Bronycon Production Panel

Despite the popular outlook on pony conventions being that the VA's are the big-money stars, the actual best panels to go to are those that feature the writing and production staff of the show. I'm actually surprised that chief animators, artists, and the like haven't been invited/featured yet. Regardless, Bronycon had a great Production Panel with the adorable G. M. Berrow, the surprisingly-insightful Dave Polsky, and the legendary Mitch Larson himself.

Bold: Questions
Standard: Responses

What was your first story ever written?

Polsky: I wrote a story about going back in time to the time where George Washington was becoming president. I stapled it together and submitted it to a contest where I took second place in second grade. Then I realized I peaked at second 

Larson: I was in 8th grade, it’s about a woman and her kid who are being stalked and tormented by the ex-husband. They flee across the country and he follows them and… it was really dark. And I come from the most normal, nuclear family you can imagine so it wasn’t from experience. I preferred writing about Monopoly pieces. 
[Not written about here, but a previous question was "What got you into writing?". Larson detailed how, at a young age, he once submitted a story to his school about the dog piece from Monopoly and realized that he liked writing funny things like that] 

*Q&A with Audience starts here*

(To GM Berrow) Why don’t you ever write a book about the history of Equestria, including the timeline?
Berrow: That sounds great. I guess I’ll do that now. I dunno why. I guess I haven’t. Thank you.

Do you find it easier or more difficult to write episodes or books
MAL: Books are harder. The more restrictions you have, the easier it is. You have 30 pages, you know who the characters are, it’s so easy. I spent every page of my book wondering “what did I miss”? TV is WAY easier.
GMB: I agree

(To M.A. Larson) When are you going to start writing again?
MAL: I’m writing all the time. Even right now. I’ve been writing every day, my third book right now. For MLP, all of us are freelance, none of us work for Hasbro. If they need us, we write, every episode can be our last.

I don’t know if I should traditionally publish, put my book on, or self-publish. Do you know anything about publishing a novel?
GMB: I don’t know anything about self-publishing but I do know that you can find great success with it. If you really have your heart set on getting traditionally published try that first and see how it goes and if it doesn’t work out then just self-publish it

MAL: You get the most money in self-pub. but it’s so much harder to do. There are trade-offs on either side

GMB: Don’t submit your books to the publisher, you’ll just waste postage. ManuscriptWishlist will put a bunch of agents what their looking for, using that hashtag.

When are you going to make the rest of the Mane 6 into Alicorns
MAL: Dave’s doing that. I’m done
GMB: It’s happening in Pennyroyal Royal Academy 3
MAL: You can buy the second one now

So when you’re writing a script, how do you tell how long your script is going to take in an episode?
MAL: A page is roughly a minute. Most scripts are 30 minutes. When I was writing, Lauren said, “You have 30 pages and that’s it” because I guess my scripts were long or something

GMB: Well to make it less pages you could take some of the scene direction out and just… trim? Usually I underwrite and then I add.

MAL: You use a program called “Final Draft” *audible noises from hosts and crowd* it’s a great program and you can cheat [with font sizes]. When I wrote the scene where Fluttershy says “Yay” I reduced the font to 8.

Favorite character to write for?
Polsky: Pinkie Pie
GMB: Pinkie Pie… and Rarity
MAL: Discord
GMB: For the books? Lyra Bon-Bon actually. They were a lot of fun to write despite there not being much about them.
Pols: Tom the Rock
MAL: Cadence *laughter from Berrow*

I’m fairly new to this whole kinda thing. I was wondering how you write a character, new or old, and keep it exciting.
MAL: I think it’s almost easier, later on. It’s really hard in the show at the beginning to understand who these characters are. I dunno I guess it’s easier later on when there's some established stuff. You can hear the actors in your head and they’re staying stuff. You look for little quirks, throwaway lines.
GMB: Pinkie’s one throwaway line, “Best X Ever” was just a throwaway line and now it’s everywhere

If you could change one thing, what would it be?
GMB:…in life?
MAL: When I wrote the Season 3 finale, there was a pickup for S4 a few months later after I submitted the finale, and I said “Good Luck Meghan” *sarcastically*. It was a weird timing thing because to most of you, it was like “Why are they doing this in the middle of the show?” but for the staff it was the end of the show.
GMB: The first thing I ever wrote, Twilight Sparkle's book, was supposed to bridge the S3-4 gap.
MAL: Yeah you had the mop-up duty

MAL: I guess I just wished that it could be the actual finale. I get all this blame, or praise, for the episode, but what a lot of people don’t know is that I was given the writing assignment. It could’ve been him, or her, or anybody really.

Berrow a cute. CUTE!
MAL: I hated stuff like MLP when I was a kid. My brother hated stuff like it. My agent told me to use my initials when I write for the show. The first bit of footage I saw was Winter Wrap Up and I was like “OH! This is really cool! This is like melted Skittles!”

>Some fuck in the audience says he thinks the wings are a good idea

(to M. A. Larson) What do you like with Twilight’s writing since you wrote?
MAL: Haven’t seen Season 6… dunno anything other than my own stuff. In "Griffonstone", where she wants to be the star of the episode but isn’t, that’s my favorite. I mean, the first thing that everyone freaked out about was that all these ponies were gonna die. I mean is that the first thing you’re gonna think, how are these ponies are gonna die? Yeah Season 7 all these ponies are gonna die [hushed] except Rarity.

*Cobra Commander comes up to the mic and asks if there’s anything he’d want to change*
MAL: Are you cosplaying Hasbro? Holy shit Hasbro is here. Uh, I guess I’d make the toys more expensive.

When you get a premise and you're fleshing it out, where is your focus mainly?
GMB: The Emotional Core. That’s what they talk about it story meetings
MAL: Yeah that goes along with base story structure
Polsky: Well, what does a character want? These are all doorways to the same thing.

Lightning Round

What was the hardest ep to write?
GMB: I Only have one so far, that one. The one where Pinkie Pie knows.
Pols: The hardest? Maybe the most satisfying. "Rarity Takes Manehattan". Reason because Rarity had to be unlikeable. She had to go to what could potentially be called an unlikeable place. Could we take her there with the audience still on her side? It was challenging and I loved that challenge.
MAL: Slice of Life. I didn’t agree with it, I thought it was a bad idea, I didn’t wanna do it. They were fully-fleshed characters to you [bronies] and they were Background Pony 3 to me. They said “You’re writing the BGPony episode”, [and I said] “That’s a Design, not a Character”. I didn’t want to take a dump on who these characters were to you [bronies]. Once I reached the point where it kinda clicked that “this is a Brony episode”, then it was really easy. This is just insanity. Let’s just do insanity and it was fun.

One show you wish you could write for?
Pols: Just one? That’s hard.
GMB: We’re all taking this seriously in case there’s scouts int he audience
MAL: Twin Peaks
Pols: All In The Family
GMB: Broad City. I'm just gonna say that, it's my favorite show right now.

What is one episode you could re-write that someone else did?
Pols: So what was the crappy thing one of our colleagues did?
MAL: So in GMBerrow’s episode…. just kidding I didn’t see it.
GMB: I can’t remember which episode it’s in but there’s a few times where they say “Hand me that”… I don’t like that. They don’t have hands and they don’t use the word. 
MAL: I don’t think Maud needed to be an extra character. Why not just use one of the other two sisters that’ve been already established?

Would you write a book on Starlight Glimmer?
GMB: I did write one on her! It’s coming out in August!
Will this tell us more about Starlight’s Past?
GMB: Well we’ll see

If you could write an MLP movie what would it be about?
MAL: Celestia. Celestia not getting her oil changed.
GMB: A Daring Do movie? Sorry, I’m just rambling, it’s the Redbull. When are my wings coming?
MAL: Season 3

[unrelated to a question] Larson: We were riffing on a nemesis for Applejack named “Pearsteve”. He’s legendary around the writing community.

If you could add on a character to the M6, who would it be?
MAL: Pearsteve.
GMB: Uh, I would say Sunset Shimmer?

MAL: Isn’t she human. Would she be excited to be naked?

I was unable to get it down, but Dave Polsky mentioned that he had majored in Math. He eventually found traction in writing from there. It was a common theme that the panelists kept poking fun at in throwaway comments.

[unrelated to a question] Larson: Can we just settle it now that Rarity is the best pony?

Comments (5)

  1. PEARSTEVE, you foals. You know, the mortal enemies of apples?

  2. How many aisles away could you smell Purple Tranny's ball-sweat? Five? Ten?

  3. Ahem, 'scuse me, BronyCAN has brought along animators, storyboarders, etc. Admittedly, they're right down the street, which is 100% cheating, but hey, it counts. ;-)

    1. Give us press passes and a few Slurpees and we'll go to your convention.

  4. P U R P L E T R A N N Y !