Old sparring partners team up for Tropfest film festival

Former Warrnambool junior sparring partners Jim Ewing (left) and Lenny Clarke have teamed up to star in a short film they hope to screen at Tropfest.

Former Warrnambool junior sparring partners Jim Ewing (left) and Lenny Clarke have teamed up to star in a short film they hope to screen at Tropfest.

TWO old sparring partners have reunited for a short film they hope will be the toast of Tropfest.

Actor/writer Jim Ewing and indigenous elder Lenny Clarke have starred together in the as yet untitled film about a driver who picks up an indigenous hitchhiker.

And the two are quite literally old sparring partners, Ewing explained.

“I’ve known him since I was about 11 years old when we met at the YMCA in Warrnambool where we did boxing together,” he said.

“Lenny’s dad Banjo used to bring in Lenny and his brother Ian. They were the only Aboriginal fellas in the class. Lenny had the killer instinct — he was a better boxer than me.”

Clarke laughed, suggesting being a southpaw gave him an advantage.

“I wouldn’t say I was better than him — we were equal,” Clarke said.

While Clarke said he had done little bits and pieces of acting over the years, he was impressed by the level of Ewing’s ability.

“He’s got a lot of history in the television business — he’s a really professional man and he knows what it’s all about.”

Ewing, now of Nelson, had recurring roles on Prisoner and Neighbours in the ’80s and ’90s, notably leaving Lorraine Bayly’s Faye Hudson at the altar during a four-episode stint in the Ramsay Street soapie.

“In Prisoner it was much the same — I played a child-bashing drunk,” Ewing recalled.

As well as guest spots on Blue Heelers and The Flying Doctors, Ewing spent time developing scripts for TV and film and staging plays at La Mama in Melbourne.

All these skills came in useful for his previous short film Bloodlines, which made it into London’s Portobello Film Festival in 2008.

The latest short film was also written by Ewing, who got the idea from an anecdote a mate told him at a footy club reunion “about picking up an old Aboriginal guy on the side of the road and I thought that would make a terrific short film”. 

The film was shot in the Hamilton region by young south-west filmmakers Scott Pope and Riley Holcombe, who are both studying filmmaking-related courses at Deakin University in Melbourne.

Pope said the project was a great way to refine their filmmaking skills, adding that he planned to enter it into Tropfest and as many other short film competitions as possible. 

The film, which is tentatively titled And On The Other Foot or Two Blokes, A Ute & A Boot, is produced by Hamilton philanthropist Geoff Handbury, who contributed money to cover the costs of filming.

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