What makes a good proposal?

A good proposal provides a really clear statement on 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.

It’s short so don’t waste time. Hook us with your idea in the first paragraph; we 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.

Visual references that demonstrate your creative vision are vital. Please include images 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 with us would be an advantage. 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. If access and permissions are necessary, we require evidence that these have been secured.


Can I submit multiple proposals?

Yes, you can, but bear in mind that we’re looking for ideas and stories that are well developed and feasible within the timeframe and budget. 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.

We hope to select a range of filmmakers who are as diverse as the range of stories they will tell. In particular, we are seeking proposals that speak to Māori, Pasifika, Pan-Asian and LGBTQI+ – Takatāpui perspectives. There is also provision for a documentary in te reo Māori.

The initiative is not aimed at students. However, if you are a less-experienced filmmaker with a great idea we still want 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.


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 Revolution 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.


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 the 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.


What duration will my short be?   

The durations for Loading Docs shorts are between three and eight 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.

Each short will receive a maximum production contribution from Loading Docs of $6,000, regardless of duration.


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

Each Loading Docs short must run a crowdfunding campaign through Boosted where you must raise a minimum of $2,500.

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 six years of participating in crowdfunding we have had some amazing success, with many of the previous Loading Docs documentaries securing much more funding than the targeted amount.


What is the total budget?

Loading Docs will provide a financial contribution of $6,000 production funding to each short. The contribution will be the same whether your film is three or eight minutes long.

Including the $2,500 crowdfunding target, the total budget for your short will be a minimum of $8,500. In addition to this, the Department of Post colour grade and sound-mix is provided for each documentary at no cost to the production.


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 18 & 19 January 2020.
  • Run a crowdfunding campaign on Boosted in February/March 2020.
  • Attend an edit workshop in April/May and a distribution workshop in June 2020.
  • Work closely with the Loading Docs Executive Producer and Producer to develop the documentary.
  • Receive feedback on shoot scripts.
  • Receive feedback throughout the editing process.
  • Achieve picture lock on your short by mid-May 2020.
  • Deliver and implement a marketing and distribution plan for launch in July 2020.

Promoting your work is a key element of this initiative. It does take time to get online and promote your stories. But we will give you tools and strategies to approach the task logically with a view to achieving the most impact for you and your work.


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 three years.

Have a read of the Terms and Conditions to understand more about the process and contracting.

Where do they go?

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

Over the last six years, Loading Docs shorts have premiered at the NZIFF, received wide distribution through TVNZ OnDemand, NZ Herald, Radio New Zealand, Stuff, Maori Television, Short of the Week, Upworthy, National Geographic, Great Big Story, The Atlantic, Huffington Post and played in international film festivals including SXSW, Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, DOC NYC and imagineNATIVE. You can even watch Loading Docs films on international Air New Zealand flights.

Finding audiences for our shorts and your work is the aim and we look forward to connecting with new platforms and audiences in 2020.


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 fervent commitment to see you succeed.

If you have a question regarding submissions that is not answered here, please email hello@loadingdocs.net.