Mother to Earth - A Documentary about Earthbound Beginnings

Mother to Earth is a documentary about the secret history behind one of Nintendo’s biggest cult classics - Mother - better known in North America as Earthbound Beginnings. This game is the first installment in a fan favorite series which brought us many memorable characters, such as Ness and Lucas, which many Nintendo fans may recognize from the Super Smash Bros. series. 

We hope this Kickstarter campaign will help us create the definitive documentary showing the history behind the inception of the Mother/Earthbound series and Mother’s failed initial English localization in the early 1990's. What makes this story so compelling is that this initial failure is only the beginning of an epic journey that would span a quarter of a century. From here we explore why this game was eventually localized 25 years later and how fans have been able to find already-localized copies of the game online since the early 2000's. While researching for this movie, we ourselves found the answers to thoEse questions deep in the underground subculture of hardcore video game collectors. Some of whom helped leak, hack, and upload a localized prototype of the game decades before its official release. We're here to show a hidden world of backroom deals, grey markets, and borderline-illegal sales of video games. In this world things are nearly-impossible to track, thanks to cash deals behind closed doors, throw-away usernames, and purposeful obscurification.

This is the first time a film will unveil this utterly fascinating side of video games, a medium known to most as simple entertainment. Yet, it has evolved into a hobby with a discreet and lucrative secondary market, tangled in hoarded information and secrecy. This part of the culture, however, is only the tip of the iceberg as we follow Earthbound Beginnings’s incredible journey, from its initial creation to its eventual release. It’s a story with so many twists and turns that it kept even us on the edge of our seats. We present to you an opportunity to be a part in this unbelievable film that appeals to both gamers and non-gamers alike – And the best part is, it’s all true!

After two years of our own work, research, and investigation, we have fallen short simply due to a restriction of our time and resources. This film is the product of countless phone calls, a ton of detective work, love, and dedication. From cold calling phone numbers in the Seattle, WA phone book to deducing email addresses by process of elimination, we have pieced together this entire, amazing story.

While there are bits and pieces of this of this narrative floating around on forums and outdated web pages, we have found so much more than has ever been published before now. The team behind this film is incredibly dedicated and professional, yet they are all bound by a child-like passion and obsession with video games. Mother to Earth is as much a story of the game as it is the story behind the fan communities that have grown around it.

We are launching this Kickstarter campaign to help us fund a feature length documentary of this unbelievable story. The film, once finished, will be made available on DVD, Blu-ray, digital, and streaming services. The film will be closed captioned in English, but we hope to add more languages later on. The film will also have an original score inspired by the series. 

Shooting the film will occur over the course of the rest of this year, taking into account availability of the interviewees, and editing will begin as soon as filming wraps. The release and the backer reward distribution are scheduled for simultaneous delivery, with progress updates coming both to the public and backers alike between funding and release. We have been in contact with the interviewees and have already begun planning a filming schedule. Here are just a few of the individuals currently slated: 

Scratch and Sniff Sticker Set [$7+S/H] [S/H is $4 in US & $6 EVERYWHERE ELSE]

T-shirt [$25+S/H] [SIZES XS-3XL] [S/H is $6 in US & $12 EVERYWHERE ELSE]

Set of Pogs by Jorge Manuel Velez [$20+S/H] [S/H is $4 in US & $6 EVERYWHERE ELSE]  

Air Freshener [$20+S/H] [S/H is $4 in US & $6 EVERYWHERE ELSE] 

Physical CD Copy of the Soundtrack [$20+S/H] [S/H is $6 in US & $10 EVERYWHERE ELSE]

Extra DVD Copy of the Documentary [$25+S/H] [S/H is $6 in US & $10 EVERYWHERE ELSE]

Extra Blu-ray Copy of the Documentary [$35+S/H] [S/H is $6 in US & $10 EVERYWHERE ELSE]

Theatrical Poster by Jorge Manuel Velez (27”x40”) [$50+S/H] [S/H is $8 in US & $22 EVERYWHERE ELSE]

One of Three Miniposters (11"x17") [$20+S/H] [S/H is $8 in US & $22 EVERYWHERE ELSE]

Currently, Add-ons are ONLY available to the US, EU, Canada, Mexico, and Japan. We hope to expand this later. If you don't live in those countries, email us. Also, these designs may be subject to slight changes but we don't expect anything huge. We decided to use Add-ons in our Kickstarter campaign because we know how you guys are huge fans of physical rewards. Add-ons are great if you want an extra shirt or sticker sheet, but don’t want to change your reward tier. You can even add multiple of the same item if you want! If you want an Add-on added to your initial pledge, it is easy and relatively simple. All you need to do is:

Don’t do anything else. We'll handle the rest when we send out backer surveys after the Kickstarter campaign has completed. And message us about ordering multiple items so we can work out a shipping/handling cost and save you some money.

What are Stretch Goals? What a great question, pre-written dialog! Stretch Goals are things that we initially wanted to include in the project but were put on hold due to budget concerns. The great thing about Stretch Goals is that once our initial goal is met, we can afford to put this stuff back on the table and bring you guys probably the coolest stuff we can think of. We believe Stretch Goals are a little tacky to display right from the get-go of a project but we’ll leave you with a little teaser and clue you in that most of our Stretch Goals are either equipment improvements, like better cameras and lights, or additional Add-ons, like more T-shirts, posters, maybe a keychain, maybe something even cooler. This will give us more opportunities to promote and support even more talented artists with our campaign. We also have a few other, crazier, Stretch Goals planned. More on this after we reach our initial funding goal.

Money! I mean, uh, Kickstarter presents a great opportunity for us to fund and publicize our work. That’s convincing, right?  

Alright, I’ll level with you: we are using Kickstarter because we need crowdfunding to make this film a reality. We can’t do this project alone; like we’ve mentioned before, we’ve tried for two years and have fallen short to this day simply because we’ve already stretched our time and budget as far as we can. We think this is a fascinating story, and we want to share it with everyone. We have a vision, a dream, and for the first time, our goal is within reach. We can do this, but we need some help - a kickstart, if you will. We have budgeted this movie out as tightly as we can, but we still need help (and funding) to physically go out and conduct our face-to-face interviews and edit the footage. The rest of the funding goes towards DVD/Blu-ray production and distribution. Here’s a handy pie-chart that lays out our initial budget and how we’ll use it:

 Kickstarter does have some pretty awesome advantages though. We can interact directly with our backers. That’s fantastic! We want to hear from each and every one of you guys! Message us here, or send us an email at [email protected] You can follow our website or hit us up on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or tumblr. Talk to us and we want to talk back. 

Another great benefit to using Kickstarter is that we can do much more than just a traditional release. Not only can we release the film to everyone who supports us, but we can also include awesome Backer Rewards! Backers can get some crazy awesome stuff here, and also help support some talented artists. With Kickstarter, we can also reach a much larger audience than would normally be possible, so everyone who might be interested can find us. It’s unbelievable!

Finally, we are happy to fund our project using Kickstarter because not only can we reach our goal, we have the potential to fund even more than we initially planned. With any extra funding beyond our goal, we can produce more insane stuff that normally wouldn’t even be possible! We want to impress you, we really do. That is why we are here today. Not to simply ask for money, but to ask you to join us, as partners, in the telling of this incredible story.

Josh Bone-Christian - Director, Producer - Initially doing the research for the investigation, Josh has contributed a massive amount to knowledge in both the background of the prototypes and the parties involved. Well versed in Earthbound and an animator by trade, he’ll also guide the project’s artistic aesthetics.

Christian Deitering - Producer, Videographer - As the most experienced filmmaker on the project, Christian has the job of keeping the project realistic and doable. A professional filmmaker, he’ll also be taking care of the production aspects of the documentary and providing the equipment.

Evan Butler - Director, Producer - Evan could probably be best described as a motivational organizer. His role is to oversee and plan more of the below-the-line elements and investigate the backstory while still participating in the creative aspects alongside Josh.

Quincy Pringle - Community Manager, PA  - Quincy Pringle will assist in managing communication feeds such as email, social media, updates to the Kickstarter, and also act as a general set of extra hands on the project as a production assistant. He is also an octopus.

Austin O’Rourke - Composer - Austin O'Rourke is a music student at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. A long-time composer, he has recently been awarded the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award in 2015. A huge fan of the Earthbound series, Austin will be composing an original score inspired by the series for this film.

Cole Masaitis - Composer - Cole Masaitis is a professional musician and a student at the University of Mary Washington. Cole will be working together with Austin to compose the score.

Alyssa Browning - Lead Designer - A Maryland artist that works in all styles and media, but leans more towards abstract art. When she is not working art projects, she enjoys spending time with dogs, modeling at MICA, or painting sets for a local children’s theatre.

Jorge Manuel Velez - Promotional Artist - A professional illustrator from Puerto Rico. His professional career includes work on Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball and the TV show, Archer.

Audrey Tichanuk - Contributing Artist - This creature lives somewhere in the vastness of space, unperturbed. They like to draw things and play videogames. Audrey has recently received a BFA in Sequential Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design.

Marco Fedele - Contributing Artist, Localization Manager - An artist from Naples, Italy. He works both digitally and traditionally. He’s an Illustrator with a love for comics, having grown-up on Franco-Belgian comics and Japanese manga.

Phillip Stankus - Contributing Artist - An animation graduate from the University of the Arts of Philadelphia. He currently lives in his hometown suburbs of Piscataway NJ, working on his webcomic and doing freelance work.

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