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Motorcycle garage owner gets real with upcoming TV show for Esquire Network

Brian Schaffran of Skidmark Garage at the Hildebrandt

Motorcycle aficionado Brian Schaffran has been running his Cleveland-based hotrodding fix-it clubhouse Skidmark Garage for over a year. While bringing in new riders has been a slower process than Schaffran would like, a forthcoming motorcycle competition television series he recently finished filming could rev up that all-important customer base.
 
Schaffran will serve as co-host of "Wrench Against the Machine," an unscripted motor-cycle centric show pitting teams of enthusiasts against one another to construct badass bikes of all styles and builds. A panel of judges will evaluate contestants' creations following each build challenge.
 
Filming began in Los Angeles at the end of April and wrapped last week. As host, Schaffran was on call during day-long taping sessions - sometimes lasting until 10 p.m. - where he would he would recite scripted lines for one or two scenes. Downtime was spent on a laptop working his day job as a customer support rep for a software company.
 
"The whole thing felt a little surreal," says Schaffran, whose 2,800-square foot community garage in the Hildebrandt Building rents out tools, lifts and storage bays to riders. "I never thought I'd be on TV. Everything is hitting me all at once."
 
Schaffran's workaday world turned when a production company that makes reality shows contacted him following a March 2015 Fresh Water article about his shop. 
 
"They thought the community garage idea was original, and said somewhere inside the garage was a show," Schaffran says. "They finally came up with this build competition idea."
 
Though excited at first, Schaffran was put off by other motorcycle build shows where drama is heightened to extreme levels.
 
"I've seen these shows and how people are portrayed," he says. "I didn't want to be part of some soap opera bullshit like every other reality show."
 
Schaffran's concerns were allayed after additional conversations with production company officials. When not filming or helping folks trouble-shoot their computers, he visited area community garages to scope their physical layout and how they marketed themselves.
 
"It was enlightening to see how clean their shops were," says Schaffran. "They're leveraging social media more than I am, too."
 
"Wrench Against the Machine" will premiere this fall on the Esquire Network. Ideally, the program will give Skidmark Garage a membership and branding boost, says its owner.
 
"Everyone is pretty excited for me," says Schaffran. "So many people's comments are like, 'Holy shit, dude, you're living the dream.' Everyone's been really supportive." 

Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Fresh Water, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture.   
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