Briar March / Loading Docs

The Coffin Club

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When old age and over-priced funeral directors are knocking on the door, there's only one thing to do. Give them both the finger! A group of rebellious, creative Kiwi seniors are doing just that, one crazy coffin at a time.

The Coffin Club is a community group like no other - they make and customise coffins! Based in Rotorua, New Zealand this fascinating bunch of elderly meet once a week to rejoice in life while facing the realities of death.

Born in the back of a garage 10 years ago, the Coffin Club has since evolved into a bustling cottage enterprise with over 60 active members. Every coffin is decorated by hand to reflect the life of its maker, and only costs a mere $250 to make - a much cheaper option to the commercial coffin which starts at $2,000.

Given the financial strain funerals can place on grieving loved ones, members also donate coffins to families in need and make baby coffins for the local hospital. Ageing is an isolating time for many, but not for these seniors. They look out for each other in times of sickness, and meet weekly not only for their love of coffin making, but for the shared morning tea and the long lasting friendships that have formed between them.

We're making a film

Keeping in the spirit of the Coffin Club, this short documentary film will be made in the style of a movie musical! That's right - every part will be sung, danced, and performed by the Coffin Club members. Prepare to be marvelled when these life loving oldies swing their hips in unison, leap for joy, and rows of legs in stoking pop out from coffin caskets!

How will your donations be used?

Making a musical is an ambitious task and we really need all the support we can get. We've set our first crowd funding goal at $2,000.00 but we hope to raise an additional $8,000 over this month to help pay for dancers, musicians, and choreographers' fees as well as our camera rental and equipment. You'll also be pleased to know that donations made to this project are tax deductible, and once you have donated you'll receive a receipt for your tax records.

Why Crowd Funding?

It is extremely difficult to fund short documentaries in New Zealand. Crowd funding is a wonderful way to get around this challenge and to also include audiences in the filmmaking journey. Whatsmore, our film has been generously supported by the Loading Docs initiative, along with principal partner NZ on Air, the New Zealand Film Commission, and Te Māngai Pāho. Since they want to see the film get made just as much as we do, they've offered to provide an additional $4,000 but only as long as we reach our funding goal.

Where will the film go?

Our film will be released online through the Loading Docs website. It will be yours to share, watch, and treasure for free. We believe film has the power to create positive change. We're making this film accessible because we hope it will provide all generations with a fresh perceptive on death and ageing. We also want this story to inspire groups around the world to take up similar initiatives in their own communities.

Would you like to join us?

Since life is short and laughter is the best medicine, we hope you can take part in this exciting journey. Thank you for taking the time to check out our project. Every little bit counts and we greatly appreciate your support!


  • We're just about ready to film!


    Greetings Team Coffin Club!

    Firstly, a huge apology for the time between updates. Since fundraising, we have literally hit the ground running to get this very ambitious project underway – and boy, have we been busy!

    Thanks to your generous support we have engaged crew, cast the production, written and recorded our soundtrack with the wonderful guys from The Sound Room, hired an amazing choreographer, and started dance rehearsals with our fabulous senior dancers! 

    In addition, we’ve locked down lighting, design and costumes – and the massive task of planning and scheduling everything.

    Everyone involved in the production is giving their all for very little money – or just for the love of it – so we’re incredibly humbled and grateful.

    The enthusiasm and humour of our Coffin Club seniors is contagious and has made for a very happy little production. 

    We start shooting on May 15th in Rotorua and can’t wait. Do wish us luck!

    Thanks again for your amazing generosity and support – we couldn't do it without you all.

    What we have found so far is that this project has been an inspiration and burst of energy for all the seniors involved. They have loved learning dance moves and getting a chance to sing. It's been a great thing for them and for us! We feel so blessed to have you all part of this adventure too. Stay tuned!

    Best Love

    Briar and Kim

    We're just about ready to film!
  • We just reached $6,000!


    Time to celebrate! We just got a little bit closer to reaching our stretch goal of $8,000.00!

    Thanks so much everyone! Just two more days left to donate, can we make it?

    It's getting exciting! 

    Also, we wanted to share with you another article that just came out this week about our project.

    P.S. The photo below features the Coffin Club's oldest member. She turns 100 in August!


    Briar & Kim

    We just reached $6,000!
  • Just 3 days to go!


    Hello Supporters!

    So we are just three days away from our deadline now!!! Wow what a crazy month it's been.

    Last week our producer Kim and I went down to Rotorua to film a little singing number with the stars of the Coffin Club. It's well worth watching, so check out the link below:

    We are still hoping to make our stretch goal of $8,000, which will go a long way in helping us reach our budget... so if you know anyone else who might get inspired by this project, please share the link, we would totally appreciate it!!

    And here's a great quote for the day:

    "If you don't have humour then you may as well nail the coffin lid down now" - Rodger Moore.

    ngā mihi nui,


    Just 3 days to go!
  • The Coffin Club Catches On!


    Dear Supporters, it’s been a busy two weeks since we started this campaign and there has been a lot of buzz growing around our project - which we must thank you again for helping to make happen!

    In case you are curious to learn more about the Coffin Club and our vision for this movie musical we’ve cobbled together some of the press that our project, and the Coffin Club has been gaining.

    In this radio interview director Briar March talks with Jessie Mulligan from Radio New Zealand about her vision for the film and why she plans to make it in the style of a movie musical.

    Check out this fantastic piece from the Guardian which features a photograph of one of our characters, Geraldine (she’s the gorgeous lady you can see in the image below). In this article you can read about how the club was conceived and has since evolved, and the impact it is having on the Rotorua community.

    Plus, this article from the New York Times is another example of how the concept behind the Coffin Club is starting a small movement - with other clubs catching on throughout New Zealand - and the world!

    Other than working on publicity, we are still in the thick of campaign mode, working towards our stretch goal of $8,000. Making a musical is incredibly expensive and we really need to make these extra funds to reach our budget of $10,000. Thank you again for all of your support.

    Briar & Kim


    The  Coffin Club Catches On!
  • Thank you for supporting The Coffin Club!


    Wow I must say it is totally awesome to see the donations coming in. We've only been at it just under a week and we've already reached our first target of $2,000. It is truly humbling and extremely encouraging to see so many people show their support. A BIG THANK YOU! It might sound cheesy but every little bit counts, and all these contributions are going to make a big difference to what we can achieve.

    But we can't stop here, our stretch goal is $8,000. As I mentioned in our pitch video we need a total of $10,000 to complete our budget, which will help us to pay for our lighting equipment, composer, and choreographer's fees. And there are a few other things I didn't mention - our art department, camera crew, costumes, and catering.

    So thank you once again for checking out this campaign and if you haven't already, please consider joining us with your support and donations!


    Briar & Kim

Loading Docs

Loading Docs is a unique New Zealand documentary initiative that aims to captivate and inspire audiences as well as develop and promote New Zealand filmmaking talent. Since launching in 2014 Loading Docs has touched audiences all over the world. Our films have been seen online, on TV, in film festivals... even on airplanes!

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