Featuring the creative stars of Young Guns 19
A year and a half of uncertainty across the creative industry and beyond has finally given way to a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel — a spotlight with a great big "YG19" standing in the middle of it. After more than 70 acclaimed creatives from around the world and across a multitude of disciplines reviewed hundreds of submissions, whittling them down to a formidable finalist list, we can finally reveal the phenomenal winners of Young Guns 19!
This year, we welcome a diverse class of 32 inductees into the exclusive Young Guns family, a collection of young creative talent that is already near the top of their game — and will only get better. These are the designers, the art directors, the illustrators, the filmmakers, the animators, the multidisciplinary artists whose names you'll want to know — if you aren't already following their every move, that is.
Ahead of the Young Guns 19 Ceremony + Party taking place on Wednesday, November 17 — our first in-person event since the pandemic began — we are featuring the future legends who will be stepping into the spotlight that evening.
When did you first hear about Young Guns?
My friend David Gesslbauer encouraged me to submit my work to Young Guns. Nowadays with so much content on social media and the internet overall, it's so hard to make someone watch even a minute long film. It is such a rare opportunity to showcase six films to so many leading creatives from the industry at once. So the fact that Young Guns is a portfolio-based competition was a cakewalk to submit my work to the competition.
Congrats first-timer! What made you enter this year?
I am humbled to call myself a lucky first-timer that got on this last train before turning 31.
I celebrate taking chances and dreaming big. I was submitting my work to festivals in my lowest days, when I literary had $200 in my bank account. Not getting shortlisted and not winning never stoped me, I just continued pushing.
Since you are only allowed to submit six projects, how did you decide which pieces were best to enter and truly reflected you and your work?
I tried to choose the most diverse projects that would define me as creative who experiments with different genres and tries new things. Also following my heart and my intuition played a big part in my selection process.
How did you celebrate when you found out you won Young Guns?
I was about to go to sleep when my wife Julija Fricsone-Gavriss got an email saying she won Young Guns 19. Knowing how hardworking and committed she is I was so happy that her work got the recognition it deserves, so first thing the next morning I bought her beautiful pink Hortensia flowers.
Later that same day I found out that I also won the award and it made me really happy. I put everything on the line to make films, so the fact that someone liked six of them was a massive compliment.
If you had to pick one of the six projects that you entered as your favorite, which one would it be and why?
I don't think there is such a thing as a favourite project for me, but there is definitely one of the most important ones that I had a chance to direct so far. It's called We Will Become Better.
I grew up in the 90s in Latvia with the complete absence of sex education, where the topic of same-sex relationships was only a subject for gossip, insults, and often blackmail and violence.
Anyone who lived then in the post-Soviet space knows how much society demonized the LGBTQIA+ community. The society unreasonably imposed a stigma of clichés, stereotypes, and aggression towards people who just want to love each other without hiding their feelings, go to work without wearing a heterosexual mask, and hold hands in the park without fear of getting physically injured. I wanted to break the cliches, the stereotypes, and talk about pure love. And if the audience feels for the couple, hopefully that can change their minds.
If you had to describe your creative style, the part of your work that’s most distinctively “you,” what would it be?
I don't really analyze my style too much, what's really important to me is to fill my films with my energy, DNA, and soul. I want the audience to feel the vibrations coming from the screen, experience my work, and be immersed in the story.
What works for me is to get inspired by the events that happen in my own life. That might be anything from my psychological traumas, to stories about my friends and family, to something that I can deeply relate with in life. In most cases I try to chase a strong feeling, and go with a core emotion that I want to portray.
Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career– people who may have had a hand in mentoring and supporting you?
Spike Jonze's Yeah Right and Fully Flared blew me away when I was a kid. Since then I've been setting up skateboards on fire. Collaborating with new people is the key to learning and growing as a creative.
The pandemic of 2020 is slowly starting to taper a bit, so do you have any big goals moving forward into 2022?
I am a freak when it comes down to setting goals. I think planing and manifesting your dreams and goals is the key! To name a few, I would love to collaborate with new exciting creatives, and get Make a First Step into the feature world.
"I am a freak when it comes down to setting goals. I think planing and manifesting your dreams and goals is the key!"
Name a professional dream that you have yet to fulfill — hey, maybe Young Guns can help propel you in that direction!
I am enthusiastic about working on scripts highlighting subjects that are important to society and can make our world a better place.
Any thoughts on how you are feeling about winning YG19?
I am one of those people who prefer to learn how to swim by jumping into the ocean. I always try to embrace change and get out of my comfort zone– best things are born out there. Thanks to The One Club, Young Guns judges, all the production companies, investors, and agencies that trusted my vision and supported me along the way.
Go check out all the Young Guns 19 Winners in the archive!