Julia Parnell’s work as a producer has resulted in a diverse credit roll, from comedy Wayne Anderson: Singer of Songs, to justice system documentary Restoring Hope; settler series Both Worlds to music doco The Exponents. Parnell’s Notable Pictures has produced a run of award-winning shorts (Dive, Friday Tigers), and in 2014 launched successful online mini-documentary series Loading Docs.
It's a great privilege for me to tell stores that contribute to our understanding of who we are, where we've been and what we might become. I aspire to create strong stories, work that entertains and takes viewers into new worlds. Julia Parnell
Former pro wrestler Wilbur McDougall was battling addiction and self-imposed isolation before undergoing gastric sleeve surgery. For this serio-comic documentary, he allowed his old university mate J Ollie Lucks to film his journey of transformation. McDougall needs a new wrestling persona — and the "happiness and self-acceptance that has eluded him for so long". Will his friendship with Lucks survive, as the filmmaker jumps at the story from the top rope? Lucks and Julia Parnell's feature began in 2015 as a short film for Loading Docs; it debuted at the 2017 Doc Edge Festival.
Subtitled ‘a conversation with my grandfather’, this animated short sees Joel Kefali (director of the music video for Lorde’s ‘Royal’) documenting memories from his Turkish 'Baba' of arriving in 1951 Auckland. Sausage rolls, dances and the death penalty are animated via cut-out shapes, and scored to Baba’s colourful pidgin phrasing — “go to the hell!”. Noel Murray of US website The Dissolve praised the “ample artistry” of Kefali’s familial tribute. Baba was a part of Loading Docs: a series of low budget three-minute long films made for online release.
“How could I capture a New Zealand home in three minutes? Could I make a film without relying on standard documentary conventions of interview, cutaways and narration?” Inspired by the idea of making a more reflective, meditative piece for viewers watching on computers or phones, filmmaker Andrew Scott uses a single shot to move through a Kiwi summer home. There’s no one home but the minutiae of sound — from cicadas to the Mr Whippy tune — evoke the life of the place. Homing was made as part of Loading Docs, a series of short films designed for viewing online.
"After living on the street for 20 years, we're now tasting what it's like to live like kings. We're sleeping in fancy sheets, drinking champagne and living in mansions ... and we're f***ing loving it." This Loading Docs short film turns its lens on Cowboy and a group of homeless people for whom the 2010 Christchurch earthquake presented a luxury squatting opportunity. Director Zoe (Day Trip, The Deadly Ponies Gang) McIntosh's thought-provoking look at an aspect of the city where she studied screened on TV’s 20/20 and was shared by the UK’s Daily Mail.
The films made under the Loading Docs banner combine two things that Kiwi filmmakers have a proven record in — short films and documentaries. Designed to give directors an online platform for “work that inspires, pushes boundaries and moves audiences”, the result has been an annual series of roughly 10 shorts, each less than four minutes long. Loading Docs launched in 2014 and its films — ranging from bungy jumpers to queer identity — have screened internationally on high profile websites. Loading Docs is produced by Notable Pictures' Julia Parnell and Anna Jackson.
The concept of this short doco was to give its subjects the opportunity to tell their own stories straight to camera. Filmmakers Robyn Paterson and Paula Boock gave attendees of Auckland's annual Big Gay Out an invitation to go into a self-operated video booth, and answer the question ‘What does home mean to you?’. The candid results are snapshots of LGBT experiences and searches for identity and belonging. Queer Selfies featured on TV’s 20/20 and was made as part of Loading Docs, a series of three-minute long Kiwi films created for online distribution.
The widescreen vistas of the Mackenzie Country provide the backdrop for this short documentary looking at the challenges and joys of being a traffic management worker. In the tradition of Heartland, the film delivers a warm-hearted combo of character and scenery, as veteran stop/go man Bernie muses on perks: “It’d be nice if someone gave me a winning Lotto ticket, but a Chupa Chup’s not too bad.” Directed by Greg Jennings, Stop/Go was part of Loading Docs: a series of low budget three-minute films made for online release.
“Balls, bungy and videotape” is the tagline for this Loading Docs short film. The Jump celebrates the DIY spirit of unsung Kiwi hero Chris Sigglekow — who leapt off a bridge in jeans in 1980 for arguably the first modern bungy jump. Sigglekow recalls, and VHS footage shows, the pioneering jumps: from a boxing bag, to his and AJ Hackett’s famous Auckland Harbour Bridge leap. The first doco by ad director Alex Sutherland, Jump won 140,000+ views when it was made a Vimeo Staff Pick, and it was shared by surfing legend Laird Hamilton. Caution: contains Stubbies and Speedos.
Short film The Road to Whakarae is built around a special place, and a special song. Keen to celebrate home and the joyful aspects of the Tūhoe people, local filmmaker/artist Tim Worrall and cousin Aaron Smart (whose wife is from the area) crafted a love letter to the Waimana Valley, by expanding an old Tūhoe party song about “a windy, dusty road” and inviting various locals to sing a section each. Made for online viewing as part of the Loading Docs series, the film starts with local musician and kaumātua Beam Titoko on guitar — and ends with a kiss at the marae.
This short documentary observes a day in the life of Auckland’s David Lange Care Home. Near wordless, the impressionistic film tracks the residents, workers, sounds and rhythms of a world many New Zealanders inhabit: aged care accommodation. Directors Nick Mayow and French-born Prisca Bouchet met while working as editors; both have grandparents in rest homes. Today follows on from their award-winning doco Le Taxidermiste. Chosen for the London Short Film Festival, Today was made as part of Loading Docs, a series of shorts created for online screening.
The language of emotion speaks louder than words in this real-life tale of devotion. Made as part of the Loading Docs series, the short film introduces us to Wayne, a man with communication difficulties who is aided by his minder and friend Nigel. Directors Kirsty Griffin and Viv Kernick follow Wayne as he negotiates and laments his relationship with close friend Rachel. Griffin's photography and composer Karl Steven's score lend the cinéma vérité style documentary a timeless nuance, which belies its short running time.
This often confronting documentary observes a Māori restorative justice model through the eyes of straight-talking Mike Hinton, manager of Restorative Justice at Manukau Urban Māori Authority. The bringing together of victims (including wider whānau) and offenders may offer an alternate way forward for "a criminal justice system failing too many and costing too much”. Restoring Hope kicked off Māori Television’s 2013 season of Sunday night docos. In a Herald On Sunday preview, Sarah Lang argued it was “enough to restore hope in local documentary-making.”
This short film follows a teenage hitchhiker (Aaron McGregor) in search of his birth mother. The apprehension of the journey is heightened when he gets picked up by a mean-looking Māori (Calvin Tuteao) with a swastika tattooed on his face. The boy's great expectations wind up being realised in different ways than he might have imagined. The dramatic debut from actor-director Matthew Saville, Hitch Hike thumbed a ride to international festivals, from Tampere to Durban; the “emotionally engaging” film was selected for website Short of the Week in August 2014.
An All-American boy from NZ, Christchurch born Riki Ellison (Ngāi Tahu) is the subject of this Māori Television documentary. After moving to the United States at age eight, he made a stellar career out of “kinetic energy intercept”. A fearless player with an intimidating “Māori look”, he was a champion college football defensive linebacker and three-time Superbowl winner with the San Francisco 49ers. Then, inspired by Ronald Reagan, he became a leading advocate for missile defence systems; while, along the way, reconnecting with his whānau and heritage.
The meteoric career of one of NZ’s greatest entertainers is examined in this documentary. John Rowles went from a Kawerau childhood to stardom in London at 21; but, after headlining in Hawaii and Las Vegas, he saw it all slip away. Those roofing ads and near bankruptcy followed, but Rowles has retained his self belief and that voice. A stellar cast of interviewees analyse his strengths and weaknesses, including Sir Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, Neil Finn and late promoter Phil Warren. Amongst the star cameos, John’s sister Cheryl Moana explains the downside of his best-known local hit.
Wayne Anderson is a man out of time. His three and a half octave voice and undying devotion to the “evergreens” of popular music (Elvis, Engelbert and Tom) should surely have seen him in Vegas by now. However, despite the best attempts of hapless manager Orlando, Wayne’s star has never ascended higher than the rather less lucrative Manurewa rest home circuit. The cameras follow him in his quest for a show business career – along with the perfect perm and hot pie – in a series where the boundary between fact and fiction is as elusive as that big break.
This debut episode of a not completely fictional series follows Wayne Anderson, “Manurewa’s greatest singer”, and his attempts to break out of the rest home circuit and find fame and fortune. Wayne dreams of taking the evergreen music of his idols Engelbert and Elvis to the world. But even his manager’s show business links — he works in a video store — aren’t bringing in the 50 dollar gig needed each week. Things may be looking up with the best perm Wayne’s ever had, plus an audition in a Karangahape Road bar. As a non-driver, he will have to get there by bus.
Hosted by Charlotte Dawson, How’s Life? saw a rotating panel of guests responding to letters from viewers in an effort to help them navigate their day to day struggles. In this episode, the panel is made up of Paul Henry, Suzanne Paul, a pre-Outrageous Fortune Robyn Malcolm and ex Department of Work and Income boss Christine Rankin. The issues under discussion include a difficult five-year-old, strangers sneezing on your food, and a teenager who doesn't approve of their ex's new boyfriend. There is also meningococcal awareness advice from Auckland District Health Board.