BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Two doctors and an attorney from Louisiana collaborated to produce a short film, and their efforts paid off.
Dr. Ken Mask, Dr. Greg Ward, and Baton Rouge attorney Eugene Radcliff brought the 2023 short film “Building Minds with Chess” to Louisiana audiences and beyond. It turned heads as the official selection for the Diversity In Cannes Short Films Showcase.
Mask is the project’s creator and executive producer via his company, Ken Mask Studios. He co-directed the feature alongside Marshall Woodworth.
When asked what moved him to create the short, Mask said, “The inspiration was and continues to be a long-time love of the beautiful game, reignited by playing with my children Kenya and Joshua.”
Mask has played chess since high school, and is eager to share his appreciation of the game.
In fact, his award-winning short is the by-product of a feature film about chess.
He explained, “The entire thing came about after we wrapped on a movie entitled ‘The Opera Game,’ and invited international grandmaster of chess, Pontus Carlsson to the city.”
Mask’s first movie, “The Opera Game” leads audiences into the fascinating true story of Paul Morphy, a New Orleans man known to many as the first great American chess player. The period piece was set in the 1850s and completed principal photography in 2020.
After wrapping and meeting up with Carlsson, Mask was able to produce the compelling short that featured the grandmaster along with Cairo Moore, historian Kendric J. Perkins and state master Rene Phillips.
The film was a collaborative effort. Mask said his oldest son, Malaki was a key player in its production as were Ward, Radcliff, Matt Dillon, Lloyd Watts, and Taurus Bailey.
Though Mask and Ward are not originally from Louisiana, both doctors practiced in the state and developed an appreciation for its culture. Mask said they’ve been friends for about 12 years.
So, in 2019, when Mask’s love of chess motivated him to write a NOLA-based script about the life of Morphy, it was only natural that his colleague and friend, Ward, would offer whole-hearted support.
The success of “Building Minds with Chess” and “The Opera Game” is only the beginning for the two doctors.
“We had a really great time in Cannes, and we hope to partner with someone who can lengthen “Building Minds with Chess” into a series,” said Mask. “We’d like to join Pontus Carlsson on his international travels and document his tournaments.”
In the coming years, the two doctors expect to produce a thriller about a New Orleans-based detective, an animated film for kids, and much more.
The Opera Game is available to watch on Amazon, Roku and Tubi.