UNFILTERED pulls back the curtain on the electrifying world of horse racing. This unscripted docuseries, directed by ESPY award-winner Jeremy Grant, offers unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the sport’s most intimate moments. From the backside barns to the winner’s circle, UNFILTERED takes viewers along for the ride. Presented by Ontario Racing and supported by OLG, this groundbreaking series delivers an up-close look at the athletes – both human and equine – who fuel this industry. Whether you’re a seasoned fan or a racing rookie, UNFILTERED provides a one-of-a-kind glimpse into the passion and personality behind the track.
The Creative Force Behind UNFILTERED
The docuseries is a collaboration between creative agency TAXI and media powerhouse Bell Media, intent on delivering compelling entertainment for racing veterans and newcomers alike. TAXI produced the gritty, gripping UNFILTERED while Bell Media handled distribution across platforms like Crave, TSN and TSN+ streaming. Racing fans watched the first episode on Crave on June 5th, 2023, with additional episodes featured on TSN’s linear and digital outlets.
A Glimpse Into Ontario Horse Racing: Heroes, Livelihoods, and Trainers
Over five gripping episodes, the docuseries takes an unfiltered look at the beating heart of this thriving industry – from the thunder of hooves on the track to quiet moments in the barns. UNFILTERED captures the incredible care and dedication required in this sport, highlighting the tight-knit community behind the races. The series reveals the big personalities and moving stories that show the extraordinary spirit and passion that makes horse racing so captivating. With exclusive behind-the-scenes access, UNFILTERED authentically captures the glory, drama and emotion that defines racing in Ontario.
In a statement, Maxine Chapman, Vice President of Brand and Marketing at OLG, expressed “Horse racing holds immense significance for the people of Ontario. With UNFILTERED, OLG is thrilled to partner with Ontario Racing to shine a spotlight on the captivating stories and the fascinating aspects of the sport.”
Graham Lang, Chief Creative Officer at TAXI, shared his insights and thoughts, “Our goal was to truly immerse audiences in the world of horse racing. UNFILTERED is just that, the raw emotions of horse racing captured in a series that elevates the brand of Ontario Racing through branded entertainment, executed at the highest level and available on the broadest streaming platforms in Canada.”
Initiating the Journey: Crafting the Blueprint for UNFILTERED
Bringing UNFILTERED to life required careful planning and execution from the start. The most critical first step was choosing the right production partner – someone truly embedded in horse racing culture. After an extensive search, Jeremy Grant emerged as the perfect fit. With the accomplished Grant at the helm, the docuseries was ready to deliver an intimate, unvarnished portrait of this captivating sport.
Collaborative Action: A Cohesive Team Approach
With Jeremy Grant onboard, the collaborative team of TAXI, OLG, Ontario Racing and the director focused on bringing the human side of horse racing to life. Rather than getting lost in technical minutiae, their vision centred on compelling storytelling and shining a spotlight on the sport’s most fascinating personalities. Their first tasks involved seeking out the most compelling characters across the industry to follow. This character-driven approach aimed to craft a narrative that would resonate emotionally with viewers, transcending the ins and outs of racing itself.
Human-Centric Storytelling: Unveiling Personal Journeys
UNFILTERED took an unconventional approach for a racing docuseries by focusing on relatable human stories over technical aspects of the sport. The team handpicked a diverse cast of characters to follow, showcasing a range of compelling experiences. From a rookie jockey getting started to two friendly rivals at the top of their game, no stone was left unturned. The series also highlights a trainer who remarkably overcame childhood horse allergies to succeed, a foreign jockey new to Canada, and the most victorious female jockey in Canadian racing history.
Strategic Race Selection: Pivotal Moments Unfold
With its cast of characters chosen, the UNFILTERED team turned to strategically mapping out the racing calendar. They pinpointed major upcoming races that would provide pivotal story moments for each individual followed in the series. This methodical approach allowed them to craft an outline seamlessly introducing audiences to both standardbred and thoroughbred racing. The hand-picked events became the backdrop for tracing the diverse journeys of the series’ stars, building excitement towards the grand finale at the prestigious King’s Plate (formerly Queen’s Plate).
Over an electrifying four months, the crew filmed five 15-minute episodes that chronicled the ups and downs of a thrilling racing season. Forging connections with the athletes took time and effort initially, but sharing in their journey cultivated a familial bond. Capturing triumphant moments, the team worked to keep emotions in check and not get too discouraged when setbacks occurred. Authenticity was paramount – the audience can always sense when portrayals ring false. The goal was to keep the lens steady amid the highs and lows to paint a genuine picture of life in the racing world. In the end, the experience of creating UNFILTERED was remarkable, with the team developing true friendships with the stars they profiled across an unforgettable season. The docuseries aimed to share that same personal connection with viewers.
Navigating the unknown proved the biggest hurdle for the team. From unpredictable race outcomes to the everyday uncertainties of their subjects’ lives, the entire process was uncharted territory. But through trust and collaboration, they overcame these roadblocks.
Another challenge was shifting priorities – with most commercial shoots, production takes center stage, dictating everything. But with this series, the sport itself was the focus. Respecting and elevating the essence of racing took precedence. It was about serving the sport, not controlling it. Like surfing waves, you can’t dictate timing but must stay ready to capture the action at the right moment.
Choosing which stories to feature was also difficult given the wealth of compelling narratives. The focus was spotlighting remarkable tales of human and horse athletes alike. While the team did their best to showcase these talented individuals, countless captivating stories remain untold. Like waves in the ocean, the incredible depth of the racing world cannot be fully captured in one docuseries. But UNFILTERED provides an unprecedented look at some of the most compelling personalities who fuel this beloved sport.
In an interview, director Jeremy Grant stressed the importance of capturing intricate slow-motion details during the races. He acknowledged being fortunate to collaborate with renowned Director of Photography Clay Porter, known for his skill in filming sports action across North America. Departing from the usual wide, cautious shots in horse racing, Porter demonstrated his expertise by capturing sprinting horses in tight frames showcasing minute details like their eyes and flaring nostrils. The result was a collection of breathtaking images conveying not just the sheer speed of the sport, but the majestic beauty of these extraordinary animals. Grant credits Porter for enabling UNFILTERED to highlight the artistry and athleticism in horse racing through stunning cinematography rarely seen in the genre before.