• BABScon Interview: Josh Haber (Writer, Script Editor)

    Today we have an interview with the man who stepped up to the plate for Season 5, as both a script editor and writer: Josh Haber! Check out after the break for some questions on if the tone of the show has changed, Haber's preferred episode style, and which universe he would crossover with MLP if given the chance!

    Question: Before we go any further, are you ready to accept your role as the new MA Larson? I already have many fanfics in the trash because of you.

    Haber: I don’t think that that’s possible.

    Vicodin: You don’t think that you can ruin as many fanfics?

    Haber: I don’t think I can ruin things the way that Larson can.

    I love you already. Well on that note, since Larson’s personal style is to give everyone wings, what do you think you bring to the table?

    Haber: If I can throw time travel in every episode, I would.

    Question: Alright now that those silly questions are out of the way, let’s get down to brass tax. You’re in the sixth season of MLP now. We’ve been through so many trials and tribulations. Do you feel that you have more leeway (now) to play with more dense ideas? I never would have thought that I would see "the Cutie Re-Mark" in a million years.

    Haber: Well, no one would have thought that we would have done this type of idea in My Little Pony. A world-devastating war and a complete wasteland because there was no friendship is not the first thing that comes to mind. But I think that that’s part of the beauty of the show ever since the beginning. Even in the Pilot, the way that Lauren set it up, the show always had a big world with a lot of in-depth mythology that allowed us to explore big themes. I don’t think any of that has changed. It’s always been integrated into the show, along with cupcakes and balloon parties.

    Vicodin: So you look at it as a different road that you came across, much like with It’s About Time? You wanted to tell the story in a different way with time travel?

    Haber: Right.

    Question: Larson a while ago in one of the conventions said that the scripts are edited and changed so much as you write that you wouldn’t be able to tell who wrote what episode if your names were taken off of them. Do you think that’s still the case or are there some idiosyncrasies that you see in other people’s episodes?

    Haber: That’s the job of the story editor, so yes. We want to keep the episodes consistent with the tone of the show. In that sense, the show shouldn’t be different stylistically or tonally. Pinkie Pie shouldn’t be speaking in rhyme or Zecora shouldn’t be throwing parties for example. You shouldn’t be able to tell who wrote the episode if you took the names off of the scripts. With that said, every writer has the type of show that they have a preference or want to write, whether it be the big mythological stories or the comedy/slice of life episodes. Every writer has their own strength. With that in mind, it would be a little hard to say “Amy Keating Rogers wrote this episode”, but if someone said that was the case, it should make sense immediately.

    Question: What’s it like being the story editor? We’ve heard many times about being the writer and the story summit and how that works, but what does an editor consist of?

    Haber: Every show is a little different. Some shows- I have some friends at Marvel who are story editors and they come up with a premise, send it to the writer, and the writer creates a script. The first draft is usually the writer’s first interaction with it, and the script is changed from there. As far as MLP is concerned, both Meghan and Larson had the writers take the first draft and they would write from there. Sometimes, I would give writers some notes, but other times, it’s simply better if the story editor does all of the work. When you’re on a tight schedule, you can’t wait for the scripts. Whether it be waiting for notes or edits or changes, it’s kind of easier for the story editor to simply finish up the work.

    It’s usually different with each show, but with MLP since it’s a freelance show, the story editor has a hand in nearly every episode.

    Question: Is there a part of an episode that you have a hard time writing? Is the ending or beginning easier to write than the middle, or is it the other way around? I’ve seen both problems happen for my fellow writer friends.

    Haber: I have a hard time with story, which sounds ridiculous. But I’m really good at coming up with cool moments and funny bits and dialogue, but if the story isn’t solid at the beginning (I am getting better however), I have a hard time “seeing it”. I end up making more work for myself later on. If the story has a clear beginning, middle and end, then it’s much easier to write. Story structure, is basically not my strong suit. Luckily lots of other writers are good at it, and they can tell me if what I’m writing isn’t working or needs an edit.

    Question: Is it possible for writers of the show to move into writing the comics or a different form of pony media since G.M. Berrow wrote an episode? Or does the staff prefer to write the show? Is there any desire to try out a comic?

    Haber: In my case, since I was the story editor, I didn’t really have time to write a comic. That’s not to say that there isn’t any opportunities to write for the comics, it’s just that they already have their staff and we have ours, and we all have our own schedules. So, we don’t really need to swap writers back and forth. G.M. Berrow was a special case because we needed a writer for an episode and she spoke to Meghan about it. It was more of a “right place, right time” moment.

    Question: Hypothetical world. Hasbro gives you a free pass to crossover anything with MLP and the episode will get made. Hell, you can make it a season if you want. What would be your choice?

    Haber: Crossing over with the Marvel Universe. I specifically would like Squirrel Girl to be in the crossover. *Pause* Do you know who Squirrel Girl is?

    Vicodin: I unfortunately don’t.

    Haber: Squirrel Girl is a Marvel hero who has the power to communicate with squirrels and the power of squirrels. It’s one of the funniest comics you can read. It’s very self-aware, breaks the fourth wall constantly, and the writer uses fine print on the bottom of the page to comment on every page. It’s a blast to read. There was a particular moment in the comic where Squirrel Girl finds out that Galactus is going to dominate the world, and she steals an Ironman suit from the Avenger’s mansion in order to have a showdown with Galactus on the Moon.

    Vicodin: WHAT? That exists?

    Haber: Oh yes it exists, and it’s absolutely amazing.

    Vicodin: Well then, I believe this crossover was confirmed for Season 20, so I can’t wait for you to write it.

    Question: This is kind of a jumping to my first question. Do you enjoy writing slice of life episodes more, or do you find the expansion of Equestria way more appealing with a lore based episode such as "Cutie Re-Mark"? Obviously a mixture of both is ideal, but do you prefer to fill in the blanks, or be the one who fleshes out the world that we know and love?

    Haber: I don’t know. World building episodes are hard to do because you’re adding onto the lore of the world, but it’s also fun and exciting. My tendency is leaning towards the comedy episodes, so that would put me in the “Slice of Life” category, but some of my episodes would say otherwise *laughs*. Some of my episodes such as "Castle-Mania" and "Simple Ways" are simple comedy stories which I’m comfortable with, but you have episodes like "Bloom and Gloom" or "Cutie Remark", where it’s a small story that has bigger repercussions.

    Question: When you aren’t writing, what are your favorite things to do in your spare time?

    Haber: *Laughs* Spare time? I’m remodeling a house right now. Helping, that is. I have two children that I’m raising, so between that and work, there isn’t much spare time.

    Vicodin: So with Shining Armor in The Crystalling, were you kind of writing what you know with Shining freaking out every five seconds?

    Haber: Absolutely. 100%. For sure. I used to do other things like play volleyball and D&D and read comic books, and now I don’t have time for any of that. Maybe in 20 years when my kids or in college. Or when I’m dead.

    Vicodin: Wow, okay. Next question.

    Question: You wrote and produced “The Institute", which was a web series for HBO. What new challenges come up when you take on the production role? Are you married to your ideas when you have more of a hand in the creation of the show?

    Haber: When you talk about web series and TV writing, and producing, it’s basically just a title that they give you. The way TV titles are given out, is that you can be a writer’s assistant or a staff writer. Sometimes you become an executive writer, or a story writer. Same goes with producers. You get more responsibility as you get a higher title, but it’s still your job to write. As animation for an example, if you’re a story writer then you just write your story and you’re done. But if you're a story editor, then you have to write everyone else’s stories, in a way. You sit in on the (voice acting) recordings and comment on those, and comment on the animatics. Basically you are a producer in that case because you have more of a hand in the pot.

    I completely forgot your question. Basically yes, you’re more invested when you have more responsibility and a hand in what happens.

    Question: Finally, is there anything that you want to say to the fandom, besides buy your book when it comes out?

    Haber: Just keep watching the show, and Google my name constantly to see what else I’m writing. Other than that, thanks for watching the show!

    And that's all I have this time around! Thank you for reading. Make sure to tweet at Josh Haber to thank him for sitting down with me, or you can tweet at me as well. I'll see you all tomorrow with an interview with Andrea Libman.