One of the most notable things that I’m trying to accomplish with Journey of the Spark is that I’m attempting to aim for an audience that doesn’t necessarily involve the Bronies: a general audience.
Now I know what a majority of you are thinking: Why bother making a two hour animated film based on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic if you’re not going to target the show’s widest audience? The answer to that question is not as simple as I would like it to be.
When I first started developing the story for Journey of the Spark, I was experiencing a lot of personal problems that were ultimately eating me away. MLP:FiM is a show that I relate to a lot like so many other people. Its pure escapist fantasy but with a core filled to the brim with something I rarely ever see in animated television anymore: heart. It inspired me to face my problems head on. So naturally, I took what I learned from those experiences and put them into the story of the film.
Instantly, Journey of the Spark’s story began to resemble the issues and problems I not only had to face, but many others as well. It was then that I got to thinking that this story was way too meaningful to aim for just one audience. The overall idea of the film is that life is one big journey. That you’ll always lose yourself along the way. But just because one adventure has ended, doesn’t mean another one can’t begin.
Its a theme that many people can relate to and in my honest opinion, its that type of depth that you don’t see anymore in animated films. Children are our future, some people say and I agree. I feel as though children are allowed to be told high quality stories and what completely depresses me is that major studios feel as though in order for an animated film to be successful, they have to dumb down the source material of the story and sink to the lowest common denominator by adding brass/crude humor and pop culture references.
I grew up with films like Pinocchio, Fantasia, and The Secret of NIMH and all of those films had one thing in common. They all had emotional depth within their story and they weren’t afraid to present dark and mature themes to younger audiences. I feel that Journey of the Spark should be the same way.
In the film, Twilight causes a mistake that forces everyone she ever loved away from her. This is something that I’ve gone through and its something that many people have gone through and probably will continue to do so. I don’t want to have to talk down to the younger audience simply because they might not understand it at first. Even if they don’t, that’s not gonna stop them from enjoying the film. In fact, it’ll just make them appreciate it more when they grow up.
The reason why My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is such a success and why its so important to me is because Lauren Faust went in with the intention of making something that could connect with everyone. Not just the target audience. Its blend of music, color, intricate characters, and detailed animation are just among many of the reasons why it has its appeal.
The people I’m screening the finished product for, my family, don’t really have much knowledge of the show, let alone any knowledge of its existence. So to me, it was important to find a way to make Journey of the Spark work as a standalone film while also being a great way to introduce newcomers to the characters, setting, and conflict.
To me, I knew that the Bronies would love this movie when it was finished and I’m even planning on screening the finished product at multiple Brony conventions. But appealing solely to them makes me feel that the film is nothing more than a piece of fan-service and as a filmmaker, that’s not my intention. Journey of the Spark is a very personal film to me. Its a film that reflects upon the problems I faced as a child and the ones I’m facing as I enter adulthood. But not only that, its my personal tribute to an artist whom I love and admire and a tribute to the world that she envisioned.
And to me…that’s what makes a film great.