Brisbane-based filmmaker Mary Duong, the creator of acclaimed web series Two Weeks, is recognising her own queer experience on the silver screen to help viewers overcome their insecurities surrounding love and identity. Mary is a recent graduate of the Masters program at Griffith Film School, where she completed a Bachelor Degree in Film and Screen Media Production in 2013. Throughout her studies, Duong worked as a freelance sound designer, mixer and recordist for short form narrative work, and she describes music production as her first passion.
Nevertheless, for as long as she could remember, Duong was troubled by the lack of familiarity in film and television. “Growing up, I sought out screen media that would speak directly to me and that I could relate to, but I couldn’t find anything that felt like it really fit,” she explained. This sense of incongruity was compounded in late 2014, when Duong began to engage seriously with queer content. “I still kept feeling like I wasn’t seeing the stories that I wanted to hear or the characters that I related to wholeheartedly,” she said. Empowered by the abundance of queer web series, Mary decided to make one based on her own lived experience, and the Brisbane LGBQTI+ scene in general. Two Weeks, a nine-part drama series that follows a group of 20-somethings as they navigate questions of love and identity, was brought to life. “The series celebrates a different perspective on the queer experience against the backdrop of a humid Brisbane summer,” Duong added.
She rallied the help of her friends and fellow graduates from Griffith, who she credits with “enriching the storytelling process”. Producer Rhiannon Steffensen sought to create episodes of binge-worthy calibre, while writer and director Daniel Flynn Anderson, alongside fellow directors Isabel Stanfield and Rachel Anderson, plus writers Ben Cotgrove and Mary Duong, focused on strong performances to foreground the truth of the three interweaving narratives.
Brisbane bands dominate the Two Weeks soundtrack, as Duong wanted to recognise the importance of the city, and music in general, in shaping her present self. “For myself, Rhiannon, and the entire creative team, music is such an important part of our lives, and the series is a snapshot into who we are,” she explained. “Some of our songs really mean a lot to us personally, and we hope they might mean a lot to our audience, too.”
But the Two Weeks shoot was not without challenges. Duong, who had previously only worked on student productions, wrangled with self doubt. “I was initially very protective of my scripts, nervous to show anyone what I had written, even Rhiannon,” she admitted. However, with the emotional support of the teachers at Griffith, who even proposed the use of on-site equipment and facilities, Duong learned to trust her abilities and the sincere sentimentalities of her teammates.
“All of this meant that we could really up the production quality of our series and take time to make Two Weeks what it is today,” Duong concluded, “I really hope that people can watch Two Weeks and feel seen and heard.”
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