October 31, 2018



We caught up with Estelle Baronello, filmmaker and winner of the September 2018 John Byrne Award, to talk about discrimination, generational divides, and finding inspiration.

In your winning John Byrne Award entry, you explored the question ‘Are we going forwards or backwards?’. Why did you choose to focus on this topic?

The subject interests me because as a young person I see a lot of generational blaming. There is a mind set amongst the younger generation that we are the most advanced when it comes to representation and respect for minorities. The older generations tend to get blamed for all the discrimination that exists in the world.

But there is this movement developing that likes to glamourise minorities instead of just treating them like humans. For example in the film industry there are some people who act like we need to cast people because of their skin tone and sexual orientation instead of their talent. I am all for representation, and there is an obvious lack of it, but the solution isn’t to purposefully hire people who were born with certain physical traits.

On the other hand there is this image of the older generations being discriminatory, like they were born to be hateful. But there are rebels all throughout history fighting for their own and other peoples rights. Like today, people have always been divided on important issues. Just because we see the past in black and white doesn’t mean that’s how the world was.

When and how did you start making films?

I started making videos with my Aunt. Just silly things like lip syncing a scene from “The Mighty Boosh.” For years I thought I was going to be a lawyer but after an early midlife crisis I decided to be a filmmaker. My family has always been involved in the theatre and I loved helping out behind the scenes. So I think that is where my love of art and production came from.

Why do you continue to make them now?

My goal was to get into the BA Filmmaking course at the RCS and I managed it last year. So I’ve been busy writing and filming and hoping it will take me somewhere afterwards.

Where do you get your creative inspiration?

For me its my life and music. I’m 19 so its hard to take from my own life as I haven’t really lived it yet, but everyone has a story to tell. If you want to write about something you haven’t lived through then its research with a capital R. Reading about first hand encounters is highly inspiring and when you have a good song that fits the tone then you can really visualise it.

What do you value most in life?

I value my family and my position in life. I have the time and money to do what I want but lots of other people don’t. I am so grateful that I can study what I love and not worry about basic things like food and shelter. That’s why I want to make the arts more inclusive and support people who don’t have the family support that I have. I am currently learning about funding in the arts as I want to make it a goal to give kids from any background the chance I had.

What impact is your work having/ would you like your work to have?

For me if I make something and someone enjoys then I’m happy. I am still just in my second year of film school and I have a lot to learn.

Who do you admire and why?

I really admire my lecturers. They are all so passionate and inspiring. Every time I’m in class I learn something that changes my craft. They have skills that are on a whole other level that makes you want to keep trying to improve.

Recommend us something to read, watch or visit, please. Can you tell us the story behind why you’d recommend it?

The only television play that made me cry is “Cathy Come Home” directed by Ken Loach. It shows how a perfectly normal family can end up in poverty. It’s one of the only films about homelessness that isn’t painfully cheesy and out of touch. It was so powerful when it first was released in 1966 that it was discussed in parliament and lead to the charity “Crisis” being created.

Describe yourself and your creative work in one sentence?

I’m delusional if I say there is method to the madness.

What do you think of The John Byrne Award?

It’s the encouragement young artists need. Being an artist has this negativity around it where people think you need to have a huge ego to be one. I would argue the opposite. Creating art and sharing it is a really vulnerable thing to do. It’s difficult to show the world your voice even if its just your friends and family who ends up seeing it. So having an award that gives young artists of any medium the chance to share their ideas and be vulnerable is great.

And lastly, what would you do if you were president of the world for one day?

Rome wasn’t built in a day and I am definitely not qualified to do it.


You can view Estelle’s winning John Byrne Award entry here, or share your own work to be in with a chance of winning the annual £2500 prize.