Griffith Film School has landed two major wins at the prestigious Australian Teachers of Media Awards.

The ATOM Awards, established in 1982, recognise the best Australian and New Zealand screen content from film schools and screen industry professionals.

Two Weeks, helmed by Masters of Screen ProductionalumniMary Duongand fellow GFS graduate Rhiannon Steffensen, took out Best Web Series.

The 9-part series was shot on location around Brisbane, with the support of Griffith Film School’s commercial arm, LiveLab.

Griffith Film School students and alumni formed the creative team and crew for the hit series, which has attracted more than 300,000 viewers since its YouTube debut last month.

Fellow Griffith Film School alumnus Dean Gibson’s landmark documentary, Wik vs Queensland, won Best Documentary (History).

The film was made by a team of filmmakers with strong links to Griffith: alumnus Dean Gibson (Director), lecturer Helen Morrison (Producer) and Adjunct Professor Trish Lake (Executive Producer).

National recognition

Head of Griffith Film School, Professor Herman Van Eyken, said the strong showing reflected the calibre of talent nurtured at GFS.

“We are very proud of what our students, graduates and faculty members are producing, and are delighted to see their work recognised at this level,” he said.

“ATOM is the second-longest running film and media awards in Australia, behind the AFI/AACTA Awards.

“Competitions like this allow our filmmakers to make industry connections and build a wider audience for their work.”

Thinking outside the box

Mary Duong’s win caps off a stellar year for the Griffith graduate. Her acclaimedweb series, Two Weeks, has attracted more than 4,000 subscribers and hundreds of thousands of views in it’s first month on YouTube.

Set in Brisbane, it follows a group of 20-something LGBTQ friends as they tackle big decisions about relationships, friendship, sexuality, careers.

In addition to its success at the ATOM Awards, it has been nominated for a slew of prizes internationally, including the Toronto Web Awards, UK Web Fest, Hollyweb Festival, Rio Web Fest.

Mary said the response to the series had been “heartwarming”.

“Two Weeks has been a fantastic ride,” she said.

“I’ve been working on it for the past two years, and it’s so heartwarming to see the response.”

Mary said online platforms allowed filmmakers to take more risks and opened doors for diverse voices.

“The shift towards an online model has opened doors for people like us — you can bypass traditional distribution, take risks, tell stories that may not get past the networks,” she said.

There is diversity behind the camera too, with plenty of women directors on board, including fellow GFS grads Rachel Anderson and Isabel Stanfield.

“We think it’s extremely important to tell these stories and for women to be in these positions,” she said.

“The beauty of web series is that everyone is at the table.”

Opportunities for emerging filmmakers

Richard Fabb is the creative director of Griffith Film School’s commercial production house, LiveLab, and acted as Executive Producer on Two Weeks.

He said the series featured the largest Griffith Film School crew in the School’s history.

“We have an incredibly talented cohort here and this is a fantastic showcase for them,” he said.

“This form is still in its infancy, but we’re starting to see students realising the potential of online.

“Young filmmakers have a means of putting out content that wasn’t available even five or ten years ago.”

Mr Fabb said the series would screen on Virgin Airlines in 2019, as part of a content partership deal brokered by Griffith Film School.

There has also been strong interest from funding bodies and streaming services, which may lead to a fully-funded commission for a second series.

“This small investment is creating great employment opportunities for our graduates,” he said.