New Kiwi documentary-makers have gone online, including a story of the first bungy jumper.

A new initiative called Loading Docs has gathered together a host of burgeoning Kiwi filmmaking talent to present 10 new short-form documentaries online.

The three-minute docos cover a wide range of topics, all uniquely Kiwi in their own way. From showing the small group of homeless people living in luxury thanks to the Christchurch earthquake (Zoe McIntosh's Living Like Kings), to a feline murder mystery in Raglan (Aidee Walker and Alexander Gandar's Catkiller), each Loading Doc offers an easily digestible nugget of documentary joy.

Loading Docs producer Julia Parnell says the goal of the initiative is to "inspire documentary filmmakers to open themselves to emerging forms of distribution on digital platforms. There are millions of people online watching short-form factual content and we want New Zealand stories to be amongst them."

One such story bound to spark interest is that of Chris Sigglekow, the unsung creator of what the world knows as modern bungy jumping.


It's a story The Jump director Alex Sutherland knows well - Sigglekow is his father-in-law.

"Chris heard about these English guys," Sutherland tells me. "A group from Oxford called the Dangerous Sports Club - they had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge using some sort of climbing ropes, and one of them hurt [himself] really badly. Chris just heard about it on the news and went, 'I know how to do that. That'll work. I can do it better.' That's kind of how Chris thinks.

Watch: Loading Docs: The Jump

After consulting with the University of Auckland's School of Engineering, "he got all this bungy stuff, what you use on a roof rack, and he unthreaded it. He spent days and days taking the outer covering off to reveal the strands of bungy.

"And essentially that's what we use today. This was in 1979. Then he did the actual jump in 1980, by himself, on the Pelorus Bridge near Nelson."

Six years go by, and Sigglekow is considering revisiting the activity when he meets AJ Hackett, who was living with his sister. Sensing a kindred spirit, he gave Hackett his first bungy jump at Auckland's Greenhithe Bridge in 1986, six years after his own first solo jump.

"Then they basically became this duo over an intense period of about three or four months from late '86 into '87, they just started doing it every weekend. And a growing number of people would go with them and help them do it.

"Every weekend, they were going to bigger and higher bridges all over the central North Island. So that's what the documentary really is about, this incubation period. They were just being cowboys, hiding from trains on rail bridges, just kind of doing it."


After jumping off the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Hackett heads to Europe and the pair go their separate ways. The rest is history.

"Chris just didn't think it could become something so big for the public. They just thought it was too out there."

But of course it became a huge, internationally recognised business.

"There's ill-feeling there, somewhat," admits Sutherland.

Beyond the spectacular footage from Sigglekow's and Hackett's early jumps, what does Sutherland think people will get out of his film?

"A slightly revisionist history, I hope. I think what viewers are gonna get is the spirit of that period. And that's what I've really concentrated on. There's a huge amount of camaraderie between AJ and Chris."

It could be argued that New Zealand has been a little slow to embrace online film platforms, but Loading Docs is a bold step in the right direction. It was partially funded through the Ignite stream of NZ On Air's Digital Media fund, which seeks to support innovative small scale projects like pilots, apps and sites.

"While traditional models of documentary distribution are still valid, the audience is fragmented and dispersed, so digital platforms have become an increasingly vital tool for filmmakers to promote, distribute or even finance their projects," says Parnell.

"Every culture needs to be able to see itself on screen and as the audience spends more and more time online we need to provide these New Zealand viewers with every opportunity to engage with our stories."

All 10 documentaries can be viewed here or at