Opinion

How the Indie Film ‘Chess Match’ Ran Afoul of Hollywood Groupthink

The writer-director opens up about the warnings he ignored during production

“Change him to a Republican or you’ll never work in Hollywood again”

It’s what I was told days before starting production on “Chess Match,” a cerebral thriller available for streaming at Amazon Prime.

Hard to hear from someone you look up to, a producer with 10 feature films released, regardless of how kind the intention of the message. I should have realized this would be the typical reception.

Chess Match from Tadhg on Vimeo.

The first actor I called for the film, someone I had worked with a couple of times before, replied “Of course!” when I suggested we do another project together. I warned him the script covered politics and some touchy subjects. He said, “Send it to me. I’ve played child molesters and axe murderers, I can play any part”

Three days later he emailed back saying he couldn’t play the part. Any part but that of a corrupt politician who was also a Democrat.

A single location movie, “Chess Match” is about a Democrat union steel worker named John who shoots and kidnaps his Congressmen, Charlie, holding him until he either confesses or bleeds out. Charlie, played by the amazing Paul Bright, is given the chance for freedom and a ride to the ER if he plays and wins a game of chess.

As the two play, using moves from the famous 1851 Anderssen and Kieseritzky “Immortal Game,” they discuss American culture and politics. The chess game is famous because after sacrificing so much, including his queen, Andersesen won using minor pieces.

The story unfolds in a similar manner, with twists and turns exposing more layers, and more games being played. With topics including the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights, Just War Theory, and quotes from Thomas Aquinas and JFK, Chess Match is not red versus blue, but blue collar rust-belt America versus out of touch DC elite.

chess match gun sequence
A tense sequence from the provocative indie film ‘Chess Match.’

Shot over eight days in a horse arena in the foothills of Mt. Hood, serving as a stand-in for Virginia horse country, the production had an almost comical number of things go wrong. It began with an unseasonable, massive storm which lasted so long we changed the script to include it. From there we experienced missing camera equipment, electrical equipment catching on fire, the craft services oven separately catching on fire, farm animals who kept trying to be in the movie and even two assaults.

Still the cast and crew never gave up, handled every issue and created an intense thriller. The suspense builds, with major twists and intense scenes as it reaches a climax.

Every character in the movie is a lifelong Democrat. The only hero is an honorable black community activist. This should be a movie everyone is talking about, but because the antagonist is a Democrat Hollywood denizens may not even watch it.


Tadhg Tavor is an independent filmmaker from Austin, Texas. With two decades of experience in technical and industrial movies, he recently founded FlyoverLandMedia.com, to tell stories dedicated to conservative and traditional American values. He is currently in development on “Eating the Mississippi,” a movie about the impact of a veterans suicide on the family and friends he left behind.

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