"Forever-Land" Animated Film Premiere and Kounterclockwise & Jim Lujan Interview by Leroy Moore

Posted by Billyjam, March 11, 2014 09:00am | Post a Comment

Premiering today on YouTube and here on the Amoeblog (above) is Forever-Land: the Jim Lujan made full-length, animated film starring Kounterclockwise that has the distinction of being the first single hand drawn, animated, Sci-Fi film based on location in Cleveland, Ohio. The 56 minute movie is also the first one to feature a disabled hip-hop "inter-galactic animated hero" in a wheelchair.  Billed as "a hidden dimension where strange characters, creatures, and lands exist under the iron harsh rule of Infinitus…destroyer of all things funky" Forever-Land is an inspirational tale by the animation filmmaker Lujan with a lot of input from Kounterclockwise whose two members co-wrote the script with the filmmaker. The movie's 17 track soundtrack was co-produced by Lujan wtih Kounterclockwise's Deacon Burns.

Featured here on the Amoeblog back in late 2011, when they released their album Daylight Savings Time, the group that identifies as both "Krip-Hop" and "alternative punk hop" Kounterclockwise is the Cleveland Heights based duo comprised of Deacon Burns and Kaya "Rouge" Carine Gabriel (read their Amoeblog interview/profile here). Meanwhile underground animation filmmaker Jim Lujan's resume includes such works as Freakdaddy, Spike and Mike, Sanjourno Must Die (popular on YouTube animation channel RugBurn). He is currently working on the feature film Revengeance alongside renowned independent animator Bill Plympton, and with music by Kounterclockwise. Uploaded two days ago as a private invite only YouTube stream Forever-Land is as of today (March 11th) available to the general public to view on Lujan's YouTube site with links from such select sites as here. For more background on the film frequent Amoeblog contributor and founder of Krip-Hop Nation, Berkeley CA based author/activist Leroy Moore caught up with filmmaker Jim Lujan and Kaya and Deacon of Kounterclockwise to interview them for the Amoeblog. His insightful conversation with these three talented individuals follows immediately below the Jim Lujan produced Kounterclockwise "Whip" video.

                             Kounterclockwise "Whip" (video by Jim Lujan) (2013)

Leroy Moore:  Kounterclockwise please give some background of who you are and what you do?  

Kounterclockwise:  We are a husband and wife alternative punk-hop group from Cleveland Heights and NYC.   We put our first album out, Daylight Savings Time, in late 2011 and now we are about to release a movie and soundtrack, Kounterclockwise In Forever-Land directed and hand-drawn by Jim Lujan.

Leroy MooreForever-Land is not your first foray into animation.  Can you talk a bit about the music videos that paved the way for this animated film?

Kounterclockwise:  Well we made three animated videos so far with Jim Lujan;  “Moonwalk,” “Outside The Lines,” and “Whip.”  And all three videos are connected to the movie.  For example “Moonwalk” and “Whip” all have appearances by Mr. Creep, who is one of the main villains, and “Outside the Lines” is shot in Forever-Land’s Land of Pills.

Leroy Moore: Being Ohio based musicians how did you work with Jim Lujan who is based in LA and how was that process?

Kounterclockwise: First we would talk to Jim on the phone to discuss the lines and plot. Then Jim would send us a script by email, we'd record the vocals in our studio, bounce them to MP3’s and send them back to him.  

Jim Lujan:  Organic is the word. We hit the ground running with the three music videos. We wanted to expand on that inverse. Everything just fell into place. When the process isn't forced, people are more relaxed. When you’re more relaxed, you have fun. When you have fun…Forever-Land happens! This was such a great chance to dive into the Sci-Fi genre for me. I had a blast! It's still a "Jim Lujan" cartoon, but with fantasy twist. I think it really works well.   

Leroy Moore:  What is the basic Forever-Land storyline?  

Deacon Burns:  Basically the story goes that Kaya and I are having a normal day but we get a coupon in the mail to visit a gypsy for a free reading.  The gypsy has an alternate motive because the universe has gone out of balance, so she transports to an alternate dimension to retrieve ‘The Glove’ that has the power of funk and positivity to restore order to the universe.  The adventure begins.

Leroy Moore:  Deacon, you were quoted in the press release of the film as saying, “Kounterclockwise in Forever-Land is the first ever disabled hip hop inter-galactic animated hero that saves the day in a wheelchair! Now that’s some gangsta [email protected]# right there”.  Please explain.

Deacon Burns:  Other then Joe Swanson on Family Guy you rarely get to see a kick-ass wheelchair character in a cartoon so the fact that I go to another dimension and start a revolution and defeat a might ruler all in a wheelchair is pretty dope.  

Leroy Moore:  Kaya, it's so good to see Black women in a key role, and in an animated film.  Tell me more about your role in the making of this movie and about your character.

Kaya Rogue:  My character is so pure joy of life that she is chosen to be able to hold the power of ‘The Glove’ and with her intense love and positivity she plays a major part in restoring peace to Forever-Land.  

Leroy Moore:  Jim, tell us your process of creating animated characters and was it difficult making a character that is a wheelchair user?  Also can you list the characters and describe their personalities in the film?

Jim Lujan:  Most of the main characters made their first appearances in the music videos I did for Kounterclockwise - some in cameo form. Deacon Burns plays himself; grumpy, sharp, funny, quick to anger. Always skeptical. Ready with a comeback. Really funny. Kaya Rogue: sweet, positive, kind of naive. She's the one the Glove calls upon to rescue it and Forever-Land (because of her pure positivity). She is the comic relief to Deacon's grumpiness. Her sweetness adds to the comedy of the film greatly. Infinitus, who first appears in the "Whip" video, is bold, egomaniac, super-villain. Insecure at his core. He's the reason Forever-Land is in such peril. [Forever-Land co-producer] Scott Hinze plays him to the hilt. Great performance. Mr. Creep, who first appears in the "Moonwalk" music video, is Infinitus' right hand man. He sort of runs the guards. He's a bit of a backstabber. Sophisticated and plotting. Cowardlike. I play him. Madame Mesmerelda: the mysterious fortune teller that leads them into Forever-Land. Voice by me. PillBilly: a miner addicted to pills and a product of Forever-Land. He shows how things are when Kounterclockwise arrives. Voice by me. The Funk Giants: when things were good in Forever-Land- these were the coolest of the cool cats. Infinitus shut them down out of jealousy. They were the most popular band around. Really tall and really colorful. A band of superfreaks. Where do they come from? Characters can come to me from anywhere. Something I see on the street or TV. Something from my childhood. Once something triggers my brain, I am obsessive about working it out, getting it out there.

Leroy Moore:  There are talks about having toy figures of the animated movie's characters.  Give us the 411 on that?  I know my nephews and niece would love that!

Kounterclockwise:  Yes, it’s going down.  The action figures are coming.  We are also very interested in the new 3D printers as a possibility for making some really cool pieces.  

Jim Lujan: Those would be the coolest action figures ever! I can imagine that. Collect them all! We've said that from the get go.

Leroy Moore:  What are the plans for Forever-Land beyond film festivals?

Kounterclockwise: We are working on a tour to perform the entire movie soundtrack live with all the characters in the movie performing with us onstage,  kind of like an animated and live hip/hop Rocky Horror Picture Show.  And we’d love to see this turn into a TV series.
Jim Lujan:  This would make an insane TV show. We'd love to make it happen. There are plenty of adventures left with all these characters. There’s nothing out there like it. Not even close!  

Leroy Moore:  Being musicians, was it different making a soundtrack for the movie compared to an album?

Kounterclockwise:  There are so many more visuals to go off of and be inspired by.  We came up with the last 15 beats for the movie all in just about a month before the movie was done and they came to us so naturally from our excitement after seeing each scene unfold as Jim sent us clips.

Leroy Moore:  Will you all continue to work together and, if so, what is next for this partnership?

Kounterclockwise:  Hell yeah! Not only do we already have ideas for Forever-Land part two but so many ideas for the TV show and tours.  Jim is stuck with us.

Jim Lujan: You can bet on it. We'll work together again. First thing up is to get some enjoyment from actually having finished this movie. Ride the momentum for a bit, ride it as far as it will take us, then it's back to the lab!

Leroy Moore:  Give us a list of places the Forever-Land will show at, where can people buy it and upcoming events with the film?

Kounterclockwise / Jim Lujan: Forever-Land will be showing all over the place, but it will be guerrilla style. As places get booked, you can find the information on Kounterclockwise will be doing live shows with the movie playing, then a concert with the songs from the movie….the Forever-Land Tour?

Leroy Moore: Any last words, and how can we contact you all?

Jim Lujan:  People can find me at [email protected] and at Subscribe to my cartoons at youtube. There are some really cool projects in the works from me. My subscribers always get first notice.

For further information visit the Kounterclockwise website and Facebook page and their Forever-Land Facebook page. For more on regular guest Amoeblogger Leroy Moore read his initial introductory Amoeblog from July 2008 and follow his Krip-Hop Nation Facebook page.

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Jim Lujan (1), Krip-hop Nation (7), Punk-hop (1), Kounterclockwise (6), Krip-hop (12), Forever-land (1), Leroy Moore (23)