Tag Archives: outback stories


Australian writer, director, producer AND lead actor, MARA JEAN QUINN, can finally take a breath, sit down, relax and reflect on the cinematic journey she’s (almost) completed. Her first indie feature film project ANDAMOOKA, is now completed and after a little respite to re-energize, Mara Jean is now on a quest to get the film distributed across Australia and around the world. Major decisions still being made include whether to screen in theatres, at festivals, or via one of the many streaming platforms that international audiences can access…and getting the $s to take her to all the film festivals as well.
I originally spoke with Mara Jean back in May of 2023 when she was still fundraising to finish the last stages of production (search previous blog using key word “Andamooka”) and I’m thrilled to hear all her positive news, especially that she has recently expanded her non-film family to include a baby daughter – congratulations, MJ!  So let’s catch up with her and learn how the process of making an indie film has enlightened and empowered her…..

Now that the film has been completed, was the effort (production, travel, funding quest, sleepless nights) worth it?   I think so, but because it hasn’t been seen by audiences yet, it’s hard to be resolved in all the work that’s gone into it. Once it’s premiered and done some festivals, it will feel more real. Right now the film exists in a bit of a vacuum, only the creators and a few other people have seen it. In terms of learning, the last five years feels like I’ve completed a PhD in filmmaking. I am still no master by any means, but I do feel I’ve got a real understanding of what goes into a film and I am grateful for that. I also look forward to seeing what opportunities arise as a result of completing my debut feature, hopefully those make it all worthwhile too.In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently, either as producer or director? There are so many things I did wrong at literally every stage of the production. I think this was mostly due to my naivety and lack of producing experience. If I had the knowledge and wisdom I have now there is no way I would take such risk and sink so much time and money into a project. So from that perspective I’m grateful I had no idea what I was doing, because it means I actually did it.
Next time I would like to have a distributor behind me from the start as well as a producer (and some decent funding!).  I am not a producer at heart, only out of necessity. There are far more talented and skilled producers out there who I’d love to work with. I also don’t think I’ll direct myself in a lead role again, I really love collaborating with other artists and the director-actor relationship is very special.

Congratulations on a beautifully shot film – the country is clearly a character itself and many of the shots are nothing short of breathtaking. Who scouted locations for you?  Thank you, I really do love the cinematography; Adamooka’s DOP Danni Ogilive did an incredible job.  I agree, the landscape is a character, it’s often just Alex set amongst an epic landscape. In terms of finding the locations, I had conversations with people I knew in the Territory when I was writing the script so I had a few ideas of places to go and particular spots to shoot scenes. We also happened across lots of places along the road, often by just needing somewhere to camp that night. Of course, the locals in each place shared some of their favourite spots and we were able to explore those. We went to so many amazing places, it actually pains me how much had to end up on the edit room floor.
In the middle of shooting and funding campaigns, you had a baby….talk about multi-tasking!! Now that both your babies are alive and kicking, I have to ask: would you undertake such a cinematic journey again?  Hmmm, that’s a good one. I would love to shoot another film, and even another road movie/adventure film, but I would need someone there to help with my baby. Either my partner or my Mum, but my partner is an amazing filmmaker too, so I’d want his attention on the film. To make another film in general I would need a lot more support anyway. My little girl would just add to the madness. She was actually born shortly after the completion of the film, thankfully.

Have you had a screening for cast, production crew, friends and family? And if so, what was their feedback? My friends and family want to see it at the premiere and actually celebrate it, so they’re holding off. Some have seen little snippets and have been very supportive. There’s a huge section in the credits called “Encouragement Thanks” with a huge list of names. I think in general it’s hard for people who know you to see you acting and separate you from the character. Also, the screenplay is very personal and my friends and family witnessed some parts of the story that are inspired by real life (big break up, I was a mess etc.), so it’s hard for them to see me in such pain, even though it’s years after.Have you secured theatrical distribution or festival showcases?  I have had lots of good feedback from the distributors I’ve chatted to, and there are a couple of offers, but it’s really hard to know which way to jump. A number of distributors have said it may not suit a theatrical release, unfortunately, but we’ll see. As long as it has a life and finds its audience. There are a few festivals I am currently waiting to hear from and am actively entering more – though everything costs money, so this limits the entries.

And what is your next film project…after a suitable rest, of course?  I have a couple of series in development and there are a few feature screenplay drafts from over the years too, plus the want to make multiple documentaries about things I am passionate about, but nothing I am actively pushing. Being the only one managing Andamooka I simply don’t have time or mental capacity to be creative or really start on the next project until it’s released. Who knew a film took so much paperwork! Having a nine week old baby takes a fair bit of my time too.  Thanks, Glenda

I’m so happy to see Mara Jean reach completion of the film, overcoming all the inherent challenges that stood in her way. Pure guts and a belief in herself and her script, as well as surrounding herself with the right people to drive the project to the finish line. Bravo!

You can follow Mara Jean’s creative journey via:  https://www.facebook.com/andamookafilm and instagram.com/andamookafilm