Campbell mum Maura Pierlot thought her invitation to the Canberra Short Film Festival awards night was to make up numbers.
Instead, her eight-part web drama about young people and mental health, Fragments, walked away with two prizes - best script or screenplay for Maura and best TV/web series for producer Dan Sanguineti.
"It was a really nice surprise," she said.
"Because as confident as I try to come across in everything I do, there's always that voice, especially when you're an artist and especially when you get older."
Fragments started as a play, which debuted at The Street Theatre in late 2019, telling the stories of young people coping with mental health issues at school and at home.
Maura hoped Fragments would then be performed in schools but then the Black Summer bushfires hit, COVID closed down the world and all the creative energy that went into the sell-out show suddenly ground to a halt.
During lockdown Maura secured further funding from artsACT to develop Fragments into the eight-art web series, which will be officially launched at the National Film and Sound Archive in February, with the hope more young people will get to see it.
There is also a book form of Fragments which Maura also hopes to get into schools.
"The thing with a play is that it takes so much time and energy and money - all worth it - but once the run is over you go, 'Well, now what? How do I get people to see this work'?" she said.
The web series was filmed in Canberra during the pandemic, each episode directed by a young person.
"It was challenging but it got done," Maura said.
"It was a masterclass in collaboration and logistics."
Maura's own daughter Erin, 21, appeared as a character in Fragments.
"It's been really good to see it go from an idea to a play to a film to a book," Erin said.
"I think what's so good about Fragments is the topic of metal health is often shied away from. A lot of people don't know how to start the conversation, especially young people.
"With a piece like Fragments, it isn't too heavy, it isn't too light. It has a lot of humour. A lot of people can relate to it, and even parents who are still trying to understand their children."
And Erin believed her mum very much deserved the accolades.
"I'm so proud of mum," she said.
"Because I can see this is something she's been wanting to do for a while and seeing how much it's grown and the creative process, it's inspiring."
American-born Maura, also the brains behind the community project The Bookbench, where she leaves novels for Canberrans to find and read, says she's always been a deep thinker. She enjoyed many careers but was finally coming into her own at the age of 63.
"This is exciting for me because I've always wanted to write, but you have to pay the bills," she said.
"I knew I'd find the time and space to make that happen."
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