Loading Docs FAQs 2022




What makes a good proposal?

A good proposal provides a really clear statement of what the story of your film is and the creative vision you will use to communicate it.

It confirms to you and others that you not only have a good subject, but you have a good story, one that you can tell in a way that will interest others. An effective pitch delivers both story and topic. You may not know exactly where your story will end up, but you will have a good sense of where it could go, what the themes are that you will explore and the issues you wish to highlight. This will be clearly articulated in your proposal.

Hook the reader with the idea in the first paragraph; the reader should immediately understand what your film is about. Then back it up with further context, why it’s important and how you plan to bring your vision to life on screen.

Take time to research your idea. Good documentary filmmaking requires research, whatever the subject you have chosen. Whether your film is about skateboarding or Lake Alice, you need to understand the context your story is situated in, the most compelling angle, potential subjects, visual storytelling options, and more. Demonstrate you have spoken to your subjects and you have understanding and insight into the story you wish to tell.

Visual references that demonstrate your creative vision are vital. Include video of key subjects as part of your proposal to bring your idea to life on the page. Any examples of your talent on screen that you can share are an advantage. If your subject has appeared in other documentaries, please add these links too. Links to director’s previous work are essential (unless you are a first-time filmmaker).

A major consideration is whether your project can be realised within the timeframe and budget available. Carefully consider whether you can realistically achieve your vision.


What rights do I need?

All documentaries require permissions from subjects and locations included in the film. Permission from key subjects should be obtained as part of your proposal, and evidence these have been secured is required.  Consider also whether you wish to include archive, art works, music, poetry and what copyright permissions you will need to obtain. If these are an integral part of your story, you will need to find out if you can gain permission at proposal time. You will also need to budget for archive and music permissions. Contact Loading Docs to discuss these elements prior to submitting your proposal.


Can I submit multiple proposals?

Yes, you can, but bear in mind that ideas and stories that are well developed and feasible within the timeframe and budget are the goal. Make sure to put time into your research. As mentioned above, the more well-researched a documentary project is, the stronger it is likely to be. Call the Loading Docs team if you need help selecting projects to pitch.


How much filmmaking experience do I need to have?

Loading Docs supports filmmakers from all spectrums of experience.

The emphasis is on selecting those with a commitment to the craft of documentary. Selected participants may be new to documentary but have experience in the wider storytelling industries.

Loading Docs seeks a range of filmmakers who are as diverse as the range of stories they will tell. Story sovereignty and authentic representation of cultural stories should be grounded in lived experiences.

In particular, proposals from Māori, Pasifika, Pan-Asian and LGBTQI+ Takatāpui filmmakers and perspectives will be welcomed and encouraged. At least one documentary will be supported to be told in 100% Māori language by a Māori filmmaker.

The initiative is not aimed at students. However, if you are a less-experienced filmmaker with a great idea Loading Docs still wants to hear from you, and if you are shortlisted at the first phase the Loading Docs team will discuss how you might be supported with experienced crew or mentors.

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


Do I need a producer?

Yes, the key creative team on your Loading Docs short must include a producer. It is essential that your team consists of someone who can handle the planning, budgeting, implementation and support for the journey from inception through to crowdfunding and distribution. If you do not have a producer at the time of submission your idea will still be considered. If your documentary is selected, the Loading Docs team will work with you to secure the best producer for you and your project.



An editor is a crucial part of the core storytelling team. Consider who you may wish to collaborate with and include them on the application form if confirmed. If your documentary is selected and you don’t have an editor, the Loading Docs team will support you to secure the best editor for you and your project. The editor must be New Zealand based.


How is the project developed through Loading Docs and what is the feedback process?

Loading Docs provides unrestricted mentorship to content creators throughout the development process, crowdfunding, production and distribution. Loading Docs offers a creative workshop to support the story development process of selected films. Filmmakers receive feedback on scripts and edits, and take part in a creative edit workshop with a senior editor.


Does my submission have to address the theme?

The theme is there to inspire universal stories that celebrate the change-making power of documentary and harness the emotional power to move the audience. It also provides a thematic umbrella for the collection of short documentaries.

Use the theme of the Power of Emotion as a starting point. Keep in mind that a great short documentary often depends on a strong character or a unique story that has not yet been told, or that could not be told by anyone else. We will be looking for projects that consider the theme to dig deeper into the proposed subject matter.

Consider how a potential subject or participant might be impacted by emotion. Anger, sadness, fear, joy, interest, surprise, disgust, shame, and also grief, love, resentment, loneliness, devotion, trust, acceptance, contempt, regret.  People act on emotion. Emotional tension drives the action.


What duration will my short be?

The duration for a Loading Docs short is up to ten minutes. In your submission form you will be asked to identify the length you think will be best for your story. If selected, your short will undergo creative development in the first workshop. It is at this point that you will – in conjunction with the Loading Docs mentors – determine the length of your short.


What is the total budget?

Loading Docs will provide a financial contribution of $8,000 production funding to each short. The contribution will be the same whether regardless of your duration (of up to ten minutes).

Including the $3,500 crowdfunding target, the total budget for your short will be a minimum of $11,500. In addition to this, the Department of Post colour grade and sound-mix is provided for each documentary at no cost to the production.

Within this budget you will need to allow for fees for director and producer of at least $1,000 each, and $2,000 for the editor. If you require archive or music you will need to allow for these costs. If you are based out of Auckland, you will also need to budget for flights to the one-day colour grade/sound mix in Tāmaki Makaurau.


Why do I need an Impact Partner?

Forming partnerships is an essential skill for filmmakers. A filmmaker today needs to be able to broker partnerships and engage support from multiple sources to get work made and ensure it reaches audiences, particularly online.

The advantages of having support from partners may be to provide research, access, funds and/or audience. Beyond that, creating work that aligns with wider issues in public discourse can grow the reach and relevance of your work.


Why do I need to raise money for my film through crowdfunding?

Each Loading Docs short must run a Boosted crowdfunding campaign to raise a minimum of $3,500.

Crowdfunding raises valuable funds and helps storytellers articulate ideas. It’s also a valuable tool to enable filmmakers to connect with audiences who are truly invested and interested in their work. They are part of the core audience who will share the documentary once released.

Over the eight years of participating in crowdfunding there has been amazing success, with many of the previous Loading Docs documentaries securing much more funding than the targeted amount.


What is the commitment?

Participating in Loading Docs requires the delivery of a high-quality film, but also to take part in activities designed to develop professional skills and provide new opportunities for your career development. These include forming rewarding partnerships, identifying, targeting and connecting with audiences and increasing understanding of marketing and distribution strategies in the current media climate.

The specific commitments are:

  •  Attend a two-day creative workshop 12, 13 March 2022.
  •  Run a crowdfunding campaign on Boosted in April/May 2022.
  •  Attend an edit workshop in July/August 2022 and a distribution workshop in September 2022.
  •  Work with the Loading Docs Executive Producer and Producer to creatively develop the documentary.
  •  Receive feedback on shoot scripts.
  •  Receive feedback throughout the editing process.
  •  Achieve picture lock on your short by 12 August 2022.
  •  Deliver and implement a marketing and distribution plan by 9 September for a launch in October 2022. Promoting your work is a key element of this initiative.


Who owns the documentaries?

All films remain the intellectual property of the filmmakers, while Loading Docs retains the rights to distribute and promote the films for a minimum period of four years.

Where do they go?

The documentaries are primarily distributed online via the Loading Docs’ website, Loading Docs’ YouTube, Loading Docs’ Facebook and Loading Docs’ Instagram, but are freely available to share and embed. This means that the films collectively support each other’s success.

Over the last eight years, Loading Docs shorts have also received wide distribution through NZ Herald and NZME, Play Stuff, RNZ, Māori Television, Short of the Week, Guardian Australia, The New Yorker, National Geographic, TVNZ’s Sunday Programme, SBS tv’s The Feed, Huffington Post and played in prestigious film festivals including SXSW, Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, DOC NYC, ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival and NZIFF.

During the marketing and distribution workshop publicity experts will focus on strategies for filmmakers to reach their target audience, ensuring each team has the tools required to push their documentaries out into the world. Loading Docs and the filmmaking teams work together to implement individual distribution and audience plans alongside the overall Loading Docs marketing strategy. Filmmakers are required to actively take part in the marketing and distribution of their work.

Finding audiences for the short documentaries is the aim and we look forward to connecting with new platforms and audiences in 2022.


What happens after my Loading Docs short is released?

You become part of the incredible community of alumni – Loading Docs Talent. This collective seeks to provide career development opportunities and support the development and creation of new work should you want our help.

We are here to help create new paths for documentary filmmakers in Aotearoa and have a commitment to see you succeed.

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