Interview with Josh Bone-Christian, Co-Director of Mother to Earth
Last year's sudden release of EarthBound Beginnings, the NES original for the beloved EarthBound (Mother) trilogy, caught everyone off-guard. The title had initially been localized for American release many years ago, but never released. Despite the prototype ROM's leak some time afterwards, the official Wii U Virtual Console release was the biggest victory for Nintendo's most passionate fanbase since EarthBound's release on the Virtual Console two years prior.
And what better way to celebrate than Mother to Earth, a documentary surrounding the game's 20 year journey to the Western gaming sphere. After an uncertain Kickstarter campaign, the project was successfully funded last month and the team is hard at work in promoting and crafting the film.
As a massive EarthBound fan myself, I'm personally psyched for the project and backed it from the get-go. So I reached out to Josh Bone-Christian, one of the documentary's co-directors, for the following interview.
GS: First off, a belated congratulations on reaching your Kickstarter goal! It was rather close at the end; where there any concerns you wouldn’t reach it?
Josh Bone-Christian: Haha, I was honestly really nervous! We had friends that had told us how much it spikes at the last 48 hours, but we had no idea it was going to be that big.
GS: Can you tell us what inspired Mother to Earth’s inception?
Josh Bone-Christian: I've always been really into the history of EarthBound Beginnings. A lot of our team was from http://starmen.net too, so most of us are huge EB nerds. A few years back some of us on the site started planning a 25th anniversary event for the game, and as a way of going all-out I started researching and finding people. I even did a really hobbled together interview with Phil Sandhop in a coffee shop, haha. Then the game came out on Wii U, and of course we were all excited. Evan had just met Christian through MAGfest a short time before, and so he called me super late at night to ask if I wanted to make a movie. The rest is history!
GS: How did you and Evan, your co-director, go about forming your team? Are they all just as passionate about the series as you guys are?
Josh Bone-Christian: Yeah, for the most part! Christian's not the biggest fan of the series (we like to joke with him a lot about that), but he's HUGE into the game collecting scene and that's what drew him in. We've also worked with a lot of our team members planning other projects (most recently we made an Undertale-themed Alternate Reality Game), so they're versatile friends we know can get stuff done.
GS: I’m very interested in learning how Austin O’Rourke, the documentary’s composer, is creating a score inspired by EarthBound Beginnings. Does this mean we’ll be hearing chiptunes and the like?
Josh Bone-Christian: Oh man, I love Austin and Cole. They're a dream team. Austin is really good at creating an atmosphere in his pieces, and the chiptune works really nicely in it. We actually have a song on our Kickstarter Campaign page for people to listen to to get a taste of what's to come. (On a personal note, I also recommend looking up Austin's piece "Hazel Colored Nebula" on YouTube. It's one of my favorites!)
It's also interesting to try and make music INSPIRED by the game instead of making covers. From there it becomes a matter of capturing the essence of the original games music through instrument choices and musical structure and building something out of it.
GS: You’ll be opening a new site soon for the project; could you go into more detail about it?
Josh Bone-Christian: Yeah! We've been working for a long while to set up an online store for Slacker Backers. People have been asking about it for a long time, and now we're super close to being done!
It also means we'll be rolling in a new site layout, which already looks much nicer than the old one. We're hoping to get it up and running soon- before Camp Fangamer later this month, if possible!
GS: Filming is set to begin later this year, correct? You guys have already interviewed Phil Sandhop, the game’s localizer, but there’s been other guests announced alongside the promises of more. Any hints on who else will make the cut?
Josh Bone-Christian: Yeah! We've currently been in he process of scheduling interviews. We've got some people we're coordinating right now with to bundle trips to the same states together, but also we're planning on shooting some stuff while we're at Camp Fangamer this month! It's going to be a lot of fun, just you see.
GS: There’s a documentary being made for EarthBound (Mother 2) called EarthBound, USA. They’re separate games, but were you guys concerned with any overlap regarding that project?
Josh Bone-Christian: Haha, I certainly was before we launched our Kickstarter. I'm actually a backer of the film myself. I know Jeff and the Fangamer crew pretty well though, so we talked in brief about it a month or two before we really dug deep into things to make sure we weren't stepping on toes. Jeff is a great guy, and I'm really happy it all worked out! We're excited to see how their project goes too (and fingers always crossed for Mother 3!).
GS: Speaking of Mother 3, we've reached the tenth anniversary this year and there’s been a bunch of whispers regarding that game’s localization finally happening. Do you think it’s happening? I think we can both agree we’d rather not wait over twenty years like Beginnings!
Josh Bone-Christian: Well, we're already halfway there... I'm the type of person who always stays positive, but I always tease the idea that it WON'T happen so my dreams aren't repeatedly shattered. That said, I'd be really excited to see it! It's gotta just be a matter of time, right?
That said, I'll be begging on my knees and doing my nightly Wess Dance until the day my prayers are finally answered.
GS: Finally, I gotta know: did whoever made the Mt. Itoi pledge really earn a desert tank ride?!? I'm so jealous!
Josh Bone-Christian: YES! The tank is real! There's a place down in Southern Texas (not too far from where Christian lives) that lets you drive a tank and shoot the guns and run over cars and stuff. It's insane, and I am so excited to see it in action.
GS: That's crazy! You should put that in the documentary.
Josh Bone-Christian: We're definitely filming it, haha!