(Note from the Editor: The 72 Hour Shootout put on by the Asian American Film Lab and Asian Cine Vision is celebrating its tenth year. Entrants are given a theme and have 72 hours to produce a short film. This year Justin Lee has signed on to be the coordinator. He agreed to answer a few questions from AsAmNews. After the interview, you can see some films from last year’s shootout)
Tell us about yourself, Justin.
I’m part time director, part time coordinator. Direct for art, coordinate to pay the bills. I saw Frozen recently and I really liked it.
What is the 72 Hour Shootout? Who is eligible to enter and how does it work?
The 72 hour shootout is a film competition that celebrates two things. The first is diversity in ethnic & gender roles, the second (most obvious), the execution of creativity and exemplary craft in filmmaking.
Everyone is eligible! We have veteran filmmakers of 10-20 years to students who have a story to tell. Personally, for me- one of the strong points of the festival is about the community. We have 3 events before the shootout, a networking party so you can begin to build a team after you register, a “how to” seminar to help those meet expectations in craft, and a launch party for well… just because!
At the end of the launch party we give the theme of the competition, and everyone breaks for 72 hours to write/produce/shoot/edit their movie.
What is the subject matter of the films entered?
It’s different every year. Each year there’s a different coordinator, and the coordinator comes up with the theme before the shootout. I can’t say it now, but the contestants will know before the shootout commences.
What will it take to win?
We have different categories for prizes, best director, best movie, best actor/actress.
Be the best in those categories! Show excellent craft, commitment, creativity, and skill! I know that’s a vague answer… I suppose another one is to be flexible? Contestants only have 72 hours.
What do the winners win?
The prizes are different every year depending on what sponsors we get this year. This can vary from cash prizes to equipment. We’re working really hard to put together an awesome goody bag this year. Sometimes the winners themselves will get sponsored by one of our judges. I remember Jennifer (board member), mentioning a year where both the best actors & actress categories got a screen test at a huge television network.
You should ask them yourself! On April 4th, at 7:00 p.m- we’re hosting a networking event/ workshop for potential filmmakers. The past winners of the shootouts will be there. They’ll be able to give advice & tips for our contestants, as well as talk about themselves and what the shootout did for them.
Why is AAFL holding this contest?
I can’t speak for AAFL, but I can speculate. Asian American Film Lab wants diversity as well as great films. They want creativity as well as representation. The 72 Hour Shootout can do that. We want both diversity as well as creativity in our shootout. The difference between the 72 hour shootout competition vs, other festivals is that we bring people together in a single space. This allows us to connect with the contestants, in terms of networking. We really get to know and get in touch with the filmmakers. The advantage of this type of competition is the ability to network and grow our organization.
Why is this contest needed?
It’s all about appropriate representation. Asians don’t really feel like characters on television, they’re more like narrative tools or aesthetic background. They’re cast only when our hero (usually white) goes on a lucrative trip to Japan, or when Gwen Stefani needs background dancers.
Everybody growing up emulates with the hero. I did. I wanted to be Jason the red Power Ranger. The other kids wouldn’t let me because Jason is white, not Asian. It’s silly, and seems ridiculous as an adult- but that’s exactly what casting is like for Asian American actors. You won’t let me play the hero because of the color of my skin & hair? It’s like we’re in kindergarten all over again.
This contest is important because we bring together people with both diversity & craft, and we can represent ourselves as the hero, no longer typecast as the sidekick or background actor.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
This years shootout is going to be super exciting. We have a lot of great judges and sponsors, and the people in charge (not me, really in charge) are fantastic.