Optimistic is how Richard Delano Forbes Jr, the man at the helm of Phase Three, is feeling about the creative industry as it emerges out of the doldrums brought on by the pandemic, and he is ready to play his part in its rebuilding. Forbes’ gaze is far-reaching, and he is also excited about the talent pool of youngsters he hopes to help guide on their journey as they explore new frontiers.
“We see the opening up of so many sectors that relate to the entertainment sector. If you try to book a room in Montego Bay now, you would be surprised to know … a lot of people are coming back. I am very optimistic about what is happening now in terms of getting back to some sense of normalcy. The entertainment industry has been hit hard, and others have been affected even more so than us here at Phase Three, so we are just looking forward to playing our role in collaborating with everybody in terms of rebuilding the sector and putting Jamaica in the position that we are used to being in,” Forbes told The Sunday Gleaner.
Forbes, who has youth, intelligence, business savvy, credibility and creativity in his favour, most of all, is a team player who does not hesitate to lavish praise on his support system.
“We look forward to the future, and we are grateful to have a lot of collaborators, like VP Records. Yes, they are our clients, but we are also partners … and I just give thanks to the team. As you saw, my mother was here earlier… we are a family business … we are still a pretty small business relative to what people may think, but we have an amazing team,” he said with a dimpled smile.
Phase Three Productions Limited, which has formal internships with Carimac and Northern Caribbean University, is in the process of bringing on new people with a lot of new ideas, and Forbes readily admits to being encouraged by the new generation.
“For me, it’s about bringing on a lot of those people with their ideas in terms of keeping the company on the cutting edge. And, of course, it does require a fair bit of investment as well. We are pretty bullish; we take a lot of risks in terms of investing in our people, investing in technology and again, just a general passion for what we do,” he enthused.
Branded as “a leading television and multimedia production company,” Phase Three has been a strong family business for more than 35 years. Started by his parents, Richard (now deceased) and Marcia Forbes, the company managed to stay grounded during the pandemic.
“The first few months were very, very rough… Phase Three is a little unique in that our focus has always been [on] content and live streaming and video, because that has been the backbone of our company. We have been able to pretty much, as some people would say, ‘pivot’ and shift the conversation, and even if things weren’t good, we always try to keep a positive outlook generally. We made the best of the hand that we were dealt with, and … with the impending reopening of the entertainment sector; it is a very exciting time for us,” Forbes said.
REGGAE ON THE PIER
Forbes and his team played an integral role in the successful Reggae Month concerts, Rise to the Occasion and Reggae on the Pier, which were staged by the Ministry of Culture Gender, Entertainment and Sport and VP Records. And if his clients knew the extent of his enjoyment, they would probably ask for a rebate – “It’s not work,” he said, he says almost apologetically, and beaming with a smile.
“With Reggae on the Pier …VP Records reached out to us, and we have a track record of working closely with VP on a number of other productions and a number of other live streams. Last year, we produced Love From A Distance with Beres Hammond, which was the final event for Reggae Month 2021, and that show was pretty successful in terms of the streaming numbers. I think it was one of the largest live streams ever coming out of Jamaica. We also did Good Morning America with Shaggy, Spice and Sean Paul, and we did Jimmy Fallon for them, so having all the partnerships we had last year when they were reaching out and conceptualising the concepts, we were fortunate to be called up by VP and the team and the ministry,” Forbes explained.
He was “pretty pleased” at the results and, of course, had to mention his team, as well as the production manager, Martin Lewis, with whom he worked closely.
“It’s is really cool to see it from start to the screen. It is a fascinating process. It is a very collaborative process, and I guess we all get a lot of joy from seeing the final product and knowing that we all had our own little input in various ways because, as I said, it is a lot of people who came together to make a project like that happen,” he shared.
Forbes names Love From A Distance and Reggae Sumfest 2020, the virtual edition, as two productions that he and his team did during COVID that were particularly memorable. For the former, he shared that the streaming numbers and the overall feedback were phenomenal. Sumfest 2020, which took place at the heights of the pandemic, “was a standout, because everything just came together and the feedback was very positive”.
“It has been a very unique time, and we have been challenged, but over the past two years, we have worked on some of the most interesting and diverse projects we have ever had to work on. When you are in an adverse situation, often, a lot of ideas come out of that. This is a special year, it’s Jamaica 60, and we are all looking forward to what we can do to showcase Jamaica to the world.”
And, on another note, the self-confessed foodie, who likes to cook Chinese and travel – whether across the globe or throughout Jamaica – is enjoying his Daddy Daycare moments with his son, who “it is a pleasure and a joy” to provide for and shape his path.