Equine Productions have released a trailer previewing the film The Fall, which will be shown on television later this year.
The powerful short film focuses on the mental health of jockeys and aims to raise awareness of mental illness within the sport of horseracing. The 22 minute film centers on a jockey having to deal with the suffocating aftermath of a high-profile fall at the final fence in an important prep race for the Cheltenham Festival.
The film follows the journey of the jockey on the way home from the races, tackling the notion that jockeys, and sports people more widely, suffer in silence from mental health issues.
The feature has been written by Equine Productions’ Visual Director Nathan Horrocks, who co-directed the feature with Cold Feet star Robert Bathurst.
Nathan Horrocks said: “This film has been a passion project of mine for many years and the idea of The Fall came to me not long after my own battle with mental health, but also with the loss of former weighing room colleagues James Banks and Liam Treadwell.
Professional jockeys face physical obstacles daily, but the invisible obstacles which lie ahead are often the hardest to negotiate. This film has been created to show how those obstacles can affect the mental wellbeing of someone who feels the need to hide the pressures of what sport brings.
‘What you are thinking, what shape your mind is in, is what makes the biggest difference of all’ is a quote by hall of fame baseball player Willie Mays, something that we all can identify with.
However social media abuse has brought a new pressure to the world of sport and The Fall has been created to show how this abuse can affect not only the person receiving it, but also the people around them. Social media abuse is a real problem and we need to hold people accountable. Those who are spreading this hate and the platforms that allow it to happen.
One of the largest sources of pressure on all athletes often comes from expectations, real or perceived, to perform both professionally and in their home lives. The narrative of this film is to reveal the lonelier, darker side to horse racing but to show that all professional sports people are human and how the actions of others can have a huge effect on their self-esteem.”
Nigel Payne, Administrator of the Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, said: “Knowing Nathan as I have for a number of years, particularly when I was Chair of the Professional Jockeys Association, I knew immediately this was a very serious project.
My fellow Trustees and I were convinced that this was something Peter would wish to support and the opportunity to be title sponsor was totally appropriate.
Hopefully The Fall will shock viewers into realizing the enormous pressure these elite sportsmen and women compete under. For all those affected, in whatever walk of life, help is never far away. It is vital to talk and seek this help.”
Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association and a Director of the Professional Players Federation, said:
“This is a really important film that Nathan has written and co-directed. The focus might be on horseracing and our members but the issues the film highlights apply to all other professional sports and to wider society. It is incredibly powerful and we’re very much looking forward to the film being released later this year.”
Samantha Hillier, Founder and Chair of The Even Keel Foundation, said:
“As soon as I read the film script l knew this was a project that the Even Keel Foundation would be keen to support. It’s positioning in raising awareness for mental health and its inherent message of it being ‘okay not to be okay’ is just so perfectly aligned with the message that we, as a Foundation, are continually trying to reinforce, particularly amongst men.
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. 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.”
The Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust is the film’s title sponsor with further financial backing coming from the Professional Jockeys’ Association and the mental health charity, Even Keel Foundation.