Josh Haber Interview from NMND 2015

It's hard to believe, but between watching divegrass, getting drunk, but mostly standing around awkwardly at this year's Nightmare Nights Dallas, Horse News actually managed to score a few interviews.

One of them was with Josh Haber, mostly known for his Twitter account, but also for writing Friendship Games and quite a few MLP episodes, including the Season 5 finale (just look them all up on Wikipedia, we are not gonna spoon-feed you beyond that). And because we are slow as fuck we want to make this hiatus a little more bearable, we waited until now to post it.

Just look into these eyes. Isn't he pretty?

If you are interested in a few details regarding the making of the movie and how it ties into the show, read on. If you don't, still read the whole thing because we know you have nothing better to do, anyway.

Are there any shows from your childhood that you like that influence the way you write for MLP?
Yeah, all of them (chuckles). I mean, I was a big Scooby-Doo fan. So, I think that this influence figured heavily into Castle Mane-ia, my first episode. I'm a kid from the 80s, so there was just all kinds of really not particularly well-animated shows but I watched a lot of cartoons and Scooby-Doo is sort of one that pops to mind.

Larson mentioned in a podcast that Equestria Girls is a complete separate entity from MLP. Since you have written for both, do you actually believe this to be the case?Oh, it's not a matter of if I believe it or not. It's a corporate strategy, so I know a hundred percent that the two are addressed at different demographics. To sort of put it bluntly, Equestria Girls is Hasbro's competition for Monster High. The toys are on the same shelf, I mean, that's their thing. So it's aged up a little. So I know from a corporate standpoint [that] MLP is one thing and Equestria Girls is another thing. Of course, they are trying to capitalize on the popularity of the core show with spinning off to Equestria Girls.
[If] you are talking from a story standpoint, you know the two worlds are connected. There is no denying that they aren't connected; there is a portal linking the two. But the stories that we tell in Equestria Girls are a little bit older and they revolve around high school and the stories that we tell in My Little Pony have a much stronger fantasy element.
I can't say what the future is. I feel there won't be a lot of back and forth [...]. I think that the Friendship Game is gonna be symptomatic of what the relationships between the worlds will be going forward.

Which celebrity voices or appearances would you like to see regardless of if it's actually possible?
Barack Obama, that would be awesome. That episode I was talking about [earlier at the panel] where Mayor Mare is to get re-elected. That would be fantastic. And Foal Papers was gonna moderate the debate between Barack Obama and Mayor Mare. I think that would be fantastic but that would never happen. Just never. That would be funny.

When you got on the show, that was for season 4, Lauren was already gone. Did you still get the show bible or something new or something else to get you into the material?
Nope! My little Pony doesn't have a show bible.

Not anymore?
There was probably something Lauren used to pitch the show and develop it, but other shows have sort of a thick, on-going thing where they keep track of all the characters and all the changes, and all the worlds we visited, and how everything should [be]. My Little Pony doesn't have any of that.
Luckily, we have this amazing fan community that cultivates this really useful wiki (chuckles). So a lot of the writers will go on there to do stuff but we really are sort of responsible for having read all of the scripts and all the stuff that has come before and keep track of it.

In the deleted scenes for Friendship Games there is a sub-plot where Sunset Shimmer desires to return to Equestria. Is there any specific reason that this was cut and where was it heading?
I mean, that was the original, my original concept for the script was a story about Sunshi- [sic!] Sunset Shimmer feeling homesick and desiring something more than the sort-of high school world of Equestria Girls could offer her and sort of longing for that mythical, magical world of Equestria.
And that was sort of to work in counterpoint to SciTwi's desire to move out of her situation, the sort of overbearing scholastic world of Crystal Prep where no one is really friends and that's all she's known and she is looking for something else.
So the two story lines were supposed to work in conjunction, but as we moved along—and we got pretty far down the process, we got all the way to animatic on that—it was just the decision made from Hasbro that they wanted to focus more on [SciTwi]. I think it has to do with keeping the two worlds separate.
They wanted less of that idea Sunset Shimmer going back to Equestria and even though I think we were going to resolve both stories to a point where it's that kind of story where a character longs for something and at the end they kinda discover that they had it all along. It was that sort of story. But the decision was made to strip out the Sunset arc and focus more on Twilight's arc.
You know, that happens all the time when you are writing on something: the original idea that you have is rarely the thing that ends up on screen at the end of the day. So, that's just another example of that, but we are all still very proud of the movie that was made.

Where there any other episodes in which that sort of thing happened in which you had a specific idea you wanted to go along with and because of reasons—whatever they may be—they decided to change the story or change things around?
Yeah, that happens all the time. It's a part of the process. I think the issue with the movie versus the episodes is that the schedule is different. In the movie we got a lot further along than you do in an episode. In an episode those changes happen in short order: you write a draft, you make changes, and then you write another draft and [going from animatic back to the draft] won't work; the schedule is truncated. Whereas with the movie it was a much longer thing and I think that those big changes didn't come until the end of the process. Those changes happen on every story but with the movie it didn't come in until later.

Did you actually know that it would be a direct-to-TV movie or did you learn that very late down production?
No no, we knew. [As for] all three of the Equestria Girls movies they start off with that they know that they are going to make it a DVD movie and decide later on if they are going to make a smaller theatrical release. For Friendship Games there were two screenings but not what they did for Rainbow Rocks. They had a limited theatrical release, but it was still pretty small.
So, the goal with of all three of those movies has always been direct to DVD and you know that going in.

So there was no change during production or whatsoever that influenced anything?

Do you find yourself influenced while writing by any recent or currently airing shows? As in 'I kinda wanna put in elements from there'?
Am I influenced by stuff that is currently on the air? Certainly! It's not a super conscious process on my part. I mostly watch comedies which is helpful for My Little Pony. I have good ideas for bits and funny moments, but I don't often have something where I'm watching a thing and think 'Oh, I am going to put this
into this episode that I am working on right now!'. It doesn't really work that way; it sort of seeps into my subconscious.

It appears that in the Equestria Girls world there is a human counterpart for most of the ponies in the ponyverse. Is there any character from the pony side that you would like to put into the Equestria Girls world if the movies go on?
Yeah, there is a lot! I honestly don't know what the plan is for future Equestria Girls movies, as I just worked on this one. I am not speaking out of turn, so can't quote me like 'Oh see, Josh was giving us a spoiler!'. I actually don't know what the plan is, but I would love to see Discord. It would be super cool to see a human version of Discord, that would be awesome.
Chrysalis is one of my favourite villains, I would love to see a human version of her. I don't know what that would be like, what the human counterpart of a changeling would be. That's sort of interesting to me.
I feel like Tirek would be like a football coach.

I think that wraps it up, thank you very much for your time!
Sure, no problem!

Comments (18)



  2. "Equestria Girls is aged up a little"
    >Friendship Games: a lame school competition
    >MLP S5 finale: WWII-like, tyrannical and postapocalyptic worlds
    *seems accurate*

  3. You removed the hiatus counter, that's nice.

    Now make a "time into hiatus" counter.

  4. GUYS..

    im just having fun playing with reCAPPA

    I find enjoyment selecting the pictures.


    2. LOL you care to much

  5. I would also enjoy selecting the pictures.

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  10. Every day that I live, I'm thankful for the fact that I'm not PikaPetey.

  11. I wonder how a potentially good artist, with a little more dedication could harness the power to rule the internet, instead chose to become a colossal assnugget with the dick the size of a pea.

  12. >" was just the decision made from Hasbro [...] I think it has to do with keeping the two worlds separate. They wanted less of that idea Sunset Shimmer going back to Equestria..."

    I fucking hate that it's a thing. My hopes of this plot returning in the next movie (if it's actually gonna be made) went to fuck themselves now.