HomeAAPI ActorsThe 72 Hour Shootout launches for the 20th year

The 72 Hour Shootout launches for the 20th year

by Rachel Lu

Starting at 8 pm on Thursday night, filmmakers from all around the world began a 72-hour frenzy to make one film that must include an Asian American as a lead production member or actor. 

“It’s a pressure cooker, that’s what I always call it,” Tyler Ham Pong, a previous contestant and winner of the Shootout competition, told AsAmNews. A major component of the competition is to not let the “pressure cooker” get to you.

Right before the clock struck eight, David Choi, an actor and producer on “Team Possible,” was huddling with his teammates to strategize on the best sleep schedule for the next 72 hours. During his first competition, Choi made the brutal mistake of sleeping very little in the 72 hours and attempting to shoot at multiple locations. It is tricky, of course, to do so much in so little time.

“One of the key aspects of what you want to do is not trying to pre-engineer anything,” Choi shared the team’s strategy with AsAmNews. “Like we have some ideas, what we want to do once we hear the theme, and we’re going to take that and start writing from scratch.”

The 72-Hour Shootout is an AAPI filmmaking competition hosted by Film Lab. This year is the 20th anniversary of the competition and the theme is “practical dreamer.” In the next 72 hours, groups of filmmakers all around the world will be writing, producing, filming, and editing to make a narrative short centered around this theme.

During the Shootout, participants test their ability to be creative and embrace possibilities. Frances Chin, the coordinator for this year’s Shootout, is also a veteran competitor who has participated in thirteen of the last twenty years. 

“The shoot out is basically a game of resources,” Chin shared his best tip for this year’s participants. “You need to find out what you need, to gather what resources you have. If you got what you can use, if I know what the theme is, and then and then utilize what you have available.”

Uplifting the Asian American presence and voice in the media and entertainment industry is also central to the Shootout’s mission. Chin said the Shootout was originally founded 20 years ago to encourage more Asian Americans to dip their toes into filmmaking, ultimately building a community around the industry. 

“We provide venues to allow people to act, to be cast, and to find crew. [We don’t] depend on other people to provide stereotyped roles, we can [cast] full-bodied roles and abilities for AAPIs,” said Chin. “I would like to think that the Shootout plays a part in putting more AAPIs in filmmaking.”

Photo courtesy of Film Lab

The competition itself allows networking opportunities for Asian American filmmakers through the Film Lab, and winners can take advantage of a wide range of opportunities for mentorship, visibility, and resources. 

Pong, the Film Lab Secretary, is an actor by training but stumbled upon this competition after a friend bailed out at the last minute. Since then, Pong has been a participant for 10 years and won the Grand Prize and best actor in 2019. After winning the Grand Prize, Pong was able to meet with mentors like Grace Moss who gave Pong insights to turn his 72 Hour Shootout script into a pilot script.

While Asian Americans have gained more representation and visibility in the last 20 years, Pong believes there is a long way to go, and the Shootout is a chance for more underrepresented people to be part of the film industry. 

“We’re doing our part to encourage more people to get into filmmaking and to be a part of it. There is a steady incline of representation in film and TV, but there’s always a long way to go,” Pong said. “So every year, there’s still the challenges of how to have better representation.”

The films will be made in the next 72 hours, while the winners will be screened and announced at the Asian American International Film Festival in August.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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