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DAVID J. PHILLIPS | Los Angeles & Toronto | Ego In Check

Phillm Productions, CEO Growing up in Brampton Ontario I loved getting attention and my poor parents and brother had no idea what to do with me. I started doing speech contests and school plays, and by the time I reached high school auditioned and performed in everything I could. Early fond memories were performing in the musicals ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ and learning it was an easy way to get attention and meet pretty girls. Upon graduation I decided I’d audition for top theatre schools and if I wasn’t accepted, I’d take a year off. I was fortunate to get into all three, including Ryerson which also offered a scholarship. I was off and upon graduation I co-hosted ‘Video and Arcade Top Ten’ on the kid’s network YTV for two seasons before getting the call to go to Stratford, where I performed Shakespeare for 3 years with Canada’s best and brightest and returned to Toronto. I went to visit some friends in LA and see a Leafs-Kings game and the next thing you know I was getting a visa and an agent and have now been there for 12 years. My first year there I booked three large roles in movies that I devoted my heart to, and although they were good experiences, none of them did very well. I was then asked by a friend to help produce a film and we ended up producing three in one year – the last one having a lot of notable people and my producing career was set. I soon started my own production company and we’ve now produced two shorts and four features – the latest being our award-winning comedy ‘Eat Wheaties!’ starring Tony Hale, Elisha Cuthbert, Alan Tudyk, Sarah Chalke, and a host of other wildly talented people. It’s been fun.

What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them? The biggest hurdles have been sometimes working hard on things that don’t happen; or things that end up out of my control and not as solid as I thought it would. To overcome anything, it’s about climbing back up again, and always pushing forward and on to the next one. Never let one misstep or project define you. It’s so much easier to judge than to do, and the people I’ve seen have the most success are the ones who keep moving forward and onto the next thing. What books are you currently reading? Sadly, no books right now, just scripts. SO. MANY. SCRIPTS.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your pursuits? How did you handle it? I’ve had close friends and dated people that found me attractive to be around because of my ambition and success, just to have them resent it later or not be able to adapt to the dry periods. Those people aren’t in my life anymore, and I’ve also gotten better at recognizing the people that are there for me when things aren’t going well. What would you do differently in hindsight? I think when I was younger, I was very attracted to people that were brilliant but put their focus on judging others attempts, instead of taking action themselves. As I got older, I recognized it’s better to surround yourself with do-ers rather than talkers. Do-ers may fail, but at least they’ve actually done something, learned from it, and will do something again. Those are the people you want to be around. What would you say was the single most influential factor in your success? Being undeniable, but always being friendly. Talent is everywhere, but people want to continue to be with people that make them laugh but know how to shift gears quickly from fun times to serious work.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started? I would’ve had more fun and had a better work-life balance. When I started producing, I felt so much pressure from everyone constantly and wanted to always perform and be the best… and I missed out on some important things. What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally? Keep trying and keep failing and suddenly BOOM – you’ll have done something amazing. And be nice to everyone always and keep your ego in check.


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