• Panel Writeup: Less is More

    I think I did this at Everfree, too, in which I annoyed the blogponies by waking them up before 9 to get out to this panel. From left to right, we listened to Peter New (Big Macintosh), Maryke Hendrikse (Gilda), Trevor Devall (Fancypants, Hoity Toity, IRON WILL), Sam Vincent (Flam Flim), Mark Oliver (Gustav le Grande), and Michelle Creber (Apple Bloom) discuss how fleeting roles in Friendship is Magic contributed to characters and moments that affected the show in huge ways. Hit the break to appreciate just what these folks mean to the show!

    The panel opened with a question about how each VA dealt with this huge fandom behind the small parts they performed. Sam spoke for all of them, saying they were pleased as punch, and that we're part of something extraordinary even after all of his years in the industry. Trevor simply held up a recording device and informed the audience they were to be his next episode of his Voiceprint podcast. Good times. Turns out Unicon's both their first pony cons, and they were very thrilled to be there.

    Everyone on the stage wound up coming back to watch the show through the fandom, apparently. Sam got curious about his role in "Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", citing how the FlimFlam Brothers' song was so fast and so demanding that, when all the little chunks were gathered up and spliced together, he knew he had to check it out. It spiraled from there. Maryke heard about the hype whipping up around the show and joined in to learn what made it fly when other shows flopped. And don't tell anyone we said this, but Trevor came in from a Season 4 recording session last week in which he watched Tabitha voice three different characters in one scene. Start hypothesizing, bronies!

    At some point, the floor opened up for questions. I should really keep track of when this happens. Bullet points, go!

    • DHX often lets voice actors act in the same room as an ensemble. The chemistry is highly apparent: everyone comes in, talks over coffee, do some caffeinated readings, take a break for whatever baked confection Tabitha brought in that day, then heading straight back to recording even crazier things than before. Sam noted that wasted takes happen all the time because everyone has so much energy. Trevor called it daycare.
    • The creators are present at recordings, too, and offer advice -- Iron Will was a cross between Mr. T and Jesse Ventura. Still, the VAs are given enormous freedom with how they voice their characters.
    • Sam Vincent also voiced Edd from Ed, Edd, n Eddy. He offered his own take on what lay beneath Edd's beanie from something he watched about a man in China: Edd is part of a Siamese twin set that went horribly wrong. There's a full set of teeth and a movable tongue. Huh. I guess that's why we always called him Double D, then.
    • What goes through Big Macintosh's mind before he answers a question? A great deal, actually. Peter said Applejack's older brother simply processes everything before speaking.
    • Voice actor origin stories: Everyone started when they were five years old.
      • For Trevor, it was his older brother doing Scottish accents and him saying, "Yep. That's it." 
      • Maryke played a crying baby that got her agents to care about her.
      • Peter had too much presence on camera, but found many more opportunities behind a microphone.
      • Sam abandoned his dream to mechanize and mass-produce apple cider to go into high-school theater.
        • He also remembers most of the words to the Flim Flam Brothers' song, enough to turn the first verse into a wicked rap. That, my friends, was the best moment of the panel, and I hope someone recorded it.
      • Mark described his time on the Vancouver punk rock circuit and his time touring with The Clash before someone told him he could make a living doing those voices he did when he was drunk at parties.
      • And as the daughter of two folks with their own voice school, Michelle began at the tender age of two and had her first agent at five. She wound up booking the role of Lucy in a Charlie Brown cartoon and went from there.
        • Mark recalled reading for Lucy, too. Fist-shaking ensued.
    • Initial reactions to the fandom?
      • Maryke and Sam weren't surprised, being veterans of the anime convention circuit. They could tell when they were part of a breakout show.
        • Sam went on about his conversations with "normals" regarding the brony fandom, and throwing their disdain for grown men watching shows for little girls back at them by questioning when despicable things became normal while liking shows with good values was weird. Very satisfying to hear from a man dressed in a Vancouver NHL jersey.
      • Trevor said something about fear and rage. We'll get back to you on whether or not he was joking.
      • Mark just made some comments on how his father was a Supreme Court justice. "Oh, you're working in animation, eh? *turns in chair* Senator, come here!"
      • Michelle remembered going to Everfree with Mandy and Claire and getting over their "this is odd" phase quite quickly. Unicon is her fifth pony convention.
    • John Cleese was Trevor's model for Fancypants. I could have sworn they flew that gentleman in himself to voice the part.
    • Tons of VAs in the Vancouver area are dying to be part of Friendship is Magic.
      • Jokes were made about spinoff series to handle the overflow: one with Iron Will and Big Macintosh, and another called "My Large Griffon" (thanks, Mark).
    • Everyone has a wonderful evil laugh. Words just don't do them justice.
    • What would Friendship is Magic be without bronies? On Netflix. It's hard to say otherwise: Trevor asked how much the fans influenced the creators, and Sam replied by saying the fans were simply taking what they loved and making it their own. That's the fandom's impact. I believe it.
    • Peter attributed Big Mac's "flip" in "Ponyville Confidential" to great scriptwriting and internalizing what it must've felt like to be angrier than you'd ever been before. You follow the story until you find the breaking point, take on the emotions, and let them go into the microphone.
    • To answer a question about how a griffon's predatory nature affected Mark and Maryke's readings as Gustav and Gilda respectively, Mark said something very critical: People live vicariously through villains. They can do things the good guys can never do, and that makes them more fun. Apparently, smiles are a holdover from our reptilian ancestors anticipating prey. Maryke added that a good growl and exalting in the catch also helps the reading.
    • Maryke knew there would be trouble when she saw Gilda would make Fluttershy cry in "Griffon the Brush Off." She committed nonetheless. You have to; the whole idea there was to turn the audience on Gilda, not her VA.
    And that's a wrap! It's kind of a shame that this panel was scheduled so early on a Saturday morning, but there was definitely a solid turnout for these wonderful characters! It's very easy to forget just how many people go into making a show as excellent as Friendship is Magic, and having these lesser-known (though no less-great by any means!) folks coming in to share their side of the tale was worth getting up early about. Look them up, thank them for their contributions to the show -- they came to us first, after all.

    *cracks knux* All right. On to John de Lancie's panel.