No one is more surprised than Julien Poulson that he's in Maitland to record music and make a short film.
After all, these days he lives in Cambodia and thinks he's only ever been to Maitland once before - "It was night and I can't remember anything about it."
But the 53-year-old is well credentialled in both music and film - and through a combination of local connections and COVID, here he is.
The band he formed in Cambodia - the Cambodian Space Project - has toured 24 countries and played at such prestigious settings as the Glastonbury Festival in England and the Kennedy Center in Washington.
"We play traditional Cambodian rock music of the 60s," Poulson said. "It's a sort of psychedelic, garage style rock 'n' roll, but it's quite universal. You hear it in the markets, or played by tuk-tuk drivers."
As they've travelled, their fame has grown. Australia's own Nick Cave described the band this like: "A great band, the singer is amazing, really beautiful, the guitars really jump out at you, very affecting, great stuff."
Sadly, Space Project suffered a major setback two years ago when that charismatic lead singer, the bubbly Kak Channthy was killed in a car accident.
Since then the music continues, but with a range of singers.
"Not all live in Cambodia either," Poulson said. "I'm currently recording and mixing some music with Sean Ballanden at his Studio 333 recording studio in Maitland and we're working with lots of lead singers."
A spin-off of that is that he's also creating a score for his short film called Space Junk, that will feature local actors and creative types and be filmed in the area.
"It's a 50s-style sci-fi and Maitland is an ideal setting," he said. "A lovely old centre of town with some beautiful buildings and obvious history - most of the shots of town will be at night - and fields and open space all around.
"It's a collaboration with photographer Mark Roy from Western Australia who'll use Super 8 film to give it that old style, unique feel."
It's also a community arts project and will involve local actors, characters, set makers, video and filmmakers and musicians - an "open door" as he describes it.
The title is certainly catchy, but what's it about?
"The film is a story of a bloke on the run who drives an old 1969 Lincoln and breaks down in Maitland," he said.
"He's been listening to AM on the radio when he starts seeing strange stuff. He's sleeping in his car when the cops come banging on the window telling him to move it... are the people in town strange? Is it just him? What's with this alien he keeps seeing? Was there a crash from space? Is it is a dream or is it really happening?
"It's about strange visitations, night terrors, and life in an Aussie town in the time of COVID-19."
Anyone interested in playing a part - "music, actors, runners, whatever" - can give Julian a call on 0458 326 781. Filming is expected to take about a month and start next week.