Sunday 26 May, 2019

Secret agents and soucouyants: Inside Anthony Phills’ fantasy world

Anthony Phills

Anthony Phills

Anthony Phills describes himself as a renaissance man.

As a renaissance man, he says, he could do whatever he wants, have fun and make a difference in people’s lives.

Phills is a full stack designer, magazine publisher, copywriter, brand expert and visual storyteller who has racked up a pretty impressive set of accomplishments in his 30 plus years career.

He invented the computer ruler at the age of 22 which he licensed to Adobe, he was the original designer for the alpha of Adobe’s Indesign, designed the user interface for RealPlayer G5 series as well as the app for Hilton HHonours, and has worked with baseball star Barry Bonds, among other celebrities, designing everything for him from including his shoes. He wrote about his experience working with Bonds in the book Designing for the Home Run King.

Phills work has even landed him in front of the late Stan Lee who mentioned the Trinidadian when he sent a video greeting to T&T for Animae Caribe in 2013.

Today, Phills is busy developing a series featuring a secret agent from Trinidad called Tony Knight.

“The Knight series was created in 2009, it was called Barracho, meaning drunk in Spanish and when it first came out everyone said it is too dark so I sat on it for all this time until 2016 when Trump won and he started talking about the deep state and I was like this is what Knight is about,” Phills explained.

“Someone called Knight the black bond. Knight uses his brain, he is a tech savvy guy and the whole thing is that he is from Trinidad. Knight lives in New York City and he's moved to Los Angeles but he is originally a Trini.”

Knight’s journey revolves around MPI (Multi-Platform Interactive) called Binge Publishing which Phills invented.

“I wrote On the Edge of Knight as three short stories. The first story is Showdown in the City. That leads to a mobile application called Knight off the Grid. The next story Knight in the Jungle where he goes to the Amazon and gets hit by a dart. He starts hallucinating, blacks out and that leads you to a podcast called The Blackouts. It is a half an hour-long podcast. The production is stunning. The last series is called Discovering the Deep State where he finds out that he works for an undercover Government agency but this one leads to a mobile app called 24 hours of Knight, the Assassination. I developed a radio station called Kaaos Radio and each one of the stories come with an hour long mixed tape corresponding to each story,” Phills explained.

Next year will bring us more Knight adventures: Book four: Dominika, She Loves Me Not, Book five: Knight, She Loves Me Not and Book six: Knight, The State Of Our Union.

Through Knight, Phills is pushing the boundaries of what he can do.

“I built an app with music and everything and Knight pops up and talks to you. This is the prototype I built for a new proof of concept. When you add that element of the music, it ties everything together,” said Phills, who is collaborating with Trinidadian musician Navid Lancaster on the score for his Knight projects.

Phills, who grew up in Caledonia, Morvant, said he loves looking at James Bond and the Bourne Identity movies but he wanted to see a character that looked like him so he created Knight.

“He is my alter ego,” he said.

Although he left Trinidad at the age of five and lived abroad for years, first in Canada, parts of Europe and now in Los Angeles, Phills is determined to put the Caribbean on the map.

He tried to do it with a magazine called Caricomm, a digital Caribbean Commerce publication, which he admits, was ahead of its time. That effort landed him as a finalist for the 2013 Digital Magazine Awards.

He is currently working on a script to introduce the Soucouyant, a shape-shifting Trinidadian woman in folklore who turns into a ball of fire at night and suck the blood from its victims.

“We have the best evil spirit and I am sick and tired of it staying in Trinidad. I am writing the script right now for the Soucouyant to be in New York. Every time I see a Soucouyant story it is always been in Trinidad. This is based on the American Werewolf in London. Every time I tell a story about the islands, it becomes relaxing but if I take it out of the islands and out it in New York it becomes dark,” he said.

As much as Phills enjoys storytelling, he really loves inventing tech solutions to educate people. He has developed a world for alternative interactive learning for children called AR Books (Augmented Reality). For which he is now looking for investors to help him disrupt the educational book market.

“I am working on AR Books, a world where inner-city kids can walk through a door to have experiential learning. That is where Knight has taken us. I think of Knight as the playground. It is interactive content for kids,” he said. 

 “Knight’s gonna take me to the place I need to be to develop the education system. I want black kids to see I am a renaissance man. I don’t want them to see me as a graphic designer but as a renaissance man. I want them to see you could do whatever you want, generate funds and have fun but you have to have some education,” he said.

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