To create the very specific look for Showtime docu-series Supervillain: The Making of Takashi 6ix9ine, Los Angeles-based creative agency Imaginary Forces worked closely with the documentary’s director, Karam Gill.

“Karam came to us with this fun and interesting premise of telling Takashi’s story through a series of interstitials set in a lab,” said Karin Fong, Emmy-winning director and founding member at Imaginary Forces. “Karam was very clear throughout that he wanted to show the cold, calculating hands of society playing with and manipulating this figure.”

RELATED: The Daily Brief Podcast: Imaginary Forces’ Creative Director Karin Fong

Supervillain traces the path of how Tekashi 6ix9ine, born Daniel Hernandez, used social media to transform himself from a deli clerk into a viral hip-hop sensation. He later joined a gang and then ratted that gang out to the Feds in order to serve a lighter prison sentence, the last four months of which he just completed from home. The docuseries is based on Stephen Witt’s Rolling Stone profile of the rapper: Tekashi 6ix9ine: The Rise and Fall of a Hip-Hop Supervillain.

RELATED: Showtime Documents Rise and Fall of ‘Supervillain’ Tekashi 6ix9ine

Each part of the three-part documentary includes three interstitials, all narrated by Giancarlo Esposito (The Mandalorian, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul). The interstitials start with the building of an action figure, a blank slate to which the anonymous creators in the lab add eyes, rainbow-colored hair and clothes and eventually his multi-colored grill and tattoos.

“We see these anonymous hands construct the figure, take it apart, slice and dice it, and put things in its head,” said Fong. It’s all a visual metaphor for the way society contributes to the creation of these ”toxic fame-getters,” she continued.

To produce the interstitials, Fong and her team put the action figure on a light table and shot it from above. The light table also was able to project images and incorporate clips, making the sequences that much more interesting and complex, while still retaining the pristine feel of a sophisticated laboratory.

The whole look translated easily to the main-titles sequence, which also is set in a bright white lab with colorful jars of elements on shelves and bright IV bags hanging from racks. But while everything looks clean and sterile, elements of dark and rot keep showing up—a rat in an IV bag, needles into a tiny brain.

“The filmmakers encouraged us to go dark,” said Fong. “Underneath it all, there is this idea of a monster being made.”

Producing the main titles was something like a giant craft project, Fong said, with Imaginary Forces’ art department kept busy making props and creating candy-colored liquids, gels and fizzes that the team could shoot and capture. All of the sequences were shot in live action with some elements, such as color enrichment, added in post production.

In the end, the imagery serves to illustrate the story’s underlying concept: “We as a society help create these Frankensteins and they capture our imaginations,” Fong said. “The documentary is about Tekashi but it’s also about us. Watching people like him is like watching a train wreck—we think it’s all very entertaining until it gets out of control.”

Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine is available to watch on Showtime on demand and on Showtime streaming platforms.


Client: Lightbox Entertainment

Agency: Imaginary Forces


Director: Karin Fong

Producer: Renee Robson

Cinematographer: J.R. Kraus

Lead Designer/Animators: Henry Chang, James Gardner

Editors: Lexi Gunvaldson, Zach Kilroy

Animator: Merrill Hall

Prop Master: Matthew Eikelberger

Prop Assistants: Stephanie Mace, Brady Peterson

Action-Figure Designer: Tim Sepulveda

On-Set VFX Supervisor/Animator: Kiyoon Nam

Hand Models: Rachael Cohen, Jessica Shereshevsky

Design Prep: Kathy Liang, Ailis O’Reilly

Design Interns: Phillip Han, Zach Hartman

Colorist: Beau Leon, Framestore

Production Coordinators: Jake Fritz, Jackson Kerr

Executive Producers: Peter Frankfurt, Chip Houghton

Main-Title Sequence

Director/ Designer: Karin Fong

Cinematographer: JR Kraus

Prop Master, Matthew Eikelberger

Prop Assistants: Stephanie Mace, Brady Peterson

On-set VFX Supervisor: Kiyoon Nam

Hand Model: Jessica Shereshevsky

Designer/Animator: Henry Chang

Editors: Zach Kilroy

Design Intern: Phillip Han

Colorist: Beau Leon, Framestore

Producer: Renee Robson

Production Coordinators: Jake Fritz, Jackson Kerr

Executive Producers: Peter Frankfurt, Chip Houghton

Tags: imaginary forces karin fong main titles showtime supervillain

  Save as PDF