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Academy of Art University Alumnus’ Work Airs Internationally

For 15 years, Academy of Art University alumnus Phillip Briggs competed in bicycling races all over the world, until he decided to take his life in a completely different direction – cinematography. Now, the Georgia native’s work is taking the world by storm and he is definitely one to watch.

Phillip heard about Academy of Art University’s prestigious School of Motion Pictures & Television and decided that film was his calling. Inspired by Graham Watson’s still photography in cycling magazines, he was drawn instantly to cinematography.

Since he had no prior film experience, Phillip found the school’s hands-on approach to teaching extremely beneficial.

“From the first semester to the last, you’re shooting film,” he said. “Coming into film school, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know what an f-stop was!”

He learned the most from the lighting classes he took with instructor Matt Braun.

“In his class, I really started to see light and how to paint with it,” he recalled. “Matt’s passion and humbleness toward filmmaking really inspired me.”

With the help of supportive Academy of Art University faculty and access to state-of-the-art equipment, Phillip has compiled an impressive portfolio since graduating in 2006.

A still from "Poultry Geist"

He was the Director of Photography for two Extreme Pizza commercials, one of which is playing nationally on ESPN and Comedy Central. Entitled Poultry Geist, the ad was also shown to a packed house during the Golden State Warriors playoff games. The other ad, Peace in the Middle East, took home the Best Commercial award at Academy of Art University’s Epidemic Film Festival.

A still from “Peace in the Middle East”

Phillip also won Best Cinematography at Epidemic for his music video The War, which he worked on with other Academy of Art University students and alumni under the production company etypical. The video, which also won Best Editing and Best Production Design, features blink-182 singer Tom Delonge’s band Angels & Airwaves and depicts an epic futuristic battle. His personal highlight of the night was accepting the award from William Fraker, a legendary cinematographer.

“It was one of the things I will always remember,” Phillip said.

The video has gotten further recognition internationally, playing on gotv, a European music channel. He has heard from friends that it is showing on certain music channels in the U.S., as well.

Recently, Phillip returned to the Academy of Art University to film Diane Baker’s directing and acting classes. He is currently seeking funding for a feature film based on his award-winning short, Second Round, about a boxing trainer in the 1930s.

His advice to School of Motion Pictures and Television students is to utilize the resources available to them at Academy of Art University as much as possible.

“Walking out of the Academy with a degree in Directing, Cinematography, Editing, or Screenwriting doesn’t make you a filmmaker. Doing it, practicing it, taking every single opportunity to step foot on a set makes you a filmmaker!”


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