By Jaimz Dillman
Just when you think Disney fandom couldn't be done any other way, in walks the boys of Pattycake Productions. Co-creators Layne Stein and Tony Wakim were longtime theme park veterans and performers within a capella troupe VoicePlay. After working on video production for the singing group they were ready to move onto something outside of that realm. In order to launch their own original songs and content, they knew they needed to draw in an audience first and saw a way to take something familiar to established fans but present in an unexpected fashion. "Disney is so accessible," says Wakim "you've seen it or know of it even if you're a casual fan".
The first video in their catalog combined the music of the 21 Pilots hit Heathens with the Halloween favorite Hocus Pocus. And Hocus Heathens was born. Filmed at a dance studio, set, music, and costumes all done by Pattycake, and filled with friends and family they were wrapped in 6 hours. Instant YouTube success right off was very unexpected to the duo but propelled them to keep going now with 13 Unexpected Musical in their catalog. Snow Spears (music of Brittany Spears and story of Snow White) was the first offering to hit a million views followed closely by Cinderswift (music of Taylor Swift with the story of Cinderella).
Wakim explains their process as both climbing the same mountain but from different sides handling most of the look and style of the projects and Stein taking most of the tech and cinematography side. But make no mistake, they're both involved in all aspects of writing, editing, directing, even costuming, and choreography. Wakim says every finished offering is truly a collaborative effort. The family also plays a huge part in creative inspiration. All 4 of Stein's daughters, wife, and parents have been involved in filming. And, he says, "they're tough critics. They serve as a litmus test to let me know what's good." Stein's 2-year-old daughter was the inspiration for their first foray into original content. With the upcoming movie Wreck-It Ralph giving Disney Princesses their own reality, Wakim wondered what their universe would be like. Working together in one space, how would that look? Hence, The Princess Academy was born. With the idea "It's Not Always a Disaster" he wanted to keep the spirit of the Princesses and their stories alive without fans degenerating their legacy. To have their story timed with the release of Wreck-It Ralph, Wakim and Stein needed to keep making content to fill in the gap. Enter... The Villains Lair. What was supposed to be a fun filler single entry in the realm of memorable characters 400k views later begged for a full season and storyline as fans wanted to know- what happens next?
Following their two separate but interacting worlds, fan-requested content was created to appease the masses including makeup tutorials, secondary stand-alone music videos, and more. In addition to their 2 creative minds, they've been lucky enough to add many of their friends to the mix with most playing different characters in several episodes. "If you don't have an actor that makes you believe it's all for nothing," says Wakim. "The success is due to the whole process".
The generation of original stories has also led to partnerships with other artists including Emoni from The Sing-Off (all competed together on the tv show), contributed writing from James Keaton. sponsorships from video games like Raid Shadow Legends- which they say was a good fit for the Villains Lair- and representation by Direct Artist Management who handle some of the biggest virtual stars in the world.
As their ambitions grew, so did the casts and crew for each idea. And then COVID put a halt on any gathering of groups. So how do they continue to put out new content for their viewers waiting for the next installment? The answer- very carefully. This year's Halloween creation sees a collection of classic movie slashers who all come together for one night. Keeping everyone socially distant, filming outside, and about 85% of the cast masked Patreon subscribers will get an exclusive first glimpse of Bump in the Night Saturday, October 3rd. Using this tiered benefit platform helps Wakim and Stein construct their vision for the next round of subject matter. The public launch will be on October 9th. Figuring out how to film in pieces to keep everyone safe but not sacrifice the quality they're known for has been a challenge but are quite a few new projects for Pattycake coming soon. One thing's for sure though, this is a duo to keep your eyes on.
Check out their channel on YouTube and get caught up on Pattycake Productions- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8-K6ISpu6F3_0R2-gIrMew
Subscribe for video first-looks and other tiered benefits on Patreon- https://www.patreon.com/pattycakeproductions