“A Shot in The Dark,” premiered at the Monmouth Film Festival on Aug. 10 at the Two River Theatre in Red Bank.
“A Shot in The Dark” is a documentary following a St. John Vianney High School senior, Anthony Ferraro, while he hopes to become the first blind wrestling state champion.
Filmed throughout the 2012-13 school year, Anthony was approached by his older brother, Oliver, who had the idea to track his brother’s story and show everyone about defying hardship. Anthony agreed and was then followed by cameras for most of his senior year at the high school, which is located in Holmdel.
“It helped being blind,” Anthony said. “It really came down to my brother. He saw that this is not just a wrestling story; it’s more than that. It’s about not giving up and just dealing with adversity that you will always be given in life. I was just fortunate that my story was captured because everyone has a story to share.”
Coached by Pat Smith and Tony Caravella (former outstanding head coach at Brick Memorial High School), Anthony went on to secure 122 career victories at St. John Vianney. He won two district tournament titles during his career.
The film was thought of and initially directed by Oliver Ferraro, but when he needed funding and filming materials, it seemed like fate was at work when he met director Chris Suchorsky.
Suchorsky wrestled with Smith at Seton Hall University. They both ended up becoming wrestling coaches at opposing high schools in the same district following their time together in college.
But when Suchorsky realized he didn’t want to be a coach anymore, he lost touch with Smith.
About 10 years later, the two reconnected on Facebook and Smith sent a video of Anthony wrestling to Suchorsky. Across the bottom of the video was a caption from Oliver Ferraro saying he wanted to make a film about Anthony and needed help producing.
“I contacted Ollie. He was living out in California at the time,” Suchorsky said. “A few weeks later, Ollie came back and we basically decided that we would make a film following Anthony through his senior year trying to accomplish his goals.”
Following the filming of the documentary, Oliver Ferraro, who had just moved back to New Jersey from California, passed away. But his vision lives on through his film about his brother.
“My brother’s vision, as well as my vision, through this was just to help people and inspire and motivate people,” Anthony said. “It wasn’t about becoming the next state champion. That would have been unbelievable, but this is just reality. If it motivates just one person to get up and stop feeling sorry for yourself, it’s a win.”
Anthony’s parents welcomed him wanting to wrestle. His mother, Sue, thought it provided him with more and felt it was a way for Anthony to act like the average teenager.
“To watch him wrestle, it made me happy,” Sue said. “He was doing something. He had a goal, he was healthy. What didn’t make me happy was the pressure that I saw he had to endure. I think it was associated with the sport, as well as emotionally dealing with his visual impairment and trying to be just a normal kid at 16 years old. But wrestling was very healthy, and I think it was good discipline and it gave him the sense of accomplishment. Everyone needs that.”
Anthony’s father, Robert, agreed. But he made sure to give credit, where credit was due.
“It was really never hard to watch him wrestle,” Robert said. “Sue really deserves a lot of the credit because Sue’s pretty tough. I was the enabler; Sue was the tough one. Anthony’s success really comes from Sue because she has always said from the beginning, ‘I raised my kids to fly the coop, and this one is going to fly the coop.'”
Anthony always made sure to define the odds, and that was how he originally started to wrestle.
“I was the type of kid when someone told me that I couldn’t do something, I said, ‘Watch me,'” Anthony said. “I just do things because I’m so stubborn and I don’t want people to tell me that I can’t. When people started saying that ‘You can’t wrestle’ – I was a really fat seventh grader, but I was going to figure it out. It gave me that drive.”
Eventually Anthony did not become the first blind wrestling state champion, but he can’t say he didn’t learn anything along the way.
“Losses don’t define you if you don’t let them,” Anthony said. “It’s how you bounce back from each loss and what you’ve learned from it. If you don’t take a lesson from each loss, it’s just a waste. If you take a lesson from each loss, you’ll learn from it as a person. We keep growing no matter what we’re doing.”
Now, five years following Anthony’s completion of high school, he loves to play music, does work as a motivational speaker and is currently training for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, where he is learning a new craft in judo wrestling.
“I learned one thing that has always stood out to me,” Anthony said. “The only disability is a bad attitude.”