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Why You Should Submit to Loading Docs

Loading Docs submissions are open for 2024. Filmmakers across Aotearoa are invited to submit their ideas for documentaries under 10 minutes centred around the theme of Attention – Te kimihanga, te hahaunga. Here are the reasons you should apply to be a part of Loading Docs. If you haven’t submitted it yet, do so before the February 12th deadline.

Global and Local Exposure:

Founded in 2014, the Loading Docs pioneered the production of short-form documentaries accessible to an online audience. With nearly 20 million viewers worldwide, Loading Docs offers unparalleled exposure for filmmakers. Loading Docs short films have been showcased on platforms including television, premium news sites, film festivals, public outdoor screens, and inflight, reaching audiences far and wide.

Premiere Platforms & Film Festivals:

Loading Docs films have graced esteemed international platforms like The New Yorker, The Guardian, Short of the Week, and National Geographic, and local platforms such as NZ Herald, RNZ, Whakaata Māori, TVNZ+ and Stuff, garnering widespread recognition. Moreover, they have been featured at renowned film festivals such as HOT DOCS, DOC NYC, SXSW, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts, and NZIFF, among many others.

Professional Development:

Loading Docs is New Zealand’s preeminent documentary talent programme. It’s not only about content, it’s about elevating the art of documentary making. We’re deeply invested in teaching the fundamentals of drawing the heart out of a story and articulating deeper meanings in narratives. Our commitment extends to refining editing techniques and processes designed to captivate and sustain viewer attention. Our goal is to cultivate new generations of filmmakers who can weave impactful short documentaries, and to transport the genre to platforms where New Zealanders already congregate.

Selected filmmakers will receive invaluable mentorship from industry veterans including co-founder Julia Parnell (SIX60: Till the Lights Go Out, The Chills: The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps), Kay Ellmers (He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan), and Juliette Veber (Trouble Is My Business). Workshops with guest mentors and a post-production package with the leading post-house, Department Of Post, also help excel the development of filmmakers and make deep connections within the New Zealand film industry.

Pathway to Feature Films:

Loading Docs serves as a launchpad for filmmakers aspiring to transition to feature-length projects. Alumni of Loading Docs have successfully ventured into directing and producing feature films, with some Loading Docs films transitioning into features of their own. In the past year, Katherine McRae and Migiwa Ozawa’s Water Baby became ‘Pacific Mother’, winning Best NZ Documentary at Doc Edge Festival, and Gwen Isaac and Phillida Perry’s Siouxsie & the Virus went on to become ‘Ms. Information’, premiering at NZIFF.

Two-time Loading Docs director, Corinna Hunziker, received the Grand Prix du Jury at FIFO for her deeply impactful ‘No Māori Allowed’, and Zoe McIntosh, also a two-time Loading Docs director, released Stylebender, centring on the world-renowned UFC superstar, Israel Adesanya, which enjoyed its international premiere at Tribeca Film Festival.

The Collaborative Experience:

Join a community of filmmakers embarking on a transformative journey together. From crowdfunding to production, post-production and distribution, participants share in the exhilarating process, culminating in a grand premiere event at an Auckland cinema—a celebration of creativity and storytelling.

Ready to showcase your vision to the world? Submit your documentary idea by February 12th for a chance to be a part of Loading Docs next season. Don’t miss this extraordinary opportunity to share your story with a global audience. Learn more and submit now.

Submit to Loading Docs 2024


Loading Docs submissions are open for 2024. NZ-based filmmakers have to opportunity to submit a proposal for the chance to be part of the acclaimed short documentary initiative of Aotearoa New Zealand. Selected filmmakers will be awarded funding and receive high-level development support and mentorship from respected industry experts. Our guiding theme for this year is ‘Attention’ – ‘Te kimihanga, te hahaunga’, challenging you to uncover and showcase the unseen beauty and potential in our complex surroundings


With a legacy of over 80 compelling stories that have captivated 19 million viewers worldwide, Loading Docs has been a catalyst for the careers of more than 100 filmmakers. It could be your narrative that captivates us next. To submit, download the Loading Docs Application Pack, which includes; the full RFP, submission form and terms & conditions. Here you’ll learn more about the initiative, find the intended production schedule and be able to complete the submission form. The deadline for applying is Feb 12.


  • Personal journeys of victory and sorrow, infused with an unexpected twist or perspective, and surpassing a traditional character biography.  
  • Environmental sagas with a potent call-to-action. 
  • Insightful explorations of technology’s dual impact on our lives: its intimidating advancements and its potential for significant societal benefit. 
  • Historical narratives that present a surprising point of view of a well-known event or issue.  
  • Fresh takes on current news, challenging viewers to step outside their echo chambers. 
  • Extraordinary access to hard-to-reach places or subjects. 
  • Unique access to remarkable individuals or groups, with significant profiles and unique outlooks.  


Kei ngā arero pounamu, kei ngā ringa whatu kōrero, kia kawea tātou e te reo – whītiki tauā.

Kia Māori ake nei ngā kōrero ka rukuhia, ngā pakipūmeka ka hangaia.  E hiahia ana kia kitea te tino wairua Māori o roto – ngā tirohanga, ngā uara, ngā kōrero katoa, kia kounga, kia rangatira, me ko Māui Tinihanga. Ko te aho matua e whāia ana e tēnei terenga ko te ‘Attention – Te kimihanga, te hahaunga’.  I ētahi wā e tika ana kia tūngia te ururua kia tupu whakaritorito ai te tupu o te harakeke.  Tēnā, rukuhia te rētōtanga o te kaupapa, kia hua mai ai ko te māramatanga me te tirohanga e ai ki tā te Māori titiro ki te ao.

Loading Docs is dedicated to championing Māori voices and worldviews within our storytelling framework. This includes providing specific opportunities for projects in te reo Māori.

  • Loading Docs is seeking a minimum of two projects that are conveyed through te reo Māori
    • At least one documentary is to be completed entirely in te reo Māori.
    • At least one other with a minimum of 30% te reo Māori dialogue.

These may engage audiences with the ethos and aspirations fundamental to the Māori worldview. However, stories told in te reo Māori need not be limited to explicit explorations of cultural themes.


As we embark on this year’s creative journey, the guiding theme is intended to illuminate the path for our Director/Producer teams. To support the success of your application, it is imperative to demonstrate adherence to the criteria outlined above. This will enable our selection committee to clearly envision the potential of your documentary and its alignment with this year’s theme.

Submit to Loading Docs by February 12. If you have any further questions or issues with the Loading Docs Application Pack, please contact us here.

Expressions of Interest


Open Now Until 8 January 2024

E ngā reo, e ngā mana, i runga i te reo rāhiri o Loading Docs tēnei te karanga, nau mai, kuhu mai, tono mai rā. Loading Docs is now accepting expressions of interest from talented filmmakers ready to embark on a journey of cinematic storytelling and professional growth.

This is your opportunity to join a new cohort of Loading Docs filmmakers. An award-winning short documentary initiative, Loading Docs, has amassed over 19 million views globally, contributed to the creation of multiple feature documentaries, and propelled the career progression of over a hundred filmmakers.

Your Invitation to Pitch:

We invite you to submit a short synopsis and treatment for up to three documentary concepts.

Kei ngā ringa whatu kupu, kei ngā arero pounamu, kia kawea e te reo – whītiki tauā! Loading Docs seeks two projects expressly told through te reo Māori (one documentary 100% in te reo, the other at least 30%), ensuring that distinctly Māori perspectives, values, and stories are woven into the fabric of the kaupapa.

Engage with us early to gain constructive feedback and insights on your ideas before the full proposal deadline. By connecting with Loading Docs now, you will better understand our ethos, the commitment we seek, and the kind of stories that resonate with us and our audiences.

Expressions of interest will be accepted from now until 5 pm, Monday, January 8, 2024.

We encourage you to reach out early and welcome opportunities to engage with filmmakers prior to the summer break.

The Theme for the Season:

Our guiding theme for this year is ‘Attention’ – ‘Te kimihanga, te hahaunga’, challenging you to uncover and showcase the unseen beauty and potential in our complex surroundings.

We’re searching for narratives that shine a spotlight on the overlooked facets of New Zealand, bringing to life stories that touch the soul, shift perspectives, and harmonise the traditional with the cutting-edge.

How to Submit:

Email your expression of interest to [email protected], including the following information in a Word doc or PDF format:

  1. Relevant experience and links to previous work, plus bios of key personnel.
  2. A short synopsis for each concept (up to 200 words per idea).
  3. A treatment of the approach and vision (up to 200 words per idea).
  4. A personal statement detailing your reasons for wanting to make a Loading Docs film.
  5. Contact information, including email, phone number and relevant websites or social media handles.

If you have a concept but are yet to secure a director or producer partnership, we still encourage you to reach out. It’s essential, however, that all films selected for participation have a confirmed producer and director team. Full proposals will be due Monday, February 12, 2024.

We Are Looking for Concepts That Are:

  • Daring in their execution and intimate in their portrayal
  • Curiosity-igniting and revealing of unseen perspectives
  • Inspirational and thought-provoking through cultural connection and expression
  • Capturing the heartbeat of communities
  • Challenging of the status quo
  • Bridging of worlds
  • Featuring individuals or groups with significant profiles and unique outlooks

At this expression of interest stage, we understand submissions may not be fully developed and will likely need further research. We value your eagerness to engage with Loading Docs as much as the ideas themselves and look forward to hearing from you.

The Loading Docs Team.


Loading Docs is an initiative funded by NZ On Air, Te Māngai Pāho and the New Zealand Film Commission and managed by production company Notable Pictures.

Watch at: www.loadingdocs.net/watch

Season 8. Out now.

Loading Docs: Tūmanako / Hope


In another unpredictable year of social and political adversity, Loading Docs’ new collection of eight short documentaries provide hopeful viewpoints from the lands and seas of Aotearoa. From laughter and to tears, the Tūmanako/Hope collection will bring audiences together amidst the most divisive and isolating period of our generation.

From an emotional story about a life-challenging decision in ‘Fifty Percent’, asking how you would live if you had a 50% chance of death? To approaching cultural appropriation with humour in ‘HAKA haha’. And on to one man risking his freedom in ‘The Scam’ taking us on a wild true-crime tale.


The ScamThe ultimate scam lures an elderly beekeeper around the world in this wild true-crime tale.

When Nobody Was Looking – An entomologist takes on the 1970s New Zealand Government uncovering institutional racism and child abuse.

Fifty PercentWith a 50% chance of inheriting a fatal disease, is it better to know your future or live in the moment?

Night RideWhen a mother of ten returns nightly to the old family home to feed stray cats, her son questions its connection to the death of his brother.

Wind Song and RainHone Tuwhare, New Zealand’s most famous Māori poet, leaves a legacy to the granddaughter he left behind. To reconnect, she writes a love letter to the world.

The WeedfishThe hunt for an elusive fish in New Zealand’s disappearing kelp forests sends two marine scientists on a deep underwater dive.

Only HumanA social media fight over sexism is the last straw for the liberal daughter of a chauvinistic father.

HAKA hahaThere’s cultural appropriation in the air as kaka haka are debated by the people of Aotearoa. 

Loading Docs is a Notable Pictures initiative with support from NZ On Air, alongside the New Zealand Film Commission and Te Māngai Pāho.

Download full press release here

5 Reasons to Donate

Loading Docs invites audiences to get behind the crowdfunding stage by supporting the creation of important Aotearoa stories. Here are 5 reasons why you should donate:

  1. Back the arts: We’re crowdfunding on Boosted, the home of creative crowdfunding. They’re Aotearoa’s only platform dedicated to getting homegrown art off the ground. So by supporting one of our Loading Docs projects, you’re supporting the whole initiative and documentary-making in New Zealand.

  2. Be part of the project: To donate is to say “I helped make this documentary!” Without your donation, big or small, our projects can’t get made. The more they raise the better chance they have of making an amazing short film. You can keep up with the entire production from start to finish on our social channels.

  3. Giving back: Most of our filmmakers are emerging filmmakers and will use Loading Docs as a launchpad to a long career in film. Help create the next generation of filmmakers.

  4. Loading Docs are FREE: When our collection of eight new short documentaries are created, they will be available for FREE on www.loadingdocs.net! Some people donate the price of a cinema ticket or Netflix subscription and watch for free later in the year.

  5. All-or-nothing: If the teams don’t reach their crowdfunding goal their project won’t get made! Your donations are tax deductable.


2021 Announcement


Press Release: Loading Docs announce their season 8 projects

2021 brings a new season by the award-winning Loading Docs initiative. Starting with crowdfunding campaigns, Loading Docs announces eight new short documentaries by eight filmmaking teams.

Brought together under the theme of Tūmanako/Hope, Loading Docs invites audiences to get behind the crowdfunding stage by supporting the creation of important Aotearoa stories. In a time of upheaval, filmmakers have opted to make documentary projects with themes that are personal to them.

But first, the filmmakers must raise $3,500 on homegrown website Boosted.org.nz to unlock further funding from Loading Docs. It’s an all or nothing campaign running from today until April 15th. If filmmakers don’t raise the funds, the documentary won’t get made. To find out more visit: www.loadingdocs.net/tumanako

In eight-minutes-or-less shorts, this year’s films cover stories of mortality, to the fight for racial justice, unique access to Waikato Mongrel Mob’s president and an underwater battle to protect a native fish.


The Scam – An international scam sends a small-town pensioner around the world and towards a life behind bars.

Night Ride – Why does a mother-of-ten still return to the old family house every night to feed stray cats?

Fifty Percent – With a 50% chance of inheriting a fatal disease, is it better to know your future or live in the moment?

The Old Place – A young wāhine Māori reconnects with her late Koro, Hone Tuwhare, through their shared gift of poetry.
When Nobody Was Looking – A Pākehā entomologist takes on the 1970s New Zealand government, calling out institutional racism.

Only Human – An animated short film that asks the question: Is it possible to break up with your family?

Kingdom – In prison, a Mongrel Mob president has an epiphany; he must redefine gang culture.

The Crested Weedfish – Marine scientists embark on an underwater adventure to save a rarely-seen fish in its severely threatened home.

Leading the Tūmanako theme is co-founder and Loading Docs’ executive producer Julia Parnell, sharing her experience as director of noteworthy documentaries SIX60: Till the Lights Go Out, The Chills Film and Anthems: New Zealand’s Iconic Hits.

Parnell says, “With the documentary scene thriving in Aoteroa, we’re excited to launch another year of what will become unforgettable short docs. This season will provide entertainingly hopeful stories that tell us more about humanity.”

Taking part in Loading Docs sees filmmakers partially funded to create their short, alongside participating in a talent development programme that challenges them to expand their skills and knowledge in story development, connecting with audiences and increasing their understanding of documentary production.

The completed short documentaries will be available on www.loadingdocs.net later this year.

Loading Docs is funded by NZ On Air and made with support from the New Zealand Film Commission and Te Māngai Pāho.

Loading Docs call-out


2021 brings a new year of hope and a new season of Loading Docs! Whilst carefully selecting eight successful projects to make up the Tūmanako/Hope collection, the team begin the search for the right crew to support the creation of the short documentaries.

Loading Docs are looking for producers, production managers and editors to work on this year’s projects. If you are interested in being part of the award-winning initiative and have what it takes to support filmmakers to make a great short film, get in touch now!

Please email a CV and short introduction of why you’re ready for the task to [email protected]. We will be in touch shortly.

5 Reasons to Submit

Loading Docs will return for 2021 with the 8th season of the award-winning short documentary initiative. Filmmakers around Aotearoa are submitting ideas now for 8-minute documentaries under the theme of Tūmanako/Hope. So, why should you submit to Loading Docs?


1. Get Your Work Seen

Almost 15 million people around the world have watched a Loading Docs short. They’ve been seen on television, at cinemas, film festivals, on public outdoor screens and even onboard Air NZ flights. These little films get huge exposure on an international level.

2. Platforms & Film Festivals

The New Yorker, The Guardian, Short of the Week and National Geographic are just some of the platforms our shorts have been shown on. Loading Docs also get submitted to film festivals large and small. They have screened everywhere from DOC NYC to SXSW. Sheffield Doc/Fest, Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts, New Zealand International Film Festival and more.

3. Professional Development

Offering a unique professional development opportunity, the selected filmmakers will receive high-level mentorship from co-founder Julia Parnell, (Director of the SIX60 Movie, The Chills Film, Anthems), Juliette Veber (Trouble is my Business, Conversations with Teen Mums) and acclaimed international filmmakers throughout our 2021 workshops.

4. Feature Films

Loading Docs can be a stepping stone to feature films, with Loading Docs alumni having gone on to direct and produce films including She Shears. One Loading Docs short went on to become a full-feature, Wilbur Force became Wilbur: The King In The Ring.

5. The Experience

New and experienced filmmakers come together and experience the entire journey together, from the initial crowdfunding stage, right through production and post-production, coming together for a celebratory night at the Loading Docs premiere in an Auckland cinema.

Want to find out more about how to submit? Click here.

Submission deadline December 14th



Loading Docs 2021




Are you interested in making a Loading Docs documentary? Now is the time to start researching ideas for a short film of up to eight minutes.

‘Tūmanako/Hope’ has been chosen as the theme. Creators are asked to seek out contemporary stories that will surprise and inspire. Ideas that transport audiences on powerful and emotional journeys. People who incite understanding, progression and social change.

Loading Docs wants to see ideas that take a myriad of approaches on the documentary form, from comedy to investigation to impact documentaries.

Crucially we are looking for stories that embrace contrast and conflict to dig deep into the truth of character and plot – whether that means confronting fears, asking hard questions of subjects or pushing the limits of the documentary genre.

With the full request for proposals imminent, Loading Docs is looking for expressions of interest from committed storytellers to participate in Loading Docs 2021. The team is ready and open to take calls and conversations to help teams move towards submission.

See the 2020 collection for inspiration.

Please email your interest to [email protected] with the subject heading ‘I want to make a Loading Docs’ and tell us why you want to be involved.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week is a chance for us to collectively think about our mental health and increase the conversation in the mainstream. Loading Docs have produced documentaries tackling issues and telling personal stories on the subject.

The Barter Barber

After losing four friends to suicide, crisis-trained barber Sam Dowdall embarks on a road trip to change the current landscape of men’s mental health.

Madness Made Me

Down the end of the long polished corridor, Mary O’Hagan comes face to face with the condemning words written about her in her psychiatric files.

OK Chlöe

Millennial MP, Chlöe Swarbrick, challenges the establishment during the most important year of her political career.

Wahine Warrior

After a brush with death, she was reborn a warrior. Using hunting as therapy, she must overcome her past to lead a self-sustained sisterhood.