‘The Queen’s Gambit’ And How It Makes Chess Feel Thrilling

The Queen’s Gambit has taken the world by storm! And no, it’s not a spinoff of The Crown. It’s a show about…wait for it…chess.

Created by Scott Frank, the Netflix limited series boasts amazing acting, writing and even 1960s costumes – but the real lesson from the show is that anything can be compelling.

And the project that you think is completely uncommercial might end up being your biggest hit!

“I didn’t think anybody would make it,” Queen’s Gambit creator Scott Frank says in a new video interview from AFI. “I was shocked that Netflix was dumb enough to do it. I had a wonderful time making it in Berlin. I loved every second of it, and I thought ‘Okay, this is the end of that.’ I didn’t know if anybody would even care – it was chess after all.”

There’s a big lesson here for all creative people: keep writing that passion project, because you never know.

There’s also a lot we can learn from the way The Queen’s Gambit makes chess feel thrilling. It contains just enough details to transport us into a an authentic subculture (do your research on your subject!), but it isn’t so specific that it alienates people who don’t play chess.

The show also focuses on how the characters feel about their chess matches. It isn’t so much about whether the Open Sicilian won or lost the game.

How The Queen’s Gambit was Shot

In the interview, Scott also talks about the “rules” of the show.

“It was a very classically shot show,” says Scott. He’d only use certain lenses, for example, to avoid overly flashy directorial choices. The rules also make shooting easier for other crew members. So why did he allow handheld shots later in the series?

Find out about how the shift was inspired by the Polish film Ida and created a “sense of freedom” in the full interview below:

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