Griffith alumnus and teacher turned champion boxer Jeff Horn has returned to his alma mater to flex his acting muscles in a short film called Slugger.
In all, three former Griffith students are involved in the production. Horn is both acting in and executive producing the anti-bullying film, and his co-directors Daniel Chen and Ashil Ranpara are also proud alumni.
The crew set up in the G16 Health Sciences building on Gold Coast campus to film key scenes in labs normally utilised by nursing and midwifery students and researchers.
“It’s good to come back into one of Griffith’s campuses and see the great setup they have for students,” Horn said.
“The film is a fictional story inspired by my earlier years. I went through a lot of bullying.”
The short film explores the themes of bullying, friendship, and overcoming grief and loss. Horn admits acting is easier than getting in the ring.
“It’s a bit easier than getting punched in the head that’s for sure,” he said.
“I’m struggling to remember the lines, they are are the tricky part for me, but I’m doing okay in short little bursts.”
Co-director Daniel Chen, also known professionally as Kenji Lee, has been making films since he was 11 and graduated from Griffith with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2016. He said the project had been in development for six months following initial discussions with Jeff.
“I am very impressed by Jeff’s acting – he is amazing,” Daniel said.
“The story is about a high school student who is bullied and a friend who ends up in a coma after a coward punch.
“Jeff is a teacher at the school and sees himself in this student so decides to teach him boxing to build his confidence and teach him how to protect himself from bullies.
“This film will be available for streaming in schools for this year’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence (19 March).”
Fellow director and Griffith graduate of a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism and Screen Production) in 2010, Ashil Ranpara said Jeff Horn’s involvement in the film would help it reach their intended audience.
“Jeff Horn is an Australian legend, and we are ecstatic for him to be working with us to bring an issue close to his heart to the screen,” Ashil said.
“With Jeff as our Executive Producer, we aim to reach as many schools as possible to create change.”
While enjoying the challenge of short film, Horn isn’t committing to a change of career just yet.
The former teacher turned boxer and now actor says life is great at the moment and he won’t rule out any new opportunities.
“I’ve got no aspirations just yet. I’m liking the break I’m having but I am certainly not retired (from the ring).”
Daniel and Ashil are just getting started. After meeting at Griffith, they have collaborated on several creative projects in recent years and both now work for AGE Productions, a new Brisbane-based company that launched in 2020 and is led by CEO, former Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.
Daniel is also returning to Griffith in March 2021 to begin a Bachelor of Intelligent Digital Technologies.
“As a filmmaker, learning VR and Game Design will help with Virtual Production, which is becoming an essential component of filmmaking,” he said.
“I believe that intelligent digital technologies will be crucial in a post pandemic society.”
Following screenings of Slugger during National Anti-bullying week the production team is also looking to secure a possible tv series deal.