelling that is on another level. “I like to take a deep dive into subject matter and create content that offers the most saturated, piercing look into the subject,” says Phillips.
Phillips’ current and recent projects include licensing the legendary Soul Train brand in partnership with Boris Kodjoe. Through their company, BSquared, the two will produce Soul Train South Africa in Johannesburg. Phillips also just finished producing a feature film titled Dating in Atlanta and a pilot comedy series with Yung Joc. He also just produced the Andrew J. Young National Leadership Awards and 85th Birthday Celebration hosted by Anthony Anderson. For the last two years, Phillips has produced the National Action Network’s Triumph Awards. He also produced a fun campaign for the Atlanta Hawks, “True to Atlanta.”
Describe your leadership style.
I am a relationship-driven businessperson. I lead by relational aptitude, by understanding the value and the unique strengths of the people that I am connected to, and assembling the right individuals around the projects that I am developing. I have dabbled in being a full-fledged, fully-staffed production entity, and that business model wasn’t right for me. I believe that it is okay to focus 100 percent on what you are extremely good at, and create business structures that benefit you personally, professionally, creatively and financially. So, I lead by creating the right team for each project, clearly communicating the vision and goals for each project, and fully trusting everyone to play their unique position.
What is your personal mission statement?
Build and preserve legacy while telling engaging, though-provoking stories in the most engaging way possible, and creating some remarkable entertainment experiences along the way.
How does having a degree benefit you and your clients or organization?
I have a BA in Mass Communications, with a double minor in theater and film from Emerson College in Boston. I grew up in Plainfield, New JErsey, and I had the opportunity to attend college further north in Boston. The experience broadened my perspective of the world and introduced me to a totally different set of people. I worked as a deejay at the college radio station, and I was also inspired by the diverse music that I played. My education was integral to my growth as a person, which served and continues to serve me well in all aspects of business.
How do you utilize technology to benefit your organization?
Technology is integral to my organization and to my craft, but there are two apps that I use to fuel my creativity and gain inspiration: Transform, which is an app that sends inspirational quotes from all kinds of people, and then The Bible Project App.
What social media platforms do you engage in the most?
Instagram is my number one, and I use LinkedIn because it is very important for business.
What professional organizations do you support?
I am a proud member of the Producers Guild of America, and I am a board member of the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta, which is the top creative arts organization that serves young people in the city. Three kids who were in the New Edition biopic came out of YEA, and Kandi Burruss is an alumnus. I am also on the board of the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.
Name your favorite vacation destination to relax and recharge. Share why.
The Island of Belize. It is spiritual and I love the culture there. I love to go there and write and be creative. My mind is totally liberated when I am in Belize. I am also drawn to a property there owned by Francis Ford Coppola. It is the Turtle Inn. It is one of the most amazing hotels and resorts in the world, but it was originally purchased as a villa for the purpose of his family and friends to come together and relax and reconnect with each other – or just get away from their hectic lives. I loved that he purchased that property for the purpose of being able to care for his family and friends.
What are you currently reading? What are two of your favorite books?
My required reading right now is The God Guarantee, because I am doing a web series on it.
My two favorite books are: The Autobiography of Miles Davis and The Bible.
Name three business leaders and political leaders who inspire you.
Francis Ford Coppola I have always been a fan of his writing, but I began counting him as a model for my career and for my life when I realized that, above anything, service to man and giving back to the people that you love and care for is the reason we are here on earth. Francis Ford Coppola epitomizes this same value and represents how I want to serve those around me.
Paxton Baker (recently resigned as president of CentricTV) Paxton is one of my dearest friends and he is someone who always believed in me and opened many doors, including what I am currently doing with Soul Train because he hired me to produce “Soul Train” for Centric. Paxton has always been a razor-sharp businessman and a visionary, and I have tremendous respect for him.
Barack Obama – He is an inspiration in every way. I have had a few encounters with him, and one that stands out is in Selma, Alabama at the 50th Jubilee. Being there, listening to his speech and speaking briefly with him changed my life.
Name your favorite sports team and hobbies.
My favorite team is the New York Knicks. My hobby is bike riding.
Share two of your favorite quotes that motivate you.
“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the man doing it.” -Chinese Proverb
What album do you currently have on repeat?
Robert Glasper’s Black Radio