Review: Cockpit- The Rule Of Engagement.

Cockpit: The Rule Of Engagement (2010)

Genre: Scifi

Length: 12 min.

Directed By: Jesse Griffith

Written By: Jesse Griffith

Budget: Mid Indie?

It’s 2103 and humans are beset by an alien adversary whose greatest weapon is mind control. The only thing standing between us and them are the brave fighter pilots of the U.E.S. Navy. We’re going to bomb the shit out of them! But there is a catch: If you see one you’re fucked. You are considered contaminated and will not be allowed back into the human populace. Fighter pilots are conditioned to off themselves like a disgraced space samurai the moment they make contact, jettisoning themselves into black space.

Outback (Karl Champley) is a fighter pilot with an accent, an Australian one, so automatically I am drawn to him and interested in his fate. It’s a shitty one: He lost his wing man on his bombing run (Gooooooose!) Out of air, out of time and under suspicion of illegal contact with the aliens he pleads his case to the Carrier Captain, played by Ronny Cox. You’ll recognize Ronny from Deliverance,┬ábut no anal this time.

The Carrier Captain believes Outback’s story but, (DUM DUM DAAAAAAAAAAAAH!) a straight-up cunt in the form of The Government Agent (Hellena Taylor) belays his order and denies Outback permission to land. She explains her understanding of the situation and we are taken back to see the events from her point of view: Outback has been contaminated. He fired upon his own wingman in a fit of delusion, thinking he was one of the aliens. Outback hacked his console and changed the record. Outback has one minute of air left, it will take four minutes to get a remote rescue pod to him. Outback snaps and makes a run for an auxiliary landing deck. Will they let him land? Will he survive? Is he telling the truth?

Cockpit has won a shit ton of awards but that is obviously not why I love it. I love it because it is a great bit of scifi. And I love good scifi.

There’s not a lot here to pull me out of the world Griffith is creating. The script is tight and a complete story in itself, the look and feel is consistent, computer animation and effects are unobtrusive and add to the story, rather than detract from it. I found myself enjoying the story and world rather than picking it apart and thinking, “This isn’t bad, for an indie.”

If I have a criticism of the film (and I must, I am a critic) it would be that the scenes between The Carrier Captain and The Goverment agent were a little flat. Not a lot, but enough that I noticed it. There wasn’t the fire and veracity of feeling I would expect from two people who are that diametrically opposed and pissing over territory when a pilot’s life is at stake. Some of the dialog felt a little stilted coming out of their mouths. A writing problem? Lazy acting or directing? Who knows? Maybe they simply did not have enough time to explore those scenes on a limited budget.

Oh, and I have to geek off here, but I found it a little awkward that the fighter pilots simply sit upright in a comfy office chair in front of their consoles rather than being strapped in. They were going through all sorts of maneuvers in their fighters and appeared to be utterly unaffected by forces that would slam them bodily against the hull of their ships in an ordinary world. Some form of gravity negation technology? No, I think it was just cheaper to film it that way. Building a realistic jet fighter seat would be a monumental pain in the ass. It’s a minor point and it didn’t really pull me out of it, but it’s there.

This is a great bit of scifi. The look and feel are engaging, great story, good acting. I’m there! If it was on TV I’d watch it. I’d like to see more.

My Douchey rating:





  1. Thanks for the review. And I’m flattered you thought it was an mid-indie budget. This was shot in a day for $3000 (all green screen), and most of that went to insurance and hard drive space. I have a feature screenplay written titled simply “Cockpit” which has also won a bunch of awards. I hope to actually build a cockpit set, or at least chairs this time around, and I will make sure there is a better harness to keep the pilots strapped down. Thanks.

  2. Ha ha! Yeah, strap those guys in!

    That’s a cheap budget, I don’t care how you slice it. I’m more familiar with the low end of the indie scale, the under 100k fare. If I had to guess I would have said you would have spent at least thirty by the time you were done with everything.

    I should interview you. I’m sure a lot of indie film makers would like to know how you got by so cheaply. Personally I’m curious how much you spent on two things: talent and post.

    • It was shot SAG Experimental which means if the short sells, I have to pay the actors their normal day rate. But until then, the talent was free. Post editing and VFX was done on my laptop (Avid Express Pro and After Effects and Lightwave). Sound was a little more involved. I did most the sound design on my home computer over the course of 2 weeks, and got a friend who owns a professional sound company to take those sounds and do the final mix. Happy to do an interview anytime! Email me at info@cockpitthemovie.com

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