I was stunned, delighted, knocked out. More importantly, I was moved. At one point I reluctantly tore myself away from the screen, dashing outside to haul in the washing during an afternoon sun-shower, but my cheeks were already wet before I made it out the door. A film called Gina had, in three short minutes, broken my heart.
Innovative local film project Loading Docs was tailor-made for a big sook like me. Here, in glorious hi-def video, are fellow New Zealanders telling stories packed with emotion. The catch? They have just three minutes to do so.
The concept is simple. Each year, ten teams of promising documentary makers are mentored while they make a short doco, with funding from the NZ Film Commission and NZ On Air. The filmmakers have to pitch, write and develop the story, shoot and edit it, and crowd-fund some of the money themselves. But most of all, they have to learn to cut to the chase.
These are docos that capture your attention, make a few strong points, then they’re gone. Thank you and good night. Roll credits. Their brevity is extraordinary, given their impact. It is like comparing the overheated waffle of this column with an elegant haiku. This is storytelling with all excess baggage stripped away, which is an inspiration to a long-winded soul like me.
“The project has a strong professional development focus,” says Julia Parnell, an award-winning doco maker who executive produces the series alongside AUT media academic Anna Jackson. “It makes filmmakers really hone down what they want to say. Three minutes is long enough to use innovative cinematic techniques and deliver a strong message, but short enough that people will watch them and pick up that message. That time constraint makes a filmmaker get straight to the heart of their story, and then later on, they can take what they’ve learned into making longer films.”