With burgeoning technology comes a vintage vibe in “Computer Chess,” which follows an intense competition between cutting edge computer programmers.
For Andrew Bujalski making his first period piece came with a series of absurd challenges.
"We started this thing with no money, no time, no script,” he said. “We had nothing and it was a period piece on an arcane topic with an experimental camera rig."
Shooting the movie on a 1969 video camera was just the start. The production needed computer hardware that harkened back to 1970s. Fortunately, most could be found at Goodwill's local Computer Museum.
"They have this beautiful little one-room museum, but behind this room, there's a big warehouse of old computers collecting dust waiting for a filmmaker to come exploit them," Bujalski said.
Bujalski also made use of local talent like Wiley Wiggins, a long-time actor who doubles as a video game programmer, lending technical authenticity to the project.
"We would have failed if we created a bunch of sort of Big Bang Theory caricatures,” Bujalski said. “We definitely got people to play themselves in some capacity."
The characters convey dry comedy with competitive spirit, while establishing a flash point for people's obsession with technology. When you combine Austin's computer culture with its filmmaking resources, the finished project is one that hits home.
"Just watching the credits at the end will tell you what an Austin movie this was,” Bujalski said. “Just everybody who chipped in with crowd funding or everyone who showed up on set to help out."
Bujalski and his cast members will reunite this weekend when “Computer Chess” opens its theatrical run in Austin.
Those Q&A screenings begin Friday night at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz.