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

Loading Docs: Diverse crop of 2017 Kiwi short-films debut- Stuff.co.nz

Loading Docs: Diverse crop of 2017 Kiwi short-films debut


 Michael Weatherall’s Loading Docs entry Ajax The Kea Conservation Dog also screened as
part of the New Zealand International Film Festival.

A poet reflects on his losing battle with a degenerative bone disease.

Two men attempt to find a new entrance to one of New Zealand’s most spectacular caves.

A group of over-60s get together to personalise their own coffins.

These are just some of the diverse topics covered in the 10 short documentaries selected by the Loading Docs platform for 2017.

Now in its fourth year, the initiative aims to showcase Kiwi film-makers, challenging them to shed light on our country’s people and places – in just three-minutes.

The Coffin Club are a group of rebellious, creative Kiwi seniors give death the finger, one crazy coffin
at a time, as documentarian Briar March discovered.

Project manager Nia Phipps says the quality of the submissions was getting higher and higher every year. With this year’s selected topic being diversity, she was delighted that amongst those selected from around 60 applications there were stories from Euro-Chinese, American, Chinese and Euro-Samoan directors, as well as one documentary fully and one-partially in Te Reo. The final 10 were also created by six female directors and six female producers.

“We really wanted to represent many New Zealand voices in this collection, so we did extra outreach this year into the Maori, Pasifika, Asian and gay communities,” Phipps says.

Four of the shorts also featured in the Auckland leg of the New Zealand International Film Festival.

When asked if she thought Kiwis were becoming more attuned to viewing short films, Phipps believed it was a reflection of the way we consume media now.

“We like to relax at home or consume things on the go and a short piece of media that’s well-formed and carefully concentrates on story can still give you a lot in a short time. The best ones take you on a journey – make you laugh, make you cry, stir something – even just in three-minutes.”

Phipps says as well as providing exposure for young film-makers, the NZ On Air-funded Loading Docs also provides professional development for them. She cites J Ollie Lucks, who created the 2015 Loading Docs short Wilber Force, as an example, with the German-born, Dunedin-raised director having recently turned that into the feature-length Wilber: The King in the Ring with the help of Notable Pictures, the group behind the Loading Docs initiative.

But after focusing on home, connection, change and now diversity, what topic does Loading Docs have up its sleeve for 2018?

“Nothing’s certain yet,” says Phipps. “We always like to think about films that will have an impact on the world. We’ll see what comes out of our planning sessions in the next few weeks.”

The 2017 Loading Docs are now available to view at loadingdocs.net and on tvnz.co.nz


 – Stuff

Loading Docs: New Zealand documentaries cut to the chase

Stuff+logoAll around us, fellow New Zealanders are telling stories. In books and films, on TV, via social media, on the phone, beside you on the bus – there’s no end of incessant yapping via every channel available.We live in a world drenched with narrative, much of it confusing, contradictory, scary, unintentionally hilarious. Hot air, blather, loose-lipped jabbering –  this is the backdrop to our lives, and there’s no escaping the fact that many of the tales we tell each other are puffed up with unnecessary padding.

Where are the stories that cut to the chase? How can an impatient soul like me – a man who favours the short story over every other literary artform – find fresh and moving new narratives I can dip into in less time than it takes to brew a good cup of tea?

Read more

Mr and Mrs Gock saved the kumara – their story on film

Stuff+logoBusiness, film and poetry are combined in a documentary celebrating the heartwarming story of How Mr and Mrs Gock​ Saved the Kumara.

Joe and Fay Gock​ fled as child refugees from war-torn China during the occupation of large parts of the country by Japan’s brutal army.

Nobody could have guessed when New Zealand took them in the part they would play in saving our national root vegetable.


The story of Joe and Fay Gock is told by movie-maker Felicity Morgan-Rhind.

The story of Joe and Fay Gock is told by movie-maker Felicity Morgan-Rhind.

When Black Rot threatened to obliterate the kumara industry in the 1950s, the Gocks gifted their disease-resistant strain to the nation, and refused to take a penny for it.

Read more

Type one diabetes documentary, Blood Sugar, close to Joe Hitchcock’s heart

Type one diabetes sufferer Dahlia Hitchcock is the focus of Blood Sugar - a Pukekohe-based documentary.
Type one diabetes sufferer Dahlia Hitchcock is the focus of Blood Sugar – a Pukekohe-based documentary.

Pukekohe film-maker Joe Hitchcock’s latest work is very close to his heart.

The short documentary Blood Sugar premieres in New Zealand this week and stars his four-year-old daughter, Dahlia.

Dahlia is scared of needles, but has type one diabetes and needs insulin injected several times a day.

Hitchcock said New Zealand currently had one of the highest rates of paediatric diabetes in the world, and numbers were estimated to be growing at almost 10 per cent annually.

The cause is not yet understood.

Blood Sugar was partially funded by the Loading Docs initiative, with support from the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air, as well as 53 donors who contributed to a crowd funding campaign.

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Loading Docs short film depicts friendship that transcends gender transition


In some ways, it was just another adventure.

Neil and Byron, mountaineering mates for 25 years, were parked up in Arthur’s Pass. Bantering in the autumn light, they readied their gear to the sound of music – a tradition to pump them up before heading into the wilderness.

In other ways, the friends were breaking new ground. It was the first time they’d tramped together since Byron, a father of three, came out as a woman.

 The pair are the subjects of a three-minute film, which explores how it feels when your best friend transitions genders. It is one of 10 short documentaries at Loading Docs 2016.

Byron Skinner, a 51-year-old orderly at Christchurch Public Hospital, had felt she was a female since childhood. It took her 43 years to articulate this to those around her.

Read more

Short Kiwi docos packed with emotion

Stuff+logoI was stunned, delighted, knocked out. More importantly, I was moved. At one point I reluctantly tore myself away from the screen, dashing outside to haul in the washing during an afternoon sun-shower, but my cheeks were already wet before I made it out the door. A film called Gina had, in three short minutes, broken my heart.

Innovative local film project Loading Docs was tailor-made for a big sook like me. Here, in glorious hi-def video, are fellow New Zealanders telling stories packed with emotion. The catch? They have just three minutes to do so.

The concept is simple. Each year, ten teams of promising documentary makers are mentored while they make a short doco, with funding from the NZ Film Commission and NZ On Air. The filmmakers have to pitch, write and develop the story, shoot and edit it, and crowd-fund some of the money themselves. But most of all, they have to learn to cut to the chase.

These are docos that capture your attention, make a few strong points, then they’re gone. Thank you and good night. Roll credits. Their brevity is extraordinary, given their impact. It is like comparing the overheated waffle of this column with an elegant haiku. This is storytelling with all excess baggage stripped away, which is an inspiration to a long-winded soul like me.

“The project has a strong professional development focus,” says Julia Parnell, an award-winning doco maker who executive produces the series alongside AUT media academic Anna Jackson. “It makes filmmakers really hone down what they want to say. Three minutes is long enough to use innovative cinematic techniques and deliver a strong message, but short enough that people will watch them and pick up that message. That time constraint makes a filmmaker get straight to the heart of their story, and then later on, they can take what they’ve learned into making longer films.”

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Kiwi Answer to Disneyland in Dannevirke Fantasy Cave

Stuff+logoA film-maker is returning to make a documentary on Dannevirke’s Fantasy Cave, more than 20 years after he first visited.

Matt Henley first came across the cave as a 10-year-old and has returned with co-producer Michelle Savill to create the short documentary.

The documentary on “New Zealand’s answer to Disneyland” is one of 10 short documentaries created through Loading Docs, an initiative aimed at collating a range of diverse film styles and subjects.  Read more

Crystal Palace to get Three Minutes of Fame

Stuff+logoThe rundown yet beloved Crystal Palace Theatre will take centre-stage in a new documentary.

And the filmmakers hope their work will inspire someone to restore the 86-year-old cinema in the Auckland suburb of Mt Eden.

The theatre, decorated with large 1920s-era shells and faded gold trim, has been mostly closed since 1995, apart from the odd monthly film screening.  Read more