Catching up with Anna Jackson

Catching up with Anna Jackson

Anna Jackson is one of the Executive Producers of Loading Docs, co-director of Transmedia NZ and a researcher and lecturer at AUT Colab.

She spoke on the #NZWF15 panel Trends and Innovations in digital storytelling with Joseph Herscher and Laurent Antonczak. NZWF caught up with Anna in January 2016.

NZWF: First of all, catch us up with Loading Docs. What’s been happening with the 2015 titles since the launch in July?
Anna Jackson: 2015 has been huge for Loading Docs! We launched in July with 5 films in the New Zealand International Film Festival and all of the 2015 and 2014 films are now on TVNZ OnDemand, which has helped us reach even more New Zealanders. The films have been a big success internationally too, featuring on high profile international sites like The Atlantic, Short of the Week, Vimeo Staff Picks, Laughing Squid, The Guardian, The Japan Times and The Daily Mail. Recently we’ve had several films featured on CNN’s Great Big Story where the films are reaching a massive audience.

NZWF: Applications to be part of it in 2016 closed shortly after your presentation at NZWF15. When will you announce the teams selected?
AJ: We’re just about to make the announcement! Last weekend we gathered all the 2016 filmmakers together in Auckland for a workshop where they had a session with the amazing story-whisperer Kathryn Burnett, did some preparation for their Boosted Crowdfunding campaigns and worked with Loading Docs EP Julia Parnell to fine-tune treatments and pick up some tips on how to make a great 3-minute documentary.

I don’t want to steal any thunder from the big reveal, but I can say that they’re a super-talented and also very lovely bunch of people. The theme for 2016 is ‘change’ and all of the films touch on the theme in very different ways, but I think as a collection the films will complement each other very nicely.

NZWF: Among the criteria for Loading Docs 2016, you noted “up to three of the stories will be identified as having a wider subject or theme suitable for feature film development”. Has that opportunity changed the sort of proposals you’ve received?
AJ: We’ve always received those proposals, but now Loading Docs is in a position to be able to focus even more on actively supporting the development of films that have that potential. Loading Docs is beginning to gain some significant recognition as a producer of high quality short New Zealand documentaries, but it’s so much more than that.

Our filmmakers put an incredible amount of time and hard work into these very, very short films because the initiative is about developing talent, showcasing the very best in documentary storytelling and really challenging filmmakers to further their skills not only in filmmaking but also in promoting their films and themselves. The films themselves are just the tip of the iceberg really.

NZWF: Are you seeing new opportunities for short-form online content (factual or otherwise)?
AJ: The demand for all kinds of short-form online content is growing significantly, but I think that there are perhaps even more opportunities for factual short form content because news organisations are increasingly looking to augment their more traditional offerings with short-form video or interactive content. There’s also more competition than ever before too, which is why filmmakers need to develop really strong outreach and promotional skills and cultivate a strong online presence.

NZWF: As far as web content goes, what’s on your radar for 2016?
AJ: I personally am really interested in the development of interactive documentary and the use of virtual reality in documentary. The VR documentary work that Chris Milk has been doing with Vrse Works and Nonny de la Peña with Emblematic Group is incredibly powerful. This form of storytelling is very much in its early stages, but has a great deal of potential.

Project Syria (immersive journalism)

NZWF: Anything else you’d like to share or skite about?
AJ: I’m looking forward to attending iDocs (an interactive documentary symposium) in March where I’ll be presenting a digital journalism/interactive documentary project in-development called Newsable, and of course Loading Docs 2016 is going to be outstanding.