Feature Production - Letter of Interest
A Letter of Interest is an indication to the producer and the marketplace that Screen Australia recognises the project’s creative and/or commercial potential. This is not a commitment for investment but it is an indication of the possibility of Screen Australia investing in the project at a later stage when the project will be competitively assessed against the published criteria.
An application for production funding can then be submitted once the rest of the finance is in place.
A Letter of Interest is neither a prerequisite for an application for production funding, nor a commitment from Screen Australia to invest in a project.
Documentary projects, including theatrical or feature-length documentaries, are not eligible under this program. Refer to our Documentary programs.
Who can apply?
Projects must be feature-length and intended for theatrical release. Producers can apply for a Letter of Interest when:
- their screenplay is at an advanced stage of development (for example, ready to cast but still one draft away from shooting); and
- they have a letter of interest from an appropriate domestic distributor relevant to the project.
There is no requirement for any other marketplace attachment at this stage.
A project cannot normally be submitted for a Letter of Interest concurrently with an application for Screen Australia development funding. Contact an Investment Manager to discuss further.
Projects which have been unsuccessful twice for a Letter of Interest:
- are ineligible to apply a third time for a Letter of Interest unless the applicant is able to demonstrate exceptional circumstances.
- can apply for production funding if and when finance is in place; however, if the production funding application is declined, the project is ineligible to apply again.
Applicants and projects must also meet the general eligibility requirements set out in Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade. With the exception of official Co-Productions, it is Screen Australia’s expectation that applications for direct funding will demonstrate that the project is written and directed by Australian citizens or residents.
What is the assessment process?
Complete and eligible Letter of Interest applications will be reviewed by Screen Australia executives and/or industry specialists as required.
Applicants may be interviewed as part of the assessment process.
Final decisions will be made by the CEO, in consultation with the Head of Production, regardless of the amount likely to be involved.
Screen Australia will take the following equally weighted criteria into account when considering applications for Letters of Interest:
- Script: The readiness of the script for financing in relation to: (i) the quality of the writing and cinematic storytelling; (ii) the strength and distinctiveness of the idea within its own genre; (iii) the reader’s emotional engagement with the story and characters.
- Creative team: The producer, director and writer according to: (i) skills, experience and achievements which demonstrate either a successful track record or an exciting new talent; (ii) their demonstrated creative, technical and managerial capacity to deliver the project; (iii) the director’s vision for the film.
- Project: The project’s potential in relation to: (i) the team’s demonstrated understanding of the film’s intended audience; (ii) the quality of any cast attached or proposed; (iii) the potential for the film to be selected for an A-list festival; (iv) the potential for the film to appeal to a significant audience in Australia and internationally.
- Viability: The project’s potential to be realised with reference to (i) its proposed budget size relative to its intentions; (ii) its proposed budget size relative to its potential audience; (iii) the track record of the distributor and its suitability to the project.
Other factors including diversity of slate and the gender and cultural diversity of the team may also influence Screen Australia’s decision.
If an application for a Letter of Interest is unsuccessful, the applicant can:
- apply one more time for a Letter of Interest after three months have elapsed from the date of the decision, or
- apply for production funding at any time, if and when finance has been confirmed applicants should note, however, that unless the project has changed substantially and the reasons the LOI application was unsuccessful have been addressed, it’s unlikely that Screen Australia will decide to invest).
Applicants will be advised of the outcome as soon as possible after the relevant decision meetings, generally within 6–10 weeks of the published deadline. If an application is unsuccessful, the reasons will be conveyed to the applicant.
Terms of funding
If a decision is made to issue a Letter of Interest, the date of the letter will be the date the application was approved.
Screen Australia Letters of Interest expire 12 months from the date of the letter. Applicants with Letters of Interest may be granted extensions at the discretion of the Head of Production.
Information for Applicants
Contact an Investment Manager
Before applying to Screen Australia it is essential that you contact an Investment Manager to discuss your project. Call the Program Operations team on 1800 507 901 if you are unsure who to speak with.
We also encourage you to contact the Program Operations team before you submit your application to discuss any eligibility questions and ensure all the required supporting material is in place. This will mean we can process your application as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Call them on 1800 507 901.
Indigenous content or participation
Specific requirements apply where there is Indigenous community participation or content involved in a project. Please refer to Indigenous Content
Applications must be made via the online application portal, and include all supporting materials. Applications for feature film production funding must be submitted by 11pm AEDT/AEST on the deadline date. Applications for feature film completion/post-production funding can be submitted at any time. If you have any questions regarding the submission of your materials, please contact the Program Operations team.
Rights and Terms of Trade
The applicant must either hold the rights or have an appropriate option to acquire the rights necessary to produce, complete, deliver and exploit the project. If the project is based on a real-life event or person, Screen Australia may request an additional legal opinion letter addressing any defamation or contempt of court issues.
Please read Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade. They include detailed information on additional requirements such as Screen Australia and NFSA delivery items and recoupment expectations.
Screen Australia, in consultation with the completion guarantor (where applicable), will examine a producer’s schedule and budget to ensure that the production values in the script can be realised. Screen Australia will require access to the quotes and other underlying documentation that support the line item amounts in the budget.
Budgets can be presented in the A-Z Budget format, or in Movie Magic or EP format. The cost of production, both above and below the line, should reflect the level of recoupment that the project can reasonably expect to earn.
Fees should comply with industry standards. They will be considered in the context of the budget and track record of the personnel.
Screen Australia reserves the right to look at the whole package, including budget and target audience, in determining whether individual above-the-line fees, including cast fees, are appropriate.
Screen Australia will have approval over any variation in budget items that are exclusions under the completion guarantee (eg. music, cast breakage) and all above-the-line items. The budget should include the following:
- Production overheads are capped at five per cent of the total of the company's total film expenditure on the project, or A$500,000, whichever is the lesser amount.
- Development costs breakdown including: any development funds; producer fellowships from state agencies, Screen Australia or its predecessor agencies; and state agency administration fees (if applicable).
- Publicity spend during production
- Marketing and promotional materials comprising the ‘dedicated marketing budget’ (DMB). This includes (but is not limited to) budgeted amounts for:
- the cost of a test screening
- cross-platform elements
- EPK/DVD materials
- poster key art
- stills photography
- foreign currency hedging mechanism to allow for currency fluctuations where applicable.
- the cost of captioning and audio description for theatrical release and DVD, as per Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade.
- allowance for Screen Australia and NFSA delivery items.
- sales company deliverables and other delivery items as required.
It is recommended that producers include an appropriate ProRes file in their deliverables, to facilitate online exploitation by rights holders.
Please note: Screen Australia no longer charges any legal or administrative fees for production funding.
Screen Australia uses external industry specialists to bring additional perspectives to its feature film decision-making processes. External industry specialists may be engaged to participate in the consideration of production funding applications as well as to advise on projects after funding is confirmed. Click here for more information.
Screen Australia encourages producers to engage with the Foreign Actor Certification Scheme (FACS) process early if they intend to bring foreign actors into Australia for any production. Separate to any requirement from Screen Australia, a production must meet the requirements of this scheme, the details of which can be found at Department of Communications and the Arts.