In early 2006, as the Brokeback Mountain phenomenon swept the world, some remarkable things happened. One of these was the emergence of Dave Cullen’s Ultimate Brokeback Forum , an online resource for Brokeback aficionados to exchange experiences, ideas, and perspectives. The Brokeback Forum grew to more than 6,000 individuals who busily discussed topics ranging from Buddhist symbolism to exposed microphone cords, although most discussions dealt with the deep human side of the film and the remarkable feelings of pain, passion, fear, love, sadness, and hope it has engendered in us all.
One of these online conversations concerned travel to the film’s shooting locations in Alberta, Canada. Though a few news and Internet accounts provided some tantalizing clues to where some of the film’s scenes were shot (many of these reports later proved to be incorrect), there existed no reliable resource to guide Brokeback pilgrims to the Laundry Apartment, the Twist Ranch, the Childress Dance Hall, or even the Dozy Embrace site. This was plainly, as Jack would say, “a goddamn bitch of an unsatisfactory situation.”
Enter die hard Brokeback fans Jim Bond (born traveler), Rob Freeman (owner of Jack’s truck), Barry Gilligan (web guru), Steve Gin (Brokeback actor), Lauren Gurney (intrepid explorer), and Bob Sohomuch (map buff). Over the course of many emails, the notion emerged of a non-commercial website dedicated to helping Brokeback fans find these special places.
Finding the sites was an adventure. The producers of the film and the Alberta Tourism folks had provided a few general locations, but we wanted to go deeper, much deeper. The film has approximately 80 sites, of which we have now identified all of the major ones and all but one of the minor ones. We have also located the sites for 10 deleted scenes. We wrote to small town mayors, geologists, cliff diving enthusiasts, geographers, tractor authorities, and everyone else who might know where these places were. We even cultivated a “mole” or two. Then, in a series of phenomenal trips spanning four years and totaling more than 15,000 km, we drove throughout southern Alberta, movie stills in hand, asking anyone who would talk with us, “Have you seen this place?” The cooperation we received was astounding. Most of the photographs you see here came from these trips.
Meanwhile, Barry tirelessly assembled the framework for the website you are now using. Because of the nature of the material, the maps, the text, and the large number of photographs, no “standard” site format would work. Barry designed every element of this site from the ground up and then processed and integrated photographs, text, and links into the coherent form in which you see them now.
Use FindingBrokeback.com as a resource. It is free, our simple tribute to the committed and creative people who gave their talents to writing and telling the Brokeback story. Please let us know what sites you enjoy and share suggestions you may have for others who will follow you.
Oh yes, we undoubtedly have made errors and we want to fix them. If you spot an inaccuracy, locate a site we are still searching for, or find that we have missed something important, please send us an email and let us know! Thank you.
Revised 13 April 2011