Web Series Wednesdays: Two Weeks

Series Creator: Mary Duong
Producer: Rhiannon Steffensen
Directed by: Isabel Stanfield, Rachel Anderson and Daniel Flynn Anderson
Written by: Mary Duong, Daniel Flynn Anderson, Ben Cotgrove
Starring: Shanay De Marco, Piera Forde, Jackson O’Sullivan, Blake La Burniy, Daniel Simpson, Lachlan Stuart, Caitlin Hill and Olivia Hall-Smith

Article written by Rhiannon Steffensen

Modern times call for modern queer screen representation and our new web series, Two Weeks, through its honest characters and high-brow style, may just offer the answer that audiences have been looking for.  A wholly original LGBTQ+ series, both set and shot in Brisbane, Australia, Two Weeks follows the lives of several 20-something friends who are stuck trying to choose between what they want and what they really need in love and in life. As an Aussie take on shows like the hit HBO series Looking, the key creative team on this project felt passionately about making honest and entertaining characters and storylines on an independent budget, without compromising on quality of the look and style of the series.

Tired of watching content that relied on excessive unrealistic queer stereotypes, series creator, Mary Duong, conceived Two Weeks as an answer to the general lack of representation that reflected the places and situations she grew up in. A few years ago she approached me to come on board as a producer- a request she persistently reminds me, even in the darkest days of production, I acquiesced without a moment of hesitation despite not really knowing much about web-content at all (we’re talking back when Netflix was a fledgling). When embarking on this project, I think we were both intrigued at the opportunity to not only tell stories tied to the places and identities that we call home, but also to be able to create and distribute this familiarity on screen without limitation.

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I think we had both come to the conclusion that the online medium was something worth exploring; it’s time and again proved itself to be at the forefront of how we receive and consume content and we were excited (read: blindly optimistic) at the prospect of exploring such an innovative and interactive medium that placed very little restriction on us creatively and also provided global accessibility for anyone to view our series. Since its release, the reasoning behind our online endeavour has been, for lack of a better term, validated by seeing tangible data and analytics on viewership and also through the way our audience has commented on and interacted with the videos and our social media. Coming from a short film/corporate content background where you’re never really sure who is viewing your projects at festival screenings and so forth, it feels like a barrier has been broken down between us and our audience. As a creative producer, this is a really daunting, yet extremely rewarding experience. Television is an obsession of mine- anyone who knows me can confirm that if I like a show, I get embarrassingly invested in every aspect of it; the characters, the storylines, the style, the music. It’s definitely a humbling experience to be a part of a team that creates something that has the potential to invoke the same reaction for someone else and we would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone curious about making their own web series to give it a go.

We embarked on this project when we were in our early twenties- we weren’t mature enough to know how hard it was going to be, nor were we cynical enough to think we weren’t the right people to tell these stories. That naivety played well in our favour because we just went for it, head-first, and found a team of people who were- for some crazy reason- willing to join us. In creating the series, we took the lead from a lot of other projects to determine what works and what doesn’t. The structure of the series ended up being almost like an anthology- every three episodes, we change to focus on a different set of characters, who do, however, still exist in the same world and friendship group. The characters and their individual storylines weave in and out over the space of two weeks (hence the series title) and all culminate to tie up any loose ends in the series finale. We’ve since realised this structure is not for everyone, but part of us exploring the web forum and also our abilities as emerging creators meant we relished the opportunity to take risks like this. Each narrative stream also has a different writing and directing team- all working under the guidance of our series creator and all of whom are peers of ours from our days at Griffith Film School. An important aspect of engaging this key creative crew was to make sure that the people who were tasked with telling these stories actually had the life experience to back it up. Out of the six of us, there’s not a single straight man in the key creative team. Our directors — Isabel Stanfield, Daniel Flynn Anderson, and Rachel Anderson — all have a keen eye for visual storytelling and a strong focus on performance. Our writers — Daniel Flynn Anderson, Ben Cotgrove, and Mary Duong — are all queer and wanted to make sure they told their untold stories in a way that felt honest and true.

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Finally, part of creating something that represented our world was to really take advantage of Brisbane and to showcase it in our series, almost as though it’s a secondary character. We make use of everything from its recognizable structures and dynamic locations to the music on our soundtrack, which we worked hard with our music supervisor, Tyler, to ensure was sourced from local artists wherever possible. Finding our feet as filmmakers in Brisbane is really a unique experience; the tight-knit industry here is so giving and the community in general really comes together to help you out, without ever asking for anything in return. Being able to work in our hometown, with a mammoth QLD cast and crew, and to be able to represent it on screen was a really special experience, one which we hope to get the opportunity to do for years to come.

Two Weeks is now available to watch online YouTube.

You can find also out more on the project via the website, http://www.twoweeks.tv or on social media: http://www.facebook.com/twoweekstv and @twoweekstv on Instagram and Twitter.

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