By Grace Benac
Several Ryerson graduates were commissioned by Activision to create a trailer for the hugely successful Call of Duty (COD) Modern Warfare 3. Activision is the franchise owner and game publisher of COD. Modern Warfare 3, the latest release, broke multiple sales records in the first 24 hours after its launch on Nov. 8, netting over $400 million in the U.S. and U.K. alone.
Jeff Chan and William Chang, along with several other Ryerson graduates and fans of the game, decided to create a trailer called “Find Makarov” for the then-unreleased MW3.
The made-for-fun trailer posted to Chan’s YouTube account in March ended up going viral. It attracted 3.5 million views within three days.
“We were hoping it would become successful, but we had no idea it would turn out to become what it was,” said Chan.
Five hours after the video went up, producer and Ryerson alum David Fradkin received a call from Activision’s lawyers, who were suspicious that the team was looking to make a profit off of the company’s copyrighted product.
Fradkin and the rest of the team, who produced the film largely out of their own pockets, were able to allay Activision’s concerns.
Hours later, the team got a call from Activision’s vice president, George Rose.
Rose congratulated the team on their work and informed them that “Find Makarov” was already receiving rave reviews from many video game programmers and producers.
“It was a pretty intense time,” said Chang, a graduate of Ryerson’s film studies program.
The next time Activision called, it was to commission another trailer. Chan and his team, who were then heading the now-defunct marketing agency We Can Pretend, eagerly jumped on board. The catch?
“Activision wanted us to do another trailer, due in eight weeks. To give you an idea of the work it takes to put a film like that together, “Find Makarov” took about eight months to finish,” said Chang.
“When Jeff called me, I said yes, initially. But when he told me the due date, I said no. It’s pretty much impossible.”
Luckily for the team, Chang came around. A second trailer for MW3, called “Operation Kingfish” was screened for a crowd of thousands on Sept. 2 at the opening of the Call of Duty XP convention in Los Angeles.
Although Chan, who graduated from the RTA program in 2008, said that Activision has been in touch, he said his main focus is working on several feature film projects.
He admits that many of his team’s present efforts would not have been possible without the success of “Finding Makarov” and “Operation Kingfisher.”
“Through [the trailers], we’ve set up a bunch of projects. The success of the trailers has basically dictated the next few years of our lives.”