Atlanta, Georgia | Film Short

Drama, Sport

Albin Pepe

1 Campaigns | Georgia, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $16,000 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

184 supporters | followers

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CHESSBOXER is a sports-drama film. After a debilitating cheating scandal, a hotheaded chess player turns to the underground scene of Chessboxing for one last shot at redemption.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

Chessboxer, is a fresh take on the sports genre, from a Latinx writer/director, introducing Chessboxing to audiences, while offering a beacon of hope to those who crave forgiveness. For those who can't seem to escape their past, fearing it will forever cloud their future, this film is for you.

The Story

CHESSBOXER is a sports-drama short film, set in Atlanta, GA, which dives into the unique world of Chessboxing, a hybrid sport that combines two traditional disciplines: chess and boxing. The story follows Campbell “The Irishman” Dunning, a pariah, known to all as a cheat, stripped of all of his titles and banned from competitive chess, forcing him to move into the world of chessboxing as his only shot at competition.

With him are only his chess skills, his grizzled coach, Ray, his friend and assistant coach, Hans, and his violent temper. But, the way forward is muddied for Campbell, whose inner demons compel him to self-sabotage at nearly every step. When he is finally drawn face-to-face with the Chessboxing Champion, Santiago "El Luchador" Fuertes, he must overcome his guilt and shame to clear his name once and for all, and regain his former glory - a phoenix from the ashes.


Chess saved my life. After facing massive burnout, depression, and anxiety in 2020, Chess became my safe haven. Playing the game for hours on end helped me out of a deep pit of despair, and back onto the path towards writing and directing movies again. After arriving in Athens, GA, for graduate school, I had a chess piece tattooed on my wrist. I see this film, Chessboxer, as the ultimate culmination of all my work in the MFA Program, and I'm delighted to be finally given the opportunity to make it.

However, it's not all about chess. I've been the main character, Campbell "The Irishman" Dunning, in my personal life. Though I don't know exactly what it feels like to cheat at the top competitive chess level, I know how it feels to be isolated, shamed, and cut off from my community. And it's those feelings that I've infused into this story. In this world that's more divided than ever, I know how it feels to fight and claw my way towards redemption and self-love. 

- Albin R. Pepe (writer, director, producer)


Chessboxer couldn't come at a more perfect time. Surprisingly, right around the time I began writing this story in August 2021, a massive chess cheating scandal broke out. The current Chess World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, accused one of his opponents, Hans Niemann, of cheating during the Sinquefield Cup Chess Tournament. It has been characterized as the most serious cheating controversy for international chess since 2006. Many chess players and public figures have commented on the controversy, from former world champion Garry Kasparov to business magnate Elon Musk.


To put it simply: one round of chess, one round of boxing. Repeat 'til checkmate or K.O.

Chessboxing is a hybrid sport that combines two traditional disciplines: chess and boxing. Two combatants play alternating rounds of blitz or speed chess and boxing until one wins by checkmate or knockout.


Chessboxer's visual style is heavily inspired by the 64 black-and-white squares on a chessboard. The film will make use of high contrast black-and-white cinematography, mimicking the look of Kodak Double-X 5222 Film Stock. Chiaroscuro lighting, slow-motion, and head-spinning camera movement will be used to capture Chessboxer's intense boxing sequences.

(Cast Member Julian Borris as Campbell "The Irishman" Dunning)
(Cast Member Eliseo Arreola as Santiago "El Luchador" Fuertes)

(Campbell & Santiago facing off over the chessboard)

The cinematography will be kinetic, yet carefully composed, evocative of films like RAGING BULL (1980, dir. Martin Scorsese) and UNCUT GEMS (2019, dir. the Safdie Brothers) while referencing the work of 20th century photographers like Weegee and Henri Cartier Bresson. Chessboxer's black and white visual style will work to tell a story about shame, struggle, redemption, and the 24/7 chess boxing match between the light and dark sides in all of us.



Albin R. Pepe (he/his) | director, writer, producer

Albin is a Paraguayan-born film director, screenwriter, and award-winning editor. His creative work has been shown by HBOMax, The Tribeca Film Festival, Uninterrupted Media and The CW. He is currently pursuing his Master of Fine Arts in Film at the University of Georgia. His favorite chess openings are the Scotch Game and the Sicilian Dragon.

Kelsey Schmitt (she/her) | director of photography, producer

Kelsey Schmitt is an Atlanta-based filmmaker, and photographer from Birmingham, AL whose work includes short films, music videos, and portrait photography. This is her seventh collaboration with Albin Pepe. She is inspired by the work of directors Agnes Varda, Chantal Akerman and Claudia Llosa. She has a three-legged Pit Bull-Labrador mix named Oakley, who loves to watch movies with her.


Baker Waite (he/him) | Producer

Baker R. Waite is a writer/producer dedicated to making films that inspire positive change. Although film has always been his passion, he first pursued a degree in business, graduating Summa Cum Laude with Honors from Auburn University with a BSBA in Marketing and a focus on Visual Media. After 3 years in the business sector, Baker decided to follow his passion for filmmaking and was selected for the Film, Television, and Digital Media program at the University of Georgia where he is on the Writer/Producer track. He has directed 3 short films and currently has 6 producing credits.


Alexander Arntzen (he/him) | composer

Alexander is an award-winning Film Composer & Singer/Songwriter of multiple genres, styles, and mediums. His latest projects include original music for feature films Last Man Down (Netflix Top 10 Movies), Initiation (2020 SXSW Film Festival), & Unmothered (HBO Max). During the Summer of 2010 Alexander was honored to accept an internship with Hans Zimmer. In the Summer of 2013 Alexander had the privilege of interning for Danny Elfman and assisting with transcribing scores for his concert, "Danny Elfman's Music from the Films of Tim Burton".

Julian Borris, Eliseo Arreola, Raymond Vely-Brack Bentley & Ronin Molaschi.
Patrick Dunning, Løgan McCurter, Ryan Caulfield & James Choi.

We need your support to make this movie burst out onto the screen! Your financial contribution will help us cover production expenses like locations, wardrobe and renting a professional quality boxing ring in order to set the stage for Chessboxer's intense boxing scenes. Our talented crew is committed to bringing Chessboxer to life with grit and style, shooting on location in Atlanta, GA.

In order to bring this unique sports-drama to life, and capture the bizarre and beautiful sport of chessboxing on screen, we are aiming to raise a total of $20,000 for CHESSBOXER. This is the largest amount we've ever attempted to raise for a film.






We can only reach so many people through texts, social media, and emails. The only way we can be sure Chessboxer's campaign will be successful is if we reach beyond our network and out into the world as far as we can.

If you'd like to see this film get made as much as we do, you can help broaden our reach by sharing our campaign and posting about it on social media.

Here's an example, copy and paste if you feel so inclined!

A quick shoutout to @chessboxer_shortfilm on its current crowdfunding campaign! CHESSBOXER is a film about a disgraced chess player who joins the underground scene of chessboxing for one last shot at redemption. I think this story sounds worth backing and I can't wait to see it on the big screen! Follow the film at @chessboxer_short film on Instagram and @chessboxermovie on Twitter. You can make a contribution here:

We wouldn't be here without the people who love and support us and our artistic pursuits. We are so grateful to be able to make films, and the magic is real. Thank you for your time, advocacy, and your pledges. You make independent films possible. YOU'RE A GODDAMN CHAMPION.











Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.


Costs $1,000

This portion of the budget will go towards writing and producing an original score for Chessboxer.


Costs $7,438

This portion of the budget will go towards securing high-quality film equipment!


Costs $3,570

This portion of the budget will go towards meals for crew and actors on set!


Costs $1,273

This portion of the budget will go towards securing props like Boxing Gloves & Chessboards.


Costs $2,219

This portion of the budget will go towards hiring a SAG-certified Stunt Coordinator.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Boxing Ring

Costs $4,500

This portion is used to secure a Pro-Grade Boxing Ring and locations for the Big Showdown!

About This Team

The Chessboxer team is composed of students in the University of Georgia's Film, Television, and Digital Media Masters of Fine Arts program, as well as local actors and artists in the greater Atlanta area. We are a close-knit group of hardworking, passionate filmmakers who are looking to inspire others with this exciting redemption story.  With every jab and hook, our team will leave you on the edge of your seat.

With you in our corner, we are so excited to bring CHESSBOXER to life. Thank you for considering supporting our team and our campaign!

Current Team