The importance of keeping the environment healthy is a critical lesson that everyone must learn, preferably from a young age. Educating through entertainment has proven successful across numerous topics and subjects and eco-awareness is no exception. Thus, an animation company called Little Airplane and the world-famous SeaWorld theme park organization have recently come together to create a preschool cartoon titled “Billy Green Builds!”
“Billy Green Builds!” is a nature-friendly show about a seven-year-old boy named Billy Green who travels around the world in a solar-powered vehicle helping animals via finding environmentally friendly solutions to the problems that plague their species. Although the show is still in production it is set to feature music and diverse cultural elements as well as teaching problem-solving skills and raising viewer’s eco-awareness.
Little Airplane is behind several preschool shows including The Wonder Pets, 3rd & Bird and Small Potatoes. SeaWorld currently operates 11 American theme parks and started expanding its brand into media and entertainment platforms in 2011. SeaWorld Kids currently produces both custom and library-driven content programming in animation, TV, film, gaming, publishing and music. In fact, SeaWorld’s television branch already produces two very successful live-action shows called “Sea Rescue” and “The Wildlife Docs.” "Billy Green Builds!" will join two other animations, “The Jungle Bunch” and “Yonaguni.”
Recently I had the chance to interview a Josh Selig, representative at Little Airplane and content producer for “Billy Green Builds!” Josh provided me with some additional insight into the creation of the show:
Q: How did you come to work with SeaWorld – what is the back story on Billy Green?
JOSH: I first met the team from SeaWorld Kids at MIPCOM in 2011. I was impressed by their passion for educating kids about the planet and all the amazing creatures we share it with. So we started talking about making a show together. These evolved into all day meetings with educators and storytellers and designers where we shared our ideas about how best to use media to convey a respect for the natural world. From these talks, "Billy Green Builds!" was born.
Q: Are Billy, Chuggy Buggy and Moxy the main cast – are there any other recurring characters?
JOSH: I'm a big believer in having a small number of main characters in a preschool show. I think this allows our young viewers to develop a strong emotional bond with each character. Of course, Billy Green and Moxy will make many new friends from all over the world in every episode.
Q: How would you characterize the visual style?
JOSH: The series was designed by Little Airplane's brilliant Art Director, Cassandra Gibbons. She describes the visual style as "Natural Color/Natural Texture" because we've based the whole look and feel of Billy Green Builds! on the wonderful palette that is the natural world.
Q: There are clear environmental themes and messages – are there lots of facts and takeaways or is the emphasis on fun?
JOSH: All of our shows at Little Airplane have an underlying educational curriculum. For Billy Green Builds!, together with SeaWorld we decided on two primary goals: Respect For Nature and Creative Problem Solving and these will be central to every episode. For secondary goals, we chose Appreciation of Diversity and Basic Geography since Billy and his crew will travel to a new country in every episode.
Q: How is the SeaWorld connection visible on screen?
JOSH: All of the storylines reflect SeaWorld Kids' commitment to conservation, exploration and saving wildlife. For this property, SeaWorld is a co-producer, not an on-screen presence.
Q: 'Copro' can mean many things, what level of editorial input did you/Seaworld have, what was the process?
JOSH: We actually worked with several Creative Executives from SeaWorld Kids, whose mission is to bring the joy and wonder of animals to children. We collaborated very closely on all aspects of the development of Billy Green Builds! and I was very impressed by their commitment to the educational aspects of the show. They take teaching the next generation about the natural world very seriously.
Q: It's such a crowded market, what will make the show stand out against the competition?
JOSH: In addition to Billy Green Builds! being a very beautiful show to watch, I believe we are the only preschool series that has made respect for the natural world the absolute central focus of an entire brand. Since children first learn to appreciate and enjoy nature during their preschool years, I think we are well positioned to attract broadcasters from all over the world.
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Look out for Billy “Green Builds!” on TV soon!