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!
THE TURNER BROTHERS: Julien & Justen Turner
When did you first learn about Young Guns?
We learned about Young Guns through a previous winner and filmmaker Nate Edwards (YG19). We recently signed to the same agency and were encouraged to submit to this amazing award.
How did you end up in making films?
We started directing as a hobby when we were just 10 (Justen) and 14 years old (Julien). Justen became obsessed with the process of video editing when he started experimenting on iMovie, while Julien became enamored with writing. Without knowing what we were doing, we would cast and rehearse with our friends, location scout around our neighborhood and even do makeshift VFX using transitions. We’d then go to the movies every Friday and compare our film to what we would see on the screen and take notes on what we needed to improve our films to better mirror what we saw on the silver screen.
We went from shooting passion projects on a whim to slowly incorporating more and more of the formal production process. It would take us being well into our teens before we would call ourselves film directors, but we had been film directors since we were kids.
What we feel makes us distinct in the advertising world, is that we always try to infuse our narrative influence and style into every project we take on regardless of length.
Congrats on the W! Why did you decide to enter this year?
This past year has been a while ride, from the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, to our second Webby Award, to signing with an advertising agency, we’ve been encouraged enough to know that our work will speak for itself. Entering for this amazing award is nothing but a testament to the blessings God has bestowed on us.
"This past year has been a while ride, from the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, to our second Webby Award, to signing with an advertising agency, we’ve been encouraged enough to know that our work will speak for itself."
We hope that with this award we’re able to show our legitimacy in the industry despite our age.
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?
We’ve told stories in a variety of styles, genres, and mediums, but what we are most confident in is our distinct directorial voice. We hoped that by submitting these projects, you would be able to see that voice break through in every one and find value in it.
What was your reaction when you discovered that you won?
I believe that we received the news on a Friday afternoon. We were really grateful and excited, and we immediately called our parents, who told us they were very proud. We were able to properly celebrate with our family. It was a great feeling because it shows further validation for our work and experiences. We were both very excited to email our work and school professors to tell them that we’ll be out for a few days in November to make sure we can attend.
In what ways does your hometown inspire your creativity as an artist? What about your current city?
Our hometown and our creative partners hometowns have always inspired us as artists. Since we're from the small town of Champaign, Illinois, we often found ourselves imagining the ordinary as extraordinary. Using the peace and quiet as a playground for our imaginations. Champaign helped us to develop the muscles to tell stories, no matter the constraint.
We now attempt to scale our imagination in Columbus, Ohio. But truly, the midwest is our canvas.
We shot all three episodes in the Nike x Social Status series in Mon View Heights, Pennsylvania, the actual childhood neighborhood of Social Status owner, James Whitner. We even shot a “Free Lunch” scene in the apartment James grew up in.
Our shoot coincided with the brand’s social initiative arm BeSocial, including their “Free Lunch” program. We quite literally were giving out free lunch while filming “Free Lunch.”
Hopefully our stories will continue to impact the communities we tell them in.
Now that you’re a part of the Young Guns community, are there any past winners you look up to and admire? If yes, please write their name, YG year, and add the link to their website. What is it about their work that you love?
Yes, Nate Edwards from the Young Guns 19 class has been an inspiration to us as we’ve grown in the commercial advertisement and music video world. As newer members to the Invisible Collective, we had the pleasure of crossing paths with him as we’ve admired his work with Tobe Nwigwe. His attention to detail and ability to infuse intricate blocking in the foreground and the background of his pictures is really dope.
If you could create a new Young Guns tradition, what would you want it to be and why?
I think an interview series would be really cool. We would love to hear the journeys of each of the filmmakers selected, as it could serve as encouragement for not only us, but also the filmmakers behind us.
Name a creative and professional dream project that you have yet to fulfill — maybe Young Guns will propel you in that direction!
While we have directed some really awesome brand collaborations, we have yet to put our own twist on a large budget music visual. We think we could make a really unique short film accompaniment or narrative short film for an artist that has an appetite for storytelling.
This is YG21, but what do you imagine you’ll be up to when YG31 rolls around in 2033?
We hope to still be telling unique stories in the commercial world and on the silver screen. We’re currently in development of our debut feature film and are excited for our supporters to see it.
Will we see you at the YG21 party in NYC in November?
Yes, you will!
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!