(Lander, WY) – Writer and film producer Geoff O’Gara will receive a Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award for his work in print, film and television at a February 23 banquet to be held at the Little America Resort in Cheyenne, WY.
The prestigious award from the Wyoming Arts Council and Governor Mark Gordon recognizes artists, arts educators, and art benefactors.
O’Gara came to Wyoming to write for High Country News, thinking it would be a fun, short
break from the journalism treadmill in Washington, D.C. Forty years later, he was still in
Lander, after stints with the Casper Star-Tribune, National Geographic Traveler, several
books, and work in front of and behind the camera at Wyoming PBS.
In 2015 O’Gara launched Caldera Productions, an independent documentary film company,
producing long and short form films focused on stories from Wyoming and the American
At Caldera, Geoff directed, produced and wrote many of the production company’s
award winning documentaries, including, The Drift: An American Cattle Drive (2019), The
State of Equality (2020), and Home From School: The Children of Carlisle (2022). As an executive producer he also had his hand in Ferret Town (2020), and Who She Is (2023).
“The team at Caldera is happy to see Geoff get recognition for all the books, reporting, and
documentary work he’s done,” said Sophie Barksdale, also a producer/director in Lander,
WY. “Geoff has this ability to tell an important and engaging micro story that becomes a
window to larger national and international issues. And the films remain relevant and alive,
still out there for new and old audiences to enjoy. ”
O’Gara said he hoped the award was an inspiration to others to make art of the many stories still untold in Wyoming, and he praised this year’s co-winners, Milward Simpson, Mike and Jane Sullivan, educator Mary Jane Edwards, and the musicians The Munsick Boys.
“It can be a long road to recognition, but the biggest reward is in the art itself. And it never ends. We’ve got some great new documentary films in development.”
For example, Caldera is developing, with the help of the Wyoming Humanities Council, a
documentary about what was happening in Wyoming at the time of the American
Revolution, in 1776.
“No Redcoats here, no Paul Revere, no tea to throw overboard – in fact, there wasn’t even a Wyoming. So that’s going to be a fascinating story.”
O’Gara credited the Casper Star-Tribune, where he worked as a reporter, with giving him the freedom to roam and get to know the state and the Wind River Reservation, where many of his stories have been rooted.
And it was Wyoming PBS, based in Riverton, that brought him to television and documentaries, under the leadership of former General Manager Ruby Calvert, who first invited him to host “Main Street, Wyoming.”
The documentaries that followed covered everything from Dick Cheney to the invention of
the basketball jump shot to the migration of wildlife through the Trapper’s Point bottleneck. O’Gara’s film about the Northern Arapaho Tribe’s quest to bring home the remains of children who died at Indian boarding schools, “Home From School: The Children of Carlisle”, was one of the most-viewed programs on PBS’s Independent Lens in recent years.
Links to many of O’Gara’s films can be found at calderaproductions.com, including streaming options via Amazon Prime Video and PBS’s Independent Lens.