• INTERVIEW: Nicole Dubuc on Executive Producing My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

    When I first encountered Nicole Dubuc's work, I was 15 years old--which is a fair bit older than when I first encountered Tara Strong portraying an anthro elephant in Babar--and I didn't realize it at the time. Being a nerdy teenager in High School, and being the eldest of four children, I was still watching cartoons long past the time all of my fellow classmates had started watching/playing sports. And one of the cartoons I would watch on a regular basis was Kim Possible.

    For the most part, there isn't a ton about Kim Possible I can remember right off the top of my head. But I can remember four episodes with clarity. There was something about those episodes which just stood out as being of a higher quality than the rest of the already fantastic series. I couldn't put my finger on the reason why, and being the teenager that I was I didn't put much thought into it. But those episodes stayed with me.

    Over the years since then I would get that same feeling on a couple of other cartoons I watched. It happened on The Spectacular Spider-Man, Transformers: Prime, Young Justice, and Star Wars: Rebels. Then the feeling showed up again on the last two episodes of Season 7 of MLP: FiM. It wasn't until I was doing my research for my interviews on the MLP: Ponyville Mysteries novels, that I finally realized some of my all time favorite cartoon episodes on some of my favorite cartoons have been written by the same person. And that person is now the new Executive Producer of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

    To say I was honored to interview Nicole after learning that would be a massive understatement.

    After the break, you'll be able to find my full interview with Nicole Dubuc as she goes into a little bit of detail about what her job on the show entails, how she first encountered the world of Friendship is Magic, and what lessons her past experiences have taught her prior to this role. Be sure to check it out!

    The Illustrious Q: WhatwasitlikewritingGrandAdmiralThra—I mean, thank you for agreeing to sit down to this interview with Equestria Daily about your new positions on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as Executive Producer and Co-Story Editor. It really means a lot to us that you would take the time out of your busy schedule to do this.

    Nicole Dubuc: Thanks for the opportunity! I’ve been working on MLP: FIM for a year and a half now, and it’s really been a joy. Such a passionate, talented cast and crew.

    TIQ: So, first question, Thrawn I know My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic hasn’t had a full time Executive Producer since at least the end of season 4. So, why is the series is getting a new EP now as opposed to three years ago when Meghan moved on to CEP My Little Pony: The Movie?

    ND: I’m not sure what motivated Hasbro’s decision. If I had to guess, I’d say it was because I was offered the job while EPing Transformers: Rescue Bots, so sliding over to another show in the same position just seemed right.

    TIQ: How did you first encounter My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? Did you see a special Hasbro screening of the new Hasbro Shows on the Hub, or did you encounter it first outside of Hasbro?

    ND: I first encountered the show in the hallways of Hasbro. I was one of the first people working at Hasbro Studios, on “Transformers: Prime,” so I got a front-seat view of all the shows as they went through development and production. My office was right down the hall from MLP: FIM, Pound Puppies, Kaijudo, etc. I think this is why my name sometimes comes up on the internet as being associated with season 1 of Pony – I just happened to be next door.

    TIQ: When did you become aware of the adult male fans of My Little Pony, the self described Bronies, and what were your thoughts when you learned of them? Did you decide to get to know them? Their history, philosophy, art?

    ND: I first heard about Bronies from the Hasbro executives. I’ve always watched animated shows, all through high school and college, and been deeply invested in fiction that I love (which explains my career path, LOL), so it didn’t seem strange to me that engaging characters and good stories caught the attention of a wider audience than expected. I had my first real meet-and-greet moment with the Brony fandom at Equestria LA – and everyone I met was incredibly welcoming and kind.

    TIQ: How did you first start writing for My Little Pony? Did the Ponyville Mysteries series come first or were you already working on the show proper when the opportunity to write novels with Mike Vogel came up?

    ND: I was brought on the show at the tail end of season seven. I’d mentioned to Vogel that I’d always wanted to write books, and he put in a word for me at Little, Brown and Company. With their blessing, he invited me to write his next book series with him, and we had a blast coming up with the character of Penumbra Quill, our pony nom de plume.

    TIQ: Since you have the position of Executive Producer on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, does this mean the possibility exists for some of the material in Ponyville Mysteries could end up on the show? Like for instance a certain nonfiction author?

    ND: I would say it’s not out of the realm of possibility…

    TIQ: What sort of lessons did you learn from experience as Creator/Story Editor/Executive Producer of Transformers: Rescue Bots are you applying now as the Story Editor/Executive Producer for MLP: FiM?

    ND: Rescue Bots was a show with nine main characters, so it was the perfect preparation for writing an ensemble show like MLP: FIM. Rescue Bots was also animated by the talented team at DHX, so the schedule and work flow is all familiar. (The artists, directors and producers are rock stars, by the way.) I think what I most learned from EPing Rescue Bots was how to come up with creative solutions for the day-to-day pitfalls of production.

    TIQ: Speaking of Rescue Bots… is there any chance we could possibly see a crossover between the two shows? The IDW My Little Pony Cover of Optimus Prime scratching his head in confusion over Pinkie Pie’s antics still leaves me in stitches.

    ND: Josh Haber got me a t-shirt with that image, and I absolutely love it. Even if there wasn’t an in-world crossover, if MLP:FIM aired in Griffin Rock, I’m certain that Boulder and Blades would be Bronies.

    TIQ: I know you’ve also written for several Disney cartoons over the last few years. Like Kim Possible, W.I.T.C.H., My Friends Tigger & Pooh, Miles from Tomorrowland, and Star Wars: Rebels. What are some of the lessons you learned from your time at Disney which you’ve applied to your writing today?

    ND: Every job you have teaches you something that you add to your professional tool belt. Kim Possible was my first staff writing job, and Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle gave me invaluable insight and showed me the animation ropes. Working with Greg Weisman on W.I.T.C.H. was a dream come true, and I learned the Xanatos Gambit from the master. My Friends Tigger & Pooh was my first story editing gig, and it carried the responsibility of writing for beloved, classic characters. And breaking story with Dave Filoni on Star Wars: Rebels was like a master class.

    If I had to call out a few key lessons, I’d say: Good storytelling comes from great characters. When you get notes on your work, try to see the “spirit” of the feedback – sometimes the suggested fix might be wrong, but the note was given for a reason. Be kind and respectful to every member of the crew. (I feel like I should’ve started this paragraph with “Dear Princess Celestia…”)

    TIQ: And speaking of Star Wars: Rebels, have you considered what it would mean for the Mane 6 (plus Spike and Starlight) to go up against a villain like Grand Admiral Thrawn?

    ND: Ah, we finally address the Chiss in the room! Grand Admiral Thrawn is such a fantastic antagonist. Writing for him is a real brain-teaser. But I feel like the M6, Spike and Starlight would EVENTUALLY best him, because of Pinkie Pie. I don’t think Thrawn’s precise calculations could properly predict her plan at any given moment, no matter how many cupcakes he studied.

    TIQ: Could you please tell us what a typical day as an executive producer for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is like for you?

    ND: Day to day varies, but every week, I review and give notes on animatics, any songs, first animation, a music pass, and character designs. I phone-patch through to the voice recording session in Vancouver, I meet with Josh and our writers to break story, I edit premises, outlines, and scripts, I respond to executive notes, and keep up summaries/story arc documents. I chime in on casting, and sometimes write sides and character descriptions. And anything else the team needs!

    TIQ: Is there anything you want to say to the readers of Equestria Daily?

    ND: Just that it’s an honor to be part of the MLP: FIM community. Thank you for the warm welcome!

     Twitter: The Illustrious Q