Topic: Brickfilm of the Week: Cognizance (April 17, 2015)

This week’s Brickfilm of the Week is Cognizance by Michael J. Green.

Cognizance is a music video set to the Coldplay song “Don’t Panic” and tells the story of an assassin who is reassessing his career and life choices. Unlike some music videos in the future, this music video is purely a fan creation, and not sponsored by Coldplay. It was made in 2005 by Michael J. Green for his high school senior project, where it was chosen was one of the top three projects. Cognizance was also nominated for four awards in the 2005 Brickfilms Achievement in Motion Pictures Awards (a precursor to the Bricks in Motion Awards), including Best Overall Film. Michael J. Green, typically known as Cometgreen, was a well-known member of and was also a notable moderator. He made a few other films, including returning in 2011 to release another music video (LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends), but Cognizance is his most-known brickfilm by far.

Watch Cognizance on YouTube


Brickfilm music videos have existed for as long as brickfilming has, and generally fall into two categories. The first type of music video brickfilm contains the barest of plot, or not plot at all, usually relying on certain imagery from the lyrics of the song to drive the video, like the Fell in Love with a Girl music video. The second kind of music video tells a story beyond the music and the lyrics. Cognizance is this type of music video, that tells a story that fits the mood, but maybe not the exact lyrics of “Don’t Panic.” Through a slow pace and simple imagery, Cognizance is able to convey its story without interrupting the flow of the music, and it’s ambiguous ending leaves the whole story up to interpretation.

What are your thoughts on Cognizance? What did you like about it? How do you think the use of the music changes the way the story is told? Did you have a favorite moment?

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Cognizance (April 17, 2015)

I think the thing I love most about this film is the impression it left on me the first time I watched it, and the story still resonates after 10 years (yikes). There's a lot more that could be said about the thought Cometgreen put into the film (the color themes, the story going on in the background, etc), but I won't say more than that.

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Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Cognizance (April 17, 2015)

I remember discovering this film when I was first getting into Brickfilming (I think it was featured in a New York Times article, or something?) and being quite blown away with the emotion and story that was communicated through this movie. It was one of the films that set me up early with the idea that Brickfilms could be more than just weird films made by kids with no artistic substance. They could have a resonance just like any other movie.

It's an important realization, I've got to say. And this is still one of my favorite films.
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Re: Brickfilm of the Week: Cognizance (April 17, 2015)

I'm not sure it's accurate to say that this is a music video.  This is a film that happens to use a single song for its soundtrack to tell its story.

Cognizance is a great example of how one can convey emotion using zero dialogue and minimal action (in the traditional sense, at least).  Almost everything that we see happening is ordinary and everyday, yet when we view it through the perspective of the protagonist (if he can be called as such) and the knowledge of what he intends to do lends these events a whole new meaning.

The film itself feels remarkably well-crafted.  The cinematography is not overtly flashy or fancy, yet it complements the introspective feel of the film.  I also like the use of colour, as Littlebrick pointed out (such as the recurring theme of having red on the right of the frame and grey on the left), and the way events in the film mirror each other.  The use of facial animation is excellently implemented here, and greatly improves the expressiveness of the character.

Personally, I love the ending.  It's ambiguous yet bittersweet.  It's in a way sad, given the implied fate of the protagonist, yet also strangely peaceful as he accepts his fate.

Retribution (3rd place in BRAWL 2015)

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