Channel 4 - For the Love
I am a massive horse racing fan and recently came across a documentary filmed last year on a particular horse and jockey relationship story I knew quite alot about. The story of amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen and his fathers Gold Cup winning horse Long Run is quite a popular but also much maligned in the media and among the horse racing community. The horse gained fame by beating crowd favourites Denman and Kauto Star in the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup in a magical race while being ridden by Sam, who was up against top professionals AP McCoy and Ruby Walsh. Since that moment pressure has been on Long Run and Sam to take the world by storm, but things just haven't gone to plan since.This documentary follows the two over the course of a year from the end of the 2011 season and into the 2012 renewal. Ultimately leading to the Gold Cup where they attempt to retain their title.
I felt this documentary actually opens up horse racing because it can appeal to anybody who wishes to watch a personal success and struggle story put together dramatically and beautifully whilst matching a reality that was only recently unfolding. Sam's story also will be received well by any sporting fans who appreciate 'the underdog' but its main target audience is obviously to people like myself, who, whilst know the industry inside out, don't particularly know the personalities of these often quiet and coy jockeys and trainers.
Technically, the use of black and white really suits the film because colour in horse racing is obviously very very bright. The weather, the silks, the fields and pace, all can be extremely disorientating when trying to follow an emotional story. I feel it gives all aspects of the footage unity and also looks very cinematic in comparison. There is a large use of slow motion and media stock footage that is used perfectly to slow down a story from real time, allowing people who don't know the story beforehand to catch up and understand it.
Part of this documentary also appealed to me more than anything else, I've always personally wanted to make documentaries about horse racing that look visually appealing and could be watched by anyone. And there is a section in For the Love that shows the environment of a day at the races. This kind of thing was what I had always wanted to do. It made me see much better how that could be accomplished and expanded on.
When watching this documentary for my narrative module I also picked up on how easy the sound was to listen to. It was made up of numerous interviews with different people, recorded by different people, TV stations, radio and the like. Then it was all gathered and placed together in one film, I remember hearing many of these interviews and TV coverage whilst they happened over the course of this story and some remain very iconic in my head due to my interest in the sport. Yet this film made me think of them as being new all over again because of the way they were put into the piece between other sections I'd never obviously come across. I believe the use of interview, archive, vox pop's and foley in this film perfectly create the sense of reality at the races during those sequences, as well as creating even more of a human element than being at / or coverage of the races can provide.
I was most impressed by the fact that over 50% of all sound in this film was not recorded by the filmmakers yet, even though it spanned over the course of a year, they managed to source it all, and make it feel like their own and that it was meant to be over the pictures they provided.