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Documentaries
Producer Equity Program (PEP)

The Producer Equity program provides a direct payment of funds to producers of eligible low-budget Australian documentaries, equal to 20 per cent of the approved budget. The payment is available with or without other Screen Australia documentary production funding.

Projects are not assessed beyond establishing eligibility.

The program is administered by Screen Australia’s Documentary Unit, and is subject to Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade eligibility requirements (section 1 only).

Eligibility

To be eligible, a project must:

  • have Significant Australian Content
  • be a linear documentary of any length (please see General Information for Applicants)
  • have a confirmed finance plan totalling a minimum of $125,000 up to a maximum of $500,000 (and not be eligible for the Producer Offset, PDV or Location Offset)
  • be produced for distribution to the Australian public, with a demonstrated arm’s length commercial arrangement for distribution (e.g. broadcast licence, distribution agreement, VOD agreement, a confirmed Australian film festival screening or cinema on demand screening).

Significant Australian Content

Screen Australia considers the following during assessment:
  • the subject matter of the film
  • the place where the film was made
  • the nationalities and places of residence of the persons who took part in the making of the film
  • the details of the production expenditure incurred in respect of the film, and
  • any other matters that Screen Australia considers to be relevant.

Applicants should note that:

  • All relevant letters of offer, signed deal memos and signed term sheets in relation to funding (including state agency funding) must be attached to the application. Where letters, deal memos and term sheets are supplied with the application, Screen Australia requires the execution of corresponding long-form agreements to be on no less favourable terms and may request the applicant submit these to help assist eligibility.
  • PEP will be calculated on the cash component of the finance plan only. In order to reach the budget threshold of $125,000 deferred fees or in-kind support cannot form part of the finance plan.
  • Where stock footage is acquired from a related entity to the applicant (e.g. parent company), Screen Australia will examine whether the arrangement is at arm’s length, and only an arm’s length amount can be included in the calculation for PEP. Further, where a significant amount of footage is reused from a previous film (for example in a ‘best of’ episode of a series), the film may not be eligible for PEP.
  • Screen Australia requires a solicitor’s opinion on the chain of title as part of PEP only funding applications.
  • Applications for a season of a series must demonstrate that it is an application for the entire season of a series and not part thereof.
  • One-off such as ‘Best Of’ special episodes, of existing or ongoing series are not eligible.

Application process

Applications can be submitted at any time. The average turn around for decision is six weeks from receipt of a complete application.

Projects with Screen Australia funding

Producers applying to Screen Australia for documentary production grant funding can apply for the Producer Equity payment as part of their production funding application. The project’s finance plan should include the Producer Equity payment as twenty (20) per cent of the total budget (excluding any deferred fees or in-kind support). For example, the Producer Equity included in a budget of $400,000 would be $80,000. Once funding is approved, Producer Equity will be included in the agreed finance plan and drawdown schedule. Producer Equity payments will be paid in line with the terms of the Production Grant Agreement.

Projects without Screen Australia funding

Producers not applying to Screen Australia for documentary production grant funding will need to satisfy the eligibility criteria above as well as the following additional criteria in order to access the Producer Equity Program.

  • The project must have commenced pre-production on or after 1 July 2011.
  • The project may be at any stage of production (pre-production, production, post-production or complete) when an application is made; however, an application cannot be submitted more than six (6) months after the project is completed.

Successful applicants will need to enter into an agreement with Screen Australia, which among other things, outlines the producer’s obligations. If the project is not yet complete, the successful applicant will invoice Screen Australia for:

  • Fifty per cent (50%) of the approved amount on signing the agreement; and
  • Fifty per cent (50%) of the approved amount on delivery of a copy of the completed film, a final cost report approved by Screen Australia with supporting statutory declaration, and proof of distribution to the Australian public by way of an arm’s length commercial arrangement.

If the project is already complete, the successful applicant will invoice Screen Australia for:

  • One-hundred per cent (100%) of the approved amount on delivery of the completed film, a final cost report with supporting statutory declaration, and proof of distribution to the Australian public by way of  an arm’s length commercial arrangement.

In its sole discretion, Screen Australia may require an applicant to obtain and provide an independent audit report of the final cost report at the applicant’s expense. Screen Australia may also withhold payment/s until satisfied that the film is/will be genuinely distributed to the Australian public by way of an arm’s length commercial arrangement.

Important points to note

  • Screen Australia will not increase the amount of the Producer Equity payment, once approved, even if the budget subsequently changes.
  • Projects approved for Producer Equity cannot apply for the Producer Offset, even if the project budget increases to the level of the applicable QAPE threshold.