What started out as hearing old stories from her dad led Oakley Anderson-Moore to shoot a documentary about the origins of America’s rock climbing movement.
“Brave New Wild” is rooted in the stories of the early days of rock climbing director Anderson-Moore heard from her dad, Mark Moore, who described the period to her as “when friendships were forged laughing in the face of danger, 1,000 feet off the ground.”
The documentary will be screened at the Top Hat Lounge on Sunday, Feb. 15 as part of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
Filming for “Brave New Wild” started back in 2008, when producer Alex Reinhard, Anderson-Moore and two other members of the production team took a month-long cross-country trip, packed into a 1976 Volkswagen van, to track down and interview climbers like Lars Holbek and Royal Robbins, as well as members of the infamous rock climbing group called the Vulgarians.
“As a movement, it started in the '50s and '60s as sort of a middle class reaction against the time, a reaction to the old ideas of mountaineering. We finally have enough money to be in the middle class, let’s go to the cliffs and do something to be creative and express yourself,” Anderson-Moore.
The documentary also includes an interview with Warren Harding shot before his death in 2002 that until now, hadn’t been shown before.
A large part of the documentary focuses on the competition between Robbins and Harding through the 1960s and especially into the early 1970s and their drive to accumulate first ascents on as many of the hardest rock faces as possible.
“We wanted to identify what kind of people were drawn into this world and why,” Reinhard said.
After conducting interviews, the team spent years in postproduction, following the storylines they had teased out in interviews and tracking down archival photos and video that make up much of the doc.
Before finishing “Brave New Wild” Anderson-Moore had produced a shorter documentary about the next generation of climbers who came after the American rock climbing pioneers. She said at some point she is hoping to organize a film tour to be able to show both documentaries together.
Anderson-Moore will be on stage for a question-and-answer session about the documentary, and she said they are also still working on the distribution for “Brave New World” including the possibility of splitting it up into a miniseries.
“The trend of media is more and more that people are wanting to watch shorter, but episodic material,” she said.
Reinhard said they hadn’t applied to many film festivals, but choose to submit their work to the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival because they had friends who showed there last year and had heard great things about it.
“You have to apply to places where it makes sense. Missoula has more knowledge about climbing. It’s a big area for climbing,” he said.
Reinhard and Anderson-Moore drove for 14 hours for the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival from their home in Flagstaff, Arizona. Anderson-Moore’s parents are coming into town to see the documentary, the first time he has seen the finished product.
I thought, Montana and the Big Sky, that would be a special place for him to see it,” Anderson-Moore said. “He spent time in the 1970s picking cherries in the Flathead to support his climbing habit.”