The Lowdown

What is Showdown in Chinatown?

For the past 10 years, Showdown In Chinatown has provided a creative outlet for underground, established, and aspiring filmmakers. We host five challenges a year. Challenges will vary in time length, subject matter, and requirements.

Here's how it works:

  • Showdown In Chinatown hosts bi-monthly short film challenges, see below for this year's schedule
  • Check the website on or after the 3rd Saturday of the month prior to the next challenge date
  • To find out when the requirements for the next Showdown will be released, check the Announcements
  • Check back with the website on the day the requirements are released
  • Write, Shoot, and Edit your film adhering to the requirements set forth on the site
  • Bring your digital movie file to the drop-off location on the date and time listed on the website
  • Invite all your friends and come down to the main event on Saturday night


Here are the guidelines for submitting videos:

  • H.264 file format (must have .mov or .mp4 designation)
  • File size must be smaller than 1 gigabyte
  • If any other format is submitted, or if the size is too big, we can't guarantee proper playback.
  • You may also upload your film to, make the video private, enable downloads, and send the link to

Here are some video exporting tutorials for the four most popular editing softwares. Final Cut Pro 7: Adobe Premiere: Final Cut X: iMovie: These settings are optimized for Vimeo uploading, and are relatively high HD quality for their size, and should be 100% reliable for our projection system. "When in doubt, export for upload." There are countless video tutorials and resources online for every editing software .

Once we have received all of the submissions we will select the top 12 short films. The top 12 films will premiere on the big screen at our Main Event at 7 p.m. on the 2nd Saturday every other month (March is the annual launch of the SIC challenge calendar).  The films are scored by a panel of three judges.  These judges range from local personalities to national celebrities to figureheads in the film industry - their names have been withheld to protect the innocent.

Just in case you're interested in taking your craft further than the event and a short stint in the Recent Films bin... here are some good copyright tips to heed.

The winner goes home with stellar bragging rights and a some great prizes.  But any of our previous winners will tell you, it's not about the prizes... it's about making films, honing their craft, and most of all, having fun.

Following the short films, Showdown hosts Honolulu's only Film Industry mixer. Actors, Writers, Directors, Editors, Crew Members, and film/TV fans are encouraged to come out and network with other local filmmakers.

Showdown In Chinatown appeals not only to aspiring actors and filmmakers, but to ordinary people who have never thought of visual storytelling as a possible means of expression. Young and old alike… professional and amateur… all are given the opportunity to do something creative and have their work premiered on the big screen.

No need to be shy or nervous... some of our participants who had never written a story or even picked up a video camera prior to entering their first competition are now producing broadcast quality films.

Every person has a story to tell... what's your's?


How do I do it?

Everyone has a different process... ultimately it all comes down to picking up a camera, pressing 'record,' and making it happen.

But hold on there... not so fast Fellini. Before you start wasting precious batt-juice, do yourself a favor... you need a starting point. An idea... a concept... a storyline. Lucky for you, every other month, we give you that starting point. A topic, two props, and a line of dialog. Sometimes we switch it up, but usually that's the ticket. Where you take it from there is up to you.  That's part of what makes Showdown in Chinatown so amazing. It's the creativity that flows when aspiring filmmakers are put to the test.

Anyone can do it... and don't think you have to do it all yourself.  There's a lot that goes into the making of a film, and to take it all upon yourself could easily be overwhelming. A movie is a team effort... in some cases, that team is one person, but for the most part, it takes a network of people working in conjunction to pull it off.

So get out there and get your team together. The next Showdown in Chinatown film challenge is never more than two months away...

'nuff said


When is it?

SIC Calendar