My Little Pony has always been a classic series filled with characters fans love and connect with. Up until a short while ago fans grew accustom to seeing life take shape and place in a world set away from ours and filled with rich fantasy. With stories filled with magic and true wonder.
Two years ago, however, the world of My Little Pony transformed as Twilight Sparkle ventured into a strange new world that lacked any sort of magic of its own. Since then fans have been enchanted by the world of Equestria and now that of Canterlot High.
With the recent release of the third film in the hit Equestria Girls’ series, Friendship Games, now out we here at BSCKids got the chance to talk with two of the masterminds behind the story; director Ishi Rudell and writer Josh Haber!
Be warned, we talk major spoilers for Friendship Games!
BSCkids: Ishi Rudell and Josh Haber
How did the Friendship Games become the Friendship Games? What was the selection process like to determine what challenges the rivaling schools would face-off in? And become a movie centric on competition?
Ishi: You wanna take this one, Josh? Since you would have tacked this one first.
Josh: There was a lot of discussions about the origins of the Friendship Games might be. Think we were at one point discoing the possibilities that two schools where founded simultaneously a long time ago. There was sort of a city school and a country school and they kind of came up with these games sort of, um unite the two and not have any sort of feelings like of elitistisum happening. Um, I think over time the games sort of became more and more completive so the schools became more, um more and more rivals with one another. Um, but, um, yeah in the um in the confines of the film that we see um it sort of this kind of very completive point where obviously Crystal Prep has been I think been more successful than Canterlot High.
Ishi: Very dominant.
Josh: Yeah, exactly.
So um, yeah I’m not- in terms of like why they decided kind of the way around um, I’m not sure that’s sort of a Hasbro question. I don’t know, Ishi do you have something to add?
Ishi: Yeah, no. *Laughs.* I agree with you, it is kind of um a Hasbro question but you know they give us the idea that they sort of a jumping off point where to write the storyboard better. Actually, Josh writes that story around that idea. And so they came up with the idea for the two schools rivalry and the friendship games. Um and yeah Josh’s job to turn it into a story. Try. It’s a joint effort.
Was there any specific challenges that arose with Friendship Games that where not present with other aspects of either the Equestria Girls franchise or Friendship is Magic that you worked on before?
Josh: You say was there challenges?
Ishi: That we, that where unexpected? As opposed to the previous DVDs? Um, yeah I guess- yeah, yeah I mean there is always new challenges with new projects. For Friendship Games, er, one of the challenges was defiantly the crowds. Because you know we have these big events and they took place outside we had to show full crowds of in the bleachers and stands and that always proves to be challenging. You know especially if you have to animate each of the characters in the crowd moving that can be, that tends to make your animation scenes very heavy. Because we do all of our animation in a program named Flash. And yeah, that was a big challenge and time we need to multiple characters on-screen and at the same time and that’s a tuff one. And the other thing would probably be the amount of sets we have, in Friendship Games. I think we tried to push the envelope as far as effects like magic that we hadn’t done in the previous two DVDs. So I mean that was, those are the challenges that came upon in animation. Josh, I have, um-
Josh: I hadn’t thought about that in a long time, but my god. For the just the concept of it based on the sporting event that must have made you guys go out of your heads.
Ishi: Yeah, yeah. For sure.
Josh: You guys, you know- sorry go ahead.
Ishi: Oh I was going to say to tell on my end that trying to make that sort of thing spirit cause Hasbro hasn’t sort of an I guess we call them masks they wanted to be sort of part of this film and having sporting event. My job was to sort and image these things into a story and make it seem like something that high school kids would do. Like the first thing that occurs to me X-Games guy on the motocross rally that was happening around the soccer field. And that is really, really- yep, Hasbro had to have these girls on the motorcycles. But I think the officers had to say something, probably had a vehicle toy they wanted to make part of it. And it was the sort of thing pondered over for a long time. And eventually it’s a heightened world, anyways there’s magic.
Josh: The idea that it would be impossible for high school kids to make a dirt bike rally part of their sporting event, it’s not too far of a reach. But defiantly more wild.
Ishi: Yeah, for sure. And when incorporating the three different events that are happening not simultaneously, but they are overlapping that made a new challenge for us. To figure out the animation side.
Josh: I think it all came together.
Ishi: I think so.
Ishi: I am happy with the results.
Josh: Me too!
It defiantly did. Inspiration is everywhere; what, or who, inspired you to pursue working in animation and storytelling?
Josh: Ishi, I think you should start.
Ishi: Okay, you want me to start this one?
Yeah, who inspired me to get into animation? Um, you know it’s funny but I grew up, obviously, in the late 70s and early 80s as a kid. So I grew up on cartoons everything from Loony Toons and to Transformers and G.I Joe. And I, you know, I have always loved animation. Ah, in fact I would watch any animation no matter how bad it was over live-action when I was a kid. And then I always had a dream of being a comic book illustrator and I happened to visit my father in Vancouver and he convinced me to check out an animation school in, Vancouver School of Animation or VSA. I basically feel in love with it. The idea of being an animator, I took the course, got into animation and soon as I got a job as I got out of school. That was in the 97. So I have been in the industry for almost twenty years now.
So, who inspired me that childhood cartoons I guess.
Josh: I would have to say it’s the same with me. I actually never expected myself in kid’s animation. Very different track to be working in kid’s animation, of course. I am a fan of animation, of course. I was a huge fan as a kid into adulthood and all kids of pop culture stuff in terms of animation and outdoors. Everything in that vein and that sort of any comic books was that sort of thing that would inspired m the most was the storytelling in general. I didn’t foresee myself as someone who works solely in animation either detain where I am at. I think a storyteller, I am just really a writer. I had my most success, just actually you had to be in tune to the media that you are working. Everyone has a different explosion.
I think stores are stories. There are good ones and there are bad ones. It doesn’t matter if you are doing them as an animation, a comic book, a movie or a tv show. If you are telling a good story people will respond.
It is no secret that Equestria Girls has a strong and catchy soundtrack, what song from the movie is forever stuck in your head?
Ishi: Ah, for me it would be the villain song the Cinch song, the one gets stuck in my head a lot.
Josh: Ah, I sort of think my favorite song isn’t actually in the movie or in half of the movie. Ha, ha; originally they cut in the movie would have-
Ishi: It’s not Sunset it’s Twilight, is it Sunset? Is it Sunset who starts it? Yeah, Sunset, Twilight originally it was a duet, yeah it’s one.
Josh: Yep, yep. Absolutely the duet, I agree an amazing song for sure. Story where both Twilight and Sunset story stops and have similarities. Sunset was feeling home sick and she, her part of the song was like and that and thinking going back to Equestria. And subsequently drafts we pulled that part out of the story. Throwing that part of the story out.
But I still do love that song.
Ishi: Yeah, yeah me too!
Favorite one-liner or scene?
Josh: Ah, favorite one linger, ah hm, favorite scene?
Ah, my favorite scene from the film the very end, battle when Sunset has kind of blasted Midnight Sparkle with her magic and goes into a while void world. Sunset Shimmer floats down to Twilight and says, “Take my hand, Twilight. Let me show you the way!”
That for me, personally, is the moment that send a shiver up your spin. A nice really emotional moment where Midnight Sparkle had tears in her eyes. That’s, that’s the most memorable scene for me.
Ishi: Yeah, I have to say that one image of Midnight Sparkle has tears in her eyes and holding out her hand, that’s the most memorable scene for me.
Yeah, that one image where Midnight Sparkle holds out her hand is my favorite image of the whole transformation are super cool. And the designs for ah…the transfers Sunset and Twilight are amazing, but somehow that one image is point and moving.
I don’t know what it is. It’s also really great! And I also like that moment right before Twilight transforms and she opens the thing and the thing is glowing. She gets her hand stuck in it, and the ball starts taking over and she looked back and “help me!”
I love that moment, that would be my close number two.
My Little Pony has an amazing voice cast; what is it like working with some of the voices behind everyone’s favorite characters and did any of the interactions with them impact the film?
Josh: Ishi has more of that interactions.
I don’t really inteact with the voice cast. When they are recording that’s out of my area. I do have to say the voice cast that person you go to play (Clinch) was amazing. It’s sort of what I had in mind.
Ishi: Yeah, you know what as always the voice cast, they are always go great. I mean we get to work with them on the series al the time, all the main voice actors are so professional. They bring so much to the table, they know their characters so well that often adjust lines to make the lines sound a bit more like the characters!
Especially with Tabitha. Tabitha throws in some ad libs not really changing the lines, but adding the ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’. Just everything to bring her character to life! We are so very lucky to have the voice actors we have, and MLP and Equestria Girls both, obviously.
There was a second part to your question? I don’t know if I answered that, I have to say that’s one of the great things about writing for both show and Equestria Girls. That the characters are so well linked and established and I can hear them in my head I know that even if I go off the rails a little bit. But like you said, the voice scout can some in and say I think we went off his head, it’s really conforming to know that can happen.
Josh: Yeah, yeah absolutely!
Sadly, not everything can always make it into the final product; was there anything that ended up scraped or removed from the film that you wish had not been?
Josh: That happens, that happens with every project as a writer you love the first thing you put down you really want to make that work! Ah even, even at the end of the day I would have differently.
Its kind of a team effort everyone has to turn the page ultimately, the the final product is a perfection of everyone’s efforts, ah we are all really happy with it , the final product. There are elements of my contribution, I wish I changed or done differently, I have to applause everyone’s efforts. Glad I was a part of the whole!
Ishi: Yeah umm for me I say the duet song that we cut between Twilight and Sunset! Was, was the definitely the hardest! And most difficult decision that we made! Ah unfortunately ah the song just didn’t work! With our revised story for Sunset Shimmer we had a issue to rewrite the song and make it just a Twilight song that was the only way we could, hum we could make everything work? As well as it did, ah but if you listen to that duet song like Josh mentioned earlier. It’s a great song. Really well written and ah it had it had a lot of feeling! And not not that the song is Twilight, Twilight and Sunset duet we just really liked. And had a really hard time cutting it from the movie.
At the end of Rainbow Rocks fans where teased with the introduction of Twilight’s human counterpart and we finally got to meet her in Friendship Games, what was it like bringing human Twilight in and telling her story?
Josh: For me it was
Ishi: Go ahead, go ahead Josh
Josh: That was the most fun part. Like sort of like that confidence of errors and shaken identity thing. So exciting about what they have done with Equestrian Girls and My Little Pony! And this idea that they are counterparts are everyone and they just opened the doors to tell those kind of stories and the moment I think of works is the best. Is that time when a Twilight is first arriving at the school! She fallowing the signal of the magic and she wandering through the halls and everyone who passes her saying “Hey Twilight”, “Hi Twilight” and first thing you hear and then she gets a bit confused and she gets freaked out its one of those moments that plays pretty well. Plays up the fact nothing really happens in Equestrian Girls world. To me it was the funniest, most fun of the whole process.
Ishi: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I agree with Josh It was really fun introduction this new we call it Sci-Twi to the story and creating this character that is preexisting character and known character that has met this human version of Twilight we were able to make her a little different than the Twilight everyone knows. We treat her like the Princess Twilight if she had never met any of her friends ah and we really had a lot of fun with the character and those little character traits. Like pushing up her glasses, up her nose and more nerdy than the other Twilight.
Even though we got to see a lot of human Twilight, there was a lot of Sunset Shimmer as the focus. What was it like to explore even more of her and where do you hope to see her go?
Ishi: Ah ah it’s been a lot of fun! Developing her as a character known throughout the past three dvd’s. It was never a planned thing just kind of all happened originally from dv one she was the villain and at the end of that dvd she was obviously defeated. And in dvd two we had the chance to bring her back and we did we gave her more of a bigger role than originally planned. And it all turned out really well. The third dvd Josh wrote her in, amazingly she had a really big heart in dvd three for the future um, um, we all love Sunset Shimmer and we want to keep her …
Sunset Shimmer um yes she is obviously a big part of the main seven.
That ending! Now with the magic unleashed and reaching new levels as well as having the two Twilights come face to face, what does this mean for the next film? Could the two worlds collide?
Josh: We, we don’t know! Don’t know what’s going to happen until, until it happens!
That’s all I can say about that.
Massive thanks to Josh and Ishi, such fantastic guys! It was such a joy to speak with you both. Not only major thank you to them, but also the grand folks over at SHOUT Factory for helping set this interview up.
Be sure to pick up, or download off the likes of iTunes or Amazon, Friendship Games and unleash the magic for yourselves!