• BronyCon Writers Panel and Presser Interesting Tidbits of Information

    Recently my EqD colleagues Aquaman, Couch Crusader and myself had the pleasure of attending BronyCon in Baltimare. While there we also had the pleasure of not only attending a great panel being hosted by the writer's of the show where they discussed the writing process and each break down an episode they wrote, but also sitting down and asking them questions later on!

    This post is written in a simple bulletin format for easy reading. The first portion covers the writers panel we attended. And the second portion after contains answers to questions that were asked during the writer's press conference we also attended.

    Get interesting tidbits of information after the break! Subjects such as the tune that was the inspiration for Pinkie Pie's "Smile Song', Svengallop's original name, and a band history Lyra and Octavia originally shared in the episode "Slice of Life" that ultimately ended up being cut.

    • The vibe of the "Smile Song" was based off of "Walking on Sunshine"
    • Amy Keating Rogers actually wasn't asked to write for Season 3; she was story editor for Care Bears instead

    Nick Confalone - "Party Pooped"
    • Original concept --> Pinkie was planning a "Cutie Mark anniversary" party but couldn't think of any ideas, went on a "vision quest" to find a good idea (this was nixed in "story break" stage by MA Larson)
      • Yaks were supposed to just make real-life yak sounds (Fluttershy would translate)
      • During her quest, Pinkie escapes from lemurs because they see an old statue of a pony that looks like her and think she's their god (nixed by higher-ups for religious elements)
        • Alternate: she gets involved in a tribal dance/ritual w/ lemurs involving a cave painting that looks like her --> nixed for potential references to IRL cultures
      • Pinkie was supposed to meet Cheese Sandwich atop a mountain as a "Party Guru" (couldn't get Weird Al to voice again, so Nick's solution was he'd taken a vow of silence)
      • PP had a "Cupcake Leaf" companion (a la Wilson from Castaway)
    • Second draft
      • 13 pages of notes from Hub, Hasbro, and DHX (DHX particularly concerned with first draft, but apparently that was a pattern for them)
      • In Nick's opinion, corporate notes made the episode complex and unfunny, so he and MA hashed out a new concept entirely that looked a lot more like the final episode (centered around five major important points while cutting out the rest)
      • All told: 3 months between premise submission and polishing stage
    • Cut scene Nick wishes had stayed in --> yaks originally got to see a beautiful view of Equestria from Twilight's castle and sadly admitted yaks didn't have any friends and they didn't know why; much more overt emotional core to the story

    Amy Keating Rogers - "The Mane Attraction"
    • Meghan McCarthy (MMC) was short a writer and asked AKR after "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" if she wanted to do the one with Lena Hall in it; she was originally fine with it but then it hit her how "f*cking awesome" it would be to write that episode
    • MMC wrote original premise --> Coloratura was always based on Lady Gaga
      • Original stage name --> "Duchess Frivolity"
      • Original real name --> "Daisy Whimsical"
      • Original concert name --> "Ponechella" (complete with pony pun band names: "Nine Inch Tails", "The Talking Herds", "Red Hot Filly Peppers", etc.
        • Attempted to tie in some band names from a GM Berrow book
      • AJ's original contribution --> offered a job as Duchess' manager, had to wrangle her overbearing entourage together
    • AKR came up with Coloratura's final name --> multi-paragraph pitch to MMC
      • AKR wanted a line from AJ involving "Color-a-PURE-a" pun that was later nixed by higher-ups
    • Original hope from Hasbro was that Neil Patrick Harris would play Svengallop, but that didn't work out
      • Svengallop's original name --> Pony Baloney
    • First notes on original premise --> cut out entourage so antagonist focus could be entirely on Rara's manager
      • Hardest part of writing eps for AKR was always "teasers" / cold opens --> only about three pages in script to work with at most
      • Original cold open focused on pony pun band names & Granny Smith being way cooler than Applejack in terms of who she'd heard of
    • MMC had the idea that when she's frazzled, Pinkie's hair turns into an afro --> Hasbro edits pushed them back towards straight-haired Pinkie, then DHX pointed out she's only like that when depressed and suggested it should be an afro...

    MA Larson - "Slice of Life"
    • AKR did original treatment of this episode; MA traded "Lost Treasure of Griffonstone" with her so he could work on this one
      • Rolled through many potential titles early on: "The Other Mane 6", "Grand Tour of Equestria", "22 Equestrian Shorts", "Princess of Stress", etc.
      • Idea of using a wedding to frame the episode came from three-way meeting b/w AKR, MMC, and MA
    • Hub wanted big name VAs (think Jeff Bridges...) but obviously that didn't work out
    • MA originally wanted to avoid using fan characters (i.e. Lyra was just "Background Pony #3" internally; we had created so much lore for these characters and he didn't want to step on any toes); eventually, though, he took the perspective of writing this as a "fan episode" and just went for "batsh*t insanity" and pandered a lot
      • Incorporated barest amount of fanon, tried to focus on in-jokes that were present in the show (i.e. Bon-Bon is a secret agent because her voice always changed in every episode)
    • Lots of things were cut:
      • Namby Pamby --> Featherweight's older sister, previous editor of Ponyville Free Press (mentioned in passing in that episode); she was initially the only who messed up the invitation dates while criticizing Featherweight for using an "amateur" font
      • Vinyl Scratch was going to have a voice (MA wanted her vibe to be "Brad Pitt from True Romance") but Hasbro insisted she was silent
      • Flash Sentry had a scene asking Cranky why he wasn't invited to the wedding; Cranky responded that there was just something he didn't like about him...
      • Dinky Doo, Truffle Shuffle, and Ponyville kids had a cameo arguing about who was best princess
      • Two identically designed but color-swapped background ponies were going to meet at the wedding and have an awkward moment together
      • Lyra was originally kicked out of Octavia's band but reconciled with her at the wedding (big theme of all these disparate characters bonding over the wedding)
      • (This has been said before, I think) MA's favorite cut gag was Celestia & Luna's royal guards (inc. batponies for Luna) doing mocking impressions of the princesses as an aside scene
      • Berry Punch was going to provide a cask for the wedding
      • Episode originally ended on a zoom-out to show a distant swarm of changelings approaching
      • MA built a 10-page outline complete with Wiki links for all the characters he wanted to include
      • Coco Pommel had a scene where Golden Harvest ordered a green dress from her instead of Rarity because she had a villain-origin-story stemming from Rarity criticizing the color green in Season 1 (Golden had to dye her mane orange!)
      • Act 3 started w/ Octavia playing cello alone on stage, with the background fading out into swirling shapes and Sombra appearing with a fiddle ("Devil Went Down to Georgia" reference); her battle would be interrupted by Vinyl's beats waking her up from her dream
    • MA at one point had to write a "Come to Jesus" email to higher-ups explaining how their edits and cut requests were removing all the fun jokes and references and essentially making this a regular episode, when he wanted it to be crazy and all about the fandom to an extent; Hasbro acquiesced, but still had some things cut anyway
    • MA "borrowed" the scene of Vinyl's turntable rolling through town collecting characters from a very similar scene in Kick Buttowski (which both he and Nick worked on together)

    Panel Q&A
    • How would MA Larson write Starlight Glimmer becoming an Alicorn? --> He would quit.
    • Nick's self-admittedly not great at pony puns; AKR and GM Berrow are great at them (Lauren Faust came up with a bunch originally)
    • Nick was surprised to discover that unlike some other show, FiM scripts generally stayed the same from writing to final episode (few late cuts w/o writer input or VA improvising)
    • Lebowski ponies were MA's creation
    • Show started out w/ writers being assigned concepts, then there was a period where they had pitch meetings and came up with their own ideas, and now it's back to mostly being assigned concepts
    • Spike was originally in "The Cutie Map", but MA cut them out; since he didn't have a cutie mark, he kind of broke the episode
    • Lauren Faust's original vision for Luna was basically Aubrey Plaza's character from Parks & Rec (i.e. surly, sarcastic teenager); Hasbro notes actually improved the character in the writers' opinion by suggesting she should have a more "mare out of time" feel to her

    Press Conference Q&A
    • MA Larson wanted “Fame & Misfortune” to end with townsponies learning they were being assholes; he wrote the whole script and still likes most of it, just had big issues with how the ending seemed like it damaged the in-universe feel of Ponyville (I.e. didn’t feel like it fit the show or a particular message)
    • AKR: Diamond Tiara, probably focusing a lot on working to be nice after her last episode in S5, definitely not tied up in AKR’s basement
    • AKR: Writing for EqG was not terribly different from writing for the show (she only worked on shorts for EqG early on)
    • Nick: in his mind, EqG is inherently “a little dumb” (these characters work in a fantasy world, but not really in high school); if you take it too seriously, it becomes absurd, so he enjoys taking it as it is and finds working on it really fun in a self-aware way
    • Is EqG canon? Nick: canon is not whether the audience likes something, it’s what’s narratively true... so everything he writes is canon
    • Nick: Hasbro hasn’t really stopped him from doing what he wants with EqG (higher ups have actually contributed some great ideas)
    • For songs, writers always write lyrics first, then they go to Daniel Ingram, who makes music to go with them and adjust lyrics as necessary to fit his tune
    • AKR and MA Larson both base song lyrics on other tunes that they write new lyrics for (for instance, Dash’s song in “Tanks for the Memories” was based on “Defying Gravity” from Wicked
    • First version of Rara’s pop song in “The Mane Attraction” was much darker (tone of Rara singing about selling her soul and putting so much work into her career); Hasbro backed her off of that track
    • MA: writing for the show was carefree at first (no one really cared or paid attention to what he wrote before), but eventually writing for FiM helped toughen him up and self-critique
    • Show writers often agree with fans when fans criticize parts of episodes; Nick - a lot of times, scenes fans don’t like were really hard to manage behind the scenes and he feels the same looking back at them; AKR - Hasbro actually made a note encouraging her to make Pinkie Pie really forceful towards Fluttershy in “Filli Vanilli”, which a lot of fans didn’t like
    • Nick once threatened to quit rather than write “No Second Prances” (he pitched & wanted “Maud in Manehattan”), but Josh Haber called his bluff