“He asks so many questions that you get to the point where you’re like, ‘Why are you asking this?’ And you don’t realize what he’s thinking and what he’s exploring until a scene you shoot five days later and you’re like, “Oh, that was the thing he was asking for. – Director Clint Bentley on Clifton Collins Jr.
Jockey is easily one of the best films of the past year. It centers around an aging jockey (Clifton Collins Jr.) who hopes to win one last title for his longtime coach (Molly parker). But the arrival of a young rookie rider (Moises Arias), who claims to be her son, could make his title dream impossible.
The film, directed by Clint bentley and co-written by Bentley and Greg kwedar, features excellent performance, beautiful images and a story you won’t soon forget. In this interview, Bentley and Kwedar talk about the film, their collaboration with Clifton Collins Jr., and how they pulled off the film’s memorable last shot. These are edited excerpts from that conversation. For the full interview, watch the video below or on Youtube.
How did you imagine the initial story?
Clint bentley: My dad was a jockey, and I grew up in this horse racing world and once I got a little older and became a filmmaker, I realized there were quite a few racing movies. horses but none of them really captured the feeling in my mind of what it was like to be behind the barns and to be in that weird little family that was created there. And that’s where the initial germ comes from.
Did you write this especially for Clifton?
Greg kwedar: Yeah. We started our friendship actually in our previous movie, Transpecos, he was one of the stars and we were immediately amazed by his interior as an actor. How deeply he penetrates every word and every gesture. But at the same time, he doesn’t sacrifice that to be really part of the world he acts in and pull so many people out there. And so it made a huge impression on us.
But after the making of this movie, in the years between these two projects, our friendship deepened and we became so aware of other qualities about him as a human that we didn’t have yet. seen in the cinema. And we just thought, what if this movie could be a vessel for everything we know about Clifton and admire about him.
He’s such a wonderful actor and he’s great at it. I imagine it doesn’t need a lot of directing.
Clint bentley: No. Clifton does so much in his research, and he asks so many questions, it gets to the point where you’re like, “Why are you asking this?” And you don’t realize what he’s thinking and exploring until, like a scene you shoot five days later, you’re like, ‘Oh, that was the thing he was asking for. “
But it was really great working with him as a director because on the one hand, no, he doesn’t need much because he gets so deep into the character and so deep into the world that ‘he knows so much. But then all the little tweaks I would give it, it just takes it and uses it and makes it better than any little note you give it.
How did you find Molly and Moises?
Greg kwedar: Well, we knew about them just because of the tremendous work they’ve done throughout their careers. You know, Molly was someone we had in mind right from the writing phase. It wasn’t sort of built with her in mind, but as soon as it was like, “Okay, who could play that?” She was definitely our first choice. And that’s really that kind of presence that she has. It’s an energy that goes into every scene that she goes through. And also, just a little bit of all the secrets she keeps behind her eyes, there are so many mysteries to her.
And Moises, Clint initially envisioned Gabriel’s role as a professional real-life jockey. And if an actor could play him, it would be Moises and if he said no, we were going to throw a real jockey in the role. But grateful that he did it because he does so much in his stillness and restraint, there are so many feelings behind everything he does.
The other real jockeys in the movie, were they actually jockeys?
Clint bentley: Yeah. They were real jockeys, real trainers, real grooms and even the vet was played by the general manager of the track, Vincent Francia. And so, that was something that brought so much authenticity with real jockeys playing jockeys and using our actors to kind of retreat into their world. I just brought so much more than anything you could describe to an actor in terms of, you know, signing those backing pieces.
This final scene of the movie is like the icing on the cake of this great movie. Did you know at the start that you were going to do all this tracking? Just following Clifton’s face, it goes through all this range of emotions and it’s like a life lived right now.
Clint bentley: It took a while to get to this end. We had written, I think, five or six different endings and each had a different idea for an ending. I had one, Adolfo had one. And we ended up landing one where Greg came up with this very simple thing to be right on his face like we had been for the movie, and it was so perfect.
And then as soon as we kind of orchestrated it and gave Clifton what we were going to do, Clifton didn’t need a lot of instruction. He was just like, “I got it. I will do what I do. And yes, there is so much on her face, more than anything you could say or something like that.
Greg kwedar: Also this Felicity music track by Hologram was something that Clint had put together a playlist for the entire cast team. And this song has kind of become our anthem. We listened to it every night when we got back from the racetrack to the hotel. And so, that this is the thing that ends this movie is so fitting.