FULLY AWAKE: A Black Mountain College Documentary

Help us complete this important film about a legendary experiment in education (1933-1957) that valued artistic process, learning-by-doing, and democracy.
Neeley Dawson
Asheville, North Carolina
United States
2 Team Members


Each year the arts become increasingly removed from mainstream education. As a result, the kind of creative thinking and innovation that grows from a learning rooted in the arts is disappearing in an era where such prowess is needed more than ever before.

Black Mountain College was an early visionary experiment in arts-based education. Founded in the midst of the Great Depression, the school offered students an opportunity to engage with the world through the artistic process, not necessarily to become professional artists, but to see and interact with the world as such. 

The school’s interdisciplinary approach encouraged independent thinking, and challenged students to not only engineer their own education, but to build their own campus, farm their own land, and run the school itself.  The experience produced ingenious, free-thinking problem-solvers; skills that are hugely relevant in today’s interconnected world.

FULLY AWAKE is the only documentary film that tells the story of this inspiring school nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina.  Help us advance the powerful wisdom cultivated at Black Mountain College to a new generation of progressive educators, pioneering artists, and inspired thinkers by supporting this greatly enriched film.

There is much to be learned from the incredible legacy of Black Mountain College. We are presently faced with the need for sweeping changes in higher education, and the history of Black Mountain College contributes a vibrant voice to current conversations about modern education reform.


We seeking to raise $15,900 to take our original 2007 student film to dynamic new places.  The new version of FULLY AWAKE will feature:

  • Hundreds of newly released photographs from the College
  • An original new score by composer, To All My Dear Friends, inspired by the work of John Cage, Lou Harrison and Erik Satie
  • Primary interviews with key figures, including an audio interview with Founder John Andrew Rice and archival video interviews with Josef Albers, Merce Cunningham and John Cage
  • New interviews with Joseph Bathani, NC Poet Laureate and Black Mountain College expert and Brian Butler, Black Mountain College Museum & Arts Center
  • Professional post-production, including color correction, audio sweetening and new motion graphics


Hidden in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Black Mountain College (1933–1957) was an experiment in education that inspired and shaped twentieth century American art. The emphasis was that learning and living are intimately connected.

Highly democratic and faculty-owned, the school promoted educational of the whole person: head, heart, and hand. Practical daily responsibilities and the creative arts were viewed as equally important components to intellectual development.

During the era of WWII, Black Mountain College was a haven for refugee European artists who brought a high level of discourse to the small school, and ultimately BMC became a laboratory for the American avant-garde.  Collaborations such as the first Geodesic Dome (Buckminister Fuller), the first Happening (John Cage and David Tudor), and the Black Mountain Review (a journal which first published the Beat writers) all flowed out of the dynamic, inventive community that thrived at Black Mountain College.


Black Mountain College set the precedent for experiential education, and its story has never been more relevant as it is today. In a time when education is increasingly in the spotlight, it is so important to understand our history so we can move towards a more constructive future.

Groundswell response to the first FULLY AWAKE, the only feature documentary film about Black Mountain College, led to its screening at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Guggenheim Bilbao, North Carolina Museum of Art, and the National Gallery. But we can go further -- we hope to have FULLY AWAKE available on-line as well as in libraries, community centers, and schools across the world, so that anyone can have access to learning about this inspiring experiment in education.

We hope you will become a part of FULLY AWAKE, and help us re-envision a film worthy of Black Mountain College and its legacy. With your help, we will be able to create a film that can be enjoyed for generations to come.


If you are not in the position to donate but would still like to lend your support -- please help us get the word out. Indiegogo’s share tools are an easy way to share this project with your community, and we are so grateful for your help! 

Please be sure to follow us on Twitter @FullyAwakeFilm and on Facebook to stay connected.


Find This Campaign On
raised by 31 people in 1 month
11% funded
0 time left
$15,900 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on April 6, 2014
Select a Perk
  • $10USD

    Original Poem by North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti performed specifically for contributors to FULLY AWAKE

    2 out of 500 claimed

  • $25USD

    Sneak Peek! Special online access to the completed film prior to DVD release (slated for early summer 2014).

    8 out of 200 claimed

  • $50USD

    Special access to an online of the finished film prior to DVD release (slated for early summer 2014) and a DVD copy of the film.

    4 out of 150 claimed

  • $100USD

    All of the above and special thanks in the FULLY AWAKE on-screen credits.

    6 out of 100 claimed

  • $250USD

    All of the above plus a FULLY AWAKE soundtrack

    0 out of 50 claimed

  • $500USD

    All of the above plus special credit in the film and all of our FULLY AWAKE offerings (DVD, soundtrack, and screen-printed art posters)

    0 out of 20 claimed

  • $1,000USD

    All of the above, plus special credit in the film with no more than 5 other names on screen

    0 out of 4 claimed

  • $5,000USD

    Producer Credit in the film (and all of the above)

    0 out of 2 claimed

  • $10,000USD

    Executive Producer credit in the film, editorial input, and all of the above

    0 out of 1 claimed

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