Loading Docs is a documentary initiative establishment in 2014 to captivate and inspire audiences as well as develop and promote New Zealand filmmaking talent with the support of NZ On Air's Digital Media Fund and the New Zealand Film Commission. Through a competitive selection process, it selects ten short documentary proposals to create three-minute shorts, which are then supported from development through to distribution. Working with local and international mentors, Loading Docs filmmakers expand their skills in a range of areas including story development, outreach, publicity and marketing and distribution.
The 2016 collection explores the theme of ‘change’, sharing such diverse stories as; coming to grips with a life-threatening disease, a personal epiphany leading to a dramatic lifestyle change, a gender reassignment challenging two best friends and a hotly debated political issue, these shorts all have the potential to change the way we think and feel about the world around us.
Two shorts from this year’s collection have also recently gained the prestige of screening before feature films in the NZ International Film Festival: Water for Gold and How Mr and Mrs Gock Saved the Kumara.
The online documentary initiative also won the prestigious NZ On Air Best NZ Online Documentary or Web Series at the Doc Edge Awards 2016, a celebration of excellence and achievement at the Doc Edge Festival earlier this year.
Executive Producer Julia Parnell said in the release, it challenged the filmmakers this year to push even harder to connect with their audiences.
"To do that you have to tell great stories and this dynamic collection has something for everyone," she said. "The three-minute format continues to be a powerful way to present short stories that pack a big punch."
The collections from 2014 and 2015 have been viewed over 1,000,000 times across all platforms - some international outlets include CNN Great Big Story,The Atlantic, The Guardian, National Geographic, The Daily Mail and The Japan Time. Co-creator Anna Jackson hopes "more people than ever before will get behind the incredible talent and inspiring local stories by watching and share them with the world".
Closer to home, TVNZ OnDemand has created a home for the documentaries, creating a platforms to distribute it. TVNZ has been working with Loading Docs since last year and this year's 10 documentaries have just launched on its site.
TVNZ's general manager of content solutions Lyndsey Francis says when Loading Docs approached it last year, TVNZ was working to develop a business model around its OnDemand shorts section, which distributes high quality, local, short-form content.
“It was one of those great timing things,” Francis said, and an area was built for Loading Docs on the site. To encourage an audience, she says there will be a campaign, which will give viewers a taste of what to expect.
Support for local filmmaking talent, particularly those in the online arena, has had a boost with NZ On Air partnering with YouTube earlier this year to launch a $300,000 Skip Ahead fund for online content creators. This is in addition to the webseries fund, which saw eight of the 109 applicants receive support last year.
In addition to the Skip Ahead funding, the chosen YouTubers will also get the chance to up-skill, with training in how to produce content, how to write and how to promote their channels.