Shaggy: I think I get the pushing idea. When you say "keeping a slight curve to the film", do you mean accenuating the natural convex curvature of the enulsion side of the film. Squeezing slightly the two edges together, I notice, tends to make it a little easier to get the film past what I call the threshhold of the spool.
Can the film be handled under a safelight? Would that make loading any easier?