Loading Docs finalists: A Māori speaking UK priest, a crisis trained barber and a female stock car driver

John The Baptist, a project selected by Loading Docs, will follow the journey of British immigrant, John Catmur, who ...

John The Baptist, a project selected by Loading Docs, will follow the journey of British immigrant, John Catmur, who believes God told him to move to NZ. As such, he is learning te reo Māori to serve God.

A documentary competition that helped a quirky New Zealand short film on Rotorua’s Coffin Club play at Austin’s South By South West film festival is back again.

Loading Docs, in its fifth year, helps fund, create and distribute ten three-minute, thought provoking, short documentary proposals that screen online, on demand, and on the big screen.

This year potential film makers were asked to submit a unique concept that relates to the theme of ‘impact’.

Loading Docs 2018 finalists

Loading Docs 2018 finalists 

The ten chosen projects will pitch their films on crowdfunding platform Boosted, where they will promote their ideas to potential audiences over the next month with the hope of reaching or exceeding a goal of $2000.

If and when they do, Loading Docs will provide $4450 plus a post-production package.

Sam 'The Barter Barber' Dowdall is travelling the country trading haircuts for a chat or a meal to encourage men to ...

Sam ‘The Barter Barber’ Dowdall is travelling the country trading haircuts for a chat or a meal to encourage men to speak up about mental illness.

Last year’s finalist, Briar March’s musical The Coffin Club was selected to play at the prestigious SXSW festival in Austin.

The short film captured the quirky and touching story of an elderly group in Rotorua who build and decorate their own coffins.

Loading Docs is funded by NZ On Air, New Zealand Film Commission and Te Māngai Pāho. Last year it won the NZ On Air Best Web Series.

The winning projects include a crisis trained barbershop who ditches his job to travel NZ to challenge men’s mental health with barber cuts, a Kāi Tahu inventor wanting to rid NZ rivers of Didymo and a Baptist Minster learning te reo Māori to serve his God.

 – Stuff

Announcing the 2018 Collection

Media Release

LOADING DOCS, Aotearoa’s most successful short documentary initiative, returns for 2018 with ten new filmmaking teams ready to turn their ideas into short films that make a lasting impact.

This year the initiative celebrates its fifth year of producing 3-minute kiwi documentaries that screen online, on demand and on the big screen. The team at LOADING DOCS has been through a rigorous selection process to choose these films by some of Aotearoa’s most exciting documentary talent, maintaining their commitment to fostering and promoting New Zealand filmmakers.

Last year, LOADING DOCS was awarded the NZ On Air Best Web Series at the 2017 TV Awards confirming the significant impact the initiative has made on audiences and the filmmaking industry, which has prompted the theme for the 2018 films to be just that: impact. As in previous years, the filmmakers were asked to submit a unique concept that relates to the theme, and as always the broad interpretations of that theme mean that the films are diverse, creative, inspiring and ready to make an impact.

With support from principal funder NZ On Air, along with the New Zealand Film Commission and Te Māngai Pāho, LOADING DOCS will help fund, create and distribute the ten digital shorts. Additionally, the filmmakers must now pitch their films on crowdfunding platform BOOSTED, providing them with a vital opportunity to connect with their potential audiences while raising the extra funds they will need to complete the film to the highest level. The BOOSTED campaigns launch on May 24th and the teams will have one month to reach or exceed their goal of $2000 at which point they will receive an additional $4450 from LOADING DOCS plus a post-production package from Department of Post.

The founders of LOADING DOCS, Julia Parnell and Anna Jackson, are proud to be embarking on this project of professional development once again and are excited to see these powerful and thought provoking short films come together. “Every year we are completely blown away by how these talented documentarians come up with original, brave and captivating ideas and turn them into these perfectly formed little cinematic gems” says Parnell. “The films from previous years have exceeded 5.1 million views so the filmmakers really do have an opportunity here to have their film make an impact and be seen all over the world.”


Announcing the 2018 LOADING DOCS: IMPACT teams and projects.


Hear Me Out

Director: Jason Boberg | Producer: Lucy Stonex

Aotearoa’s first deaf MP Mojo Mathers has long fought for her voice to be heard. Now with one final bill in parliament, can she ensure all people with disabilities in New Zealand will be heard?

Boosted Link: https://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/hear-me-out

The Barter Barber

Director Ygnacio Cervio | Producer Valeria Astudillo

After losing friends to suicide, a crisis trained barber leaves his life behind to travel around the country on a mission to challenge the perception of men’s mental health one haircut at a time.

Boosted Link: https://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/the-barter-barber

John the Baptist

Director/Co-Producer: Kayne Ngātokowhā Peters | Producer: Piata Gardiner-Hoskins

An Englishman who moved to New Zealand to be a Baptist minister says he is serving God by learning to speak te reo Māori.

Boosted Link: https://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/john-the-baptist


Director: Jared Buckley | Producer: Sofia MacKenzie

A passionate falcon trainer and her loyal falcon race against time to raise awareness about the threats facing New Zealand’s top aerial predator.

Boosted Link: https://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/karearea


Director: Himiona Grace | Producer: Anahera Parata

The lone resident of a sinking island watches in despair as the effects of climate change slowly encroach on his island paradise. But what can one person do to counteract a global crisis? How can he stop the waves?

Boosted Link: https://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/motu

She Speeds

Director: Morgan Leigh Stewart | Producer: Lissandra Leite

In the exhilarating and male-dominated world of dirt track racing, stock car driver Brooke does what she loves most: races. The fiercely determined Brooke navigates the pits, the track, the past, and the future of NZ’s most beloved motorsport.

Boosted Link: https://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/she-speeds

The Crossroads: Le Māgafā

Director: Sani Sagala | Producer: Aaron Taouma

The two worlds of rapper Kas Tha Feelstyle Futialo intersect in this lyrical depiction of the influences on his life. In the intermingling of Western Hip Hop and Sāmoan culture we find a place where similarities are strengthened and music flows.

Boosted Link: https://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/the-crossroads

The Cube of Truth

Director/Producer: Amy Taylor

A daring young couple take a surprising message of violence to the streets, exposing the dark side of animal industries and challenging the status quo.

Boosted Link: https://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/the-cube-of-truth

What Logan Did

Director/Producer: Jane Mahoney | Co-Producer: Josie Cox

A passionate young Ngāi Tahu inventor is on a mission to rid New Zealand’s rivers of Didymo, and the way he’s going about it is truly remarkable.

Boosted Link: https://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/what-logan-did

Soldiers Road

Director: Louise Pattinson | Producer: Gabriel Abreu

A Māori entrepreneur attempts to reclaim the exploitative art form of portrait photography by using it to help prisoners reframe their identity. But can a simple photograph really change your life?

Boosted Link: https://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/soldiers-rd


About Loading Docs

Loading Docs is a unique New Zealand documentary initiative established in 2014 that aims to captivate and inspire audiences as well as develop and promote New Zealand filmmaking talent. Every year Loading Docs selects ten thought provoking short documentary proposals, which are then supported from development through to distribution. Loading Docs filmmakers expand their skills in a range of areas including story development, outreach, publicity and marketing and distribution. Since its inception Loading Docs has achieved over 5.1 million views across the collection and is supported by TVNZ OnDemand, Air New Zealand in-flight and hosted on such high profile websites as National Geographic, The Atlantic, The Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Upworthy, The Guardian, Great Big Story and Short of the Week and featured in festivals such as The New Zealand Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, SXSW and Telluride Mountain Film Festival to name but a few. Loading Docs has significantly increased the value and impact of New Zealand documentary series winning NZ On Air Best Web Series in 2017 at the New Zealand Television Awards.


Loading Docs is a Notable Pictures initiative, founded by Julia Parnell and Anna Jackson.

Loading Docs is funded by NZ On Air

and made with the support of The New Zealand Film Commission and Te Māngai Pāho.


All media enquiries

Tamar Münch

Email: [email protected]


Loading Docs shorts are also available to watch on TVNZ OnDemand:


Boosted Website: www.boosted.org.nz


The Coffin Club is accepted into SXSW!

Quirky Kiwi short film The Coffin Club has been accepted to screen at South By South West in Austin, Texas, one of America’s most popular film festivals.

Created by filmmakers Briar March and Kim Harrop, the comedic documentary musical features a group of free-spirited seniors from Rotorua who formed the community group to construct and customise their own low-cost coffins.

“We’re so excited and honoured to screen at South By South West,” Harrop said.

“The festival celebrates the offbeat and the innovative, so it’s a great home for our crazy little film.”

The Coffin Club. Photo/Supplied

Katie Williams, who started the Rotorua Coffin Club in 2010, said interest in people getting together to build their own DIY coffins – with the aim of helping people feel in control to the end – had seen many other clubs pop up around New Zealand and she had had inquiries from all over the world.

Part of the Loading Docs collection, and funded by NZ on Air, the Film Commission and Te Mangai Paho, The Coffin Club brought home a Silver gong at the NZCS Cinematography Awards last year and has gained widespread international attention since it’s release in July 2017.

Members of the Rotorua Coffin Club were shown the film at an Oscars-style red carpet premier event in Rotorua last year.

“We saw it, it’s absolutely fabulous, we were all blown away,” Williams said.

“All of our stars were there for the red carpet do. It was a magical night for a whole bunch of oldies.

One of the stars of the film, Jean McGaffin, died in December.

South by Southwest is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas. It began in 1987, and has continued to grow in both scope and size every year.


See article here. 

Exciting things are happening for LOADING DOCS!

As we hit the halfway point of our third year in operation, we thought it was time to share some of our recent successes with you!

Loading Docs won the prestigious NZ On Air Best NZ Online Documentary or Web Series at the Doc Edge Awards 2016. The Doc Edge Gala Awards Night 2016 was held at The Roxy Cinema on the 12 May. Each year Doc Edge celebrates excellence and achievement by presenting local and international awards in various categories.

Loading Doc’s Producer Julia Parnell who attended the event said, “We are thrilled to receive this award on behalf of all the film-makers involved in making Loading Docs a success. To get this recognition in our third year of rolling out the Loading Docs program is proof of the outstanding talent in New Zealand, and the desire from audiences to see quality content.”


Julia Parnell and NZ on Air’s Brenda Leeuwenberg at the Doc Edge Awards ceremony.

Thanks Doc Edge!


This momentous milestone has been achieved cumulatively for the 19 short documentaries created to date, with statistics taken from our primary platforms; TVNZ OnDemand, Vimeo, The NZ Herald and CNN’s Great Big Story. It is a testament to the interest in New Zealand stories both here and around the world!


Last year, Kusuda the short film that follows Japanese winemaker Hiro Kusuda held the record of achieving the highest percentage over their target on crowdfunding platform Boosted.

We have out beaten ourselves, setting another major record with our 2016 film Mister Sunshine (formerly The Impeccable Larry Woods). The filmmakers raised $8,957 achieving 447% of their target amount, the largest ever percentage for the crowdfunding site. Mister Sunshine knocked down Kusuda who achieved this record with 357%. Congratulations to the Mister Sunshine team!


The 10 upcoming shorts for LOADING DOCS: CHANGE are heading into post-production now. Check out the behind the scenes photos and see what they are up to all on our Facebook page. Here are a few visual updates from the various shoots…

Director Louise Leitch on set for Same But Different. 

On set  of Aka’Ōu. 

Mister Sunshine.


Watch this space for 10 more inspiring short documentaries later this year.

A Standing Ovation!

Crowdfunding has drawn to a close with all ten 2016 Loading Docs films surpassing their targets. A huge thank you to all who supported and shared the campaigns, every donation means so much and is a tribute to each documentary team and the strength of their unique stories.

The gold star award goes to the gentlemen from Run Charlie films
who outstripped their original Boosted goal by reaching over 400% with their documentary short Mister Sunshine.

Thanks also to Boosted for their incredible support.

The teams have already worked so hard to get to this point but the hard work has only just begun, the next phase is Production!

Keep following us on our Facebook page to stay up to date on their progress. You might even get some behind the scenes previews!

Thank you again – Shine on Documentary Stars!


High fives and victory laps awarded to 5 of the Loading Docs teams who have achieved their Boosted targets in crowdfunding before surpassing the 2 week mark. Well done to Blood Sugar, The Impeccable Larry Woods, Same But Different, Imagine the World is Ending and How Mr and Mrs Gock Saved the Kumara.

There are still five short docos yet to achieve their goal $2000 – you can see their progress and perhaps flick a few dollars their way here.

blood sugar

Here is Dahlia from Blood Sugar and her Loading Docs logo redesign! Thanks Dahlia. Great work.




We Announce the filmmakers for 2016!



Loading Docs: the documentary initiative that produces short films and big talent.

Loading Docs, the online documentary initiative, is back for a third year to launch another ten cutting-edge, 3-minute shorts that tell true stories of transformation, growth, adversity and hope. The theme for this year’s selection is ‘change’.

From more submissions than ever before, a panel of industry experts have selected 10 incredible new projects. This year’s Loading Docs shorts will provide viewers with the opportunity to: meet the millionaire who became a shoeshine man, face ‘the end of the world’ with two teen poets, enter into medieval combat, discover how friendship changes when your best mate becomes a woman and much more. Some films share personal stories of dramatic change, others address major social, political and environmental changes, and all have the potential to change the way viewers think and feel.

After a fantastic year in 2015 the previous Loading Docs shorts are still spreading far and wide. The collections from 2014 and 2015 have been viewed over 1,000,000 times across all platforms – some international outlets include CNN Great Big Story, The Atlantic, The Guardian, National Geographic, The Daily Mail and The Japan Times. These little stories are packing a big punch with a long tail.

As in previous years, the 2016 Loading Docs shorts are supported by NZ On Air and the New Zealand Film Commission. They will be launched online on the Loading Docs website and on TVNZ OnDemand. Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming crowd funding campaigns and for launch details.

See previous year’s short documentaries here.

The 2016 LOADING DOCS: CHANGE shorts

Blood Sugar
Dir: Joe Hitchcock
Prod: Morgan Leigh Stewart
Location: Auckland
Four-year-old Dahlia leads us in her bittersweet world of blood, needles and sugar.

Dir/Prod: Ryan Heron, Andy Deere
Location: Taranaki
Knight-in-waiting Martainn must battle his inner demons if he hopes to achieve his dream of becoming a champion in his beloved sport of full contact medieval combat.

Imagine the World is Ending
Dir/Prod: Doug Dillaman, Brendan Withy
Location: Auckland
Can two schoolboys change the world with a poem?

Same but Different
Dir: Louise Leitch
Prod: Sue Ruffell
Location: Christchurch
Best mates, Byron and Neil, must re-calibrate their friendship when Bryon transitions from a man to a woman.

Street Smart
Dir: Leigh Minarapa
Prod: Nathaniel Lees
Location: Wellington
Being visible in a world that doesn’t want to see you.

Mister Sunshine
Dir: Eldon Booth
Prod: Alex Lovell
Location: Auckland
Larry Woods is a shoeshine man on a mission to peddle goodwill and cheer; a far cry from his hedonistic days as a member of Auckland’s wealthy elite.

Water for Gold
Dir: Rose Archer
Prod: Sandy Wijetunge
Location: Auckland
An animated conversation with leading legal professor, Jane Kelsey, on how international trade law is leading us to trade water for gold.

How Mr and Mrs Gock Saved the Kumara
Dir: Felicity Morgan-Rhind
Prod: Arani Cuthbert
Location: Auckland
When two young Chinese refugees fall in love in 1955 their passion for each other and the land changes the way New Zealand farms kumara, our iconic indigenous crop.

Aka’ōu: Tātatau in the Cook Islands
Dir: Robert George
Prod: Lucy Cole
Location: Rarotonga
Against the odds an Englishman living with Cystic Fibrosis who has devoted his life to learning the ancient Polynesian art of tātatau (tattoo) and now he must find the right apprentice to continue the tradition, before it’s too late.

The Colourist
Dir: Greg Wood, Peter Alsop
Prod: Declan Cahill
Location: Auckland
A photo colourist from the 1950s picks up the cotton wool one more time to showcase the wonderful aesthetic of a lost art.

A Bonanza Opportunity of Unexpected Depth

A look back on LD 2015 with the Producer of Wilbur Force Veronica Stevenson

Ollie Lucks introduced me to Loading Docs and for that he will always have my thanks. We had been friends for many years and always wanted to work together. This seemed like a perfect opportunity and when our short Wilbur Force officially made it onto the slate of LD2015 things got intense.

An email arrived inviting us to Auckland to meet the nine other LD teams for a two-day immersion in story, distribution, and marketing strategy. The diligent LD team sent us a detailed plan of the weekend including maps, parking, homework, and even a reminder to bring pen and paper. Bless the attention to detail of production teams.


When we met the other teams I was struck by the diversity of storytellers as well as by the stories they were going tell. It was at this point I knew we were part of something that had been very carefully curated.

Over two short, whip cracking days we and the other nine teams were put through our paces by industry experts. Publicity and media strategy from Anna Dean, crowdfunding for our impending Boosted campaign with Anna Jackson, and treatment development with Kathryn Burnett.

The experience of these two days alone was worth the application process.

Maybe you’ve made a film or two and know the juggling, the problem solving, the wrangling and late nights that go with a shoot. Ours was just like that. Complete with snowstorm, shooting our talent in Lycra during ball freezing winds (or so I was told), and pushing the now dead car down the road to get that last shot.




The due date rolled around quickly with long nights for Ollie in the edit suite with the colour grade team from Toybox and sound mix team from Sale St Studios (both provided by LD). Then all at once it was the premiere.


For a director, having 3 minutes of creative freedom is pretty much unheard of unless you’re Orson Wells or you’re in tertiary education. So this was obviously a very special element for Ollie. However, for me, as the producer, that’s not the bit that was remarkable about being a part of Loading Docs.

For me the takers-of-the-cake were the two workshops. The first gave everyone a chance to help develop the other teams’ concepts, and to get insights into your own. After the first workshop their stories disappeared into the black box of production, only to reappear shot and polished on the big screen.

The premiere was the big reveal for everyone – even Ollie and I hadn’t seen the final grade – and it created a special buzz in the theatre.

The second workshop was after delivery, after the premiere, and after I expected anything more from Loading Docs. They’d managed to wrangle a day with Rebecca Howard, the then online content director for the New York Times. I learned more from her about the changing face of the production industry in one day than in weeks of research. The personal contact time she gave us was invaluable to our distribution plan for Wilbur Force.

The support and opportunities kept coming from the LD team. We were given the chance to meet the Director of India’s Daughter, a chilling and rigorous story about Jyoti Singh, her perpetrators, and the attitude towards women in India. I was recently in Delhi and curtains are now illegal on buses because of this case.

Bottom line. I was pretty busy when the Loading Docs opportunity came along with a full time job and several other projects, but I grabbed it with both hands and I’m so very, very glad I did.