Last weekend we reported on an interesting new animation on YouTube called "Klingon Propaganda" which led to a ‘Klingon website’. There have been subsequent videos this week adding to the mystery which has been the subject to much speculation on this site and many others. Now the man behind the video has come forward and explained to TrekMovie what it is all about.
Klingon Propaganda – one man’s dream of animated Trek
It should come as no surprise that the Klingon Propaganda video and site looked like a viral campaign, because the man behind it actually makes viral campaign animations for a living. As we worked out in our original report, the video was made by Mark Farinas, who also operates as Bad Monkey Studios in San Francisco. Bad Monkey has made viral campaigns in the past, but Farinas tells TrekMovie this was done on his own as a labor of love, with the hopes that it could be a proof of concept and to show interest in a new animated Star Trek series. For full details on how and why Farinas did this, see the Q&A below.
But first, Farinas has just uploaded a new version of the original video, but now with his Bad Monkey logo, an English translation, and credits.
Q&A with Mark Farinas, the man behind Klingon Propagana
Can you give some background on yourself and Bad Monkey Studios
I’m an artist located in San Francisco. I’m Bad Monkey Studios’ only employee so most everything I do is a one man show. I work mostly with nonprofit groups on viral videos, but I also have worked with game developers and entertainment companies. My most current non-Trek project is a series of sex ed videos done in a Fortress Macross style to appeal to teens.
Mark Farinas…the man behind Klingon Propaganda, has a good appetite, like a good Klingon
Why did you create Klingon Propaganda?
I love Star Trek: TOS and I love my fellow Trekkies. I thought I could give the fan community a mystery to talk about and research and just plain get excited about. That’s the reasoning behind the Klingon language script. If the movie was in English it would have still been good, but just a movie. In Klingon it becomes a puzzle. I also love the style of Soviet Agit-Prop so I really wanted to do a project that used it.
Soviet artwork Farinas used for inspiration
Is this a promotion for a specific idea you have for an animated trek series?
Another purpose for the puzzle aspect as well and the ambiguity of the movie’s source was to make people wonder if it was an official production. If the reaction was positive I was hoping there would then be demand for Trek in animated form again. So its a test bed for what a modern Trek cartoon could look like.
Are you surprised by the reaction it got?
I had two scenarios in mind: either no one would notice and it would flop, or it would go down just like it did. So, I’m pretty durn pleased. The most surprising thing is that the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. I mean, I changed the Klingons and folks seemed to actually prefer it. I thought for sure I’d have a bunch of guys from the Klingon language camps beating down my door with pain sticks.
Some fans have spotted a Turkish connection, can you explain that?
I married into a Turkish family. The song that accompanies the movie was something the wife played for our kid over and over again. After hearing it a dozen times I was like "This is the most militaristic children’s song I’ve ever heard!" When the chorus comes in I could practically see the fighter jets soring over head. So the song inspired the film.
I also wanted to recreate the Klingons in my own image. I never liked the long haired Viking Klingons of the later series. They were just too dumb and violent to be believable as a space-faring race. So I began to Ottomanize them a bit – make them more civilized, more beautiful, more intelligent. It’s pretty much a love letter to my wife. She inspires me a lot. What better way to honor her than to make sci-fi’s most loved aliens Turks?
Farinas wanted to bring a little ‘Ottoman’ to the Klingons
How long did it take you to make it and did you get any help?
It took about 3 months of work over the course of a year to make. I wrote it, animated it, and even voiced the Klingon dialog. Phillip Spehar, who’s done work for Disney, did those gorgeous matte paintings. The movie gains a lot of it’s professional look from his environments. And of course, the movie wouldn’t have been possible without Skip Dane, my translator. There’s been a lot of talk about the translation not being just right, but Skip did it all alone and in secret and it was still accurately translatable back to English. That’s a hell of a successful job.
What tools did you use to make it?
It was mostly drawn and animated on a 4×6 tablet in Adobe Flash and Illustrator. Phil used Photoshop to paint the backgrounds. Toon Boom Studio’s camera tools were used for the big connie pullback. A lot of it is Flash style symbol based animation, but some of it, like the explosions and mouth movements, were drawn a frame at a time at 20 FPS.
Farinas Klingon sketch
Some have spotted what may be a political message on the website, was that intentional?
I’m a political guy, so maybe some of that slipped in unintentionally. But that mission statement was mostly written as a classic Trek trope of human’s being a "savage, child species", which, I guess, was itself a political statement by Roddenberry. Both TOS and TNG are full of aliens like the Talosians or Q that judge us to be backward. That’s really what it was all about.
What will you do with the email addresses?
I wanted to use them to let people know about the following videos in the viral series, but I couldn’t get them into my bulk mailing software fast enough. When I get the chance I’ll probably add all those addresses to my regular mailing list so people can know about future movie releases, both Trek and non-Trek related.
So is this the end, or is there more to come?
I do have an idea for a series with a pilot written. The pilot is a good stand alone adventure and could be converted into a generic sci-fi short if needed. I’d love to get it produced, either officially or with the help of fans. So if there are talented sci-fi buffs out there who would like to work with me it would be great to hear from you.
For more on Mark visit Bad Monkey Studios