This summer, I'll be going on tour with Phish to teach a college course about Phish and philosophy. But the class is limited to 25 students.
I want to make this experience accessible to everyone by filming a documentary about the class, why Phish matters, and what happens when Foucault meets Fluffhead.
To tell the story, I need your help.
I am a philosophy professor at Oregon State University and a longtime Phish phan. This summer, I have the unique opportunity to combine these two passions in an online college course that I’ve nicknamed the “Philosophy School of Phish.”
Our "classroom" will be on the road with Phish. We'll explore the meaning of their music, and why, over the past 30 years, they've spawned a devoted community of fans who see them over and over (and over) again. My students and I will talk with fans and some of the most influential voices from the Phish community. I'll also be giving lectures on tour, on the web, and at conferences across the country.
So why should this be made into a movie?
- The ideas of the class are too big to be confined to a classroom: they come alive in the stories of Phish fans across America. This film will give them a spotlight.
- Space in the actual class is limited and not everyone is able to follow Phish's summer tour. A movie will help bring the School of Phish to phans and philosophers at home.
- Media coverage of Phish hasn't come close to capturing why this community matters and how it's so much more than just a quirky rock band. This film will break the mold, showing how Phish is a celebration of adventure, a gathering place for ritual and wonder, and a home for the child in us all.
- This project involves some big risks -- people will try to portray it as a joke. Your support sends a message that Phish is a cultural phenomenon that's worthy of study.
But there's another reason I want to make this film. The easiest way to explain it is to share a note I wrote to the band before the Philosophy School of Phish project started. During the 2013 New Year's run at Madison Square Garden, I decided to write the band a thank you letter.
Along with this note, I threw copies of two philosophy books on stage. If you were at the concert or watched the webcast, you might have seen Trey pick them up.
Here is my note in its entirety -- I've never shared it with anyone (except the band, if they read it!):
"I’m a phan and philosopher. My greatest teachers have been Foucault, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Phish. Your music and their texts make up the sound track of my life. In his dialogue, Theaetetus, Plato recounts Socrates’ statement that philosophy begins with “wonder.” In my experience, wonder begins at a Phish concert, dancing. Thank you for saving my life and being my muses. For these things, I will never be able to repay you, but I hope to share with others some of the joy you bring me. For my students, this means they get lectures about “Crowd Control,” “Slave to the Traffic Light,” and “Maze.” These are two books that you have taught me much about. I hear your music in them when I read. In the lights and crowd of a live concert, your music brings me concepts. Thank you for all that you do and for bearing your heart on stage."
Project Status and Execution
The Philosophy School of Phish is ready to launch. Course registration is open, and I have created a public website for videos, blog posts, and discussions. Interviews with scholars and community experts are currently being scheduled. All I need to do is pack! I have been working closely with a talented group of filmmakers (who also happen to be big Phish phans!) Over the past few months, I have been consulting with Nathan Tobey, Kristin Moe, New Media Concepts LLC, and my colleagues to put this plan into action. If this Kickstarter campaign is successful, our film crew will be ready to join the tour and make this project happen!
Why we need you
This movie will not be possible without your support. Your donations will go towards equipment, production, travel, editing, marketing, and copyright expenses. This movie won't be complete without Phish's music. In order to include the music that we all love, we have to allocate a significant portion of our budget to covering copyright expenses.
Please share our campaign with your friends and consider donating to make this project possible.
And take a look at our great rewards! We’re especially excited to offer all our supporters a chance to be featured in the Philosophy School of Phish movie. Details about how to submit your audition will be sent at the end of the campaign.
Risks and challenges
This project comes with the risks typical of any creative endeavor: our car could break down, a member of the film crew could get sick, our equipment could explode, etc. We're taking every precaution to account for these predictable problems: rigorously backing up our data, gathering a team of helpers, and consulting other experts about best practices.
The two biggest challenges associated with this campaign are:
1) Production delays often plague creative projects and this is a common trap for many Kickstarter campaigns. We've accounted for the possibility of mishaps in our "estimated delivery" dates. If an unexpected event delays our schedule, we will be transparent and honest with our supporters about the project's status and new timeline.
2) Copyright licensing is necessary to include video footage and audio of the band. To ensure we are able to successfully negotiate film, audio and synchronization rights for the official film, we have enlisted the help of legal advisors.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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