Fort Smith Video Director Takes Home First Place Prize

FORT SMITH (KFSM) — A local video director took home first place for his video "I Am We" at a California film festival.

The video is a short documentary about 29-year-old artist Ryan Starkey who is also from Fort Smith.

Starkey has a dyskinetic movement disorder with symptoms similar to that of Parkinson's Disease or multiple sclerosis.

It took Phillip Person — who worked alone — less than eight months to complete his video.

He explained he didn't make it to win an award but rather, he made it because of what you see.

He said Starkey said it best, that people with disabilities are not inferior to others.

“We all have disabilities," Person said. "I think the only real disability is fear, laziness and procrastination.”

He continued to say that it was Starkey who found the festival in Southern California that also showcases the work of other artists with disabilities.

Person saw work from people who were blind or painted with their toes.

Work that he described as breathtaking.

There was a moment at the festival that he and Starkey shared, that he won't forget.

As they walked into one of the buildings with this artwork, Person said the artists recognized them and lit up.

"They smiled and I said this is what it’s about for me," Person said. "I’m happy right now. I don’t have to have an award. This made their day and they were inspired ... I walked away happy.”

Person said he was flattered and honored to win the first-place award.

Starkey challenged him as an individual during this project, Person explained.

For others interested in creating videos like Person, he advised those to not do it for fame.

“Do it because you love it and you’re proud of your work, and someone is enlightened by it and walks away with a different viewpoint of the world," Person added. "Change their perspective. That is the power of film.”