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Young Lions Alumni Spotlight with the 2023 Film Winners

The 2024 Young Lions Competition registration is open until February 11, 2024! The competition is an exceptional opportunity for Canada’s young creatives to showcase their talent and compete for the chance to represent the country on the global stage at Cannes, France. In preparation for this exciting competition, we turned to past winners for their insights and tips to inspire this year’s competitors. We spoke to Anthony Curran (AC), Motion Designer, and Cory Hansen (CH), Associate Creative Director, who were with Milestone Integrated Marketing during the competition, won Silver at the 2023 Global Young Lions Competition in Cannes, France, in the Film Category.

Tell us a bit about yourselves – who you are, where you work and what you do (30-second elevator pitch!)

AC: My role is Director of Motion, and I lead our internal video production team creatively and technically. My background is in animation, and I’ve always been passionate about short-form storytelling. I’m the kind of guy who watches the Super Bowl for the ads.

CH: My name is Cory Hansen, and I’m the Associate Creative Director at this sweet little shop called Milestone in Cambridge, Ontario. I pride myself on my sarcastic writing style and my receding hairline. See what I did there? 

Last year, what was your approach going into Young Lions? Would you change it now?

AC: It was my first year entering, and I really had zero strategy going in. My partner Cory (who had entered many times before) gave me the run down and guided me through the process, but essentially, I just kept my head down and did what I always do: create. Looking to enter again, I would ‘let go of my babies’ even more than before, seeing as our winning idea was our tenth ‘good’ idea. It’s hard not to tunnel vision when the pressure is on in the 48 hours.

I had participated in Young Lions several times and had yet to win. But fortunately, I learned from all those failures. And what did I learn? Don’t overthink the brief! The Young Lions Briefs are overly detailed, sending you down some weird pathways. The quicker you can digest the brief, find something worth talking about and ideate off that, the better shape you’ll be in. Don’t let the details in the brief water down your thinking. – Cory

Tell us the most rewarding or memorable moment about competing (either domestically or globally)?

AC: In both cases, the most rewarding part of the experience is the finality of the project. We sent it off after 48 hours, knowing that literally nothing else could be done and that we gave it our all. It’s an extremely relieving feeling. Another thing that sticks out is that great building feeling you get when things start to piece together, like the solution to a brainteaser. You get giddy and think, “Huh, this really is a clever idea. This could be something.” That satisfaction kept me going through the rest of the late hours putting everything together.

CH: The most rewarding part of the entire thing was pressing submit. After pushing yourself for 48 hours, there is no better feeling in the world. So, grab a beer or go to bed, knowing that you did all you could do.

From contacts to promotions, how did Young Lions open up new career opportunities for you in 2023?

AC: Just being in the same room as people doing this for many years, you take in a lot. I’ve made connections that will be significant as I continue my career, as well as the confidence I need to keep moving forward and doing what I love. It can be hard to feel like your work has any direct impact in a sea of advertising, so the confidence that kind of acknowledgment brings is really valuable. 

CH: I was aware of the opportunities Young Lions would bring to my career, but I wasn’t aware of the relationships I would create with the other Young Lions in Cannes. This was a group of exceptionally creative people from around the world who will undoubtedly have amazing careers. These are the contacts I will keep for life.

What is a key tip you would give a competitor who is hungry for the win this March?

AC: Talk like crazy. Throw out a million ideas. Use each other to bounce anything and everything off the wall. Explore ideas you think are terrible and pause on ones you think are great. Remember that this is a competition in communication: can you effectively communicate your idea and vision to the audience? Your idea may be rock solid, but if you can’t express it in your execution, no one will know how solid it was. If it’s a good idea, it’s likely other people have gotten there as well, so how can you stand out and be as clear and efficient with your tools as possible? And also sleep. You’ll need it.

Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. This is one of the few times that, as a creative, you won’t have a CD, a strategist, an account team, a client, a focus group, a lawyer and their mother weighing in on your work. So take advantage of it and do something wild – it will be fun to work on and allow you the chance to win. – Cory

Finally, what would you say to someone on the fence about competing in Young Lions 2024?

AC: Absolutely, take the dive and go for it. Even if this is the first time you’ve done something like this or think you aren’t capable or won’t win, these opportunities are once in a lifetime. You will grow regardless of how you place, and the opportunities if you do win are well worth the risk. You may discover that you have more in you than you ever thought possible. I never felt that I was someone who could win a competition like this, and next thing you know, I’m drinking rosé next to the best in the world. That could be you; you just might not see it yet.

CH: I mean… why wouldn’t you do it? Some of my fondest memories in my career surround Young Lions. 

You can check out their LinkedIn profiles to connect with Anthony and Cory, view their 2023 Canadian Young Lions Competition winning work here and view their 2023 Global Young Lions winning work here.

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