If you haven’t seen the indie sci-fi short film COGNITION yet, now is a great time to do it—as it’s now available on demand on a number of platforms. The film’s sci-fi stylings wrap around a heartfelt story rooted in a father-son relationship, packing a great punch at the end and leaving audiences wanting to see more of this exciting fictional world.
In COGNITION, Bafta winner Andrew Scott (Sherlock, His Dark Materials) plays an emotional, moving role opposite the nuanced performance of Jeremy Irvine (Treadstone), who plays Abner, a child who was kidnapped and brainwashed to become a soldier for an evil empire. Abner’s inner struggle collides with the outside world in a dramatic moment that underscores his trauma.
Having a stellar cast is key for indie films, and Andrew Scott helped Director/Executive Producer Ravi Ajit Chopra and his team level up what they produced. Many onscreen moments featured Scott as father to a young Abner, played by Milo Panni.
“Andrew really worked to connect with Milo onscreen,” notes Chopra, especially at the highly emotional climax. “I remember saying cut after that 12 minutes of filming. I could see his face, taking in where we were, after the moment. He was very much in the zone of the performance.”
Inspired by films like Solaris, Sunshine, The Fisher King and even The Manchurian Candidate, Chopra took extra pains to get the script just right. “We did around 40-50 drafts of the script,” he says. “Within a short film, you’re so constrained with the actual time that you have, and we wanted to make it a self-contained story.”
Other elements that make COGNITION stand out are, of course, its soundtrack, and its commitment to strong VFX. All are challenges at times on indie budgets, but Chopra had an advantage in his years of work behind the scenes on BBC productions. His connections made it easier to leverage help—such as the ability to get drone shots and even the BBC’s helicopter crew for footage above the famed Battersea Power Station, where classics like ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER, EDGE OF TOMORROW, and WORLD WAR Z have filmed on location.
“The location was amazing. They already had prison cells in those corridors. There was so much production value there. We just added some lights, VFX, and production design on set,” says Chopra.
Another standout feature of COGNITION is its strong and beautiful musical score. Written by Samuel Karl Bohn and performed by the 55-piece BBC Concert Orchestra, the backdrop music provides a perfect under-layer for what is a moving film.
The story works great at its 30-minute length, but audiences have responded so positively that the COGNITION team, including Chopra, Executive Producer Michael Demmerle and others, are looking to develop the concept into a longer vehicle.
“The main feedback we’ve had across the board has been everyone wants to see it as a feature,” says Chopra. “We’ve been hard at work on expanding the project into a longer format, and it’s going to super exciting because there’s so much we wanted to put into the short film but we couldn’t do it. Now, we can explore the background, the father-son relationship, and more. We’re working on our ideas now and looking forward to that.
“It’s definitely going to be character-led—the same journey that we see in the short film, put into a long form,” he adds. “The relationships between the characters is the most important thing to me.”
COGNITION is available in 9 languages across 92 countries, from February 2nd 2021 on
Apple iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play and YouTube Premium. For countries and viewing platforms, visit: http://www.cognitionscifi.co.uk/