Interview with Producer, Bailey Phillips

Field Notes Interview #77: Bailey Phillips, Producer

We interview Producer, Bailey Phillips, about humor, cheesy 80's ballads and making amazing things happen with limited resources in her projects.

When it comes to a good story, sometimes humor can be the best delivery. Making someone laugh can create an immediate connection. Whether it's something cheesy like a bad pun, or finding the absurdity in a situation as a silver lining, an audience can reach a common bond through amusement. This speaks to the productions of Bailey Phillips.

Through her work at Portland agency, Swift, she's managed to glean humor and distill in film form. We've had the honor of working with her on various projects and they all have one unique thread: playfulness. We got some insight from Bailey and how she makes humor a consistent character in her work. Enjoy.

M: Who are you and what do you do in the world?

BP: Bailey Rae Phillips, Senior Video Producer in-house at Swift + Possible's Content Studio.

M: What's your first memory in filmmaking?

BP: My first memory is being shown how to use FCP and cut together reels. It felt so cool to learn something that felt really technical. Not having gone to film school -- it was basically like stealing an education. Learning to edit taught me that I could teach myself how to do whatever I wanted, as long as I was passionate about it.

M: What's been one of your favorite projects to work on?

BP: The Stouffer's "Alone at Last" 80's style music video we made in 2015 was one of the all time greats. We also had one of those amazing situations where the client wasn't on set -- so we were able to make it as ridiculous and cheesy (see what I did there..) as we wanted. Star filters... over-the-top props. It was so much fun.

M: What makes a good story?

BP: I've always felt that great stories rely heavily on the story-teller. Growing up, my grandpa could have groups of people in stitches telling what were, most likely, fairly mediocre stories. But, [he had] this ability to build suspense where there wasn't any and imply humor into dull aspects of the story. In a way, I guess you could sort of consider it being a good liar... emphasizing moods and dressing up simplicity to keep your audience's attention.

M: What role does music play in film?

BP: The role of music in film is BEYOND key. Obviously people have talked about how horror films feel without music -- not scary. There's not tension. Music can carry a slow plot, a lack of chemistry between co-stars. I recently saw a movie at a music festival (I won't say the name of it, because it was traumatizing and I recommend it to NO ONE EVER...) where there wasn't music, only sound design. It was so interesting how the LACK of music became a huge focus. You felt lost without the guidance you expect from a well made soundtrack. The point of the film was to be disruptive, so it worked...

M: How do you feel music is misused in film?

BP: One of the biggest things that drives me crazy is when people use a popular track just for the sake of its popularity. Don't get me wrong, I'm kind of a Top 40 girl. HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEW CARLY RAE JEPSEN ALBUM!?! It's important that the music / tracks are blended with your story. There's nothing better than DISCOVERING a song because it was so powerful in its moment on screen.

M: What's one thing you'd tell a filmmaker just starting out?

BP: To spend as much time as possible on personal projects, knowing most of them will be embarrassing and never see the light of day. The majority of what you'll need to know in this industry is learned by trying and doing. Work for free. It sucks, but do it. No set veteran cares where you got your film degree, they care about whether or not you're wrapping the cables the right way, staying out of your talent's eye line and making sure the producer constantly has their fountain Diet Coke.

M: What's the last album you listened to?

BP: I know I JUST said Carly, but this morning was a "making eggs to Kacey Musgraves" kind of Monday.

M: What's one of the most challenging things in filmmaking?

BP: Making people understand that working within the project doesn't mean sacrifice, it means to be creative. So many people without experience have heard of one camera, and that's the one they want. They've discovered one trippy video on YouTube and that's the one they want to imitate. Having a small budget should inspire you to think outside the box and find new ways to problem solve. You'll be better for it in the end.

M: What's coming up for you?

BP: Currently, Swift has one video that might be made for broadcast (a HUGE step for the team), as well as more client briefs coming in that are asking for small budgets and big ideas. The creatives have been delivering really amazing content ideas that are focused on finding efficiencies and making really breathtaking work. We're all very excited to see how the next couple months come together.

Posted on March 14, 2016 and filed under Field Notes.