Film Lab

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**Screening of the Top Ten Shootout Films July 28, 2012, at the Asian American International Film Festival in New York City.  Shootout judges included Russell Simmons, Marci Phillips of ABC, Producer Teddy Zee, Eric Lin, James Kyson Lee, Brian Yang, and Michelle Krusiec! 

**Workshop of Gordon Mathieson Screenplay, The Color of Ice, a spy thriller featuring contemporary Chinese American characters (Sept. 6, 2012) 

Gordon’s adapted film script THE COLOR of ICE will be hosted by the Asian American Film Lab in New York City on September 6th. A cast of professional actors performed a table-read of this spy thriller script.

AsAmFilmLab's seminal Unfinished Works program, in which professional actors perform a table read and in which the audience is invited to workshop the script for the writer under the direction of a Film Lab management team member, provides a way for writers to effectively improve and develop their unfinished screenplays.  Sept. 6 guest, J.  Gordon Mathieson, writes with passion, intrigue and, most importantly, a spirit of greater understanding between the Asian and non-Asian communities. The driving force behind The Color of Ice, his latest tale, was and is to highlight Chinese and Chinese American characters in contemporary, non-traditional or stereotypical roles. He also visualizes this novel as a film. Quite simply, Mathieson believes this novel has screen potential for showcasing Asian American actors in a new and fresh way previously unseen either in prose or film format. It is an opportunity for young, talented Asian American actors to delve into roles previously deemed commercially and aesthetically uninspiring and often relegated to a producer’s slush pile. Mathieson hopes to change all that, and with only 5 main characters in the story—4 Asian and 1 American. He also hopes Hollywood will take notice.  A prolific writer, Mathieson is preparing to launch his next literary project in the young adult genre: The Becky Bing mystery series Hook Island and Summer Games. Each will feature Becky Bing, a 16-year-old Chinese American. She is a “modern-day Nancy Drew” stumbling across serious crimes she must solve on her own. Becky, a high school junior, is smart, confident, edgy, feisty but also compassionate. As with The Color of Ice, the Becky Bing series emphasizes the Chinese culture and Chinese language where appropriate; educating and enlightening readers about Asian Americans embedded in a good story.

**Screening of Meghna Damani Film (Oct. 25, 2012)

On October 25, AAARI-CUNY  hosted an Film Lab screening of filmmaker Meghna Damani’s HEARTS SUSPENDED, the untold story of legal US immigrant spouses who are

denied the basic human right to work (  Every year, thousands of women immigrate to the US legally on H4 or dependent spouse visas that deny them work authorization. Hearts Suspended a short autobiographical documentary reveals the untold story of highly educated South Asian immigrant women, who struggle to survive having been denied the basic right to work. Once independent, now completely dependent, they face loneliness, depression, loss of self-identity, strained marital relations and - in extreme cases - exploitation and abuse. Through a unique expressionistic combination of visuals, monologue, verite footage and interviews, the film takes us on a journey into the director inner turmoil’s, search for spiritual strength and eventual resolve to bring hope and political change for other women who are simply suspended in time.  Meghna Damani grew up in Mumbai, India, where she did her master’s in marketing. As a Senior Advertising professional at J Walter Thompson in Mumbai she worked on various campaigns for Unilever for a period of 2.5 years. Also a journalist and model, she came to the United States in 2002.  Unauthorized to work on her ‘dependent spouse’ visa, her struggles inspired her first film ‘Hearts Suspended’. A pioneer in speaking out about this issue, she has successfully built a facebook community of over 513 supporters and successfully spread awareness on major news media in the United States and India. Meghna is fascinated by the blending cultures in New York and is keen on sharing their unique struggles, hopes, dreams, and victories through her films.  She believes that the purpose of art is to create harmony and she wishes to accomplish this in her films. A Documentary Film Graduate of the New School in Manhattan, she lives in Jersey City, NJ.

Festival History
- “Special Jury Mention” at Jeevika Film Festival ‘08, New Delhi
- Featured on NPR “Here and Now” Show with Robin Young (
- Official Selection for Mahindra IAAC Film Festival, Nov 7-11 2007, New York (
- Opening night film for Ainaa Film Festival, March 28-30 2008, Seattle (
- Semi-Finalist for Migrations online film festival Sept-Dec 2008
- Official Selection for Migrations Film Festival, Montreal Sept 19th 2008

- Official Selection for Calgary International Film Festival Sept 21st 2008

**November 8, 2012, 6-8pm UNFINISHED WORKS involved professional actors performing a table read of Chakra Media Group’s screenplay, “Breached,” which made it into the 2nd round of the 2013 Sundance Institute|Mumbai Mantra Writers Workshop. The reading was followed by a structured workshopping of the screenplay by Asian American Film Lab’s Jean Goto, utilizing the Liz Lerman Technique. Attendees described the event as "[A] must for film lovers who want to participate in, enjoy and learn from the writer’s creative process."  

**December 15, 2012, the AsAmFilmLab's Annual Holiday Fundraising Gala involved goodie bags, a live musical performance by Mayday Radio's Jeff Ting (reviewed by the Huffington Post), free psychic readings, amazing food from kimchi to cupcakes, and plenty of merry little holiday cocktails for all.  Special thanks to AsianCineVision, The Korea Society, Michael Cinquino Photography, MyJennyBook, and Variance Films for amazing raffle prizes.  Special thanks to Baked by Melissa, Veatery, Ollie's, and The Mill for delicious food!

The Asian American Film Lab opened its doors in 1998 as a venue for writers of color to workshop screenplays.  Over the next decade plus, the Film Lab grew into a promotional vehicle for films written, directed, crewed or acted in by people of color, particularly Asian Americans.  To accomplish its mission of promoting and supporting ethnic and gender diversity in film and television, the Film Lab developed the following four specific, regularly scheduled programs:

·       Unfinished Works
“Unfinished Works” constitutes an avenue for filmmakers, screenwriters, and actors to share and workshop their work at any stage of development for honest feedback.  The feedback process is carefully structured to provide assistance with drafting, editing, outlining, and more.  If you would a writer and would like to submit your screenplay, please send the logline and synopsis to [email protected]  If you are chosen, the Film Lab provides a free venue, a Directory of professional actors from which to choose for casting your table read,  and a public table read of your screenplay followed by a workshopping of the screenplay to provide you with tailored, constructive, effective methods for improving your piece.

·       Industry Spotlight
“Industry Spotlight” provides an opportunity for guests and industry professionals to teach others, share ideas, and to gain support and exposure by presenting a workshop, participating in a discussion or panel on an industry topic and sharing their experience.  “Industry Spotlight” has encompassed everything from a nuts-to-bolts filmmaking workshop by feature film Wedding Palace director Christine Yoo to storyboarding how-to workshops to acting coaches teaching monologue workshops for actors.  Please visit our Facebook page or website for upcoming Industry Spotlights.  Events are generally open to the public and free to attend though RSVPs may be required due to space limitations.  Email [email protected] for more information.

·       Connections

“Connections” consists of social events designed to encourage networking and collaboration among entertainment professionals of color.  For example, one recent event included a wine and cheese with guests of honor (1) filmmaker Christina Yao, whose feature film, Empire of Silver, was just then opening in select AMC theatres across the country and (2) actor James Kyson Lee, of the television series Heroes, both of whom delighted in sharing their work, life lessons and experiences with Film Lab members.

·       72 Hour Film Shootout
The 72 Hour Film Shootout (“Shootout”) is a worldwide competition organized by the Film Lab in which filmmaking teams have a total of 72 hours to write, shoot, edit and produce short films up to five minutes in length on a common theme. The competition creates opportunities for Asian Americans and other diverse actors, writers, directors, etc., to demonstrate their talent, gain exposure in the entertainment industry and significantly impacts the visibility of stories and characters of color in film and television. At least one key production member and a lead actor from each team must be of Asian descent.  Most recently, the Shootout garnered extremely positive press and accolades at the 2012 Asian American International Film Festival in New York City.  Judges included Russell Simmons, Teddy Zee and ABC Primetime Casting Director, Marci Phillips, among others.  For more information, click here or email [email protected]