November 20, 2014 Loading Docs

Loading Docs 2015 – What are we looking for?

With less than two weeks to go until the deadline for proposals for Loading Docs 2015 now is the time to put the finishing touches on your proposal and get it in!

If you’re wondering what it takes to get to the top of the submission pile, here are some notes on what made the 2014 cohort stand out for us.

Baba – We were really excited by the idea of an animated Loading Docs film, and though Joel had never made a documentary before, he had a very strong track record as a filmmaker, a commitment to documentary and the support of a terrific producer. Three minutes of animation required a great deal of work, but Joel was clearly passionate about making this very personal film and was very committed to making it.

Homing – The proposal for this film focused on the use of sound to tell a story, which was a unique approach that was both original and ambitious and a great interpretation of the theme of Home.

Living Like Kings – Zoe’s proposal had a very clear creative vision and offered an insight into life in post-quake Christchurch that had never been seen before. Zoe had already done a lot of research and submitted some great images to support her proposal.

Queer Selfies – The concept for Queer Selfies fitted really well with the three-minute format and Robyn and Paula had a very sound production plan based on a single day’s shooting at The Big Gay Out and demonstrated an excellent understanding of their target audience.

Stop/Go – this film promised to show a side of New Zealand most people only catch a glimpse of. The proposal fitted well with our theme of Home and Greg and Jack provided a very compelling visual treatment to support their proposal that assured us that this film would be stunning.

The Jump – a never-before-told story about the origins of bungy featuring mullets, stubby and some serious can-do Kiwi attitude, with reels of incredible archive footage and a solid filmmaking team. The proposal had a clear plan of action and sold us on a great story with strong audience appeal.

The Road to Whakarae – the creative vision for this film was very clearly articulated in the proposal, and promised a very original approach. Like many other films that made the final cut, The Road to Whakarae offered a totally unique perspective on a very special place and people. The musical approach was risky, but that’s what Loading Docs is all about!

Today – The detailed observational treatment for this film was well-developed and the filmmakers had secured the permission they would need to film inside a rest home. In their initial proposal Prisca and Nick intended to spend around three days inside the home researching and getting to know staff and residents. In fact, they spent a great deal more time than this, and their commitment to handling this topic with sensitivity was very clear from the outset. They submitted their remarkable short film Le Taxidermiste in support of their application, and this gave us a great deal of confidence in their filmmaking ability.

Wayne – Kirsty and Viv also showed us a very strong commitment to spending a great deal of time with Wayne and his carers and we felt assured that they would tell his story with respect and care. Permission to film had been secured, the production schedule was realistic and just from looking at the fantastic photos of Wayne that were submitted in support of the application we could tell that Kirsty and Viv had a great rapport with him.

We received many fantastic proposals for Loading Docs 2014 and in making our final selection we considered how the films would work as a group, with a range of different styles, stories and communities represented. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and propose something that you think is a little unusual or challenging, just as long as your proposal can realistically be achieved within the budget and timeframe available.

For more tips on submitting, check out our FAQs…


Can I submit multiple proposals?
Yes, you can but bear in mind that each proposal requires quite a lot of preparation. We’re looking for ideas that are well developed and feasible within the time frame and budget available, so it’s best to focus on developing one or two ideas well rather than taking a scattergun approach.

What makes a good proposal?
A good proposal has a really clear concept and creative vision. We should immediately understand what your film is about and how you plan realise your ideas. Examples of previous work and visual references that demonstrate your creative vision are extremely useful. Your proposal should also identify potential challenges or logistical issues and indicate how you will deal with these. A major consideration is whether your project can be realised within the timeframe and budget available, so where access and permissions are necessary we require evidence that these have been secured.

How much filmmaking experience do I need to have?
Loading Docs is an initiative that aims to give filmmakers who have some solid filmmaking experience the opportunity to push their ideas further and to create work of the highest possible standard (within some major constraints) that will challenge, inspire and captivate audiences.  The initiative is not aimed at students or first-time filmmakers. However, if you are a less-experienced filmmaker with a really great idea we suggest you partner with an experienced production team (such as a good producer and DOP) who can support you if you wish to submit a proposal.

For students and young people in New Zealand keen to make short documentaries we recommend two other fantastic filmmaking initiatives: Inspiring Stories and Outlook for Someday.

What kind of stories is Loading Docs looking for?
The theme of CONNECTION is one that we hope will inspire a wide range of stories and filmmaking styles. In the selection process we will be aiming to curate a selection of films that will appeal to different audiences with a range of subjects and styles with a diversity of representation, creative form, and audience.  You may wish to focus on a specific audience (such as children and young people), or a unique place, person or subject.  Look at the selection of films from Loading Docs 2014 to gain a better understanding of the kind of films that Loading Docs aims to support.

Why does my film have to be 3-minutes long?
Prior to launching Loading Docs we watched a lot of short films online and decided that 3 really is a magic number when it comes to online films, (particularly if you’re watching on a mobile device), and we want Loading Docs films to be viewed and shared as widely as possible.

We encourage you to embrace this challenge and use the 3-minute constraint to be creative with documentary storytelling.

Why do I need to raise money for my film through crowdfunding?
In addition to making incredible films, an important objective for Loading Docs as an initiative is to support filmmakers to broaden their audience reach and to become more skilled in fundraising, marketing and outreach. Crowdfunding is an increasingly valuable tool to enable filmmakers to connect with audiences who are truly invested and interested in their work, and to start a journey that an audience can be actively involved in.

Crowdfunding also helps to make the funding received from NZ On Air and the New Zealand Film Commission go further, but we have set a very achievable fundraising target. Loading Docs filmmakers will run matched funding crowdfunding campaign. For each film, Loading Docs will contribute $1 for every $1 raised through crowdfunding with a target of $2000. That means that each successful campaign will raise at least $4,000. All funds raised go directly to the film.

What happens in the workshops?
In the first two-day workshop (31 Jan/1 Feb) we will spend one-day concentrating on storytelling, creative treatment and other aspects of production, and one day focusing on crowdfunding strategy and  audience outreach. We will bring in specialists in each of these areas to work with filmmakers.

The second workshop, held closer to the launch of the films, will focus more on outreach and distribution, with an international guest who will share their expertise and offer filmmakers advice. In 2014 we were thrilled to have Vimeo curator and Short of the Week founder Jason Sondhi as our guest, and he provided great insights into how filmmakers can build an online presence that will enhance their careers.

Who owns the films?
All films remain the intellectual property of the filmmakers and Loading Docs retains the rights to distribute promote the films for a minimum period of two years. The films are primarily distributed online via Loading Docs’ Vimeo channel, but are freely available to share and embed. This means that the films collectively support each other’s success. We work hard to achieve the best possible exposure for the films, and encourage filmmakers to actively support the films through their own outreach efforts.

In 2014, Loading Docs films were featured prominently on The New Zealand Herald, screened widely on New Zealand television (including in primetime slots), and appeared in local and international film festivals. You can even watch Loading Docs films on international Air New Zealand flights.

If you have a question regarding submissions that is not answered here, please email us.