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April 15, 2020 4 min read


What is it?

The 72 Hour Film Shootout is a filmmaking competition organized by the Asian American Film Lab, in which filmmakers are challenged to write, film, and edit a short film in literally 72 hours, for the chance of winning prizes, mentorships and screenings. Their films must be under 5 minutes and must be based on a theme, which is announced at the beginning of the competition. The themes make each year unique, and encourage creativity in storytelling. In past years, the theme has ranged from “The Color of My Hair,” to “A Stranger in My Own Country.” Filmmakers have had a lot of fun interpreting the themes, and I’m excited to see what they do this time around. As always, our organization’s mission is to increase the visibility of Asians and Asian Americans in media. So one of our requirements is that at least one key production member (writer, director, producer, etc.), and one principal actor must be of Asian descent.


How did it get started?

The Asian American Film Lab started many, many years ago as a group of filmmakers who aimed to increase diversity in media. The 72 Hour Film Shootout is a direct result of this mission, creating networking opportunities within the industry, and encouraging collaboration amongst Asian American creatives. Now in it’s 16th year, the Shootout remains one of our longest-running, and most popular events.


Who are the judges and how are they selected?

The judges are industry professionals who are advocates for diversity in media, and will be offering mentorships with the winners of certain categories. Prize categories include Grand Prize, Best Director, Best Writer, Best Actor, Best Actress, Outstanding Female Content Creator, Outstanding LGBT Filmmaker, and several more. One of our returning judges is Executive Director of Casting for ABC, Marci Phillips. Other judges include Antony Wong, Program Coordinator at the Asian American / Asian Research Institute of the city Universe of New York; Daniel Sakaya, President/COO of CrossingsTV; Kelli Johnson, Screenwriter for NBC’s The Blacklist; John Tintori, Chair of NYU’s Graduate Film Program; Erik Lau, President of Solar VF Productions; and Anthony Meindl, Writer/Director/Teacher/Founder of AMAW studios worldwide. Winners of certain categories will also receive mentorships with NBC Executives Jandiz Cardoso and Grace Moss.


How can people enter or get more information? 

Our website has all the information you’ll need, from rules to registration forms: FYI, there is a fee — but the earlier you register, the less you pay. We’re also very active on our social media, and you can find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @asamfilmlab.


Obviously this year's process will be a little different, as we are dealing with the pandemic and social distancing. What are some ideas filmmakers can do to film and still be safe?


The pandemic has made this an uncertain time for everybody, but it has also led to the rise of racism towards Asians and Asian Americans, with people calling Covid-19 “The Chinese Virus.” Now more than ever, we think it’s an important time to empower Asian storytellers to share their experiences. As you said, we want all our filmmakers to be safe, and respect all government recommendations, including social distancing. We understand that teams will be making their movies on a smaller scale, and our theme and expectations will reflect these new circumstances. We will encourage filmmakers to make films in the comfort of their own home using phones, and casting themselves, family, or roommates.


It’s encouraging to see the amount of creativity happening during this time. If you look at Instagram or Tik Tok, actors and filmmakers are making original content inspired by everything that’s happening in the world. Casting directors have gone viral by encouraging actors to record monologues and post them online. Saturday Night Live recently filmed an “At Home” edition, where cast members participated from home — and cast member Pete Davidson even had his mom operate the camera.


The 72 Hour Film Shootout has always encouraged filmmakers to be resourceful, and we hope they see this as a challenge more than a limitation.


Who are some of the past winners, and what have they gone on to do?


Vivian Bang

Vivian Bang is Co-Writer, Co-Producer and star of White Rabbit, a feature film which premiered at SUNDANCE in 2018. She was most recently noted for her authentic portrayal of “Jenny” in Netflix’s 2019 romantic comedy: Always Be My Maybe. Other TV credits include: Numb3rs, House M.D., How I Met Your Mother, Sex & The City. Film credits include: Boy Toy, Little Black Book, Robot Stories, and the 2006 Oscar nominated short Our Time Is Up. Vivian is an alumni of New York University Tisch School of Performing Arts.


Joyce Wu

Joyce Wu wrote, directed, and produced her first stage play at the age of 20 at the Oxford Playhouse’s Burton Taylor Studio while studying English Literature at the University of Oxford in England. She also holds a master’s degree in Film Production from NYU’s prestigious Graduate Film program. The first season of her web series Mr. Right is available to view and her first feature film She Lights Up Well was acquired by American Express for it’s AMEX Now app on Roku boxes and Smart TV’s and has screened at several festivals and universities and at the United Nations.


Christina Jun

Christina Jun is a Korean-American director, writer and actor working in a variety of mediums including fiction, documentaries, theatre and music video. She has performed with various theater companies including Miami Theatre Center, the Goodman Theatre, and Alfred Molina’s rep, The New American Theatre. She can also be seen in several commercials for Liberty Mutual, Bose, and VH1. She then earned her MFA in directing and screenwriting from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and theatre directing at the Yale School of Drama. Her films have been screened and awarded at multiple film festivals including the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Short Film Showcase, Geena Davis’s Bentonville Film Festival, Heartland International Film Festival, and CAAMFest.


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