Sunday, 24 March 2013

Review: Snowdrop fan-made episode (Silly Filly Studios)

We've all been waiting eagerly for Double Rainboom for a very long time now, but delays to that project mean that the title of "first fan-made episode" of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (well, apart from Dusk's Dawn) should probably now go to something else. That something is Snowdrop, a 14-minute film by Silly Filly Studios — directed by Meredith Sims and Marshal "Zedrin" Watson — that you can watch by clicking the preview above. Follow me past the jump to see (with spoilers!) what I thought about it.

I was pleasantly surprised by this, given that I'd barely known anything about it until now. Snowdrop is a simple tale, which reminds me quite a bit of those gentle cartoons you used to get at about six o'clock on Christmas morning on BBC2. It's certainly extremely sentimental: a blind filly, despite being mocked by some of her classmates, listens to snow, makes "stars" and wins the appreciation of Celestia and Luna. That's about it as far as plot goes, which is fine.

The animation is easy enough on the eyes: we're not talking JanAnimations quality here, but it did its job. I found Snowdrop's blind eyes a bit disconcerting, but then I imagine I was meant to. Voice acting is also generally good, though the VA portraying Mrs Windith, the teacher, could do with making it a tiny bit less obvious that she's reading from a script. There were no songs, but the background music was simple, unforced and affecting, which was ideal.

I think making the story centre on original characters was a good decision: it meant we didn't have preconceptions about what each pony was going to be like. The only exceptions to this were the two princesses, who seemed to be pretty nicely in character. Celestia did look a bit odd in her youthful, pink-maned incarnation, though! I was pleased to see funny background events, such as the two ponies blushing at each other in the classroom.

At only 14 minutes including credits, Snowdrop was never going to approach the complexity of a show episode of MLP:FiM — even if the S3 finale did have a really good go at fitting two episodes into 22 minutes! I think Silly Filly Studios have made a nice debut, and I'll certainly keep an eye out for any further stories they may produce. You're unlikely to be awed by Snowdrop, but you might well be moved and come out of it with a gentle smile on your face.


  1. And if you hadn't reviewed it here I doubt I would have known about Snowdrop at all! So thank you for letting me know about this via the review. I downloaded a copy last night and have just watched it, and I thought it was extremely well made.

    As you say, there are a few faults. Something you mentioned, and I noticed too, is that the voice acting for the teacher was perhaps the weakest of the VA. It just didn't really convince and had that feel of a school play to the voice. Other than that I thought they did extremely well with the VA, particularly Snowdrop herself. And although I can't think of any obvious examples, there were times when the animation didn't *quite* seem as smooth as the actual MLP show. Overall though, I thought they did exceptionally well considering this was a fan show.

    The story itself, as you say, was very sentimental. But it didn't do any harm - it was a wonderful little story, and was undoubtedley meant to be a gently told one. Okay, some would see it as a bit too sugary and sweet, but if you've watched the 3 MLP seasons, I don't think they went OTT with it, and it's the sort of thing fans would probably like about it. I thought they got the balance about right, especially with the rather sad, yet somehow hopeful, feeling of the ending itself. And I notice Luna in particular made the interesting comment that Snowdrop was "the only one who ever really understood (her) dark."

    I suppose really it would have been difficult to put an actual song into it. Maybe they will be able to, as they gain confidence and contacts, but I can imagine it's very difficult to do something like that, combining a song with animation. As it is, I liked the background music a lot - subtle and perfect for the story, with a nice twinkling "snow" feel to it, and the music over the end credits was just beautifully done. :)

    Based on that, I really hope they decide to make some more, because Silly Filly Studios (what a great name and what a cute little intro!) are definitely worth keeping an eyeball on.

    1. Glad to be of service! I agree with you that Snowdrop's VA gave a very nicely judged performance. I wouldn't always do a full review, with a score, for a fan project -- but I felt this one deserved the honour of being taken that seriously. :)

  2. I enjoyed it but the speeches were a little too wordy and didn't really feel natural, it had a home-made clunkyness to it which in places was very endearing and in other moments was a little ... ehh.

    Something I realized after the episode, we have no idea how long has past from the snowflakes being made until the last one.

    Could have been three years.

    That's right she made three snowflakes.

    I know, I know it's implied it's after Luna has become herself again...

    1. Yeah, there's definitely a "first attempt" feel to it, though I think it's very good judged by those standards.

  3. I just watched it and loved it. So sad! :) I only found two things wrong with it - the first is, as everyone has pointed out, the teacher's voice - it just didn't feel right. I personally feel it was the wrong kind of voice, it sounded too young and not very authoritative.

    The other is that I didn't realise the story was taking place a thousand years ago, which could easily have been fixed by a caption during the transition to the past. It was only when I saw Celestia with pink hair that I realised (and that's a detail only a fan would get, anyway). Not a major problem, but I feel it would have been more effective if I'd known it from the start.

    It was very good, though, a superb effort for a fan-created work.

    1. I got the idea that it was a long time ago from the intro, but not that it was a thousand years ago. As for details only a fan would get... who else will be watching this? :P

    2. the timeline was indeed mentioned by celestia herself in the film, its kinda sad how many did not catch tho whole storyline (i've watched nearly all reactions and read through the forum's)

      the film starts in the current time, after the intro (till the title snowdrop) it went over 1000 jears into the past (we will learn this fact at the end of the film, couse Celestia says it to Luna after she asked if its realy the last snowflake)

      this Story plays only some jears before Luna was banished to the moon, so she wasnt there as Snowdrop died and so she couldnt offer Snowdrop the chance to become an Alicorn

      is saw only a few other fans who catched this part of the story and those also toke this story for themselfes as a new part of the history of equestria