• Cut Ideas and General My Little Pony Behind-The-Scenes from Director Big Jim (Zebras!)

    Big Jim did a quick AMA over on Twitter the other day, revealing a bunch of neat little nuggets of information from his years working with Hasbro and bringing us ponies every week. This includes a few cut ideas and concepts that didn't quite make it to the final production line.

    I've extracted all of the questions and responses for easy viewing below! There is some really neat information buried in there.

    Q: Were there any plans to do another Power Ponies episode? After the Avengers movies sky rocketed, I thought Hasbro would be more than welcomed to do another one.

    A: Weirdly, no. They wanted the Power Ponies initially because they wanted to do them as a toy line. But then it took almost 2 years for that to happen.

    Q: Really? I thought they'd be pushing for more superheroes. And wait, there was a Power Ponies toyline?

    A: There was a set of the girls as the Power Ponies. And a Comic-Con exclusion of MareDoWell

    Q: Are there any characters you wanted to follow up more with but never got the chance to?

    A: Yeah. Lots. I still think there was more to explore with the Y6 (Young Six), especially.

    Q: Where did the idea of pairing Trixie and Starlight Glimmer come from? It just works but I would never have thought about it before No Second Prances.

    A: We liked the idea of the two former baddies trying to be friends. We had no idea it would work as well as it did. I think a lot of credit is due to @KSheridanVoice and Kathleen Barr’s amazing chemistry together.

    Q: Starlight and Trixie spin-off show when?

    A: I wish. But all of us who worked on the series have moved on to other projects. It would be near impossible to get everyone back again.

    Q: Only *near* impossible?

    A: Money. Lots of money can solve almost anything.

    Q: Where are the rest of the Bat Ponies? And why did Luna’s pet opossum Tibbles never make it into the show?

    A: Bat ponies are in their cave, making plenty of guano.
    We were not informed in what was going on in the comics. Hasbro ran that. So for the longest time, we didn’t even know about Tibbles. Then it became an issue about justifying a new design where one wasn’t specifically needed.

    Q: Was there an episode that you just felt didn't quite work out?

    A: Yes. I won’t say which ones. I think that would be insulting to the writers and staff who worked on them.

    Q: Where are the rest of the zebras jim

    A: We pitched that idea to Hasbro, but they weren’t keen on exploring it. We always joked they were in Giraffrica.

    Q: How does it feel ending on Saturday primetime?

    A: I honestly don’t have much feeling one way or the other. I’m looking forward to it being out to everyone in an official capacity.

    Q: Do you know what you’re working on next?

    A: I do, but the project has not been announced publicly yet. So I can’t say.

    Q: Out of all the characters of all the series you’ve worked on, who would be in a rock band?

    A: Maud, Pinkie, Mudbriar, Limestone.

    Q: Would they name it "Rockin' the Styx"?

    A: Probably

    Q: When you first started working on MLP, did you ever imagine how much it would change your life?

    A: Zero clue! When I started, the show hadn’t even begun airing yet.

    Q: Is it true that you were pushing Flash to its limits?

    A: Absolutely. Just look at the show! Not many other Flash shows look like that!

    Q: Have you ever wanted to kill off Celestia and Luna?

    A: No. It’s not the kind of show where killing off a character is ever really on the table, so we never entertained those thoughts.

    Q: Whats your favorite episode out of the series of MLP FiM?

    A: It’s hard to pick just one! There’s lots I love for different reasons. But I’m pretty proud of 713 (The Perfect Pear)

    Q: What was it like having such famous guest stars like Weird Al Yankovic, Felicia Day, Maurice LaMarche, etc?

    A: A true honour. And so special.

    Q: My daughter is at ASU studying digital media and working on a degree in animation, what advice would you have for a young artist that wants to enter the profession?

    A: Keep drawing, and don’t let a rejection deter you from trying. It can be hard to break in, so don’t give up!

    Q: Who’s your favorite wonderbolt?

    A: Rainbow Dash! (Actually, it’s Fleetfoot).

    Q: Did you ever have any ideas or pitches for a Silver Spoon focus episode?

    A: Yup. An executive at Hasbro told us after we pitched some stuff for SS and DT, that they felt their story was “over”.

    Q: Which MLP episode was the hardest to make, not counting any episodes that haven't aired yet?

    A: Musicals are super hard to do. And ones with tons of characters in scenes.

    Q: Who’s the one pony you wish you could’ve voice in the series?

    A: I got to voice more than I should have been allowed to, so I think I’m good!

    Q: If you put Sunset Shimmer from Equestria Girls onto Friendship is Magic, which season and episode would you put her in?

    A: We always felt that Sunset should stay on EQG. That’s where she originated, and they did her best. She was also the thing that set EQG apart from MLP. Mad respect to @ishiH3Art, @isitlunchyet_t and the EQG crew. They don’t get enough love and respect.

    Q: Was there anything pitched for episodes that you or anyone made an executive decision to include or exclude it?

    A: Sure. But the ultimate decision on things was alway Hasbro’s, especially for major things. For example, we could not have nixed TS getting wings even if we wanted to.

    Q: Are Alicorns really more powerful that the average ? Sometimes it seems that a simple unicorn do the job as well.

    A: We really never had the opportunity to figure that out definitively.

    Q: You ever have any idea's that didn't pan out for the show? Like something you really wanted to do but it just didn't work out?

    A: There’s always ideas you have for episodes that don’t always click or come together the way you want. Sometimes those ideas finally congeal in later seasons, and some die forever. We pitched stuff with Zecora’s origins that never went anywhere.

    Q: If Hasbro had asked you guys to do some kind of crossover with previous generations for an anniversary special, which characters would you have used?

    A: It really would have depended on what we were crossing over with and the story being told.

    Q: Was there anything particularly esoteric in the show that you feel may have slipped past the fans?

    A: All sorts of things! Subtle references and influences that even I’ve forgotten now!

    Q: How does it feel to have worked on two amazing shows (Ed Edd n Eddy and MLP) that both lasted around 9 years, and how did you and the cast react after watching the final few episodes of the show?

    A: I feel very fortunate to have been a part of two amazing shows that fans care so much about.

    Q: Does storyboarding get done digitally or do studios still do it on paper?

    A: Digitally. Paper is great, but so much more time consuming. Most boards are done digitally everywhere now, and have been for the last 10 years or so.

    Q: What advice would you give to other creators about dealing with criticism?

    A: Once I figure out how to deal with it properly myself, I’ll let you know! I don’t know that I’m good at it. And it’s hard to parse what’s legit critique and what’s personal bitching.

    Q: If season would have 27 episodes and you had a chance to write that one additional what it would be about?

    A: We’d have to look at the whole season and see if we felt that one of the characters was under represented. Then try to come up with a story to fill that hole.

    Q: How much money will it take for me to get you guys to make a spinoff series for Best Girls?

    A: More than you’ve got. One, because EQG was done by a separate crew, and two, those crews are all long gone and moved on to other projects.

    Q: Tell us how did you get into directing the MLP?

    A: I came on in S1 as a storyboard artist. I had a lot of boarding experience, so they made me head of the boarding department in S2&3, then when one of the other directors moved on, I was promoted to director in S4.

    Q: What is the most exciting part have you experienced during as a director?


    Q: What is the episode of season 9 that most pleased you?

    A: There’s quite a few. 907 - She’s All Yak, 908 - Best Frenemies, 916 - A Trivial Pursuit, 24-26(Finale).

    Q: What happened to apple ponies parents?

    A: We’ll never know. We felt it was important to not nail it down. That way, a viewer to imprint their own personal feelings on whatever happened to them.

    Q: Would you want to create your own series if offered? If so what kind of show would you want it to be?

    A: I think it would be great to try. I’m intrigued by the idea of a comedy action series.

    Q: Can you at least tell us if after the end of the last season, we'll see something else related to Friendship is Magic?

    A: That’s all up to Hasbro. But if they do more, it won’t be with the DHX crew.

    Q: Are you happy with the overall arc of the show? Anything you'd do differently with hindsight?

    A: There’s always things you wish you could do differently. But overall, I’m proud of the work we did and the stories we told. And that we got to end it on our terms.

    Q: Are none of you involved in the G5?

    A: No sir. Not any of the DHX crew.

    Q: Going way back to the beginning of the show, do you feel there was any outside force that had corrupted Princess Luna to become Nightmare Moon, or was it all psychosomatic?

    A: I think she manifested her own dark half by burying her feelings and resentment toward her sister, and those came out as a separate personality.

    Q: Got a favorite Starlight Glimmer episode?

    A: Whenever her and Trixie are together, it’s awesome to me.

    Q: Kerfuffle is such an amazing character. What was her genesis as a character? (in other words: who's idea was it?)

    A: That whole special was done through Boulder. The DHX team had zero involvement, so I’m afraid I can’t speak to her origins.

    Q: What’s your favourite MLP Season?

    A: It’s hard to choose. But looking at them as whole seasons, 2, 4, 5, 7 & 9.

    Q: An artist friend of mine says that when she uses mannequins while drawing it feels like she's cheating, while I say people use references and templates all the time, what do you think?

    A: There’s no such thing as cheating, unless you’re directly stealing someone else’s work. Mannequins, photos, your own body. That’s all reference.

    Q: How much info do cameo VAs get on their character? Background, mannerisms, etc... Or for the veteran VAs, how much info do they get about each episode beforehand?

    A: Everyone gets the full script. Sometimes we have a design for new characters, sometimes we don’t. We figure out that stuff together on the record day.

    Q: What is an important animation job that people don't think about, but quietly made MLP awesome?

    A: Layout.

    Q: What's the biggest (for lack of a better adjective) thing you wanted to do on the show but for whatever reason couldn't?

    A: I feel like we got to do a lot of what we wanted. It would have been nice to try and have a cliffhanger season ending, but I can understand why Hasbro wasn’t super keen on the idea.

    Q: Are the comics, EQG, movie, official games, MLP:FiM show and any of its previous generations linked in any way, or are they their own separate universes?

    A: I think it’s up to individual fans to decide.

    Q: Before "Best Gift Ever" were there any talks of a "Nightmare Night" special alongside?

    A: No. I think the Christmas based ones do much better for Hasbro. There’s always a huge block of Christmas programming to fill every year.

    Q: Say you somehow had managed to get carte blanche and was allowed to cross MLP over with another show or franchise: what would you do?

    A: I personally am not a fan of inter-property crossovers. They always feel forced, and the way the two shows get together feels clunky and silly to me.

    Q: Who is best pony?

    A: AJ

    Q: What was your favorite part of working on Friendship is Magic?

    A: Working with all the amazing cast and crew.

    Q: With how many episodes there were and how pretty much every one had some underlying lesson, did the writers have ideas for what they wanted to see in the show and write a lesson around it or vice versa? Or maybe a bit of both?

    A: It’s a real mix. Sometimes the “moral” informed the story, and sometimes it was the other way around.

    Q: How many times were you rejected by a company, agency, etc... before landing jobs?

    A: A few. And it still happens.

    Q: Was the sibling vibe between Spike & Smolder planned from the start or did it just developed that way?

    A: It developed along the way, but fairly early on.

    Q: Other than cameos and one-shots, were there any characters (background or otherwise) on the show based on real people?

    A: There’s a few based on coworkers and their significant others scattered throughout.

    Q: Do we know why or how cadance became an alicorn? And was she a unicorn or pegasus before hand?

    A: We don’t. And it was never discussed, as far as I’m aware.

    Q: Where did you guys at DHX get your ideas from when making mythical creatures for mlp? Sorry I’m not good making a good sentence.

    A: We referenced a lot of mythology. And mythology from different cultures, too. Lauren set it up well in the beginning, so we did our best to honour that.

    Check out his Twitter Timeline for any non-pony questions and responses. This list was only the pony relevant stuff.