Courtesy of Wide Awake Films
By Jonas Weir
The folks at Wide Awake Films know a thing or two about making documentaries. The Kansas City production company has been making documentaries on the Civil War with a focus on historical reenactments for more than twenty years now. However, when the Friends of Arrow Rock approached the company to make a film on George Caleb Bingham, the production team found some new challenges.
“It’s hard to re-create his art for the camera,” says Shane Seley, director of The American Artist. “Fortunately, I’m surrounded by some very gifted people.”
Aside from having a team that knows a thing or two about historical reenactments, Shane enlisted the help of Missouri artists to transform Bingham’s heralded portraits of the American frontier into works in progress.
For this documentary, Wide Awake Films is filming around the state with a focus on Arrow Rock, where Bingham kept his studio. Although the topic has local appeal and the production company has a good working relationship with PBS station KCPT in Kansas City, Shane says he is looking for a bigger platform for this hour-long documentary.
“His story is just so uniquely American,” Shane says. “We had the top American curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art say that one of their Bingham paintings is one of the top ten paintings ever done by an American.”