A feature film focusing on jockeys’ mental health, co-directed by Cold Feet star Robert Bathurst, is in production to be released early next year.
Equine Productions’ The Fall centres around how a jockey deals with the aftermath of a high-profile fall at a final fence in an important trial race.
It was written by the company’s visual director Nathan Horrocks and pre-production is under way, with filming set to start in December.
The film follows the jockey’s journey following the fall, tackling the subject that athletes can suffer in silence from mental health issues, often feeling the need to put up a “front”.
“This film is a real passion project,” said Nathan.
“The idea came to me a number of years ago following my own battle with mental health. Losing friends like James Banks, Dean Crossman, Michael Curran and recently Liam Treadwell, gave me the drive to finish writing the film.”
“I would like to thank the Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, our title sponsor, the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) and the Even Keel Foundation for believing in me and funding the film.
“I am extremely excited that Robert Bathurst is going to be part of our journey; bringing his wealth of experience to the production will help us show the audience what these athletes endure. We are all human, sometimes that gets lost in the result.”
Robert Bathurst, who plays David Marsden in the popular drama, said the project appeals to him as it is made by racing industry insiders who have “a deep personal understanding” of the issues raised.
“Equine Productions makes high-quality documentary films and this is the first time they have used actors,” he added.
“My job is to collaborate with the director Nathan Horrocks and work with the actors to bring out the drama. All followers of racing have been shocked by the recent sad events involving jockeys, trainers and stable staff; mental health problems in the industry are now more widely discussed and there is a greater awareness of their causes. This film is part of that campaign.”
PJA chief executive Paul Struthers said the script is “incredibly powerful”.
“The issue of mental wellbeing is very personal to me as it is for Nathan and with Sam from Even Keel Foundation, and we know it’s a significant issue for our membership,” said Paul.
“The Fall fits in perfectly with our mental health strategy, complementing what we are already doing and the enhancements we will be making over the coming months to our wellbeing provision.
“It can also serve to help us continue to break down the stigma and continue to try to create an environment where talking about how we feel, accepting that it’s okay not to be okay and utilising the support that the PJA provides its member is normal.”
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Samantha Hillier, chairman, founder and trustee of the Even Keel Foundation, said the film’s aim to raise awareness of mental health, and its point of it being ‘okay not to be okay’ is perfectly aligned with the foundation’s message.
“All too often men still bottle up how they feel and resist the temptation to talk, through fear of it making them appear in some way weak,” she said.
“We feel sure this film will go a long way to breaking down that stigma and help make anyone watching it more aware of the impact their actions and words can have on someone else’s mental wellbeing.”
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