» Chilling in Chicago: The Midwestria 2012 Con Report

Scrambling on Saturday

About 6 hours later, I dragged myself out of bed. I would have loved to sleep for at least another 2 hours, but whoever made the con schedule and decided to have a panel featuring all of the writers at 10:30 didn’t take my sleeping habits into consideration. (The jerk) Lex though had beaten me by a couple of hours as he woke up even earlier to go see the beginning of the Running of the Leaves 5K Charity event that the convention was hosting, which started at 6 AM. If there’s one thing I know about myself, the combination of 6 AM and being awake is something that almost never ends well. However, there were a few reasons I made a point to attend the writers panel that morning, and every other writer panel there was that weekend. I wanted to gain more information about the process they went through that perhaps could be used in the interviews. I also wanted to at least know what Charlotte Fullerton looked like since I had not seen her at all the first day, and wanted to make sure that if I got a chance to ask her for an interview, I knew I was talking to the right person. The three guests were already up at the table of the main auditorium when the guests started filing in and they began a free-form discussion on what it was like to work for the show right when it first started before Season 1. They recounted stories of looking through Lauren’s bible of the show and noting how ridiculously detailed it was which in turn helped them a great deal in writing for the characters and the world in a believable way. Rogers talked about building characters and how she was responsible for having Zecora talk through rhyme because before that, there was nothing overly memorable about her other than she was a zebra. Larson talked about how he came up for the lyrics to “Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000″ by basing it off The Music Man’s “Ya Got Trouble,” which considering his performance at karaoke the previous night had me chuckling to myself. It was extremely interesting to listen to and very informative of their work flow on the show.

Once the panel had ended, people were going up to all of the writers talking and asking for things to be signed. I stood half way back from Charlotte Fullerton hoping to briefly speak with her about an interview, but then all of the guests were pulled away to the dealers den where they would sit together for an hour for signatures. Thinking on how to approach it, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and went back to the room to retrieve the Season 2 Wal-Mart poster I had brought along that I had gotten signatures on at Everfree. Myself, Nirvash, and Lex walked back to the dealers den and went up to the table. I first approached Fullerton and asked her about an interview, which she happily agreed to, and then got her to sign the poster. With Larson, I reminded him of our interview on Sunday, and he signed near the Cerberus pose in the background with 3 lines pointing to their heads. And finally, I talked with Rogers and scheduled an interview time of 3 that afternoon. I’m also proud to say that she complimented my Quills and Sofas shirt that to this day remains one of my favorite MLP related shirts I have.

With it being about 1 at that time, we had only 2 hours to make sure everything was ready. I went back to the room and went over our interview questions, made revisions, and printed them out in the business center of the hotel. I do want to note that during this entire process, Lex, Lucky Chance, and Nirvash were extremely helpful with everything. They offered ideas for questions, to help rewrite/revise questions, and print them out. I can easily say that I could not have done as much as I did without their help.

Some Apparent Signs of Anxiety Were Showing Before the First Interview

Finally, the hour came around for us to head to the con’s green room where the interview would be taking place. To say that I was nervous was an understatement, and I believe it does show if you go back and watch the interview video. Amy arrived with the con handler Trevor and we sat down in the only two nice chairs in the room. Next to us on either side, we had smart phone recorders set up, and we also had a clip on mic that we gave to her. With everything set up, I began talking and did a short intro of myself and Mrs. Rogers before turning it over to questions. I want to say that nervousness probably had a part in how I worded the questions because there were several times where she was correcting or clarifying the direction of the question, was which led me to believe that perhaps I had not come up with the best questions or did not word them correctly. One question had a setup where I mentioned that the depth of characters was amazing to the point that it was almost like the show was being aimed towards adults rather than kids to which and responded that she was ultimately writing the show for kids and that the only adults they wrote it for were the parents of those kids. Any other adults that liked it were completely unintentional. Another question I asked was if it had been easier to write “The Last Roundup” which dealt with Applejack’s pride after writing “Applebuck Season” where the lesson was similar. She responded that those were two different situations and that the lessons also were in different contexts. She did come back and respond to the questions to reveal information about her writing process for those episodes, but I remember at one point, my face flushing as I realized that I could have worded the question much better than I had. While these were a few moments where I could have done better, by the end of the interview, I felt that we had still covered some good ground on talking about subjects that had not been talked about before in major interviews. Ultimately it was a learning experience and I can definitely say that it played a big part for how I handled the other two interviews.

Right after the interview, Amy was due for her solo panel so we headed to where it was being held. On the way, we met up with Adelor again who had returned to hang out with us again. The panel room was packed to the point where people in the back had to stand because there weren’t enough chairs. During the set up, I was sitting with Adelor waiting for the panel to start and Nirvash came over to me. “Hey J, look who I found.” He motioned across the room where I saw Charlotte Fullerton standing to the side. I walked over and the first thing she wanted to know was when we would do an interview. We decided to do so right after Amy’s panel and within the span of two minutes, I had taken care of all of my interview scheduling.

Amy’s panel was also hosted by Final Draft, and he led a similar discussion to the one he had previously done with Larson. Amy talked about her start in wanting to be an actor and then moving on to writing screenplays for theater. She also went into her side jobs at places such as 1-(800)-Dentist, and talked about getting her start as a production assistant on Johnny Bravo and asking Craig McCracken for a shot at writing on Powerpuff Girls the same day he was going to ask her if she wanted the job. She also talked about a deleted scene during the episode with Derpy where the reason the town hall was in disrepair was because Depry had accidentally driven a thundercloud too close to it, which led to Final Draft going on a tangent about how the whole situation with Derpy wasn’t her fault because as the writer, and that she had no control on the outcome of what happened. It was meant as a nice note to the adult fans that unfortunately was scrapped and it moved people enough to have them clapping at what he had said. This was about the time the panel wrapped up, and we were off with Charlotte Fullerton for her interview.

We went back to the same room we had done the interview with Amy in and set up the cameras once more. Despite having done the previous interview a little over an hour beforehand, I felt a lot more confident with handling everything. I immediately noticed that while Rogers was to the point about her answers to the questions, Fullerton liked to expand, and go into a lot of details. And because I’m a sucker for depth of character and stories, it made the answers very interesting and fun to listen to. We talked about her initial impressions for the show and that led to her describing what it was like working for MLP, where they were writing strong personalities for multiple characters versus other shows where you might only see that kind of depth put into one character, and sometimes you wouldn’t even get that. She also talked about working on anime translation scripts, and also working on the songs she co wrote with Kevin Rubio, Art of the Dress and May The Best Pet Win. The unfortunate part is that I was not able to ask her all of the questions I had because we were on a time constraint due to her solo panel being about a half hour before we started, and I even had to say as I was opening up another question “We only have time for about two more questions.” I want to say that this interview was much smoother than the first one, and it was due in part because of having learned from the mistakes from the first interview and because Fullerton was filling up a lot of the time with the stories and details she was going into.

Afterwards, we headed directly to the panel room to watch Fullerton’s solo panel. Just like last time, Adelor was taking intensive notes on what she said. She started out with a big story about her journey of how she got into working for TV shows which included meeting Jim Henson with her dad and getting coffee with him which then led to her working with him overseas. She also talked about her time at Fox Kids and being apart of the production of the pioneering crossover film, Troops which was passed around from person to person in TV studios and became a viral video before the term viral video was established. Much like my interview with her, she went into a lot of details on her stories and before we knew it, the panel was over. Also to her credit, the last question was “Would you rather fight a hundred duck sized horses, or a horse sized duck?” which she handled by saying that it was a question that the writers would probably ask in their meetings, and that led to her talking about a war between the Keebler Elves and the Smurfs and who would win. Needless to say, it was an extremely entertaining way to end the panel.

By this point, myself and Adelor had gotten hungry and we decided to have dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. As we walked inside, we saw M.A. Larson sitting at the bar with two other people. After we sat down, Adelor said he wanted to say hi and personally tell Larson how much he appreciated his work on the show, but because Larson was around two other people, he felt it would be rude to interrupt. So instead, he asked the waitress to let him buy a drink on our tab. When he got the drink, he looked over and waved lightly at us, and at this point I told Adelor to go and say hi, but again, he felt it would be rude. So I decided to do an undercover operation. I got up to go to the bathroom which had me passing by the bar, and on my way back, I walked up to him, apologized for cutting into the conversation and explained to Larson what Adelor wanted to say. I was expecting it to end there, but Larson one-upped it by saying he would stop by our table later to say thanks. After about 20 minutes, sure to his word, Larson came over and sat down at our table to say hi. It was funny, because I told Larson that Adelor was shy, and then Adelor proceeded to carry himself in a high energy conversation with Larson for at least twenty minutes. He talked passionately about the show and how much he liked working for it. He also talked about working for other shows but I am not actually able to repeat what he said about them because I was brought into what he called the “Cone of Silence.” By code of the Cone, horrible things would happen to me if I were to specify what he said about those shows, and I’m not one to tempt fate. It was a great experience and very awesome that he seemed to appreciate the gesture to that degree. The conversation was slightly soured when as we were talking, a group of people started gathering around our table and interrupted our conversation by means of shoving a phone in his ear to listen to foreign versions of pony songs, but it was near the end of the conversation and by that time, Adelor and him had a productive conversation with me sitting there listening intently. I mentioned earlier that the writers seemed like the most accessible and down to earth group of people from the show I had seen, and this was the situation I was thinking about as I wrote that. It was one of more personal interactions I’ve had with anyone from the show, and whether he knows it or not, he made both of our days. Rest assured Mr. Larson, the Cone of Silence will never be broken.

Mr. Larson Demonstrates How You Must Wear The Silly Balloon Hat to be Apart of the Cone of Silence.

Afterwards, me and Adelor went to the main hall where they were performing a concert featuring a few musicians, most notably Odyssey Eurobeat. Something to note was that the concert was starting a few hours late due to technical problems and this was another theme we saw from the convention with panels starting later than the intended time. This was also the first time that I had actively participated in a music event at any pony convention. To be honest, I found every other concert at previous cons to have too many people and didn’t feel fully comfortable participating, but this crowd was notably smaller and seemed perfect for us to ease ourselves into. And while the person running the videos that showed up on the screens to the side of the stage had some questionable tastes, we found ourselves having a good time. While listening, the head of the con unexpectedly came up and talked to us. Unbeknownst to me, Nirvash had asked him to do an interview the next day after the Larson interview and so that was another set of questions we had to come up with on short notice. He also had found his way behind the stage to take pictures with the permission of nobody in particular, but nobody seemed to mind either.

And while the musicians we heard up to that point including, 7th Element and Chain Algorithm provided some great songs, everything was amped to another level when Eurobeat hit the stage. He played a mix of pony and non pony songs, but it did not matter because there’s something about his music that fired up the crowd more than any time before that point. Before the concert, I had heard his Discord song, but I never really gained an appreciation for it until I heard him performing it live. Downloading it to my MP3 player was among the first things I did when I returned home. And this isn’t a knock on the other musicians who were there, but his performance was by far my favorite part of the show. I even got to tell him myself as I decided to join Nirvash backstage. I was given a few glances, but nobody called me out to say that I should not be there. As Eurobeat stepped off the stage, I said hi and congratulated him on putting on a great show. We shared a short conversation and he came off as very nice, and glad to be attending the convention. By that point, the concert was winding down and I found my way to the karaoke room just in time to song Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing with Lex and Lucky Chance along with at least 10 other people on the stage. But after that, everyone was pretty tired. It had been a very long day and we still had two more interviews to do, so we took our leave and went to the room to get some rest.

Odyssey Eurobeat Being The Life of the Party

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