• EQLA Lauren Faust Panel Coverage!

    When the world exploded out of awesome out of merely having these two geniuses in the same room years ago, once again the prophecy was fulfilled. M.A. Larson interviewed Lauren Faust at Equestria LA today, in a panel that was filled to the brim with fans. Faust stepped up to the panel to a cacophony of applause and a standing ovation. However, M.A. Larson was here to have an interview, and what a ground-breaking of an interview it was.

    This was the first con that Lauren had went to in years, back to the first EQLA when the crowd once again stood up in respect for the woman who gave us such an excellent show. Now that it is three years later and the dust has settled, it is time to confront some harsh truths and bring closure to questions that have remained since her departure. Questions such as "How do you move onto another project after MLP" and "How do you think the fandom feels about you¨ were answered, and they are after the break.

    Larson started the panel by joking that he wanted to talk about Equestria Girls 3. After a great laugh, Larson admitted that part of this interview would simply be him thanking Lauren for providing him with an excellent framework with the show bible. He said that it was unlike any other show that he worked for, since the bible had its own design, art style, and character art.

    Larson explained that the amount of show ideas that came to Hasbro under Faust was gigantic compared to the other shows he worked on. Around 4 out of 5 slice of life episode ideas became episodes, while adventure ideas had a ratio of 6 to 9. Simply put, the stories within those episodes were so good that they had to be put on the screen.

    Lauren was shocked that such a big number of episodes were brought to the screen so easily. She expected the ideas to be ripped to shreds. She expected a lot of the episodes to be changed, so she wrote what she liked and Hasbro ran with her ideas. Even a number of secondary S1 characters were in the show bible, such as The Great and Powerful Trixie. Seaponies were also in the bible, but were never brought up again.

    Hasbro never asked for seaponies, but other ideas that had nothing to do with them. Lauren was hoping for a two-episode special so that she could have the proper build up and payoff for the seaponies, but the idea never came up. Lauren planned for the style of the seaponies to be the same as G1 with seapony bodies and pony heads. While Lauren didn't have the seaponies in her show bible, she had a plan for incorporating them. The episodes included one of the seaponies washing up on the Equestrian beach and begging for their kingdom to be helped. Their kingdom would be in the Equestrian Ocean, drawing inspiration from Greek and European mythology. She even thought about using the Kraken as a villain.

    Larson brought up the show bible again and raved about how the show bible had previous histories with characters (such as Rainbow Dash meeting Fluttershy before and Applejack and Rainbow Dash having their season 1 rivalry). He loved the way that it was structured and Lauren said that she structured the show bible that way because those simple intricacies could foster stories of their own. As well as that, such intricacies could bolster stories that didn't have these interactions as their focus (Dragonshy). What made ponies get along and not get along was interesting to Lauren.

    The subject switched to the first time that Larson met Lauren. Lauren explained that she loved working on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends the most. She had the most fun with Foster's while MLP was harder. The reason was that Foster's had a writer's room, which allowed the writers to work for a day on jokes and story ideas and premises. Lauren thought that writer rooms were normal. Hasbro were confused when Lauren brought up the idea of a writer's room for MLP, and she was told that writer's rooms aren't normal.

    As a compromise, Lauren and the writers were given conference rooms and an allotted time to work on episode ideas. When the time ran out, they had to leave. Hasbro suggested story meetings in Lauren's room, but she couldn't manage it. There was only one story meeting in her house, and it was out of necessity. Other times, Lauren had a dirty house all the time because of her work on MLP (as well as free merchandise from Cartoon Network that was never cleaned), so she never had time to clean it to have room for the other writers.

    One of the unfortunate memories Faust has of a writer's room is finally being given one, but it was essentially a "closet" behind the Pound Puppies studio. Larson remembers the studio being empty every time they went to the "writer's room", but they didn't use the studio out of respect. Lauren admits that this was one of her "final straws" for running the show.

    After a few jokes, Larson and Lauren continued with the writer's room structure. The writers usually griped for a little bit, before getting to work on Wikipedia research after their coffee. Rob Renzetti, the story editor for Season 1 would be there as well as Lauren and whichever writers were on the show at the time. Rob was also the story editor for My Life as a Teenage Robot, as well as Foster's and Gravity Falls. Lauren compared herself to Captain Kirk and Rob to Spock. Rob would always look at the "logical" side of a scene or episode, while Lauren focused on the emotion.

    Rob would constantly pace around the room with his questions, cracking jokes and being funny while Lauren focused on how a character was "feeling" in a scene. For some reason, Rob called Rainbow Dash a "he" unintentionally, a lot. Lauren originally wanted to be part of the script rotation (as she was in episodes 1, 2, and 3), but Hasbro discouraged her from it due to time constraints.

    Lauren really wanted to write the "Cutie Mark Chronicles" episode, but she was happy with how Larson wrote it. Larson admitted that this episode was when Larson's emails to Rob and Lauren regarding how to write the episode became more casual. One such example regards Lauren asking if Larson knew what the Main 6's cutie marks were, since she couldn't remember off the top of her head. Larson replied that he didn't know, because he hadn't seen an MLP episode yet since season 1 was still in production.

    "When was the moment where you felt the show was truly legit and amazing?"

    Lauren believed in the show since day 1, but the schedule was really taxing on her. The most memorable moment for her was when she got the first animation test for the show. She prepared for failure, but the test was amazing and Faust was really proud of her work. Her husband, Craig McCracken, was also proud, telling her that he thought the show was going to be something special. Obviously, it still is. Craig heard the first audition for Rainbow Dash and said that character was going to be a star.

    "When do you feel like characters are real? When they are made or when they come to life on the screen?"

    Lauren feels that characters are real the moment she creates them. She admits to being harsh on making sure characters are conveyed correctly because once she created Twilight Sparkle, she was able to empathize with the character and she knew exactly what she wanted for Twilight.

    Larson brought up another funny email that he had between himself, Lauren, and Rob. His first question regarded Angel, asking who he was. Lauren explained that Angel started off as a mouse named "Mortimer", but Disney had a similar character and he was changed to a bunny. Lauren isn't sure why a bunny. Continued in the note, Larson asked what the Summer Sun Celebration should look like. Lauren's response was as follows: "You can make the Summer Sun Celebration really Sailor Moonish where the hair whips around her and cr%$. And she glows all unearthly and stuff." The crowd burst into laughter along with Lauren and Larson.

    "How did Faust want the writers on each episode?"

    Lauren originally wanted to assign writers to episodes. She had a few premises approved by Hasbro in the start. She started with giving the adventure episodes to the writer that professed that particular strength, but it eventually became unfeasible since she didn't want to give a multitude of episodes to one writer. She admitted that she didn't want to give an emotional episode to an action writer, but eventually there was no choice.

    Lauren admits that she struggled a lot regarding what she wanted to work with versus the reality of the situation. Larson admitted that he was surprised that he was chosen for more than one episode. Considering all of his episodes required Star Trek as research, he always hit a brick wall when Lauren would describe Discord as Q from Star Trek or other examples. One interesting idea was that Luna from Luna Eclipsed was based on April from Parks and Recreation. The Hub told Lauren that such an episode idea wouldn't be funny, but they were proven wrong.

    "How were the Canadian voice actors cast?"

    All of the casting was done via her office, remotely. The only thing that wasn't done through her office was the story meetings. DHX (Studio B back then) pointed out the Canadian voice actresses because of previous work and they were allowed to audition. 4-5 picks were sent to Faust for picks and suggestions, while Hasbro and The Hub also had their say. Some of Faust's top picks for the Main 6 were not chosen, but it turned out for the best.

    Notably, Lauren had to fight tooth and nail to have Cathy Weseluck as Spike. The other top suggestion was a "garbled" voice that was a dime a dozen and sounded (to Lauren) terrible. She admitted that she had to be lenient in some areas to have Cathy cast as Spike. Larson asked about the first time that Lauren met the VAs, and it was months into recording the first season. She came down every few months and sat in on recordings, as opposed to the rogue work she does in her office.

    "Who has a more tragic backstory: Applejack or Scootaloo?"

    Applejack's parents were always supposed to be deceased. Lauren skirted around the conveyance of it with the Apple Family, which she said was merely a family with a grandmother, older brother, older sister, and younger filly sister. She wanted their relationship to be close, and it showed within their characterization. Lauren admittedly had no backstory for Scootaloo. Her parents were simply never brought up, so any sort of question regarding Scootaloo's parents would not be answered. Apart from that, Scootaloo to Lauren has parents, there was just never a reason to bring them up. Rarity's parents notably where made up on the spot for the episode they were in.

    After Larson joking that Scootaloo's parents killed Applejack's parents, he moved onto the next question.

    "Was there a moment you didn't expect that crystallized a character for you?"

    After some thinking, Lauren remembered Amy Keating Rogers writing Pinkie Pie's character for the first time. Larson brought up the story meetings again, remembering that he left with a stack of index cards with all the story ideas upon them. The story was usually structured out already, but Lauren and Rob were open to ideas. The cards usually had the structure of "here's where I want to get to, figure out how".

    Lauren believed that her job was to make the entire lore of MLP more cohesive. Since the entire cast from voice actors to storyboard editors to musicians and writers were either in Los Angeles or Canada, Lauren had to keep the show structured, but she also believed in giving artists their space. She hates having her hand held, so she kept everything writing related as a framework on the index cards. She believed that with a good framework and enough space, the best art comes out of your project.

    Larson brought up another no context email that he got from Rob Renzetti, which is as follows: "Can Rarity swing a pickaxe, Lauren?"

    Another email from Lauren regarded the Cutie Mark Chronicles, and whether the Main 6 should be group hugging or not. Lauren's response is as follows: "Ponies look creepy when they hug. Maybe just aggressive nuzzling?" The context regarded Lauren's hesitance to allow the ponies to use their front legs as arms. She wanted anatomically correct horses, but she eventually conceded that battle.

    It was at this point where Larson told Lauren that she could deny this question if she wanted. He was about to get into the more deep and honest questions.

    "How do you get mentally geared for your next project when you feel your last one was lightning in a bottle?"

    Lauren admitted that it's hard. She thought that things went south for her for a while and that everything that happened was her fault. She thought she wasn't good enough. She thought that if she was better, that she wouldn't have to leave. These chaotic emotions only followed her when she moved onto other projects. She second-guessed herself more, and still does to this day. She is still worried, and feels that MLP can never be replicated. It took her a long time to move on from pony, and it's still hard for her to continue especially since Super Best Friends didn't work out, but her upcoming Medusa project shows promise.

    Lauren is an artist. She does what she does because she loves art and creating. She feels that sometimes, what she considers to be profitable isn't agreed upon by others. She attaches herself to her work so much, that it sets her up for heartbreak if something happens. She still considers herself to be struggling, since she has been having trouble with confidence. "It's hard to be creative when you aren't confident," she says.

    One of the good things that came with her leaving is that she realized that she is a creator, and has to create in order to feel happy with herself.

    And the question that garnered all the attention in the room: "What is your impression of the brony's impression of you?"

    After pausing, Lauren told the crowd that she was going to be honest. She feels that she isn't missed. She feels that no one can tell the difference between what she worked on, and when she was gone. She feels that all the work she did was for nothing.

    Larson as well as the entire crowd disagreed. The crowd erupted into cheering and applause for Lauren, prompting another standing ovation for the Queen of our excellent show. Her name was chanted for minutes and Lauren had to cover her face and hide it behind her chair. When everything quieted down, Larson asked if Lauren believed the crowd. Lauren retracted her statement, admitting that she can't disagree with a reception like that. She is definitely missed, and we thank her for everything she has done.

    After everything quieted down, Larson brought up Pipsqueak in Luna Eclipsed and was curious as to his inception. Lauren said that Hasbro wanted a boy character, which seemed odd since Trixie was originally a boy, but Hasbro was against that. Then when Season 2 came around, Hasbro asked for a new boy character and Lauren did her job. Hasbro never asked for Pipsqueak to come back, and Lauren guessed it was because he was made halfheartedly. Larson admits that Pipsqueak didn't need to be in the episode.

    Lauren wanted more lines for Twist, but Hasbro disagreed nearly every time. Lauren felt that Pipsqueak was around the beginning of the end for her, since she would write things for Hasbro, but her ideas wouldn't come to fruition or would be dead on arrival. She was also asked to write in for a train toy, but Hasbro never got back to her and made a train toy later on down the line.

    The final thing that Larson wanted to bring up to try and quell the tension that followed with all of Lauren's honesty was another funny email regarding The Return of Harmony and how to show Hasbro their conveyance choices. Ẅe need to know what will be funny and cartoony about letting all of our characters turn into b#$%^es.¨

    Änd with that, the Lauren Faust panel had come to a close. A lot of closure was brought to many questions that the fandom had. While some questions were hard to answer, they definitely were necessary. A huge thanks to Lauren for being a good sport on the panel and Larson for interviewing her. Thank you for reading this convention coverage, and Iĺl see you guys next time!