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About this project:
In The Way with Alan Watts is a film about the charismatic author and speaker that brought Eastern thought into popular culture in the Sixties. He challenged the Western worldview with innovative ways of looking at religion, psychology, and humankind’s place in nature. Through recently discovered interview footage from his mountain library near Muir Woods, this documentary is designed to reintroduce Alan Watts at the height of his career. In The Way also draws upon his autobiography (In My Own Way) as well as his son’s selections from a vast archive of film and audio recordings to recreate his life and explore his works.
Nearly 38 years after his death, the writings and recordings of Alan Watts continue to attract new audiences, and reach millions through talks on the radio, the Alan Watts Podcast, and creative video posts on YouTube. An English-born academic, speaker, and writer, Alan Watts was a pioneer in making Eastern philosophies accessible to the counter cultures of the 50’s and 60's. Yet In The Way is not just another Sixties nostalgia film. It is the story of an author who became a mentor and sage for several generations in an era of profound cultural awakening, but unlike the East-West guru figures of his time, he embraced life without the denial of “wine, woman, and song”, and never wavered from his view of the individual as the ultimate source of spiritual authority. As he was often heard to say:
“The individual is an aperture through which the universe becomes aware of itself.”
The film will follow his life journey from the early influences of nature, art, and Eastern philosophies, to some of the notable writers and artists who helped inform his approach. As a collaboration of several experimental and award-winning filmmakers, In The Way with Alan Watts promises to deliver an accessible and in-depth exploration of our psyches and our place in the world—with Alan’s wit and playful spirit as our guide. His recorded audio podcasts have been downloaded over five million times and his YouTube videos have had several million plays. Although Watts died over 35 years ago, he leaves us with thoughts that still speak powerfully today.
We will deliver a preview release of the complete 1 hour film on DVD to contributors at the $50 level. Our hope in the next round of funding, we will treat the film for theatrical release at film festivals. Any excess funding of our goal will go to the film festival funding round for the project. This film is being produced through an educational nonprofit, and portions of all contributions are fully tax-deductible.
About Alan Watts
The film traces Watts’ his life from London to New York, Chicago and finally to San Francisco as he made his way as an author, Episcopal priest, Dean, lecturer, and finally a reticent guru-like figure to the flower children of the 1960s. Along the way he became friends with Joseph Campbell, Jack Kerouac, Aldous Huxley, Jacques Cousteau, Arthur C. Clark, the avant-garde composer John Cage, Tom Smothers, and Van Morrison, among many other luminaries of the time. In 1953, he began his charismatic Sunday morning public radio shows, which have now been broadcast nationally for over fifty years, and in 1957 he published his pivotal work, The Way of Zen, followed by Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen. By 1960, Watts had appeared in two seasons of his own public television series “Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life.” Today he is perhaps best known for his many books, and for his leading role in the counter culture movement. By any account he lived a colorful life, traveled the world, and between the age of 20 and 48 was married three times, divorced twice, and had seven children. He died in 1973 at the age of 58, leaving behind an archive of recorded works spanning three decades.
The film captures Alan stepping out of the roles preordained by his parents, and society at large, to disseminate ideas that unraveled the status quo. From an early age he had a series of transformative experiences that expanded his understanding of reality and our role in what he termed the organism-environment. His work consistently addressed issues of human identity and the sense of alienation that he felt “plagued the modern westerner,” alienation that he saw as an unintentional by-product of human dislocation from the natural world. Since he was an intellectual at heart, these experiences were the key influences that helped him to integrate mind and spirit, sense and senses, taking him beyond his foundations to an increasingly direct experience of the Tao. As his neighbor and poet Elsa Gidelow wrote:
“...it transformed him as he allowed it to permeate his being, so that a reserved, somewhat uptight young Englishman, living overmuch in his head, in his mature years became an outgoing , spontaneously joyful, world sage.”
We currently have 80% of the raw materials needed to make this film, along with filmmakers who are contributing their time to this project.
How we will use the funds
IN THE WAY: RAW ELEMENTS + RIGHTS + FIRST CUT (preview release)
- Licensing/rights for newly discovered footage of Alan Watts, $8,000, and In My Own Way autobiography story rights, $6,000.
- Photo and 16MM film rights (6 minutes, Japan, 1965) $8,000.
- Restoration of master footage and photos, research expenses $10,000
- Production equipment and rentals $5,000
- Editing $5,000
- Musical score and mixing $3,000
- Shipping & manufacturing of DVD deliverable and rewards $5,000
Total: $ 50,000
January 2010 - March 2011 – Pre-production research:
April 2011- July 2011 – Production: Making of the film with August for mastering and deliverable first cut DVDs ready by September 1st, 2011.
Mark Watts (producer, writer, and media curator): Son of Alan Watts, Mark is providing media compilations from his father’s archives.
Michael Garcia (director and editor); Former creative executive at HBO, will be chief editor.
Matt Wood (sound design and effects): Oscar-nominated Sound Designer (Wall-E, There Will Be Blood), will be a contributing editor.
Bruce Walters (effects and photo restoration): British Academy Award (BAFTA) winner for "The Witches of Eastwick," and pioneer in digital matte painting.
Eddie Rosas (animation and storyboards): Traditional character animator (The Iron Giant, Futurama, The Simpsons), will assist with animation.
Chris Britt (executive producer, researcher, writer): An Emmy-nominated co-producer and director, Chris has relocated from Boston to San Francisco to coordinate this project.
How Kickstarter Works
To pledge to a project, just click the green “Back This Project” button on this page. You will be asked to input your pledge amount and select a reward. From there, you will go through the Amazon checkout process. Note that you must finish the Amazon checkout process for your pledge to be recorded. If we don’t reach our goal by the end of the fundraiser, you account will not be charged.
Non-profit status- This film is being produced by Electronic Educational Programs Inc, an educational non-profit established in 1976 to further the works of Alan Watts. EEP had produced hundreds of public radio shows, the Alan Watts Podcast, and a series of animated shorts with the creative principals of SouthPark, which can be found on YouTube. Proceeds from the film will help to support and continue the dissemination of his works.
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Rewards and One-of-a-kinds
Easter, Its Story and Meaning, extremely rare First Edition illustrated in black and white, with the name and address of Alan Watts biographer David Stuart inside the cover. The Cover is in fair condition with wear along all edges, however the inside including all illustrations is in very good condition.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Illustration
Chapter 2 Illustration
$7,500-Does It Matter? Alan Watts Original Manuscript of his book Does It Matter? including a one-of-a kind 30 page typescript, sixty pages of article copies, some hand corrected by Alan, including “The Buddhism of Aldous Huxley” and more
$5,000-The Future of Ecstasy: Alan Watts Original Manuscript of his article The Future of Ecstasy, a one-of-a kind seven page typescript and more
- (50 days)