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Toonzone Interviews Billy Lopez For The UK Premiere Of “Welcome to the Wayne”

by on December 24, 2014

welcome-to-the-wayneWelcome to the Wayne, Nickelodeon’s first ever original online animated series, has launched in the United Kingdom on the official Nick App and Nick websites (nick.co.uk and nicktoons.co.uk). The series focuses on Ansi, a meek young boy who has recently moved with his family into the titular apartment complex. The Wayne is full of eccentric residents and incredible adventures, a fact Ansi becomes aware of when a boy his own age named Olly invites him to help protect a briefcase from sinister spies waiting in the lobby.

Toonzone recently had a chance to pose some questions to series creator Billy Lopez about this exciting new animated series.

TOONZONE NEWS: Welcome to the Wayne is part of an initiative by Nick to create original online content. You’ve worked on many other animated series but how did you get to pitch the show?

BILLY LOPEZ: I’d been lucky enough to have worked with some of the team on other projects (including Nick Jr.’s The Wonder Pets!), so when they called me about the opportunity, I was excited to give it a shot. Plus there’s a free soda fountain on the 33rd floor of the Viacom building, so I knew that even if they didn’t like anything I pitched I’d come out ahead.

TOONZONE NEWS: Many of your prior credits are aimed towards pre-school audiences. What difference do
you find between making such shows and something for older children such as Welcome to the Wayne?

BILLY LOPEZ: They’re completely different experiences, mainly because older kids have a much broader frame of reference than preschoolers, so when you’re writing for them you can focus more on story, character development, and comedy. Welcome to the Wayne is also my first original show, so the learning curve for me has been less about the age of the audience than the process of creating a world and the characters who live in it.

TOONZONE NEWS: The series focuses on the adventures of two boys in an amazing inner-city apartment
building full of eccentric residents. Does the setting take any influence from your own childhood?

BILLY LOPEZ: A little bit, yes. When I was 10 years old my family moved to a huge apartment building that always felt kind of ominous and spooky. That was right around when I was reading The Shining, and my imagination used to run wild drawing parallels between our building and the Overlook hotel.

TOONZONE NEWS: Much of your work has been as a composer but for this show you voice Olly, one of the lead characters. What did you make of getting the chance to voice act?

BILLY LOPEZ: I loved it. It was my favorite part of the process. I had to convince them to let me do it, really bug the hell out of them and campaign for the part, which is unlike me, but I’m so glad I did. The idea to do the voice actually came from my recording the scripts to time them out. I’d written the first episode, and it was something like seven pages long, and they needed the script to be 3:30. So I recorded all the dialogue and beats the way I heard them in my head, to time it, and while I was doing that I realized I wanted to be Olly.

TOONZONE NEWS: Music itself is a key language of entertainment. What do you take inspiration from when writing it for a project?

BILLY LOPEZ: Usually just the project itself. I’m more of a songwriter than a composer, but a lot of the same principles apply. Whether you’re writing a song with lyrics that advances the plot, or some instrumental underscore for a scene, you’re always trying to complement the mood of the show and bring out the subtext. With songwriting I like to let the melody lead the process, because I find when I’m writing a melody I’m excited about, the lyrics are often right on the tip of my tongue.

TOONZONE NEWS: Welcome to the Wayne seems like it could support a lot of fun and exciting stories. Can we hope to see more of Ansi, Olly and Saraline?

BILLY LOPEZ: Absolutely! We’re in the thick of development for the full-length TV series.

Toonzone would like to thank Billy Lopez for taking the time to speak with us and the Nickelodeon UK press department for arranging this interview.

New episodes of Welcome to the Wayne will debut weekly on the UK Nickelodeon App and official UK Nick websites. 

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