Loading Docs announces this year’s doco hopefuls

24 May, 2018 7:00am

Kas the Feelstyle Futial is profiled in The Crossroads, one of the 2018 Loading Docs films.

 Popular documentary initiative Loading Docs has announced the ten short documentaries it has chosen to produce this year.

Over its five years Loading Docs has become increasingly popular with filmmakers looking at getting their projects funded, created and distributed.

This year the chosen theme was ‘Impact’ which saw pitches on everything from a profile on a female stock car driver, a look at English Baptist on a mission from God to ‘decolonise’ the minds of New Zealanders and a portrait of the lone resident living on a sinking island.

But before production on these, and the other seven, documentaries can begin their pitches must raise $2000 on the crowdfunding platform Boosted. Organisers of Loading Docs believe this develops a strong relationship between the filmmakers and the audience.

Stock car driver Brooke is profiled in She Speeds, one of the 2018 Loading Docs films.


Once they hit the $2000 goal Local Docs then kicks in an additional $4450 plus a post-production package to get the filmmakers over the finish line and get their films made.

Julia Parnell and Anna Jackson, the founders of Loading Docs, say they are excited by the thought provoking pitches they received by hopeful filmmakers.

“Every year we are completely blown away by how these talented documentaries come up with original, brave and captivating ideas and them into these perfectly formed little cinematic gems.”

Animal rights fighters in Cube of Truth, one of the 2018 Loading Docs films.


The completed films, which all run three-minutes, will be available to watch online.

The crowdfunding pages for this year’s ten docos can be found at boosted.org. Previous documentaries made through the Loading Docs initiative are available to watch at loadingdocs.net as well as on TVNZ OnDemand.

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. 

Twelve Questions with theatre and film maker Julie Zhu

Theatre and film maker Julie Zhu is getting 100 Chinese Aucklanders on stage to tell their stories in a show about what it means to be Chinese in Auckland. The 24-year-old Green Party candidate for Botany believes the voting age should be lowered to 16.

1 Where were you born?

I was born in Xi’an, China and came to New Zealand when I was 4. I’ve only been back once when I was a stroppy teenager and didn’t want to go. Now I really want to. I grew up in East Auckland. My parents were both qualified engineers but had to work menial jobs because their qualifications weren’t recognised here. I didn’t see much of Dad because he always worked at least two jobs. At school maths was my favourite subject because I was really good at it. I found art more challenging because there isn’t always a ‘right’ answer and that’s what attracts me.

2 Your short documentary, East Meets East, is on the Loading Docs website. What’s it about?

I’m so in love with these Chinese grandparents you see walking along with their little shopping trolleys in East Auckland and places like Avondale. They’re so cute. My grandparents belong to that community. Sometimes I’ll catch the bus and see them chatting with their friends. I wanted to learn what life is like for them and whether they feel a sense of belonging here.

3 What did you find out?

There’s a great line in the film where Nana says, “I don’t think that’s racism” about something that I believe is. She won’t say anything negative about New Zealand, probably because she came from a country where bad things could happen if you said the wrong thing. The film follows my grandparents and their friends on a grocery shopping trip because that’s the main activity in their lives. They’re experts at finding bargains and cooking meals. That’s how they contribute to the family for the next generation.

4 You’re producing a play called OTHER [chinese] at Q Theatre next month. What’s it about?

We’ve invited 100 people to come on stage and share their stories about being Chinese in Auckland. The aim is to humanise a stereotyped community by showing them as individuals. Everyone’s migration story differs depending on where they came from and how many generations ago. Chinese people have become a political football, being scapegoated for the housing crisis.

5 Does the show explore racism?

A little. We also look at ideas like internalised racism, which is when you reject your Chinese-ness or other Chinese who have migrated more recently. When I was young I hated even saying the word Chinese. I’d get really offended when people asked me where I was from. I remember thinking, “But I’m fitting in so well, why can’t you see how Kiwi I am?” Now I can acknowledge being Chinese is an important part of who I am.

6 Can you give an example of your Chinese culture?

Growing up I never heard anyone in my family say, “I love you”. The Chinese way of showing you care is to say, “Have you eaten?” In the last few years mum has started to pick up these Western things that are always so jarring. She’ll sign off a note, “Love Mum” or she’ll try to hug me and I’ll instinctively flinch because I’m not used to it. OTHER [chinese] also includes an exhibition of photos of 100 Chinese Aucklanders, a ‘zine and a community day called Tatou Tatou getting Maori and Chinese people together doing things like poi making, weaving, dumpling making, calligraphy and mah jong.

7 Why did you learn to speak te reo Maori?

I tried a class at university and loved it. Learning it gives you insight into Te Ao Maori so you can better understand the Maori way of thinking. Concepts like ‘ownership’ of land and water are very different. The Pakeha idea is about property rights and profit but for Maori it’s about kaitiakitanga or protecting for future generations.

8 How did you get involved in the group Asians for Tino Rangatiratanga?

A couple of years ago I went to a hui at Waitangi for young people learning about the impact of colonisation. During the hkoi an Asian person asked a friend and I if we wanted to help hold an Asians for Tino Rangaitiratanga banner. It was great to see other non-Pkeh standing up for indigenous rights, so last year we took along six friends. Marama Davidson took a photo of us that went viral. We realised we had to be more than just a banner so we formed a group. We’ve done some Treaty workshops for Asian people and advocacy on social media.

9 How did you become the Green Party candidate for Botany?

I’ve always voted Green because, in movie terms, they seemed like the heroes on the side of justice. As soon as you go to a meeting, it’s easy to get involved. Mum hates that I do politics. She lived through the Communist era in China where her family were attacked for being “bourgeois” and her father was sent to the equivalent of a concentration camp. He survived but there’s that inherent trauma and fear of speaking out.

10 How can New Zealand get more young people voting?

When I was younger I thought politics was boring. Lots of young people don’t care about politics because they don’t understand how the system works and how it impacts their everyday lives. It’s such a complex, foreign world. We need to lower the voting age to 16 and teach civics in schools so people can learn about and engage in the election process while they’re still in the education system.

11 Have you ever had a period where you felt really down?

University was the hardest time because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I switched out of art school after my first year and felt like I’d wasted a year of my life. I cried a lot that year. I wish you had one free year to try everything because there’s so much pressure to stick to the first thing you try. Especially if you’re from a lower socio-economic background, you feel like you’re letting your family down.

12 Why were you so upset about Metiria Turei’s resignation as Green Party co-leader?

There was a moment where I felt completely hopeless about the world and the future. It was what it represented symbolically. She was standing up for the poor, the brown and the marginalised. Sure it was a political strategy but the fact she had to step down just shows there’s no point in being honest and trying to change the system because you will be punished, but wealthy, powerful people won’t be. That inequity in society needs to change and I hope we get there soon.

• OTHER [chinese], Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, 6 to 16 September, 7pm
East Meets East short film; loadingdocs.net

East Meets East to tell stories of Chinese elderly, migration and friendship

East Meets East to tell stories of Chinese elderly, migration and friendship

Film maker and theatre producer Julie Zhu may not speak much Mandarin, but understanding enough of the language to “eavesdrop” during long bus journeys has seen her come up with a unique concept for a documentary short film.

East Meets East follows Zhu’s 79-year-old grandmother, Fang Ruzhen, as she makes new friends during her weekly bus trips to East Auckland’s Asian supermarkets. Zhu first noticed elderly Chinese immigrants building a new community for themselves when she caught buses from East Auckland into the city during her university days.

“I understand a lot more Chinese than I speak so I would hear them talking about where they were from, what they were doing in New Zealand, sharing information and getting to know one another,” she says. “I realised how they’ve managed to survive in a new country is by meeting people like them in unexpected places.”

Directed by Zhu and produced by Tema Pua, East Meets East is one of ten documentary short films selected for this year’s Loading Docs film project. Loading Docs, which started in 2014, helps develop New Zealand film-makers by matching them with mentors to make three minute long films which will “captivate and inspire” audiences.

This year’s theme is diversity and Zhu says East Meets East fits perfectly because it explores issues of relevance to Chinese migrants as well as the elderly.

“Stories about immigrant experiences usually follow a young characters’ journey into Western culture and focus on the battle between their home and Western cultures. I wanted to make a film that moved away from that because when we celebrate diversity, we should celebrate the different peoples found within groups.

“We hardly ever see stories that feature the perspectives of our immigrant elders but these stories are just as relevant and necessary to show.”

She says like her grandparents, many elderly Chinese people come to New Zealand to help care for their grandchildren while their adult children work. Because they migrate in their 60s, 70s, or 80s, it’s almost impossible for them to pick up a new language or try to assimilate in the usual ways.

“My nana’s been here for 15 years and while she’s tried to learn English, it remains a foreign language to her,” says Zhu. “This adds to her isolation, so it’s incredible that she and other Chinese grandparents have forged this new source of community for themselves.”

Born in China and raised in Auckland, Zhu’s already written and directed several short films. She was the director of photography on The Spectacular Imagination of the Pōhara Brothers, which screened at the NZ International Film Festival 2016 and several indigenous film festivals around the world.

Watch East Meets East Boosted video HERE

Via nzherlad.co.nz

Watch three of the films from this year’s Loading Docs

nz-herald-logoLoading Docs: A short film initiative which has seen 10 Kiwi filmmakers submit their own three-minute long films which all explore the theme of “change”. We have three of their films right here – stories about gender transitioning to world issues to Auckland’s millionaire shoe-shine man. Enjoy.

Read more

Loading Docs provides ‘small stories which pack big punch’


Meet the millionaire who became a shoeshine man, peddling goodwill and cheer throughout Auckland, in Mister Sunshine.
Meet the millionaire who became a shoeshine man, peddling goodwill and cheer throughout Auckland, in Mister Sunshine.

If you haven’t heard of it, Loading Docs is a short-film project full of “small stories which pack a big punch”.

The initiative, funded by NZ On Air and made with support from The New Zealand Film Commission, is back for the third-year running.

It sees 10 film-makers get the opportunity to work with some of New Zealand’s best in their field to make three-minute documentaries to fit a theme – this year’s theme being “change”.

Loading Docs’ co-founder and executive producer Julia Parnell is an award-winning producer and documentary director who works with the film-makers on the project.

Read more

Frail, in Pain, and Craving Dignity

Filmmakers hope Gina’s story of battle with mystery defect will open people’s minds to voluntary euthanasia.
Filmmaker Jeremy Macey said learning Gina's story had been a humbling experience.
Filmmaker Jeremy Macey said learning Gina’s story had been a humbling experience.

Gina can’t see, is bedbound and has to avoid light and sound as they are painful to her eyes and ears.

She has to eat quietly, avoiding noisy foods such as potato chips or apples, eating only pureed food. Gina is pro-euthanasia.  Read more

Short Films Long Enough for Human Truth

nz-herald-logoThe story of Loading Docs began in 2010. Julia Parnell was a documentary producer striking out on her own with a new company called Notable Pictures, seeking new opportunities to make creative documentaries, inspired by the possibilities online.

I had just started my PhD in Melbourne, where I was exploring multi-platform and trans-media documentary production. Here in New Zealand we seemed very far behind, slow to embrace the opportunities of online content.  Read more