Filmmakers Clint Bentley and Greg Kwedar met after graduating from college and realized they had similar interests in telling stories. Their collaboration started in the 2010s, making shorts and documentaries with the goal to one day make a narrative feature together. This dream transpired with their film Transpecos. Bentley says, "We're both writer-director-producers." Their working relationship seems to gel nicely in that they write together, then take turns as one wears the director hat, while the other takes the role of the producer.
Bentley was on-deck to direct their latest feature narrative JOCKEY. Bentley's father was a jockey so the horse racing scene was very familiar to him, but Kwedar knew nothing about the sport. Bentley recalls, "I was raised behind the barns at horse tracks." It was not until after his father's passing did Bentley hear amazing stories told from colleagues about his father's career, which started when he was kicked out of his house at the age of seventeen. He had no money so tried his hand at being a jockey, living on the backside of racetracks in barrack-type dorms.
When Bentley was in college, he would help his father who was then a trainer and recalls thinking, "This world of horse racing is so interesting behind these barns. It was fascinating and nothing like the way I had seen it ever portrayed in movies." Bentley knew he had to expose Kwedar to the life of a jockey and the world of horse racing if he (hopefully, they) were to tell a different story about this occupation. The experience opened Kwedar's mind and heart to the brutal but attractive life a jockey leads and felt it imperative that Bentley's hunch was a good one to showcase such a storyline.
Shot on location at Turf Paradise Racetrack in Arizona, Jockey was filmed in 20 days, over four weeks from mid-October to mid-November in 2019. The incredible cinematography and music used to transition into non-verbal scenes create the mood for an unforgettable storyline featuring real jockeys and "family" life behind the track.
An aging jockey, Jackson Silva (Clifton Collins, Jr.), is feeling the years and the toll the exertion has taken on his body. Too many injuries to count but Silva's love for the sport, his friendship with longtime trainer Molly (Ruth Parker), and the care for the horses he rides is why he wakes up every day to do the task at hand.
Silva is preparing for a race in order to win one last title for Molly with a newly purchased horse said to have championship skills. Though determined, Silva isn't sure his body is fit enough to handle such a race with an unknown horse.
A young rookie rider, Moises Arias (Gabriel Boullait) comes on the scene and Silva takes him under his wing but to complicate matters, Moises claims to be Silva's son. A son he never knew. The information throws Silva into an emotional tailspin that further complicates his one last dream.