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Community support helps former Salmon Arm wrestling ‘bad guy’ find career behind the lens

Stephen Ingle, aka Shotgun Stevens, transitions from flying elbows to full-time videographer
Stephen Ingle works on a shot with Bastion Elementary music students at the piano beneath the giant treble clef for the school’s video entry in the CBC Music Class Challenge on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (File photo)

It was back when Stone Cold Steve Austin was still in the ring, asking fans to give him a “Hell Yeah,” that Stephen Ingle’s journey with film began.

Long before he started working behind the lens for his business Single Shot Productions, the Salmon Arm videographer was editing excerpts of wrestling matches and making his own highlight reels and music videos.

“As a kid, I was a fan of wrestling and that was kind of how I started editing,” said Ingle, whose wrestling heroes include Austin, Jeff Hardy, Triple H and others.

Instead of focusing on developing his film chops, after high school Ingle took a diving drop into the world of professional wrestling. He trained in Calgary under the guidance of pro Lance Storm (Lance Timothy Evers). It was during his training that he picked up the name he would use in the ring, Shotgun Stevens.

“We were training to fall and make a loud noise and in my class I happened to be the loudest when I would fall, so they started calling me shotgun,” laughed Ingle, acknowledging the name isn’t quite as menacing when you learn its backstory.

Shotgun Stevens wrestled mostly in the Okanagan, and almost always as the “bad guy.”

“We had some big shows – we had Mick Foley come in and I worked with him, Jeff Jarrett, Jimmy Hart if you remember from way back in the day,” said Ingle. “We had sort of a moderate amount of success at that.”

About a year into the wrestling gig, Ingle said he got back into shooting videos to promote his own career in the ring. Ingle soon found he was having more fun behind the camera than in the ring.

“And it was far less painful,” he said.

Another challenge with the wrestling career was that it didn’t pay well. He credited his longtime partner Joanna Pepin for supporting him through it all.

For one of his last matches, fans of Shotgun Stevens showed up ringside for a proper send off. The buzz in the audience prompted a last-minute change, in which Ingle suddenly found himself playing the “good guy.”

“Humbly speaking, it went kind of crazy because they were excited to see me,” said Ingle.

While his time in the ring came to an end, Shotgun Stevens’ career continued, albeit briefly, on camera. Around the same time, Ingle said his wrestling videos caught the attention of City Furniture owner Sunny Dhaliwal and Integrity Roofing owner Josh Bickle, who wanted to see what Ingle could do for them. Shotgun returned to star in promotional videos for City Furniture.

“I’m not going to profess that I knew what I was doing, but they were kind of fun videos, and the first one that we did for City Furniture, it got something like 20,000 views,” said Ingle.

Word of mouth got around and Ingle quickly found himself in a new, full-time career. While his CV includes work for Trivago and Jack Daniels, 90 per cent of the work Ingle has done has been in Salmon Arm, with projects for local schools, Downtown Salmon Arm, Salmon Arm Economic Development Society and more, including a short documentary-style film on the making of the large treble clef sculpture at Bill Laird’s Shuswap Park Mall, and the Celebrate Shuswap doc featuring local musicians.

“It’s just been kind of a domino effect, from Josh and Sunny who are already pretty influential to Bill Laird and Salmon Arm Economic Development… I kind of fell into a good group of people to help me through,” said Ingle.

Grateful to be busy doing what he loves, Ingle says at some point, when time allows, he’d like to work on short films, action comedies that would be a “nice balance between my wrestling world and my professional world.” In the meantime, he takes some personal pleasure when he’s able to incorporate the style of an influential director or cinematographer, such as David Fincher or Roger Deakins, into his work.

Read more: Bastion Elementary students brighten downtown Salmon Arm with song

Read more: Video chronicles rise of Salmon Arm’s giant treble clef

“There are occasions where I’ll be filming a project and there’s a shot in there, just maybe one shot out of the whole shot list, where I’ll be like, ‘ooh, Roger Deakins did something like this,’ and I’ll try to do a little bit of what he did but it’s nowhere near the same level,” laughed Ingle.

Asked if he’s still a fan of wrestling, Ingle said he prefers the older stuff now, the wrestlers he grew up with – and got him into editing.

“I think I’m sort of lucky in the sense that I’ve been doing this since I was 14, at least on a smaller scale, so I got to make all those little mistakes and develop an eye for things that worked and things that don’t,” said Ingle.

For more information, visit the Single Shot Productions page on Facebook.
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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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