Young Guns 21: Troy Charbonnet

By Alixandra Rutnik and Brett McKenzie on Nov 01, 2023

Get to know the phenomenal class of Young Guns 21

After 85 incredible finalists and intense deliberation, the Young Guns jury has narrowed it down to the 29 winners that make up the class of Young Guns 21. An astounding collection of animators, illustrators, film directors, typographers (a few Ascenders 2023 winners as well!), graphic designers, and photographers make up YG21.

Every year we interview the Young Guns winners to get to know them better as artists and people. And as always, we are welcoming another class of outstanding individuals into the highly coveted Young Guns community.

Now that you know the YG21 winners better, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating them in person at NYC’s Sony Hall on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, at 6:30 PM. See you in two weeks and get ready to party!



Los Angeles, California


Irvine, California


What were your original impressions of the Young Guns competition, the award, and the community?

I can’t entirely recall the first time I heard about Young Guns but the name was something I came across time and time again–mostly from creatives I deeply admired–and I was always floored by the level of work being put out by the community.

How did you end up in the creative field anyways?

I started making films when I was about nine years old after I received my first camcorder for my birthday–experimenting with stop-motion, music videos, movie trailers, skate videos, and short films. Big shout out to my childhood pets, Pepé and Scrubs, for starring in a few of them. As the years progressed film was always something that found its way into whatever hobbies I had at the time. I then decided to study film production in college as well at Chapman University. While enrolled, I ended up receiving my first few gigs as a freelance editor–a profession I then continued.

Congrats on your 2nd place COLORFUL grant and the big Young Guns Win! What motivated you decide to enter this year?

I initially entered into COLORFUL, the grant program for BIPOC creatives that acts as a prelude to Young Guns. I submitted on a bit of a whim after being heavily inspired by the work, integrity, and aspirations of the winners and finalists. I then had the great fortune of receiving the 2nd place grant, and so it was encouraged that I enter into Young Guns as well.

You only get to submit six projects that embody you and your talent. The best of the very best. So, how did you decide which pieces were good enough to make the cut?

I selected an assortment of projects, ultimately of work that captured my heart for various reasons, whether that be because of the process, the people, or the outcome. From editing work where I had the opportunity to learn from creatives who pushed me in both technical and artistic ways, to directing work where I found myself deeply moved by the subject and people around me. Lessons, memories, friendships, and seasons of growth can be found in each one of these projects that I’ll carry with me for years to come.

Do you remember the exact time and place you were when you found out you had won?

I received the news just after I had woken up and was still half-asleep so I wasn’t sure if I was reading it properly. I was already filled with so much gratitude to have had the honor of being selected for the COLORFUL grant so this was really special. To now be a part of such an inspiring community is immensely motivating.

In what ways does your hometown inspire your creativity as an artist? And what about where you currently live?

My hometown Irvine holds a special place in my heart. I live in LA now so when comparing the two, Irvine is fairly quiet and an all-around slower pace of life. I’ve enjoyed having the privilege of experiencing both. I feel like the dissimilar dynamic between the two places fosters a bit of creativity as well. Irvine holds a ton of amazing people I've had the opportunity to be in such close proximity to– family, students, teachers, coaches, mentors, and others I’ve been able to call friends.

Now that you’re a part of the Young Guns community, are there any past winners you look up to and admire?

There are too many inspiring past winners to name! I really look up to the Young Guns community as a whole and how each artist leads with their own unique voice. There’s so much integrity and intentionality in the work I’ve seen being put out by this group and I’d love to reflect that within my own projects as best I can as well.

Name a creative and professional dream project that you have yet to fulfill — maybe Young Guns will propel you in that direction!

In the near future, I would love to write and direct a few narrative short films– potentially direct mini-documentaries as well. I’ve recently been researching and developing a few small vignettes revolving around masculinity and vulnerability– hopefully I’ll be able to see these ideas come to fruition soon.

This is YG21, but what do you imagine you’ll be up to when YG31 rolls around in 2033, both personally and professionally?

Professionally, I hope I’ll be creating work that means a lot to me with people who mean a lot to me. I also hope to be passing down what I’ve learned from my experiences– teaching or mentoring in the same way many individuals did for me. Personally, I imagine I’ll still be actively growing, learning, making mistakes, finding myself, losing myself, and then finding myself again because that’s how it seems to go.

"I imagine I’ll still be actively growing, learning, making mistakes, finding myself, losing myself, and then finding myself again because that’s how it seems to go."



Come party with us and celebrate all the Young Guns 21 winners on Wednesday, November 15 at Sony Hall! See you at 6:30 PM in NYC!

Get tickets! It's party time!

The class of Young Guns 21



Fire + Fragility: Zuzanna Rogatty's YG21 Cube Design
Young Guns 21: Max Amato
Young Guns 21: Justin Au
Young Guns 21: Tess Ayano







Follow Us