UM Alumni Win Emmy Award for Climbing Documentary

November 02, 2016

MISSOULA – Five graduates from the University of Montana recently were part of a team of artists that won an Emmy Award for their work on the documentary film “Valley Uprising.”  The film tells the story of Yosemite National Park’s counterculture rock-climbing revolution that spanned three generations and still influences the sport today.

UM alumni Greg Twigg, Sari Jones, Barry Thompson, Eric Bucy and Wesley Meeks, from left, pose on campus with the Emmy they recently won for Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction in the documentary film “Valley Uprising.”The “Valley Uprising” team received the Emmy for Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction during the News and Documentary Awards held Sept. 21 in New York City.

Lead Motion Designer and Art Director Barry Thompson pulled together the team of digital artists that included Sari Jones, Greg Twigg, Eric Bucy and Wesley Meeks. All five are graduates of UM’s School of Media Arts.

Film directors Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen urged the team to “make the viewers’ hands sweat and make them feel vertigo from the extreme heights,” which was challenging because the era of climbing history that the film chronicles was not well documented on video. Instead the design team relied heavily on photography, bringing still imagery to life by immersing the audience in historic photographs and “flying” through the images. The result is more than an hour of stunning footage that takes viewers up Yosemite’s steep vertical walls and places them alongside climbers.

Twigg, who is an associate professor in UM’s School of Media Arts, said the team was surprised and honored to win the Emmy.

“We knew that our work was solid and extensive, but we were up against some major players in our field,” he said. “The fact that the majority of the team was made up of UM media arts and arts alums is truly as much a major win here on campus as it is for us individually. It feels really, really great.”

In addition to the recent Emmy win, “Valley Uprising” screened at film festivals around the world and received several awards. Watch a trailer of the film at


Contact: Greg Twigg, associate professor, UM School of Media Arts, 406-243-4540,