CASPER, Wyo. — Betsy Bower is a local artist and sculptress, using her talents at metalworking to create commissioned art pieces, explore her own ideas and pass knowledge on to others as an instructor. And now, she’s the subject of Emmy Award–winning local filmmaker Anthony Stengel’s latest documentary, “The Steel Sculptress.”
Produced by Stengel’s company, Stengel Media, the documentary short film is the third documentary Stengel has directed for the Wyoming PBS series “Our Wyoming,” which highlights interesting stories and people across the state. Previously, Stengel has produced documentaries on neon tube bender Connie Morgan and fire spinner Miranda Bressler.
The documentary short on Morgan received an Emmy Award last year for best documentary short film.
“Each segment is tied to a place, and so each of mine has been tied to a Casper story,” Stengel said. “Coincidentally, each one has been a female artist’s story. So it’s been really cool.”
Stengel oversees almost every aspect of his films, including direction, sound design, editing, production and cinematography, he said.
“In these cases, I am a one-man band, I guess you could say,” Stengel said with a chuckle. “I really enjoy being out there shooting it and working with the artists. The days where I get to be out there working with cameras, working with the lighting to make things look cool and just shooting and interacting with people — I really like that type of work.
“I have a love–hate relationship with editing. I love about 20% of editing, but most of that is just banging my head against the wall.”
Stengel said one of his favorite parts of working with Wyoming PBS is how hands-off the station is in letting him choose his documentary subjects.
“They just let me do my thing,” he said. “I’ll go to them and pitch them a couple ideas, and they’re pretty agreeable with what I want to do. I’ll go to them and say, ‘Hey, I have a friend named Betsy who does really cool stuff as a metalworker and I’d like to do a piece on her,’ and they just say, ‘Yeah, OK, cool.'”
For Stengel, featuring Bower was an easy decision to make, he said. Stengel attended school with Bower and has known the family for even longer, he said. Not only that, but Bower was featured in the first documentary Stengel ever created, which highlighted five unique artists.
“She’s an amazing person and artist, and she’s got a cool story,” Stengel said. “When it came time to do this for PBS, I knew I wanted to highlight her.”