Delano Forbes: Continuing a legacy, building an empire
Few people know what it’s like to walk in the footsteps of a pioneer, ensuring that they maintain the standards that have been set, while trying to add to that legacy to make a mark of their own. Delano Forbes, co-owner and CEO of Phase 3 Productions, is all too familiar with the pressure that comes with this reality. However, for this media boss, ensuring his family business remains a leading television and multimedia production company has become a passionate pursuit, a progressive stride that has captured the imagination.
Countless viewers, here and abroad, have seen his work, but not many people know that there was a time when Forbes rebelled against being a part of the family business. Contending with the perception that working in a family business is the ‘easy route’, Forbes confessed that he struggled with the need to make his own mark, independent of his parents. But with his late father Richard ‘Pardy’ Forbes, multimedia visionary and Phase 3 founder, dreaming of his son carrying on the legacy he was building, Forbes soon came to the conclusion that resisting his natural passion for film was a lost cause.
“During the holidays as a teen, I would work on productions starting as a gofer, which pretty much meant I would run errands or help out with whatever task was needed. I then graduated to an audio assistant, and ultimately a camera assistant. Funny enough, there was a time I wanted to be an architect and I did all the subjects to pursue this dream, including interning at an architectural firm. Soon enough, I realised I was fighting my passion for film and video production. I tried hard at a point to resist entering the family business, but the reality was that this was my calling and I knew I had what it took to continue my family’s legacy,” said Forbes.
The Campion and St George’s College alumnus studied at the prestigious New York University (NYU) where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Later, he earned an MBA from Florida International University. Armed with that training and the experience he received under his father’s tutelage, Forbes has continued to build the Phase 3 empire alongside his mother, co-owner and co-founder, Dr Marcia Forbes.
He credits his parents with providing examples of excellence and resilience. “My father to this day continues to inspire me. For a person to be blind for almost 20 years and never complain or feel sorry for himself, that to me is admirable. I’m sure he had his moments, but as a son I never heard them. That’s powerful! After that kind of experience and that perspective, everything else seems secondary and easy to overcome. Don’t get me wrong, working in the family business isn’t always easy. The good thing with our family is that we are very driven individuals and will not settle for anything less than excellence. Anyone who knows my mother knows she is a very driven person with a list of business and academic accolades,” shared Forbes.
50 under 50 award
A recipient of a 2002 Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Forbes has received his own set of accolades. Among the more remarkable being the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) Best Music Video Director Awards for three consecutive years and a ‘50 under 50’ award from the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica. With these accomplishments under his belt and those of his parents before him, Forbes proudly asserts that Phase 3 is a company that has been organically built from the ground up. He shared that their experience over the years has allowed them to quickly adapt to their clients’ requirements and market conditions, earning for them the reputation of being innovators in the industry.
In 2012, Phase 3 was the first company in the Caribbean to have a live HD multi-camera system, and in 2019, the company was the first to have a complete 4K live production mobile unit. Phase 3 brought virtual graphics to the live production space, spearheading the largest live production in Jamaica’s history, a 28-camera production for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in June 2019. Most recently, the company has been innovating in the space of live-streaming, providing virtual events for many of Jamaica’s leading brands.
“We are probably facing one of the biggest challenges right now with this new way of living. However, new challenges always give us the opportunity to realign, innovate and evolve as a business. When our business suffered in 1999 due to a fire, we never gave up hope. Looking back, I’m not sure how we did it but we always have a never-give-up mentality. That is what my mother and I are currently doing, evolving and not giving up in these uncertain times,” said Forbes.
With a drive to always continue progressing and building despite the obstacles faced over the years, Forbes is among a group of professionals being lauded by Johnnie Walker in a series called Icons of Progress as the brand celebrates its 200th anniversary. The milestone is also being commemorated with a documentary, which premiered on November 12, aptly titled The Man Who Walked Around the World. It tracks the extraordinary history of the brand and explores the progressive symbol of the striding man.