Find Makarov: Operation Kingfish
Find Makarov: Operation Kingfish is a 2011 short film and a prequel to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, first shown at Call of Duty XP convention. The video was produced by We Can Pretend, visual effects by The Junction, and was endorsed by Activision.
The first film, Find Makarov, was a non-canon fan-made film. The video was well received by not just fans, but Activision also. Activision contacted We Can Pretend about the video and helped produce a second short film, Find Makarov: Operation Kingfish.
The video follows closely with the antagonist, General Shepherd's speech in the mission "Endgame". It shows the protagonists, Task Force 141 and Delta Force, participating in an assault on a Ukrainian compound, with the objective of finding an unidentified High-Value Target code-named Kingfish, who is later revealed to be Vladimir Makarov. It also shows the team leaving Captain Price behind, leading to his future incarceration in a Siberian Gulag.
The film begins with John "Soap" MacTavish sitting at a table, loading a STANAG magazine; in the corner stands General Shepherd, asking him to "start from the beginning." It then cuts to the Karkonosze Mountains, Ukraine (in reality, the mountains are in the Czech Republic and Poland), where Soap, Captain Price, Ghost, Roach, and other Task Force 141 operatives are seen walking through a forest. Delta Force operatives Sandman and Frost are atop a hill aiming with a Barrett M82 at several Russian soldiers guarding a safehouse. After requesting permission to engage, Overlord commences the operation and Delta starts to eliminate the enemy soldiers. A friendly AC-130, callsign Spectre 6-4, fires at the incoming waves of Russian troops in a large field outside a number of barracks.
After Spectre clears the way for the Task Force, Soap's team advances into the safehouse and kills all remaining soldiers inside. Roach plants a breaching charge on a wall, with Ghost entering the room first and killing the soldiers inside. The team enters the room after clearing it of the enemy, where there are pictures of an airport (hinting at the eventual massacre at Zakhaev International Airport) and Bravo Six team. Soap and Price discover that the picture of Bravo Six team has several faces crossed out, implying each of the members have been executed. They then hear a C4 detonator beeping and escape before the blast can kill them.
The Task Force runs for a V-22 Osprey for exfil, while Spectre 6-4 provides covering fire for their escape. However, enemy RPG fire destroys Spectre 6-4, leaving the Task Force to fend for themselves. Another RPG is fired and explodes near Soap, knocking him semi-conscious and spitting blood. Sandman and Roach then drag Soap to the Osprey while Frost rushes to cover the evacuating operatives. Price then orders the rest of the Task Force to leave without him while he provides covering fire; Soap, however, refuses to leave him behind. Overlord orders the Osprey pilot to take off immediately, but Sandman argues with him, demanding that Price not be left behind. As Price shouts for the Osprey to evacuate, Price is then shot and falls backward, struggling to get back up.
He pulls out his P226 sidearm and kills more soldiers before being shot again and overwhelmed by enemy forces. The screen then fades to black and cuts to the present day, revealing the scars that Soap had suffered from the explosion. After demanding that Shepherd tell him of Kingfish's true identity, Shepherd throws him a dossier with a picture of Vladimir Makarov, declaring "We'll get him." Soap then takes his combat knife and stabs the picture of Makarov, ending the video.
Production and release
The site was discovered after the website received bloody dog tags in the mail, with one supposedly being those of General Shepherd and the containing the URL address and the message, "End the war" above.
Upon discovery of the website, a timer was ticking down until the March 2nd, 2011, a date which would coincide with the Game Developers Conference. Due to the viral nature of the website, the date's significance, the site's IP being registered in Los Angeles, and a similar marketing approach for Call of Duty: Black Ops. Many believed the timer to show the date for a possible Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 reveal trailer, causing the site to gain large amounts of traffic.
However on February 26, Activision, publishers of the Call of Duty series, denied that they were linked to it in any way and declared it to be a hoax. This was proven to be true; on March 2, 2011, a video entitled "Find Makarov" was uploaded onto YouTube, with the findmakarov.com website having the video embedded on the page. The official video currently has over 8,700,000 views.
The original short started out as a personal project for staff Jeff Chan. "I was playing through Modern Warfare 2," he says, "and I'm a filmmaker and I really liked the game. I was like I've never really seen a film from a first person perspective. I was like, what if you made a film from a first-person perspective, and it wasn't as crappy as Doom?" He came up with a story and a script, and took it to his co-workers at We Can Pretend, a digital media agency in Toronto. They all happen to be Call of Duty fans as well, and agreed to work on the movie together. "We all decided to kind of make this project," says Chan. "We were like screw it, we'll invest into it, and we'll see what happens".
After the first film did so well, the filmmakers had an idea for a second project based on the Call of Duty series, and We Can Pretend called up Activision to propose it. "The first thing they said," says Fradkin, "is the script that we sent them, the original script, was way too close to the game. We can't do it, we're stepping on their toes. Then we kind of started about, 'Ok, these are the elements we can use, these are the elements we can't,' talking about it and making the script that you saw".