Fully Awake: Black Mountain College is a documentary film about the experimental college based in North Carolina from 1933-1957 and its enormous influence on community, collaboration, and American modern art. The 70 minute film was shot on digital video and looks at the unique educational style and long term significance of Black Mountain College through interviews with students, teachers, historians, and current artists.

While popularly known as the location for such events as Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome, John Cage's first multimedia happening and publishing early Beat poets in the Black Mountain Review, the film illuminates the unique educational approach of Black Mountain College and the emphasis on balancing academics, art, work programs and community living.


The Early Years

Began in 2001 by Cathryn Davis, the initial team of volunteers included Cathryn, David Teague, and Kyle McCabe--North Carolina natives residing and working in New York City. Cathryn worked with a number of organizations to research and develop Fully Awake, including Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, the North Carolina State Archive, and the Black Mountain College Project--founded by historian Mary Emma Harris.

A New Partner

In 2005, Cathryn met Neeley House, a senior at Elon University in North Carolina who was also working on a Black Mountain College documentary. The pair hit it off and rather than have competitive films decided, in the spirit of Black Mountain College, to merge projects. This partnership has proved highly successful for both Cathryn and Neeley.


Cathryn Davis, Filmmaker

Currently residing with her husband in New York City, Cathryn Davis Zommer has spent the past decade intrigued by Black Mountain College. Her production experience comes from writing and executing high profile multimedia productions in New York and coordinating large-scale media events for international clients. She has also worked voluntarily as a fundraiser, promotions manager, and assisted with distribution on independent film productions in New York. This is her first major film documentary, and she brings national resources to help advise, review, fundraise, interview, film, and edit this documentary, including journalists, musicians, editors, directors of photography, associate producers, etc.

Neeley House, Filmmaker

Neeley House is a native of Hendersonville, North Carolina, and a recent graduate of Elon University. Her passion for Black Mountain College began when she learned about the school in a Beat Generation writing class. She is currently working on a number of film projects, including Bass Mountain: Feels Like Coming Home, a documentary about a local bluegrass festival, and traveled to Ghana, West Africa to work on a documentary on Ebo Taylor, a Ghanaian highlife and jazz musician. Her recent short film, Love Overdue, won for "Best Original Score" and a "Viewers' Choice Award" as a part of the 2005 Greensboro 48 Hour Film Project. Neeley is currently employed at documentary production company, Bonesteel Films, in Asheville, North Carolina.


Brooke Barnett
Elon Docs Advisor, Elon University

Casey Burns
Web Designer

Sebastian Collett
Score / Pianist

Matthew Dawson
Sound / Audio

David Frisco
Graphic Designer

Mary Emma Harris
Black Mountain College Historian

Ray Johnson
Academic Advisor, Elon University

Kyle McCabe
Director of Photography / Assistant Producer

Jay McMerty
Color Correction

David Teague
Director of Photography

"What is the nature of an experimental action?  
It is simply an action the outcome of which is not foreseen."
John Cage, Silence, 1961 

Donated to the North Carolina State Archives
from the collection of Elizabeth Jane Slater 
Courtesy of North Carolina State Archives
Courtesy of North Carolina State Archives

Courtesy of North Carolina State Archives
Site Design by Casey Burns