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Screen Edge 2014: Brent Hodge rides My Little Pony

Brent Hodge, director, Screen Edge Forum speaker and Otago uni alumnus played some email tag before getting on a plane to return to NZ with his recent;y-premiered doco feature A Brony Tale.

This article was first published in the Screen Edge Forum daily The Knowledge on 30 May.

My Little Pony voice artist Ashleigh Ball. How do you keep your mane so shiny?

My Little Pony voice artist Ashleigh Ball. How do you keep your mane so shiny?

The Knowledge: How did you become aware of Bronies and what were the steps from there to the decision to make the film?

Brent Hodge: Ashleigh Ball and I have been friends for years. I used to do work with her band Hey Ocean at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She told me about her voice acting career (which includes Carebears, Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony). She told me that guys had been emailing her about the show. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the emails from these “bronies” … I said “We have to start filming this!”

The Knowledge: Ashleigh mentions her pervert alarm going off when she first heard of bronies. When did yours stop beeping?

Brent Hodge: It was so weird. I thought this could be a hilarious documentary into a bizzare world. It wasn’t that far after that I realized that it’s not even about liking a kids show. It’s about the messaging in the show and also the community they have created. It’s a fandom – similar to Trekkies or Star Wars fans. It’s the new geek culture.

The Knowledge: A lot of your subjects are – by their own definition or admission – outsiders. Did you have a feeling of how much they might feel the need to be part of a community rather than specifically being bronies.

Brent Hodge

Brent Hodge at the premiere of A Brony Tale

Brent Hodge: It’s all about the community. The show’s tag line is “friendship is magic” and that’s what the bronies are all about. It’s about the qualities of having a community and celebrating friendship. It seems like there’s a catch but really that’s it. That’s the message.

The Knowledge: At what point did the “Morgan Spurlock presents” deal get done?

Brent Hodge: Morgan and his team jumped on board once the film was done and have a really helped take it to the next level. Making a film is actually the easy part. Getting it out there is the challenge. Morgan has teamed up with Virgil Films and Abamorama to get this doc into theatres in North America. It’s under the “Morgan Spurlock Presents” brand and they have a series of docs they are doing this with. A Brony Tale is the flagship of the series.

The Knowledge:Does the deal involve anything other than the distribution of A Brony Tale?

Brent Hodge: We are defintely in talks about more from here. I think it will be the first of many with the Spurlock team.

The Knowledge:What other projects are you involved with at present?

Brent Hodge: Hodgee Films works a lot in Silicon Valley and San Francisco with start ups and tech companies. Tech is an exciting new world. As for films we have a new feature doc in development and will be going for a doc series of some kind soon. The sky is the limit for Hodgee films right now.

For me it’s always been about running a business not just making films. I’m half Kiwi and went to business school in Otago. Once I finished and moved back to North America, I really just had to think about what kind of business I wanted to run. I think I picked a pretty cool industry in the end.

You need to wear a lot of hats when you are starting. I’m pulling back more and more and just doing the directing and editing. I have a great producer team now – Lauren Bercovitch and Chris Kelly. I’m starting to notice with them a thousand more things can get done. I guess you could say they are my bronies 🙂

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