We develop and produce our own independent documentary content . Documentary is compelling, immediate and powerful. Our documentaries connect with audiences emotionally to tell stories that can change the world.

Original Documentary

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Shot Bro

Shot bro follows actor Rob Mokaraka as he journeys around Aotearoa, telling the story of his attempted suicide-by-cop in his one man play. Funny, dark, and real, his mission is to bring light into the dark with aroha.

Along the way we meet communities and whānau from all walks of life who have been affected by suicide. As Rob opens up about his own story, we begin to understand that it’s the silence that’s killing us and this kind of darkness can’t survive in light and aroha.

Rob Mokaraka was already a well-known actor before his most public appearance in July 2009  – when he was shot by police outside his Pt Chevalier home. Rob wanted the cops to shoot him that day. In the midst of a mental and spiritual breakdown, he made a 111 call reporting a fabricated intruder, thinking of the Māori men he had seen on the news who had been killed by the police.  But Rob miraculously survived his attempted suicide-by-cop and he has the scars to prove it.

During the following years of physical and psychological therapy, with both european and Māori healers, Rob created a brave, brilliant and darkly funny one-man theatre show about his years of inner turmoil and ultimate brush with death. For the past three years he has toured Aotearoa with this play, going where he is invited by communities and whānau affected by suicide.  It’s taken him to community halls, remote marae, prisons, schools and beyond and its effect on audiences is profound.

Shot over 18 months, the documentary follows Rob to different shows, from a community performance in his hometown Whangarei to a gathering of Tawhiti Men’s Group in Gisborne to Invercargill Prison and beyond. Wherever he goes, we see how Rob’s own vulnerability resonates with the audience and helps them to open up and tell their own stories of depression and loss.  Rob listens carefully then he showers them with aroha and healing.

At home in Whangarei, we meet Rob’s whānau and learn how intergenerational trauma has affected them, especially his father who revisits painful experiences of the Vietnam war. Rob’s sister is visiting for the first time since she saw Rob in hospital 10 years ago and he tells her of disturbing memories he has suppressed for most of his life. 

Rob now helps himself and others to heal through reconnection to Te Ao Māori, the natural world and through deep relationships with others. We meet Rob’s cousin Clint, his kaitiaki on this journey, who often accompanies him as he travels to go where his message is most needed.  Rob’s commitment to this kaupapa takes him away from his beloved daughters but he keeps in touch by phone while he’s on the road.  There’s plenty of humour and heart amongst the sadness.

The final part of the film follows Rob to a beautiful marae in Tokoroa where he performs at the moving whānau memorial for Bobby Farrar, a 20 year old Māori boy who committed suicide in 2018.  Bobby’s mum Stephy is now determined to help her community see the signs that she missed and to save other young people who may be at risk. She opens up her world to us, as she tries to piece together the many factors that contributed to Bobby’s death. We see first hand how his death has impacted her and her whānau. As they sit quietly after the performance, Rob recognises the similarities he has with Bobby, “He’s like a younger version of me”. 

Our film interweaves this observational journey with compellingly intimate interview footage and elements of Rob’s performance recorded especially to powerfully engage the screen audience.  Beautiful and other-worldly underwater footage brings to life Rob’s inner world during the time of his breakdown.

The film explores the ongoing nature of Rob’s journey. There will be another performance, and then another, this is a hero’s quest that has no end.  But with each encounter he learns more – about suicide and depression in this country, about people and ultimately about himself.

Shot Bro can be viewed at www.maoritelevision.com/docos/shot-bro

Shot Bro is made with the support of New Zealand on Air.

Festivals:
FIFO 2021 In Competition


Gardening with Soul

Sister Loyola's optimism is infectious and is fed every day by her love of gardening.  Themes of faith, aging and compassion sit alongside the practicalities of community life, issues within the Catholic Church and the importance of good compost in this intimate, funny and moving portrait of a woman approaching the end of her life.

Filmed almost entirely on location in Island Bay, Wellington, Gardening with Soul follows Sister Loyola Galvin, the main gardener for the House of Compassion.

Filmmaker Jess Feast (Cowboys and Communists) has been following Sister Loyola over the last year, charting her journey through the seasons which included her 90th birthday.  Through her garden, we begin to understand Loyola’s commitment to nurture all living things, especially those which ‘don’t get a good start’.  From her early work as a nurse, to her role as a nun raising children with disabilities, we see Loyola’s incredible energy and faith in her God carry her through the difficult times.

Gardening with Soul premiered at the New Zealand International Film Festival in July 2013.

Gardening with Soul can be viewed at https://ondemand.nzfilm.co.nz/film/gardening-with-soul/

Rise

RISE is a short documentary film that dives deep into the motivations, fears and hopes for a passionate group of young climate activists in Wellington, Aotearoa. 

On September 27th, during the largest climate protest in the world, we went behind the scenes with the group who were charged with bringing as many people to the streets of Aotearoa as possible.  Following their journey over the day provides the backdrop for coming to know an exceptional and diverse group of young people. Combined with studio interviews we come to understand what it is that has made them take on this mahi as their top priority and how it’s affecting them, their whānau and their sense of the future. 

These rangatahi are reflections of a global movement and they are working like never before to make change. As time runs out, this is a quest of epic proportions, taken on by young people with heart, emotional strength and commitment to the cause.

Rise has been supported by Doc Edge and the Rei Foundation Rangatahi Fund. 

Festivals:

DocEdge 2020

Climate Action Film Festival 2020


Make it 16

‘Make it 16’ is the plea made by youth campaigners in Aotearoa and beyond to lower the voting age to sixteen. 

Our film follows a group of inspiring, down to earth young people leading the campaign to create a more inclusive and robust democracy. They are tired of people labelling them as too immature and impressionable to engage in politics.  With issues such as climate change, the recovery from Covid-19, housing and inequality affecting their futures, they are standing up and demanding to have their say.  

The story gathers momentum as the young ‘Make it 16’ campaigners take their case to the High Court in Wellington, claiming that the current voting age of 18 is unjustified age discrimination, inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act. While the law cannot be changed from this event alone, it represents the monumental first step in initiating this change that echoes powerful suffrage movements from previous generations.

Acknowledgments:
Made with the support of NZ on Air.
A Doc Edge Original commissioned by Doc Edge and Rei Foundation.

Festivals:
DocEdge 2021

The Secret Lives of Sex Workers

15 years after prostitution was legalised in NZ, this three part documentary series looks at the realities of life as a sex worker from a first person perspective in NZ in 2018. Each film focuses on a different type of sex worker: brothel based, independent and street based work. Through these sex workers we gain unique insight into the highs and lows of sex work as well as some funny anecdotes and views on the ongoing stigma and the types of clients that frequent our sex industry.

Aren't Can't Don't

125 years after women’s suffrage in New Zealand, this two-part documentary explores why some women are still unable to vote and why it is so difficult for many others to feel like their voices matter. The series looks at voter engagement through the eyes of women from diverse backgrounds with supporting information from experts on voting rights and political participation. CAN’T focuses on the perspectives of women prisoners who still can’t legally vote, while DON’T examines some of the many and complex reasons women don’t vote.

Aren’t Can’t Don’t is a partnership with The Spinoff and is made with the support of NZ on Air.



Mana Moana Series

In 2019 Storybox produced the first Mana Moana event, a collaboration with curators Rachael Rakena and Mike Bridgman, beginning the Mana Moana Collective. Mana Moana 2019 was a collection of five audio-visual works presented on a water screen at Whairepo Lagoon in Wellington as part of Matariki celebrations in 2019. At the time we had taken the opportunity to interview some of the incredible artists involved, but these interviews had set aside, waiting for a spare moment.

Cue level 4 lockdown. We found ourselves with some time on our hands and with some funding from Whakaata Māori we took the opportunity to create a series of four short documentaries about the artists and their work which are now live on Māori Television on demand.


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