The 72 Hour Shootout is a global filmmaking competition for everyone from novices to established filmmakers. Filmmaking teams are given a common theme at the start of the Shootout (the first Thursday of June, usually 8pm EST) and then have 72 hours to write, shoot, edit, and complete short films up to five minutes in length.
Teams compete for access to a year of free educational and networking events, mentorships with executives at NBC, ABC, and more, cash, prizes and the chance to have their films screened at film festivals, both nationally and internationally. The competition creates a valuable opportunity for filmmakers of color — focusing on Asian American filmmakers — and women to demonstrate their talent, gain exposure in the entertainment industry and impact the visibility of diverse stories and characters in film. One of the Shootout requirements is that at least one key production member (e.g., director, producer or writer) and a principal actor from each team must be of Asian descent.
Past Judges include hip hop icon Russell Simmons, producer Teddy Zee, ABC Primetime Casting Director Marci Phillips and playwright David Henry Hwang, among others.
Tyler Ham Pong, 72 Hour Shootout Coordinator
Cathy Yee, Incluvie Founder
What is the competition you’re having?
It’s a film race! Competitors have 72 hours to write, film, and edit movies, maximum 5 minutes, based on a theme we announce at the beginning of the competition. It’s a way to encourage and promote ethnic and gender diversity, with a focus on Asian American issues. Winners receive prizes, screenings, and mentorships with industry professionals, including Executives from ABC and NBC. 2020 marks our 16th year of competition, and we’re still going strong!
Are those who are from other backgrounds — who aren’t Asian Americans — allowed to participate?
Yes! Absolutely. We always encourage ethnic and gender diversity in our filmmakers. We’ve even introduced two new awards this year, including Outstanding LGBT Performer, and Outstanding LGBT Filmmaker. However, we do require that one key production member, and one key performer are of Asian descent.
How is COVID-19 affecting the competition? Any suggestions or advice due to the new circumstances?
COVID-19 has definitely forced us to adapt. The Film Lab’s workshops have had to go virtual, utilizing video chats more than ever! Nevertheless, we’re using this opportunity to encourage filmmakers to stay creative during this difficult time, and the 72 Hour Film Shootout is the perfect way to do it. This competition has always challenged filmmakers to work within their limitations, and creatively use their resources. We believe that filmmakers will rise to this challenge, just as they have risen to the challenge of making a movie in 72 hours.
My advice for filmmakers is to cast themselves, family, roommates, or even pets! Most iPhones film 4K now, so the quality of iPhone filmmaking is at an all time high. In recent years, Sundance premiered “Tangerine,” which was filmed with iPhone 5S. Free editing software for your phone, like iMovie, are very intuitive and easy to use. As an example of At-Home, DIY, No Budget filmmaking, the Film Lab is releasing a series of PSAs about COVID-19, that are filmed at home while social distancing. There is so much content being made under these new circumstances, that you can find inspiration everywhere on social media.
What inspired you to start the group and the competition?
The Film Lab and the 72 Hour Film Shootout have been around long before I joined the team. I used to compete every year, making a total of 10 Shootout films! The reason why I became the 2020 Shootout Coordinator is because I wanted to facilitate these same opportunities for other filmmakers who deserve this exposure. This year, we have an amazing list of prizes and mentorships that filmmakers will be excited to win.
Are there any key insights you can share for the audience? Which types of films tend to perform well? — genre, style, tone, etc?
Storytelling is key. Past winners have ranged from comedy to drama, so there is no consistent winning type. However, films that perform well usually have a clear message, and are able to convey it from beginning to end. As a past competitor, I’ve found success in keeping my story simple, whether it be a conversation between two people, or even a silent film. The more complicated the premise, the harder it is to execute, and the harder it is for audiences to follow. Relevance is also important, so teams should pay attention to the theme announced at the beginning of the competition.
Why do you think Asian Americans are underrepresented in mainstream media?
Asian Americans are actually making an impact in mainstream media, seeing an increase within the past 10 years. USC Annenberg School of Communication, did a study on the top 1,200 popular films in 2018: 8.2% of onscreen characters were Asian American, compared to 3.7% in 2007. While this isn’t enough to indicate meaningful change, we will increase these numbers if we keep making our voices heard! We also have to remember that it’s not only about numbers: it’s also about accurate representation, instead of perpetuating racial stereotypes. A way to increase diverse perspectives is by supporting diverse storytellers behind the camera. By expanding these leading roles in the industry (directors, writers, executives, etc.), we’ll see better representation on screen.
How can independent filmmaking help promote inclusion and representation?
Independent filmmaking has always been at the forefront of innovative storytelling and diverse perspectives. Many of today’s mainstream artists have had humble beginnings, where they first picked up a cheap camera, and made movies with their friends over the weekend. Our goal with the 72 Hour Film Shootout is to connect these emerging filmmakers with industry professionals, increasing their visibility, and opportunity for success. We also believe that filmmakers can actively promote inclusion and representation by hiring diversity on screen and behind the camera. It’s not enough for other people to tell our stories, we need to take ownership and tell them ourselves.