Former Warwick resident creates strongman documentary

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:14

Independent filmmaker credits hometown people and connections Warwick — Independent filmmaker Ryan Scafuro credits his film teacher Betty Hurd at Warwick Valley High School for sparking his interest in television and film. Scafuro lived in Warwick from 1978 until he left in 1996 for Emerson College in Boston where he studied television production. He is working currently on his first feature-length film, a documentary entitled “Bending Steel” that follows Chris Schoeck as he trains to become an old time strongman. To finance his independent film, Scafuro and director Dave Carroll have turned to crowd funding using Kickstarter and hope to raise $25,000 by Nov. 22 to finish the film. “Already on Kickstarter friends and family have pledged $7,829,” said Scafuro in an interview. Nov. 22 also happens to be Scafuro’s 34th birthday. Kickstarter allows independent filmmakers to solicit pledges similar to a pledge drive complete with gifts and other items related to the film. Yet, unlike ordinary pledge drives, if they fail to reach their goal, Kickstarter will not process any of the pledges. Credits Despite the all-or-nothing fund-raising approach, Scafuro remains optimistic that he will have a happy birthday. “We’re giving away horseshoes bent into hearts by Schoeck for a pledge of $200,” said Scafuro, who is also giving away credits in the film, a download of the movie and stickers to those who pledge. The minimum pledge is $1 but any pledge of $5 or more will get a special mention on the film page. Like many independent artists, Scafuro and Carroll have self-financed their venture and he estimates he and Carroll have spent $20,000 already on preproduction, equipment and travel. They need pledges to pay for things like studio time for the composer to record the score, audio mix of the film, motion graphics, and color grading and correction which is the most expensive part and what really makes a film stand out. Warwick Drive-in Although “Bending Steel” is his first feature-length documentary, Scafuro has made short films, some of which he screened locally at the Tuscan Café in Warwick. His short films include “Machine On the Sides,” a 12-minute history of barber shops that he uploaded in four parts on YouTube, and “Part of My Soul: The Odyssey of a Child of Genocide,” a film about a woman who escaped the Khmer Rouge, went into exile in Vermont and travels to Cambodia to see her family for the first time since her escape. Scafuro has made films for New England Cable News including “Hidden Wounds,” a film about post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers returning from Iraq. Although he now lives in Brooklyn, Warwick is never far from Scafuro’s mind. “The onions produced in the Black Dirt feed a lot of the East Coast,” said Scafuro who was shooting scenes for Bending Steel the weekend hurricane Irene hit. He belongs to a CSA garden in Brooklyn that purchases produce from Goshen and donated to Warwick Valley Farm Aid. “I have fond memories of the drive-in movie theater,” said Scafuro, who plans to submit “Bending Steel” to the big eight film festivals but would love to see the film at the Warwick drive-in once it premiers. Yet before any of that happens, Scafuro and Carroll need money to finish the film, which they hope to complete by April next year. The story “Bending Steel” follows Chris Schoeck, a man from New York City, who bends horseshoes and nails and is training to become a strongman, a type of entertainer popular in Coney Island Brooklyn during the Vaudeville era of the late 1800s until the early 1930s. Schoeck, who is in his early 40s, trains with professional strong man Chris Rider and the two have a goal to bring the strongmen back to Coney Island. The film explores some of the legends among strongmen including the Mighty Adam and Slim the Hammer Man. Essential information To contribute to Bending Steel donors can visit or e-mail