» Interview: M. A. Larson at Midwestria

I’ve heard multiple times you guys at the panels talk about writers meetings and you throw ideas around, do you ever go outside of writers from the show, other contacts you have for ideas for writing episodes at all?

Not really no, on this show in particular we go to these summits and Lauren or Meghan [McCarthy] have “here’s kinda the major things we want to hit, we should maybe have one episode with this, whatever it is, there’s going to be a two-parter here.” We all kind of come in with some ideas and pitch those out and see if we can combine two of them and see does this work or does this lead us somewhere else? We just sort of brainstorm in the room, you don’t really bring things in. Amy mentioned this in per panel yesterday, the Brady Bunch is a massive well to go to for stories. In a lot of animated shows it’s not about coming up with a totally original premise for the episode, it’s taking a familiar premise, like Ponyville Confidential, you’ve seen that a million times, so you take that premise and say “Okay so what do these characters do in that situation” and you end up with a story. It’s not about trying to re-invent the wheel everytime, it’s take a familiar plot-line and change it with your characters.

Another show that’s coming on the air that a lot of people seem to like is Gravity Falls and you wrote an episode for that, how exactly did you start working for that show, did knowing Rob Renzetti as the supervising producer help get you that job, to get that role?

Yeah, I actually interviewed for the story editor job but I didn’t have any experience with that and i don’t have a lot of credits compared to other people and the guy they went with was a writer on The Simpsons so, fair enough. I would have hired him over me too. But it was a great meeting and Rob was there, fresh off Pony and we worked really well together so I went in for a freelance. Right when it was starting out too, that was really tricky because when they gave me materials to look at, to know what the show is all about I had three outlines to look at and that was pretty much it. There was nothing to hear, I didn’t really know what the characters sounded like, there’s nothing to look at except drawings but it wasn’t animated. Actually there was a little bit of animated at the beginning but it’s tough right at the beginning when there’s not a lot of things to look at or read so that’s kind of the case on that show. I came in with just a few outlines.

Dipper exhibits some Twilight Sparkle-like check listing in M.A. Larsons episode of Gravity Falls

Now in a kind of followup, the voice actors community always talk about how in Vancouver they have their own sub-community where everyone seems to know everyone. Would you say it’s similar with you and the writers community for TV shows and cartoons in Los Angeles where you work?

Yeah, yes. It’s a really small world and I’m kind of new to it, I mean actually I’ve been doing it for seven years now. It’s weird because the DHX/Studio B people all go to the office, they hang out and they’re with each other all the time or they go to the voice booth and they’re all there together and we don’t ever see  each other, we’re all freelance. We see each other once a season for these summits but then I’ll go in with Meghan or Lauren and Rob and have story meetings. We don’t really have opportunities to see each other very much but you do keep seeing the same names. I went in for this job and this persons working for this show or a guy that I used to work with emailed me about another job at Disney. It’s that kind of thing , I can’t do it but I know you, do you want to do it? So you keep seeing the same names, like Amy actually came in on Kick Buttowski when I was there for freelance stuff and there’s defiantly the same sort of people gravitating around.

Okay so you have a little community going there but in a really small way.

But it’s a weird community because we don’t get together and have coffee community, it’s just sort of email.

Job referencing.

Yeah, if you’re lucky you’ll see them in person. Actually like this Friday when I came to this, this is the second time in my life that I’ve met Charlotte, you know, we don’t ever see each other. I didn’t even recognize her. “Oh hey! You’re Charlotte”.

I know it was mentioned earlier but you were all hugging anyway, you seemed you were all really good friends.

Exactly, it’s like I said, the brony community is insane for us, we feel that vibe.

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  1. Nice interview. I guess i have to watch a marathon of a show to grasp cartoon writing :P

    Im really happy to hear him (From what i’ve heard, a Rainbow Dash fan) say: Applejack needs more episodes