Many Māori researchers have mahi-toi skills. Mahi-toi, arts and the production of art, is where a concept takes physical form, and is brought into the physical realm by mahi-ā-ringa. The mahi-toi practitioner is the conduit. When the practitioner is also the researcher and vice versa, these vernaculars can enrich each other, and structure the work. Setting research writing practice beside mahi-toi practice also lends theoretical and analytical frameworks that could be useful for mahi-toi practitioners making the transition to academic research. In this article, I focus on mahi-toi as the scaffolding for theoretical analysis and writing frameworks across the arts. I demonstrate how I came to design the framework within the film theory context when it became apparent that post-colonial and Kaupapa Māori theories did not meet the needs of my research and analysis.