|Producer(s):||Steven Perring, Sanat Misra|
Checkmate was the romantic drama written by Sanat Misra and Steven Perring that was an unlikely hit during the 2011-12 academic year. It was described as a "cult classic" and even included in the marketing entry for NaSTA 2012.
Checkmate was based on an incomplete short story written by Sanat Misra. During the first day of the 2011 YSTV Summer Camp Sanat decided that it would be a good idea to film the story for YSTV. He roped Steven Perring on board, as he was busy filming the Man Man spin-off Multiple-Personality Man with Michael Miller. The script was written by Steven in one afternoon and after much argument about how questionably homosexual it was, and whether it should end with a kiss, the script was finalised.
Filming happened during the second week of the Summer Camp, with the main cafe scenes being filmed one the river balcony of the City Screen cinema after Sarah Pickles and Steven talked them around to letting us film there. The filming schedule was tight, with much of the filming occurring between 8am and 10am before the cinema opened. Other filming locations in the city of York included Coney Street, the Starbucks on Coney Street, the New Walk, and the York Designer Outlet (posing for a US mall). Montage scenes were also filmed at Bishopthorpe Palace, and in a cornfield near the A64.
Due to the complexity of the shoot, and the fact that the Steve as director did not have much experience of directing anything other than live and factual programmes, all the shots were planned in advance and Sarah wrote a tape log. The main cast was decided based on who was available with Michael and Sanat taking the two lead roles with Vivien Chung being reluctantly roped in as the narrator's girlfriend, Elisabeth. Marie Mills had a cameo as a waitress.
Once the filming was over, Steven and Sanat split the editing, with Sanat taking the montage scenes and Steve the rest. Meanwhile, Marie composed original music. In the end much of the editing was left to Steve and it took weeks of hounding of Marie to write the music. Checkmate was originally set for release during Freshers Week 2011, but was delayed until the new year because of the lack of the music.
The reaction was totally unexpected. Within a week it had been watched thousands of times and soon took over from YSTV's Fresher's Guide to York as the most watched thing in the history of the YSTV website. Due largely to the efforts of Vivan Jayant, it soon became an internet hit with its own Facebook fan page and reddit following. It also made stars of cast, including Sanat getting "exciting" offers from many girls, and being bitten in the Willow and Vivien becoming known as "Vivien Chung of Checkmate Fame".
The triple storyline confused many of those who watched it, and led to some very imaginative reasons why coffee cups kept appearing and reappearing in the shot. Similarly, the unusually long lift scene led to many suggesting that Vanbrugh College had a Empire State-sized tower block just out of view!
Checkmate became so famous that it was the theme of the 2012 YUSU Elections, with both Sanat and Michael presenting. Meanwhile at NaSTA 2012, many members of NUTS got thoroughly over-excited at meeting everyone! It has also sparked much imitation with a member of Filmmaking Soc creating a theatrical trailer, The Lemon Press suggesting a follow up with the title 'King Me', and URY's computing team recorded a parody radio drama entitled Game, Set & Match, which was broadcast on 24th June 2013 as part of Lloyd Wallis' show, Lloyd himself starring as "Person B". There also exists a particularly cutting "Directors Commentary" with "Steve" and "Matt Johnson".
Whilst interviewing the cast of Avenue Q a special shout-out/promo to 'Checkmate' was filmed and is available here. At EMFCamp 2016 Robert Walker successfully played Checkmate on the festival badge.