- Visual Arts
"Computer Chess" is a narrative feature film to be written and directed by critically-acclaimed filmmaker Andrew Bujalski. The movie takes place circa 1980 at a tournament of chess players and computer programmers. A majority of the film's budget has already been raised via private investors and we are seeking your help to raise the remaining funds to complete our budget and begin shooting August 19, 2011 in Austin, Texas. The amount we are raising via USA Projects will cover rental of equipment, location fees and post-production costs for the film.
In such an expensive art form as film with its pre-determined commercial pressures, crowd sourcing via USA Projects is an integral way to support Andrew’s unique filmmaking voice.
About the artist
Andrew Bujalski has written and directed the feature films “Funny Ha Ha,” “Mutual Appreciation,”and “Beeswax”. All three have played on screens (big and small) worldwide, and appeared on multiple “Top Ten Film of The Year” lists, including those of The New York Times critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis. In 2010, “Funny Ha Ha” was named by The New York Times as one of the Ten Most Influential Films of the Decade.
I’ve been a movie nerd as long as I can remember... I compulsively kept lists of all the movies I’d seen, the actors and actresses I liked—when Premiere Magazine came along I eagerly devoured every issue and kept a collection of all the little “movie trading cards” they printed (are those worth anything yet?).
While my destiny may have been set early on, there was a moment at least where it seemed like I could have been another kind of (and I use this loaded word with the most respectful of intentions) nerd. I might have been a computer nerd! I might have been a chess nerd! I had tremendous respect for the genius-seeming kids who instantly excelled in such rigorous intellectual pursuits. Both chess mastery and serious computer programming seemed to take intense concentration, on the bleeding edge where vast memorization morphed into a magical meditative intuition…which ultimately, was not where my scattered brain was headed. Blame the movies for wrecking my attention span.
So all these years later I’m trying to make a very odd movie indeed, about computer chess programmers circa 1980, and perhaps deep down it’s my attempt to vicariously peek into the fantasy braniac life I ought to have pursued as a kid. It happens to be a fascinating era for the field. As computers were exploding into the public sphere, and regular folks were just getting used to seeing them in the workplace, or home, a group of geniuses at the vanguard of the technology were trying to teach it what seemed like an almost unimaginable skill—could these machines, these glorified calculators, ever conquer the human world champion in chess? Obviously a human being would have to be a genius to be the world chess champ, so if they could get a computer to do it, the computer would have to acquire a kind of genius, right?
From our current vantage we know how the story went: Deep Blue beat Kasparov in 1997, and headlines proclaimed that the “human era” in chess had come to an end. But back then, this was very much up for grabs. The whole society was up for grabs—we knew computers were going to change our world, and depending on your outlook, this was thrilling and/or terrifying. Nothing less than the human spirit seemed to rest in the balance! I want to go back to that place with this movie, and have fun with it—the big philosophical questions may seem charmingly nostalgic, but lord knows we haven’t answered them yet...and they’re not just for nerds.
This is tax deductible, right?
Right! Every pledge that becomes a donation is tax deductible. You get to deduct the total amount of your donation minus the cost of any perks you receive. Upon funding, we'll send you an email with all of the details.
What happens if the money isn't raised in time?
If our goal isn't met before the deadline, no money changes hands.
If I donate, when can I redeem the incentive?
All of our incentives will only happen if we meet our goal. When we meet our goal, immediately after our deadline we will ship all available physical merchandise directly to you. The dvds, credits and premiere can only happen after the film is completed. This will take some time, so please bear with us; contributors can track the process by joining our email list to stay in the loop from pre-production all the way to the premiere.