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A short film about chess boxing has catapulted comedian and aspiring documentary maker Ginnia Cheng to a six-month development placement with Louis Theroux’s indie and a year-long mentorship with Amazon Prime.

The London-based East Asian film-maker was chosen from a six-strong shortlist of entries to Mindhouse Productions’ ‘Looking for Louis’ competition for new documentary talent for her short, in which she immersed herself in the competitive sport, which combines a chess tournament with boxing.

Theroux’s wife and business partner Nancy Strang hailed Cheng’s film, Becoming a Chess Boxer (In Five Days) as “old school gonzo journalism”, praising the film-maker’s “gutsy approach” and “willingness to step inside a ring and be punched in the face”.

Strang and fellow Mindhouse exec Arron Fellows both talked of their hope of developing ideas that took Cheng into a range of different worlds.

Fellows said she stood out because she went the extra mile. “She said: ‘this is a scene and I’m going to jump right into it and get involved and do whatever it takes to bring something to the screen’,” he said.

After whittling down around 2,000 entries to six then choosing the winner, Theroux said: “We were looking for sense of someone who’s up for an adventure, who’d throw themselves into an experience, a fresh voice and face and a positive attitude. In our winning entry those shone forth in abundance.”

He said Cheng showed an ability to “throw [herself] into situations and make connections in unlikely places and reveal more of [her] contributors, situations and stories by having an energetic, questioning, can-do attitude.”

Theroux said Mindhouse would help her “follow her own interests and own unique perspective on the world – we’ll be cultivating what’s already there and giving her the space and support to work up ideas and think about things she’s always been interested in.”

The shortlist also included:

Tiger Cohen-Towell for her naturism film As God Intended

Sharon Walia, whose The Queerjabis spoke to gay Muslims

Jessica Brady for A Male Stripper Experience

Alim Jayda for his doc Both Parents Deaf

Remel London for her exploration of black freemasons, Grandad’s Secret Society

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