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AJ's Infinite Summer
File:AJ's Infinite Summer title card.jpg
Directed by
Produced by Nate Funaro
Story by Toby Jones
Voices by
Music by Secret Cities
Backgrounds by
  • Martin Cendreda and Santino Lascano (designers)
  • Sandra Calleros and Amanda Thomas (painters)
Studio Cartoon Network Studios
Distributed by Cartoon Network
Release date(s) May 16, 2014
Color process Color
Running time 8 Template:Sfrac minutes
Country United States
Language English

AJ's Infinite Summer is an animated television pilot created by Toby Jones for Cartoon Network. The pilot follows AJ, whose new summer job drives him crazy with power. It is roughly based on Jones' 2006 film, AJ Goes to France. Both the film and the pilot star AJ Thompson as the titular character. Jones additionally sought inspiration from his hometown of Fargo and the comics he drew featuring Thompson and his other friends. The pilot was released onto the network's online video streaming service on May 16, 2014.

Plot

Summer vacation starts for AJ and his friends Danny and Morgan in the city of Downer. While sitting together, AJ decides to plan out his summer through the first thing he sees. He spots a bus advertisement stating "Get a job!" Making good on his decision, AJ promises to enter the workforce. After wandering in the city, they come across a giant office building. When AJ enters it to apply for a job, his friends stop him for acting with haste. He decides to head home to ask his father, Peter, for advice. Peter equips him with an oversized business suit, and later, the group returns to the building to help AJ apply for the job.

AJ enters the lobby and requests for a job interview. The lobbyist refers to the "Instructor of First Impressions", who promptly employs him after receiving his resume. The instructor unveils a curtain, revealing the entrance to operations. AJ finds himself welcome after seeing that the workers wear the same build of his business suit. When he finds out that each worker has their own assistant, AJ instructs his "secretary" Morgan to fetch him papers and his "towel boy" Danny to wipe the sweat off his brow. He is promoted thereafter; a montage follows, where AJ is shown receiving more promotions for doing absurd tasks, much to the chagrin of his friends.

Afterwards, AJ's friends enter his new private office, refusing to work with him anymore after seeing him overcome with power. AJ instructs his guard to throw them out, and following this, he is promoted to CEO status by a former officer—a grotesquely old man housed within a gigantic business suit. After floating to the top of the suit, AJ spots a beach ball-destroying machine to the side. He hallucinates the balls morphing into the heads of Morgan and Danny, who scold him for "destroying the spirit of summer". AJ realizes his mistake, and rejects the promotion. He returns to his friends outside and perches them on top of the business suit's shoulders, discussing plans for the rest of the summer.

Production

AJ's Infinite Summer was written and created by Toby Jones. The pilot was produced at Cartoon Network Studios, with Robert Alvarez as timing director, Sue Mondt as art director and Phil Rynda as creative director. It was produced by Nate Funaro.[1]

The pilot derives from a 2006 live-action independent film co-directed by Jones, titled AJ Goes to France. AJ Thompson, the lead actor of the film, also stars as the titular character in AJ's Infinite Summer.[2] The film was produced as an assignment for Concordia College in Moorhead, where he majored in filmmaking; Jones had moved from Fargo, North Dakota to Minneapolis in 2005 after graduating from Fargo South High School. For the pilot, Jones also sought inspiration from his hometown of Fargo, as well as the comics he drew featuring AJ and his other friends, Danny Davy and Morgan. In addition, the character of Peter is based on Jones' professor from Concordia, Greg Carlson, who is also a filmmaker and critic for the High Plains Reader. His friend's band from Fargo, Secret Cities, provided the score for the pilot. Jones expressed delight that "Cartoon Network was willing to let me bring in my friends to do the voices and my friends' band to do the music".[3]

The pilot was first pitched after Jones had moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to work for Cartoon Network. He has written and storyboarded for the network's series, Regular Show, with this experience giving him the foresight to produce something he knew the network would want. He was initially unsure he was ready to pitch, but thought to himself, "Man, they're making all of this great stuff, and I've got to try and see if I can be part of it".[3] The pilot was rejected the first time, but was approved on the second after he had reworked it over the course of several months. Jones found the limitations present in creating a series as "time and energy",[3] but limitless in the work itself. He cited having "AJ running perpendicular up a wall and then jumping into a building" as examples of the latter principle.[3]

Release and reception

AJ's Infinite Summer was "quietly" released onto Cartoon Network's online video streaming service on May 16, 2014. A pilot by Sean Szeles, titled Long Live the Royals, was released on the same day. Like Jones, Szeles had staffed for Regular Show.[4][5]

File:Fargo South High School building, Fargo, ND.jpg

Amid Amidi of Cartoon Brew and Jason Krell of io9 published articles praising both pilots together.[4][5] While Krell found the plot for AJ's Infinite Summer "simple", he noted its premise to allow for "total freedom". He compared its "charming take" on summer vacation life to "an aged up Phineas and Ferb".[4] Amidi posited that the short would not retain continuity between Toby's earlier film.[5] Krell concluded his review stating that both were "amazing", and will be guaranteed his viewership should the pilots be picked up for full series.[4] In the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, John Lamb recognized features of his city in the pilot, calling the character's fictional high school a direct analogue to Fargo South.[3]

After the pilot was released, Jones found amusement from people back in Fargo who were eager to spot the differences in landmarks between the city and the pilot. Jones told Lamb that since working in animation, "I'm surrounded by these people that I've looked up to for years as a fan, and having them tell me they enjoyed it is the greatest thing ever".[3] As of June 2014, Jones said that his primary focus is his day job with Regular Show, but that he would "love to do more", and that he would be excited if the network would green-light it as a series. He expressed interest in submitting it at the Fargo Film Festival;[3] the pilot was listed in the ballot for "Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program" at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards,[6]:Template:^5 although it did not win.

References

  1. Jones, Toby (May 14, 2014). AJ's Infinite Summer (Television pilot). Turner Broadcasting System. http://www.cartoonnetwork.com/tv_shows/cartoon-network-videos/video/ajs-infinite-summer-short-clip.html. 
  2. Amidi, Amid (May 16, 2014). "Watch 2 New CN Pilots by Regular Show Staffers". Cartoon Brew. n.p.. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. http://www.webcitation.org/6PdIh05LZ. Retrieved May 16, 2014.  See also "AJ Goes to France (2006)". IMDbPro. Internet Movie Database. https://pro-labs.imdb.com/title/tt0765428/. Retrieved May 18, 2014. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Lamb, John (June 1, 2014). "Fargo appears in Cartoon Network movie: Filmmaker draws inspiration from real-life friends and hometown". Forum of Fargo-Moorhead (Forum Communications Company). http://www.inforum.com/content/fargo-appears-cartoon-network-movie-filmmaker-draws-inspiration-real-life-friends-and. Retrieved November 14, 2014.  (subscription required)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Krell, Jason (May 16, 2014). "New Pilots from Regular Show Writers Are Fantastic". io9. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. http://www.webcitation.org/6PdIh05Lt. Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Amidi, Amid (May 16, 2014). "Watch 2 New CN Pilots by Regular Show Staffers". Cartoon Brew. n.p.. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. http://www.webcitation.org/6PdIh05LZ. Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  6. "2014 Primetime Emmy Awards Ballot". Television Academy. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. June 5, 2014. Archived from the original on November 15, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20141115235936/http://www.emmys.com/sites/default/files/Animation.pdf. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 

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