Jim Lujan is one busy guy! Not only is he the creator of the wildly successful Sanjourno Must Die over on RugBurn but he also has three huge projects coming down the pike as well. I had a chance to chat with the Los Angeles-based animator about all three projects and much more recently and I can happily state that my anticipation of all three projects grew by leaps and bounds after the chat. So here’s what Jim had to say about Revengence, MasterFreak Theater, and Kounterclockwise In Foreverland. And as a special bonus, Jim sent along some super exclusive, bonus stills from Foreverland! Now sit back and prepare to take a long, strange journey into the mind of Jim Lujan!
“It’s like Wizard Of Oz meets Flash Gordon. It’s like a Hip Hop fantasy comedy starring Cleveland based, husband and wife rap duo Kounterclockwise.” Any time you can mix the whimsical and iconic feel of the Wizard Of Oz with the iconic yet kitschy and campy feel of Flash Gordon you’re clearly off to an imaginative start. Kounterclockwise have worked with Lujan before by releasing three music videos using his animation. Ironically enough, Lujan assured us that there will actually be elements of all three of those music videos involved in the making of Foreverland.” Animation of this feature is all but wrapped and we could see it in our hands really soon.
One thing I really enjoyed learning about Foreverland, and Kounterclockwise for that matter, is the DIY/ word of mouth approach the characters are taking to spread the word. “They’re from Cleveland so they’re going through all of their contacts to try and get this into the hands of as many in the hip hop industry as they can. People like Kid Cudi and Eminem.” says Lujan. But they’re not approaching them to appear in Foreverland. Instead they’re just asking these big time artists to spread the word to their fan base and let them know that this exists. They don’t want money; they just want a chance for people to see that their hard work has turned into a finished product and that is an admirable quality that we really don’t see with most artists nowadays. In a world that is so fame and money motivated, having a group push their own product for pride and the love of the craft is a breath of fresh air into a greedy industry. Hopefully that breath of air is the first breath that ushers in a change where more animators and musicians alike can begin to use pride as a motivational tool and not just money. I realize that pride doesn’t pay the mortgage, but an amount of humbleness can transcend through the screen and connect you with newer fans on a bit more of a personable level. And that’s exactly what Lujan and Kounterclockwise plan to do with Foreverland; transcend and connect.
Our conversation transitioned next to what some would consider the main event of the interview and what others would consider a dream job: Revengence. And with Revengence comes the chance to work with the legendary Bill Plympton. Revengence can best, or better yet, can only be described the way Lujan describes it. “It’s a biker revenge tale featuring a young teenage girl and her revenge plots against this biker gang and the ex-biker/current US Senator/ex-wrestler that did her family wrong. And it’s also about the bounty hunter that gets mixed up in all of this. It’s gonna be Bill Plympton meets Quentin Tarantino but with a lot of comedy in it. A lot of music in it. Our secret weapon here: If Star Wars used space as its secret weapon, our secret weapon is weird characters. When I was writing it I think my mind was poisoned a little bit by The Big Lebowski. So many weird, funny characters in it. A lot of times when people say it’s Tarantino influenced it ends up being just a big gun fight with heads exploding and whatnot. But with this one it’s almost like the Tarantino influence in this one is the universe. Y’know how the whole universe is connected. How everyone just ties in at the end.” Its cyclical, Tarantino-esque storytelling and a myriad of odd characters that leant Lujan so well to this project.
We saw successful results out of Sanjourno Must Die because of the way it embraced its genre while simultaneously making fun of it. Could we see similar results with Revengence on a much grander scale? Let’s hope so. Lujan then spoke about the motivation behind the film. “We went into the writing process of Revengence wanting to write a movie that we ourselves would actually want to go see. We don’t want people to see the movie and think ‘Well, that was an exercise in animation’ or ‘Well, that was a bunch of talking heads on a screen.’ We’re making this movie for two people: ourselves and all of the fans.” A movie that is driven but the desire of the fans is great news in my book. Better news yet, we should have some form of animated preview just in time for San Diego ComicCon! With all the talk of bikers and bounty hunters, it would be an interesting speculation to see a cameo of Sanjourno in Revengence. The way I see it he fits the motif of the movie perfectly and would be a great nod to an interesting character. But that’s just me and my assumptions. And we all know what happens when you assume…
Speaking of Sanjourno Must Die, as we all know the series wrapped a while ago on RugBurn Channel to very solid reviews. Sanjourno filled a very specific niche: Exaggerated humor. A parody that didn’t make fun of the topic at hand, but rather embraced it to the highest degree to show how truly outlandish it actually was. When asked why the exaggerated style of humor worked so well for Sanjourno, Lujan said, “There should be a genre of humor for Farrell, Kaufmann, and Galifianakis with the way they’re not doing parody but they use exaggeration for the laugh. My favorite type of humor is the one you look at and you just know that something’s wrong with it and you’re not sure if they’re serious or not. And at the same time you get it. That’s why I think Andy Kaufmann was like the funniest guy. And that’s what Sanjourno was. It celebrated everything cheesy about that genre, but at the same time it was playing along into everything that made that genre what it was. Like it was participating in it instead of only making fun of it. That’s my sense of humor. I don’t do parody.” With the series wrapped, one could probably extrapolate that this is the end of the characters, but Lujan assured me that this wasn’t the case. “I could write seasons worth of Sanjourno. I don’t know if we’ve truly seen the last of him.”
Rounding out Lujan’s already stacked plate is a show for DirectTV and Dish (as well as Netflix and more) known as MasterFreak Theater. Jim is happy to announce that all the bits he was responsible for are completely finished and turned in months ago. No release date has been given, but it’s only a matter of time before we can finally see any one the ten episodes of this long awaited show. The show is a mix of Lujan’s back catalog work with the added twist of a new character, Mr. Von Boogie. “He’s my Rod Sterling. He connects all of the clips together with his introductions.” Lujan also made a ton of fake commercials for the show as well, which should liven up the landscape of the show. Unfortunately, now we all have to play the TV network waiting game until they can find a spot to put it.
Kounterclockwise In Foreverland: Should be out really soon.
Revengence: Could possibly be my most highly anticipated animated movie of next year.
Sanjourno Must Die: Great response. Never say never on a return.
Masterfreak Theater: In the hands of the network. Coming soon.
With a work ethic like that and the skills and characters to back it up, it’s no wonder why Jim Lujan is one of the standouts in animation. As a special bonus, here’s Lujan and Kounterclockwise collaborating on the song Outside The Lines. Enjoy!