Can you fall back in love with someone who once broke your heart? After reconnecting with her ex-girlfriend on a dating app, Audrey throws caution to the wind by giving Claire a second chance.

These are the first three episodes in a 9-part LGBTQ series, which explores the struggles several 20-somethings face in the precarious turning points of their lives as they strive to define themselves and their place in society. We spoke to the creators Rhiannon Steffensen (Producer), Isabel Stanfield (Director), Mary Duong (creator) about the series.

Have your personal experiences shaped the creation of the series?
Mary Duong (MD):
Throughout the creation of Two Weeks, I drew from personal experience to construct a narrative that reflected myself, the people around me, and my city. I wanted to see familiarity on screen so the series strives to approach queer stories in a naturalistic way, by drawing on lived experiences and crafting relatable characters.

Rhiannon Steffensen (RS): This project was a fantastic opportunity for me as a producer to have more of a creative impact than I had previously been afforded on other work. Mary had a lot of trust in me during the scripting stage when it came to offering suggestions about characters and locations, which I based off a lot of personal experiences and many of these elements ended up in the final product.

Isabel Stanfield (IS): I think that almost everyone has been through the classic unrequited love situation. Almost everyone has had their heart broken, and has hoped that it won’t happen again. I think that my experiences of that have definitely had an influence on Two Weeks, it was being open and honest about those experiences with the actors and hearing about theirs that really helped us finesse the emotional moments in the series.

As student creators what were the major challenges you faced while creating this series?
I don’t think I was fully prepared for the enormity of the project and how long it would take; we’re essentially creating a feature film’s worth of content (9x10mins) and organising something of this scale has been a tough and drawn out gig. That said, it was important to always stay true to our goals for the project, we went in wanting to create something that was of high quality, something that differentiated itself from your run of the mill web series. We wanted to create something that could stand up against the others and really resonate with audiences and I don’t think it would have paid off if we rushed it, it was essential not to under-cook this.

MD: I think the major challenge that I faced was inexperience; the entire project has been a learning curve for me. I’d worked on a number of productions at film school, but had never written, created, or produced anything before. I was initially very protective of my scripts, nervous to show anyone what I had written, even my producer. However, the film school environment and the creative team on this project were extremely supportive and helpful.

Making web series and online content is definitely a career I’d like to pursue. I think we are shifting towards an online model of entertainment which can open doors for creators to bypass traditional gatekeepers. Although there are challenges, I think that creating content for the web gives us room to experiment, take risks, and tell stories to an immediate audience.

IS: Budget. It’s always budget. Plus having to work around everyone’s schedules. They were all being so wonderful and working for free but that comes with the added challenge of having to make some timing and date changes to work with everybody.

What is your background as a web series creator?
RS: This is the first time I have undertaken a project like this; my background is in short film and commercial producing, so it’s been a really enriching experience. It’s exciting to explore a medium you, heretofore, haven’t really given any thought to- and as it doesn’t follow the traditional distribution pathway, it’s been exceptionally interesting, albeit challenging, to adapt.

MD: Prior to Two Weeks, I had no experience as a web series creator, my background was in film sound recording and design. I’ve watched lots and lots of web series, which sparked my desire to contribute to online LGBT culture.

IS: I actually don’t have any previous history in web series. I work full-time in TV Commercials and have also made a number of short films, so this was my first venture into the land of web series. And I really like it.

What kind of responses have you gotten from your audience, and particularly the LGBTQ community?
From the very beginning, we really just wanted to convey characters who were going through some very real, very relatable stages in life and their relationships- certainly these are portrayed by LGBTQ characters, but the crux of our stories are universal. And the response we’ve received thus far has reflected that; we’ve had feedback from audiences who hail from a whole range of backgrounds and sexualities and they all tell us how a certain character or situation really resonated with them. We’re certainly not underplaying the queer element of the series, but rather we didn’t want to exploit it as sometimes happens with LGBTQ content. At the end of the day, the whole point is showing people that it really is true, we love and hurt just the same as you so we wanted to avoid playing the queer card and posing sexuality and identity as an “issue” or a “statement to society”.

IS: I don’t feel as though we’ve gained a large response especially because it’s a LGBT story. Much of the feedback we’ve received is that it’s nice to see a series focus on a LGBT couple, that doesn’t make a big deal about that fact. It’s a love story first and fore-most and we never wanted it to seem ground-breaking because of the genders of the couple. The reactions that we’ve had so far tend to be relating to Audrey’s hope and pain, which has been great. That was the goal!

MD: We premiered at the Brisbane Queer Film Festival to a heartwarming response from the community, it was very special to hear strangers laugh at our jokes and to see people relate to the series on a personal level. We have made this for our audience, we have made this for LGBT people searching for reflections of themselves on screen, so I only hope that audiences will respond to that and connect to our characters and our stories.

How did you fund your series?
MD: Thus far, the film has been almost solely self-funded. We were fortunate enough to also be given a grant from the commercial arm of Griffith Film School, LiveLab.

Do you have any future plans for this series?
MD: We’re still working on the rest of the series, but our plans at the moment are to start getting our work out there with Episodes 1-3, with a plan to release publicly online in late 2017. If all goes well, I’d love to develop a second season.

What do you want your audience to take away from this series?
Just as all of us can see parts of ourselves in these characters, or relate to situations portrayed, we are hopeful that the series resonates with the audience and leaves them wanting more.

IS: I would love them to take away a love story. I don’t personally want it to be seen as a LGBT love story, as I think that the fact that they’re the same sex is inconsequential to their emotions and story.

What did you learn from making this series? What would you do differently?
MD: I’ve learned to feed the cast and crew well. On a more serious note, I’ve learned a lot about screen producing and that passion projects like this take time. When I first pitched the idea to our producer, I was a bit naive about how long it would take to produce. I’m still learning every day, but I think the most important thing is to support my collaborators, even when creative differences arise.

IS: I learnt that it’s incredibly important to have people in your HOD roles that care as much about the project as you do. That it’s important to have those people around because when your passion is lagging, or you’re too close to it to be able to see mistakes/the story/how it’s working, they will be the ones that help you through and make you fall in love with it all over again.

What advice would you give to emerging creators?
As a producer, be resilient and resourceful.

As a creator, refining scripts and stories prior to shooting is essential. I actually learned to recognise how important it is for a creator/writer have input from the other key creatives before locking the script. I think our characters and their personalities and motivations are only as strong as they are because they were formulated from a collaborative team effort during the early stages of production. If you’re one writer, you’re only one person who has a narrow view on personalities that differ from your own and you don’t fully comprehend character motivations that are foreign to those you possess or the experiences you have had. So I would say if you want to be a writer, who writes within the realm of reality, always seek help from your team, seek feedback from test audiences, really research and look into every character as if you could name 6 generations of their family tree. If television presents a vast wasteland of content, you can bet the web is at least a thousand times worse- it’s important to really put in the work to make something of substance that will stand out.

MD: Don’t be afraid to take risks, but don’t rush. Ask lots of questions – the online community of content creators is incredibly giving – and really listen to the advice and feedback you’re given.

IS: Don’t be a Nicholas Cage. Be a Jared Leto. Work your hardest on a select few projects and make them great, as opposed to working on anything and everything that comes your way. Whilst having more lines on your resume may seem like a good idea, I believe the good ol’ quality over quantity is the way forward.