35 glorious years of Phase Three
One of the moments that stand out for Delano Forbes, the current CEO of Phase Three Productions, was when his parents lost everything in a fire in 1999 and they had to literally start from scratch, as there was no insurance to cushion the blow. Like the phoenix, Phase Three, a full-service television and multimedia production company, rose from the ashes, and flew on, gloriously celebrating their 35th anniversary a few weeks ago.
“I was a teenager at the time and I remember thinking initially that everything would be OK, because there would be insurance,” Forbes told The Gleaner. Wrong. His parents, Richard and Marcia Forbes, were actually renegotiating with the insurance company at the time tragedy struck. But looking back, Forbes embraces this as yet another learning curve in the three and a half decades history of the company.
“Over the years, a lot of our successes have come out of hardships. My father going blind when I was a teenager is one such. Coming out of that, I had to help out in the business after school. I carried him to work, picked him back up. But he was still in charge, and signing the cheques,” Forbes recalled of his late father, who was a stalwart in the media and communications industry. “My father was blind for 20 years and I don’t think I can recall ever hearing him complain about it,” he said in tribute.
Nobody knows better than Delano Forbes just how much his father invested in him to keep the business going, and he thinks that his dad, who passed away in 2016, had good reason to be proud. He studied film at NYU, and, upon graduating, he got a lot of offers there, but despite the film scene in New York being much more developed than Jamaica’s and the smorgasbord of possibilities laid out before him, Forbes refused to be tempted. “It’s a matter of how you define success,” he said, casually, by way of explanation.
Forbes, who has been given free rein of the business since 2001, making major decisions about the direction of Phase Three, is quite pleased with the progress that has been made. “There has been evolution and growth, and I have added quite a bit of value to the company,” was his self-evaluation.
He noted, however, that, “As a business, we have to look at the next step. We have been a privately held company up till this time, but we need to look at how we need to navigate in the business space in the future.”
Phase Three Productions, the company’s historical records show, started as a hobby for tech-enthusiast and Kingston College old boy Richard ‘Pardy’ Forbes. It grew into a full-time business and was soon providing services for the then Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC). A highly admired and respected visionary, Forbes was able to sufficiently impress JBC with Phase Three’s speed and efficiency at setting up and covering multi-camera broadcasts. JBC contracted out its live outside broadcast (OB) events to Phase Three when, for well over one year, that station’s OB Unit was out of service. Co-founder, Dr Marcia Forbes, steered Phase Three in several capacities for over a decade before heading to Television Jamaica (TVJ). There, she successfully transitioned that national free-to-air TV station from JBC into TVJ, and set it on a path of profitability before leaving to pursue a PhD in communication. She now serves as executive chairman.
EFFECT OF PANDEMIC
Pointing out that Phase Three specialises in multi-camera, high-definition coverage of sports and entertainment events for live broadcast via television and/or the Internet, Forbes noted that it is the latter which will hopefully help to sustain the company in the trying times ahead. He disclosed that Phase Three had lost more than 10 events in less than two weeks, but stated that there have been more takers for streaming and digital services. “A lot has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is going to be tough for us, but we have to look at this as a challenge that is providing some unique opportunities. We have been doing some digital town-hall meetings for the Ministry of Health, and we are offering more of that kind of service to clients,” he shared.
Also, there are plans to build out a space to host corporate webinars for clients who require that service.
Phase Three has a rich history of covering significant events, including the visits of Queen Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela, US President Ronald Reagan, President Castro; the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, St Kitts Jazz Festival; Reggae Sumfest; Kanye West’s pop-up Sunday Service in Jamaica and the 2019 Gold Cup.
“That was the largest sports broadcast ever done in Jamaica. We used a total of 27 cameras,” Forbes said. And yes, the client was very pleased.
In 2004, Phase Three founder, Richard ‘Pardy’ Forbes, received a Doctor Bird Award for “significant contribution to the development of the Jamaican Film and Television Industry” and, in 2012, he was recognised by the Old Boys’ Association of his alma mater, for “outstanding contribution to Kingston College and the Association.”