He agrees that he must have been pretty cocky to have set his heart on the big job when he first arrived on a film set. He explains it in astrological terms: "I'm a Leo. It goes with my character."
Phillips says his skin colour never proved a barrier to his progress: "No one said or did anything to my face that I can remember, to be honest. Everyone was always super lovely to me. But, at the same time, I'm very much advocate of trying to get more black people in the industry, because I understand the ratio doesn't quite add up."
Courtney Phillips had his eye on the more lucrative business of making TV commercials right from the get-go. And when he was in New York to shoot a promo based around kids he'd seen performing acrobatic dance routines on subway platforms, he spotted an opportunity: "There was Puma product placement in that music video. And I'd decided to cut that video into a 60" test commercial, knowing that commercials is where it's at. And it fucking worked."
It coincided with OB Management's decision to move into TVCs and using the Puma test film as an example of what he could do, they won Courtney Phillips an opportunity to direct a New Balance commercial.
Did he miss the opportunity for self-expression as he transitioned from promos to TVCs? "Yes and no. There is greater freedom overall but, you still have to appease the label and the artist and things get changed in the same ways that TVCs do. And, actually, the bigger budgets on TVCs can make things more open."
The piece of work which prompted our meeting represents another interesting step for Courtney Phillips. It's a trail for the BBC's latest talent competition - The Greatest Dancer and it takes brings together a lot of the director's skills. When you watch it, as well as being impressed by the choreography and its promo vibe, you can't help noticing what a challenge its makers set for themselves by including a whole load of mirrors set at different angles in front of the camera.
What on earth was he thinking? He laughs: "It was definitely a headfuck, at times. We knew there would be unwanted reflections, it was just a case of trying to minimise it."