THERE is so much riding on the upcoming biopic of Michelle Payne but the events of the past fortnight should not overshadow her story. If done right.
There is no easy next step for producers polishing off Ride Like a Girl, the biopic of Payne on her incredible journey to become the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.
Drama surrounding horse trainer Darren Weir have rocked the racing industry nationwide the past fortnight.
Raids on Weir’s Ballarat and Warrnambool stables and his subsequent suspension would make it easy to write a villainous character or movie sub-plot.
Real-life characters tend to be a lot more complicated and multi-layered.
Early synopsis for Ride Like a Girl describe Weir as the maverick who hired Payne for her historic Melbourne Cup victory on Prince of Penzance in 2015.
Weir has a key role in Payne’s journey, especially at this point in time.
We should not re-write history as it stands merely because we do not like how a later chapter or revelations might pan out.
Life and people are messy and complicated in real-life.
But the focus of the film, and how much air-time the Weir character gets will be a delicate balance for producers who are yet to speak publicly on their next moves.
Swinburne University screen studies lecturer Kaz Horsley told the ABC the publicity about Weir could impact the finished product and the box office. Ms Horsley says a disclaimer at the end risked finishing the feel-good movie of the year on a bum note and editing risked disrupting the narrative.
Audiences need to buy-in to what filmmakers are serving up.
There is no denying the ripple effects of how Michelle Payne smashed glass ceilings and told doubters in a chauvinistic male-dominated industry to “get stuffed” was huge.
We lived the wave of this right here in Ballarat.
Payne’s background, how she overcame injury, family tragedy and “all the odds” to win a Melbourne Cup make great fodder for film. The natural drama in sport and sacrifices of elite athletes always does – cue the heart-stirring quotes and motivational music now.
This is the inspiration story that needs to be told. This is the story we want to be told.
This is what spurred Oscar-nominated Australian actor Rachel Griffiths to bring to life Paynes’s story in her directorial debut.
The film is slated for released about spring racing carnival time. Whether this is enough time to let the landscape settle is a tough call.
Weir is a huge story right now and we are living it on the frontlines in Ballarat with so many connections in the his stables and what this might mean with so much still to unfold. It hurts.
Payne’s story deserves to be told. In a way, Payne’s story is an important part of our city’s rich story too.
Clever editing and marketing could save the tale of one of our city’s biggest reasons for celebrations. But Ride Like A Girl is just a film interpretation.
How we keep sharing and telling this moment in history, as a city, is up to us.
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