Highlighting the creative superstars that make up the class of Young Guns 18
2020 has been one rollercoaster of a year, but fortunately, the spirit of creativity can't be dampened. Want proof? Check out the winners of Young Guns 18!
Beginning with our largest and most diverse jury in history, acclaimed creatives from across the globe spent three months reviewing hundreds of submissions from insanely talented young professionals seeking validation for all of their hard work. After narrowing down the field to 83 top-notch finalists, the jury engaged in virtual discussion and debate, deciding who will win one of the most career-impacting honors in our industry.
In the end, we are honored to present the 31 incredible winners of Young Guns 18, a diverse collection of artists, filmmakers, animators, designers, illustrators, and others, all of them representing some of the very best that their fields have to offer.
We invite you to learn about all 31 Young Guns 18 winners in this series of interviews.
LONDON, UK & NEW YORK, NY
When did Young Guns first pop up on your radar?
The first time I heard about Young Guns was a few months after moving to New York– I was invited by a friend to a screening in Tribeca where Maceo Frost (YG15) showed his short doc “Raised by Krump” which really left an impression on me, and I continued to follow his work and saw later that year he received a Young Guns award.
You're a first-time entrant — congrats! What made you enter this year?
Yes, I’m a first time entrant. I had not considered entering before because I didn't feel like my work merited awards, but my friend who had previously won an award gave me the encouragement I needed to think I might merit an entry. I’m truly humbled to have talented and supportive friends.
Young Guns is as much an exercise in self-curation as it is in sheer creative talent. After all, you are only allowed to submit six projects. How did you go about deciding which pieces to submit and which to leave out?
When deciding which six projects to enter, I considered which pieces are impressive visually since I mostly DP, but more importantly I tried to focus on which pieces really speak to my taste at the moment. I’ve shot or directed pieces for “bigger” clients, but to me, telling powerful stories or showing powerful visuals is paramount. I put in two personal projects, which I’m proud of because they were growing processes personally for me as well as for those in them– they are what I consider inspirational underdog stories.
What went through your mind when you discovered that you won, knowing how difficult it is to make it into Young Guns?
What went through my mind when I won is denial! I had to make sure that the email I received was actually addressed to my email and not someone else’s by mistake. It actually reminded me of that feeling towards the end of high school as college admission letters came in and reading those first few lines saying whether you got in.
If you had to pick one of the six projects that you entered as your favorite, which one would it be and why?
I’m so hard at favorites! I think there’s a time and place for each project in it’s own way. I loved working on the Paralympics spot because I love shooting underwater and we had some fun toys, and I love the “Lions in the Corner” doc because the process was so real and unfettered. If I have to narrow it down, I’ll pick the two where I got to create with my closest friends. I made the AG Jeans spot with Amber Grace Johnson and it was both of our first commercials on film. Prior to the job, Amber was traveling the world for a Mercedes job, and I was similarly in another part of the world– South Africa, shooting a Johnny Walker TVC.
We both got back to New York the night before our 6AM flight to Los Angeles for the AG Jeans spot, and on the flight we hammered out so many ideas about the concept and how to translate those ideas into film. Amber is very collaborative as a director once she’s decided to work with you, so that level of trust really allowed me to take some creative liberty while also knowing I could be challenged by her to make it better.
“More Than the Sum” Adidas spot was something I was working on long term, and then I brought in my oldest friend Skyler Fulton to help co-direct it with me. We got to know our main talent while filming and living in his world and we’re all great friends now. The personal bonding on projects is why I love what I do– they connect people through the shared experience of telling stories and expressing ideas.
If you had to describe your creative style, the part of your work that’s most distinctively “you”, what would it be?
You’d have to ask someone else about my “style”. If style means manner of doing something or process, then all I can say for that is I have no adherence to any one of those things. I’m always looking for new ways to do things, but I will always bring earnestness and ambition to the projects I care about because life is too short for apathy.
Who are some of the biggest influences on your work and career, people who may have had a hand in mentoring and supporting you?
For artistic influences I’m always looking at photographers' work, classic painters, and interviews from artists, writers, and cinematographers too. I'd have to say that two people who were big mentor influences in my life were my high school photo teacher and my tech theater teacher. They were no-bullshit type people who pushed me to see that my ideas had potential but also that “good-enough” was not an answer. I think a lot of my work ethic comes from them.
Now that you’re in the Young Guns family, are there any past winners you look up to and admire?
Once I heard back that I was a Young Guns finalist, I looked back more thoroughly through the list of previous winners and it was amazing to see how many people I knew already. A lot that I don’t know, but I’d say I know most film related Young Guns winners– I look up to them and I am mostly up to date with their projects. I also like that Young Guns winners come from all over the world.
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a pretty crazy year, with a global pandemic and social upheaval shaping so many facets of our lives. Aside from the positive news of winning Young Guns, how has this year been for you?
I can’t even begin to deconstruct the year 2020. The most succinct way I can sum it up is that this year will be talked and written about for a century to come. What we do here and now with the time that is given to us is of utmost importance. I hope that we will be able to look back at this time and see how we rose to the occasion– taking the opportunity to change ourselves and change the world to be a better and more equal place.
Name a creative/professional dream that you have yet to fulfill — hey, maybe Young Guns can help propel you in that direction!
Dreams? I will have to keep those a secret or else they won’t come true… right?
Any last words about winning Young Guns 18 that you'd like to share?
I’m truly not in a place to give words of wisdom other than what I tell myself, and that is to keep going and pursuing with an open and gentle heart.
WORDS FROM THE JURY
"In my opinion, a director’s role is to tell a story, weave a narrative and convey what's in their head to yours. A cinematographer is to pull you into that world in unusual ways, to enrapture you. Gaul does that through his work. He looks at the lens as an instrument to not just capture imagery, but captivate people. I look forward to seeing how he continues to develop."
Executive Creative Director
Young Guns 5 Winner
"What drew me to Gaul's work was his incredible ability to capture tone. His shots are steeped with a grace and raw emotion. One of my favorite things great cinematographers and directors do in their work is go beyond the traditional use of their tools and use light as a vehicle to paint and camera as a character to capture energy. Gaul uses his tools effortlessly and his work seamlessly captures the beauty and depth of life on film. "
Director / Concept Artist
Young Guns 11 Winner
Make sure to check out all the Young Guns 18 Winners in the archive!