Love them or hate them, bronies, the adult fans of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, are fascinating. And people love to talk about them. To figure them out. It’s a fandom that has, at this point, been meticulously documented. And now, there’s another documentary on the way: Brony: The Movie first launched its first trailer (above) at this month’s BronyCon in Baltimore, and now it’s made its way online.
An earlier documentary, Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony, came out in 2013 after hitting a Kickstarter goal five times what the filmmakers asked for. More than one brony documentary may seem like overkill, but in the roughly two years since the subculture emerged, bronies have taken over web forums, become a massive meme, and infiltrated everything from dance music to the U.S. military. They’re the epitome of fandom in the post-modern, post-irony, internet age, and according to Brony: The Movie director Brent Hodge, there’s enough culture in the My Little Pony fandom to fill more than one documentary.
“As I was filming this, I saw a lot of different people filming brony documentaries,” said Hodge, who self-funded his documentary and hopes to take it to festivals in the next year. “I look at a company like Uber – there’s like five different kinds of Uber [now]: There’s Sidecar, there’s Lyft, there’s taxis. If it’s a good idea a lot of people are going to jump on it.”
What’s interesting about both of the documentaries is that they tell the brony tale from the point of view of the voice actors on the show. Bronies was actually the passion project of MLP voice actor John de Lancie (aka Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation) who worked with producer Michael Brockhoff to make the documentary. Similarly, Hodge’s documentary focuses on voice actress Ashleigh Ball (Applejack and Rainbow Dash), whom the director got to know while filming a documentary about her band Hey Ocean!,
“The voice actors are the celebrities of this fandom,” said Hodge, who follows Ball throughout her first Bronycon in the documentary. In the trailer she notes that “the pervert alarm, for sure, went off in my head when I first heard about [brony fandom]” but after attending conventions and meeting fans she realizes My Little Pony is a really important part of a lot of these people’s lives.”
Like de Lancie, show creator Lauren Faust, and voice actor Tara Strong (Twilight Sparkle), Ball ultimately embraced the fandom despite her surprise. Hodge says that she provides a good lens for the documentary, particularly she initially struggles to understand the subculture the way many people watching it might.
“People relate to it because she’s just a normal girl,” Hodge said. “She’s a normal girl who’s going through the same experiences the audience is going through with this.”
And really, aren’t we all going through this together?