People of Ascension – Kevin McQuarn
Kevin McQuarn is not just a product of Ascension Parish, he is a legacy.
Growing up with his mother, Deborah McQuarn and late grandmother, Albertha Wilson, co-owners of the still-existing Robin Hood Bar, McQuarn said he learned the power of working for himself.
Initially going off to college to become an aerospace engineer, McQuarn worked at NASA, where he said he realized that his dream of taking to space may never come true.
“Once I started working at NASA, I realized I would never leave Earth in my lifetime, so I went back to school and changed my major,” McQuarn said.
Changing his major to mass communication turned out to be a lucrative decision, one that would eventually find him to reaching back to his roots in business ownership and to his home in Ascension Parish.
McQuarn began his new career in Houston working with a magazine, but soon after came back to the St. Amant area.
“I came home to be closer to my mom and grandma,” McQuarn said. “At first I didn’t want to come back, but Ascension is a great place.”
Having relocated to Ascension Parish, it wasn’t long before McQuarn landed a job as a night editor at The Advocate, then working his way tup to online entertainment editor and videographer, and then chief videographer. After 11 years, he decided to culminate his experience into his own company, FantomLight, a concept he had been working on, even before deciding to leave The Advocate.
“I’ve always been interested in film – I’ve always been interested in journalism,” McQuarn said.
FantomLight started off working on graphic novels, but has grown into a company that films, produces and edits documentaries, commercials, promotional videos and more.
“The process of putting together these projects, if they’re not scripted, is just getting to know people,” McQuarn said.
He credits his experience as a journalist for helping him to understand the process, which includes research.
“You get to know the story, and everything is a story,” he said. “Whether someone is telling you a story, or whether you have to create the message – everything is a story. And, everybody has a good story – you just have to find it.”
McQuarn’s story includes reinventing himself on each project.
“The hardest part is constantly staying relevant, and constantly staying creative,” he said. “You don’t want to do the same thing twice and you don’t want to give the same message every time you create, so you always have to keep reinventing yourself.”
He said he finds his reward in making an impact on viewers.
“If the things that I do can touch somebody and make a difference in the community, to somebody’s life or even just one person, then that’s the most rewarding thing.”
McQuarn continued that he has plans to give back to Ascension Parish. His wife, Jamie, a teacher at East Ascension High School has already helped him get started, as she often brings him as a guest speaker for the students. He said he also would like to eventually work with his alma mater, St. Amant High School. McQuarn also sits on the board of directors for the area arts-based non-profit agency, Forward Arts, Inc., who facilitate workshops across the state, including a residency at Dutchtown High School.
Recently, McQuarn embarked on his own non-profit journey with the creation ofThe STEAM Initiative, an organization whose mission is to develop innovative programs that encourage the integration of Art and Design into traditional Science, Technology, Engineering and Math eduction.
“If I can give somebody a voice, and that voice changes the way society looks, that’s rewarding to me,” he said.
McQuarn said he didn’t grow up with a lot of resources, but advises that with hard work, he achieved more than he imagined.
“It was a struggle growing up here, but it can be done. I didn’t always have the best situation, but you can come out of any situation you’re in.
I want to help change our area. I want to help kids – I want to give them opportunities. If that means I can be a mentor to somebody or help tell stories in schools, I just want to make a difference.”
McQuarn said he also hopes to grow FantomLight into a production studio, which he has plans to house in Ascension Parish.