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
Animated Trek? Yes, more please! :-)
Dude they are the same guys who did Venture Brothers I think they are planning a Star Trek Animated series
Brilliant! Paramount should get him to produce an animated short that would run in the theaters before the next trek flick!
Brilliant! You ‘Leek; the video and then interview your friend. Your better than Paramouint at your your own PR!!
people…lets throw some money at this guy and help him get this pilot made…this guy knows his stuff and loves star trek…lets bring it on
Nice, nice work. More, please,
And I thought it was all about Halloween candy…
As per #1.
political messages like “ufp truthers” ? is this guy a conspiracy nut?
You sir are a genius! I loved what you did with the Klingons, Boborci and team you should work with this guy in your next movie and draw on him for inspiration on his kick ass Klingon version and passion.
Again, Incredible, I hope you realize your dreams and we have our animated Trek.
As long as he’s not overtly pushing a leftist political agenda, I’m all for more of it and a new Trek animated series. I think animated Trek is a great idea and a great, economical way to get Trek back on TV.
I love the look, feel and quality of the “propoganda video”.
Maybe ask DC Fontana to help write a pilot for this new animated series? :o)
Awesome! I would love to see this evolve into an animated show, or at least a web series.
A word about the survey, wasn’t nurse chapel technically in Trek 11? McCoy spoke to her by name at least once…
My vote is for Yeoman Rand :)
Mark, DUDE, Great job! Hope you get financed!!
…can’t wait to see more! =)
yeah, all that hype over nothing! Go Internet!
“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.”
I’d like to offer my voice… I can speak Klingon ;)
I would love to be involved.
Loved it, would watch more. Great attention to detail, nice style.
Not bad, Not bad…
I’d like some animated Trek. They could turn the Countdown series, etc into a good cartoon. Or, have it in the prime universe.
Then it can declare war on… and obliterat Star Wars Clone Bores.
Man I would love a Star Trek animated series. It’s made for it in a lot of ways.
I’m a fan of the idea that humans, vulcans, romulans and other biped species are genetically related, so this version of klingon I enjoy very much.
Nice work, so very watchable.
Thanks for turning the Klingons into Turks, I officially declare you as one of us now. (Proud to be a Turk :D)
That really is terrific, Mark. Very imaginative. I hope it helps push you onto even bigger success.
I liked it, and would love more! Bring on a new animated series like this. Very cool.
@#15 – It’s not “nothing”, it’s something to enjoy.
This guy is amazing. CBS needs to recognize his effort and hire him to make the next animated series. NOW.
Well done sir. You’ve created a buzz throughout all phases of Klingon fandom. Yes…the Klingon linguists jumped on it like ghob flies on a dead targ.
If he liked the TOS Klingons, and he didn’t like the appropriately-titled “long-haired Viking Klingons” from TNG, then WHY THE HELL DID HE GIVE THEM THE BUMPY FOREHEADS and why does nobody else seem to notice this?!?!?!?
As a TOS-Purist, you should know that your “TNG-Klingons” are from Star Trek III – The Search for Spock. Why you allways has something to complain? The Propaganda-Klingons are more TOS than any Klingon since 1979! Just enjoy it.
I did and I say: Make an animated TV-series! Go on, Mr. Farinas!
I like the throw back to USSR style Klingons, makes me nostalgic. And while I thought TAS was quite poor technically, there are some nice stories in there. 21st Century animation could make it all watchable.
Depends on the story as always.
If the Klingons are in the next moive (as they should be), hire this guy to draw a prequel web series (in the vein of the “Countdown” comics). This way, we will have some fun until the next movie comes out, some of the momentum from the first movie will be kept, and Paramount can make some additional $$ from the DVD in the end.
Do you hear me, JJ & Boborci?
Nice to see an artistic influence other than Star Trek brought to a piece of Trek fan art.
Sign this guy up. End of!
What I really want is some one to do animated or comic The Final Reflection. It is the greatest Star Trek book ever and the only one I have read SEVEN times. (Every few years I need to pick it up again!)
Mike Ford created an interesting and noble Klingon with a very different culture. I love his Klin Zha. (It is a fun game too!)
This Klingon video was AWESOME! Kapla!
An animated Trek series would be the PERFECT solution to the following problems:
1. How do you keep up popular interest in Star Trek between cinematic offerings?
2. How do you contain the costs of producing an SF series in a generally fiscally austere environment?
3. How do you preserve the mystery and magic of cinematic Trek rather than risk overexposing and diluting its appeal?
4. How do you advance smaller stories — some perhaps taken from Trek novels — about the Federation and its coexistent Galactic sovereignties without blowing out your budget?
5. How do you introduce potentially hundreds of very merchandisable and weird-looking aliens that would make even the most Star Wars equivalents look like humanoid replicants?
6. How do you create buzz that will propel live-action Trek into another half-century of wonder and excitement?
7. How do you keep potentially dozens of Trek actors employed by utilizing their voice talents and fan appeal through clever use of characters, not to mention convention appearances and Web marketing?
The answer? Animated Trek.
Sometimes the answer IS that simple.
Correction: “5. How do you introduce potentially hundreds of very merchandisable and weird-looking aliens that would make even the most bizarre Star Wars equivalents look like humanoid replicants?”
wow. ussr/ottoman approach is far more better than the tos (and current) mongolianlike stuff. it’s really great and open to far more elaboration, and also easier to relate on. i agree with the one suggesting orci and others should consider this for the nex trek.
and knowing the background children’s song makes it much more funny (yes, i am turkish; and finally we are in star trek too :)
I was right! Just a talanted fan doing it for love of Trek. Nothing connected to marketing by a company wanting to sell something. The kind of thing I like!
Hehe, what’s with the icon for this article?
Bravo, Mr. Farinas! I really hope the supreme court listens to the fans on this and takes you on. A Trek animated series with those kind of production values would be amazing.
I’m not a fan of animated series. Great work, but I wouldn’t enjoy watching it.
I would. The species, planets, and technology are limited only by the imaginations of the writers. It could flash forward or backward easily or cover a vast time span. It could focus on a few main characters or on an ensemble. It could concern one era or be an anthology. The costs of sets SPFX, props, and costumes are non existent. Great stories could be told on without a concern over budgets. I’m all in for a Trek animated series.
Personally, I prefer Space-Viking Klingons – but I do think you can strike a balance between Viking influences and kind of austere, Black Sea style. Which ultimately comes down to splitting the middle between TOS and TNG Klingons. But Vikings weren’t just dumb brutes raiding for no reason – they went out on raids to achieve fame and glory, and then go home and play politics with it. And they advanced over the years at close to the same general rate as the rest of Europe and Asia, so ultimately they became more “civilized” and aristocratic, just like everyone else. And Klingons could use a little more aristocracy and culture (much like how more should be done with comparisons between Romulans and Remans and classic vampire archetypes).
Anyway, long story short, I’m game for an Animated Series.
This is cool. I like the retro look of the Klingons with the movie version of the bumps. I hope thats how they are handled in the new movies.
Long time lurker, first time poster here.
Just had to say that #38 said it all perfectly.
He didn’t miss a single point.
As yes, “Klingon Propaganda” is awesome. Please give Mr. Farinas a chance to give us what we all want, a great new animated Trek series!!!
Hey Anthony, I can understand you not wanting to have things digress into politics, but when you allow posts that use phrases like “overtly pushing a leftist political agenda” and then censor any messages responding to that statement, you’re not just being unpolitical, you’re being politically biased, because then you’re only allowing one side to speak and not the other. Unfortunate.
Thanks, 47. (Lucky number, that. :-) )
Here are some possibilities for an animated Trek series, or an arc within it:
1. Begin with a Mirror Universe story that sets the series apart from the main premise of all the Trek series before it. That is, the Federation, which is really the Terran Empire, is in ruins as massive battles have destroyed much of its central infrastructure. (How does this fit into Mirror Universe canon? To that I say: Canon, schmanon! This is an alternate Mirror Universe, besides….). That is, the so-called “propaganda” film we’ve seen so far has more than a kernel of truth; the Terran Empire is, indeed, on the brink of total destruction thanks to its imperial over-reach and environmental excess. (The Terran Empire, in this sense, is like the Klingons of Star Trek VI.)
2. Mirror Kirk starts out as a privileged Senator’s son, stepping over his brother and his friends to rise in the ranks to become First Lord of Starfleet Academy. An obsequious McCoy is his “trusted” friend — in reality biding his time until he can depose Mirror Kirk. Mirror Kirk then loses everything as his failed Kobayashi Maru tactic causes him to be expelled from the Academy. He is banished to the outskirts of the Empire, where he meets his “friend,” Sulu, in reality an Imperial apparatchik. Sulu cultivates Mirror Kirk as a means to rise through the ranks. Kirk, in the meantime, successfully solicits an offer to act as a double agent on behalf of the Klingons and secures transportation back to Earth.
3. Back on Earth, McCoy develops a slow-acting poison that kills most of the Academy staff, positioning him as the new First Lord. Using Academy resources, he develops a planetary pathogen, holding Earth hostage unless it submits to his demands. Arriving unexpectedly, Kirk “saves” the Earth by apparently killing McCoy. For this he is acclaimed Emperor.
4. The young Terran Emperor, Kirk, promptly declares Earth the territory of the Klingon Empire, as a perplexed and logical half-Vulcan looks on ….
While I’m not too keen on having another animated Trek series, I just wanted to commend Mark for this great contribution both to the Trek fan community and to the Klingon fan community.
I was actually one of the people nitpicking at the Klingon, but nevertheless I very much enjoyed it; you guys gave it more effort than Paramount has in decades!