“Really, I see myself as a leader and entrepreneur. It’s not that I don’t like working under someone. I just have a passion for leading and creating ideas.”
Peej Phillips is explaining why, unlike many of his peers, he decided to go into business for himself after graduation. He’d attended Full Sail’s Film program, and the movies – along with the entertainment business as a whole – were his passion. It had been that way since his senior year in high school, when his social studies class watched HBO’s John Adams miniseries.
“The first 10 minutes of the film had me,” he says. “From that point I knew I wanted to get into the film business – just seeing the crew come together and be able to create content that has such an incredible storyline. From the cinematography to the editing and writing, it was a complete package.”
In his final year at Full Sail, Peej became SGA/SCA student body president. And it was then, Peej says, that he realized how much he liked leadership – a realization that led him, in part, to found The Fresh Group shortly after he graduated in 2011. He was already doing a lot of freelance work under his own name, but decided it would be better to brand himself under a company moniker. And thus began his full-service digital and design studio.
His most notable endeavor to date has been the teaser video for the band Night Riot’s single “Spiders.” Over the band’s synth-and-drum-loop heavy tune, which vaguely recalls latter-day Radiohead, Peej spliced a barrage of quick-cut imagery, including a particularly striking doomsday clock counting up to 999.
“I’d been following them for about a year as a fan,” Peej explains. “I loved the sound and they had some great stuff. In the beginning of the year, I decided to contact them about doing a lyric video or even a music video.” He sent them a portfolio of his work, and an hour later the lead singer responded, saying the band had been kicking around ideas for a video they wanted to release in February.
“We started storyboarding and creating some concepts,” Peej says. “I listened to the song for days, really focusing on the lyrics and the story behind the song. We had some great ideas going back and forth, and we wrote a treatment and started production about a week later.”
It worked. The video was declared “buzzworthy” by no less than MTV.
“I am a huge music junkie,” he says. “So music videos are definitely on the top of my list right now. I do see myself expanding into episodic TV shows and TV commercials in the near future.”
In the last two years, Peej has built up a roster of 56 clients, almost all of whom he’s still working with. These projects vary by type. There’s industrial/corporate videos, marketing campaigns for organizations, and motion graphics/short visual packages, just to name a few. His clients range from record labels to independent bands, medium-sized companies to large non-profit organization.
More recently, Peej has been working closely with Red Bull Records, for whom he’s creating and cutting short visual pieces – tour videos, lyric videos, and promotional videos. He’s also collaborated with AWOLNATION on a tie-in for the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us, and is in talks with a handful of other bands regarding lyric videos and full-length music videos.
In conjunction with running Fresh, Peej also produces creative content weekly for CedarCreek.tv, one of America’s Largest and Fastest Growing Churches.
Ultimately, his goal is to expand. “I see myself really [supervising] the company and letting other creative run the day-to-day operations of it so I can go full force with my music video career. The Fresh Group funds new projects, which is great. I’m also somewhat interested in getting involved with artist and talent management. I don’t know – maybe that’s a dream. But dreaming is good, right?”