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Development   /  Jenna Fearnley


An ordinary woman crosses the Atlantic solo in a rowboat learning that being alone and being lonely can be worlds apart.


Impact areas






  • DIRECTOR Jenna Fearnley

  • PRODUCER Jenna Fearnley



Michelle Lee left two failed relationships, a job, and all her fear to cross the Atlantic solo in a rowboat. Over 68 days, she faces the most terrifying threats imaginable, both physical and mental. Through squally seas, keening tears, and the stalking menace of illness, her determination wavers. As she proves her worth to mother nature, a bond is formed that sets her course. Reaching land at last in unfamiliar territory, Michelle finds the power of striking out alone, and learns the greatest partner for the solo traveller is the one that’s found within.

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0% funded
  • $200,000.00

  • $0.00

  • April 2021

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Michelle Lee is the first female in Australia to row solo across the Atlantic, travelling a distance of over 5,000 km. Alone, without assistance or an athlete’s background, she ventures into the unknown with a sense of courage most would love to find.

Rising above the fears and misgivings of those close to her, Michelle builds her own boat and the confidence she needs to undertake what will be a formidable and frightening undertaking, knowing time and exhaustion will inevitably pit her against whatever mother nature throws her way.

As her father passes away the day of her departure, Michelle begins to confront to camera her past relationships with family, friends and partners, peeling back the layers of her soul to us through hundreds of hours of self-taped GoPro footage. Through this we learn she’s chosen to embark forward in life without a partner, and challenges notions of what it means to be a single female through an inspirational path of self-discovery and determination.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

Our vision is to create conversations and change around "choice" for females, where girls and women can choose a path, without judgement, that is not defined by marriage or having children. True happiness for Michelle was found rowing at sea. Her story will aim to help people discover what makes them truly happy in life, not what society expects them to do. Additionally, we want to empower women in adventure sport, regardless of experience, to prove they can achieve their wildest dreams.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

We want to change societal perceptions of the pathways for girls and women; that it's OK not to want to have children, that it's OK not to want to get married. We want to inspire females to discover what makes them truly happy - it could be having children OR it might be rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean. We want the general population to realise that any journey to happiness for a female is acceptable and should not be perceived as "selfish".
Another outcome for "Alone" is to ensure women in sport are celebrated to the same level as men in sport and that females should feel confident taking a leap of faith to achieve physically and mentally demanding challenges, often accomplished by men, if they desire - without judgement.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

Michelle Lee is a real, every day person. A woman with no athletic background who had a burning desire "to do something big". Like so many, she did not want to be confined to the 9 to 5, Monday to Friday routine. She chose an extreme and dangerous feat to accomplish, where many told her she "couldn't do it".
As a person, Michelle is an incredible speaker and storyteller. Led by our creative team, her real story will achieve these outcomes... as "going against the norm" and "inspiring women everywhere to achieve their goals" is at the heart of everything she does.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

Screen Australia funded early development for "Alone". We are currently in the process of gaining distributor interest. Our release strategy and marketing approach will have us reach, engage and bring audiences together through cinema first. The film is slated for production from April to June 2021, with eight months of post-production to follow for a February-March 2022 delivery. The film will be targeted for an international and domestic festival release to build publicity for the film, and interest in Michelle Lee’s character and story. A local theatrical release will follow, with a hybrid traditional/cinema on demand model allowing us and a distributor to add a series of Q&A style ‘event screenings’ around Australia. We plan for the film to follow its theatrical run with a broadcast and streaming release, along with exploitation of ancillary windows including home entertainment.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

We want to engage and inspire females around the world to chase their desires without fear of judgement. Michelle Lee was criticised, doubted and called "crazy" for wanting to be the first Australian woman to row solo across the Atlantic. We want viewers of all genders to realise that ordinary girls and women can achieve physically and mentally challenging feats without being an athlete or a professional; that they are just as capable as men and should be celebrated, not judged, for choosing a pathway that pushes boundaries.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

A variety of methods will be used to measure the success in achieving our impact vision. We will use web and social platforms to capture the digital metrics, media coverage and media analytics through portals like Meltwater, audience surveys including focus groups and in-depth interviews, and network mapping tools.

Targets and goals will be set for accountability and will be based off previous successful documentaries, allowing us to draw critical comparisons.