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Songlines on Screen

An initiative of the Indigenous Department of Screen Australia in association with NITV

"This country holds our story forever like an archive. Travelling through country the songs reveal themselves. They are embedded in country."

Francis Jupurrurla Kelly
November 2013

Due to the success of the first Songlines on Screen Initiative held in 2014, both Screen Australia and NITV are pleased to announce a second Songlines on Screen initiative opportunity.

This initiative aims to give place to some of the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander songlines that are integral to the makeup of Indigenous Australia, incorporating the full spectrum of storytelling including dance, song, art, body painting, and sites of significance.

Screen Australia and NITV are requesting proposals from appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander production companies and media organisations to record a songline or songline segment (one per company/organisation) that has been identified as being the most important and relevant to record at this time.

Up to 10 projects will be funded through development and production stages. Each will result in a broadcast-quality program of at least 15 minutes in duration, communicating the ‘open story’ of the songline or songline segment, with additional footage able to be used for other purposes at the discretion of the custodians. The footage will also be archived under appropriate conditions at two separate locations to ensure preservation and ongoing access and control by the songline's custodians.

In addition, the initiative aims to develop screen production skills in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through their participation in recording their own stories.

The initiative

  • Proposals may come from Indigenous production companies or media organisations that have the agreement of songline custodians to participate in the project.
  • Stage 1 of this process will involve a development application. Selected organisations can apply for up to $10,000 contribution from Screen Australia depending on the needs of the project. It is envisaged that this will cover research costs (including travel), writer/concept fees, producer fees, consultant and consent fees.
  • A residential development workshop will be held for key team members 14–18 March 2016, with costs to be covered by Screen Australia with the support of NITV.
  • Stage 2 of this process will involve the 10 successful teams to submit a production application. Up to around $120,000 (including any development contribution already received and the NITV license fee) for each developed project would then be available for production, with the amount depending on the needs and production-readiness of the project. Broadcast programs will be subject to NITV’s standard terms and conditions including relevant approvals as part of NITV’s commissioning process. NITV will be entitled to a minimum of 40 runs (each run being two runs within 24 hours) over four years and streaming rights for 30 days after the first broadcast; NITV will hold back broadcast for 12 months from delivery for festival entries and screenings.

Who can apply?

  • An applicant organisation must:
    – have Indigenous principals; and
    – not be a broadcaster.
  • Key creatives proposed for the production team – in particular, director/s, writer/s and/or ‘concept developers’ – must be Indigenous.
  • No more than one songline or songline segment may be submitted per organisation.
  • The application must include confirmation from the songline custodian/s of their willingness to participate in the project, for example a signed letter, or talk-to-camera video permission
  • Applicants must be available for a development workshop in March 2016.

Applicants must also meet the general eligibility requirements under Screen Australia’s terms of trade.

What is the application process?

Stage 1: Development

Applications must be made using the application form available on the right of this page. You will need to submit supporting material as set out in the application, which includes:

  • information about the songline and/or songline segment to be recorded, as well as about the songline’s custodians, and why it is critical that the songline be recorded now
  • information about the production team, including at least the proposed producer and director (the director and any writers or concept developers must be Indigenous; Indigenous producers are encouraged)
  • the approach to involving the community in the process, including confirmation from the songline custodian/s of their willingness to participate
  • a statement of creative approach to the ‘open story’ for broadcast
  • the opportunities to be provided for training and screen-production skills development
  • your proposed approach to archiving all recordings to ensure they will remain accessible to the custodians and appropriate community members into the future.

Proposals may incorporate talk-to-camera video recording as well as or instead of written material.

Assessment process

Eligible applications will be assessed by a panel made up of a representative of Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department and the NITV Commissioning Editor, taking into account the following criteria:

  • the skills and capacity of the team to undertake the project as evidenced by demonstrated experience in
    – screen storytelling
    – working collaboratively to enable Indigenous communities to tell their own stories
  • the quality and appropriateness of the creative approach demonstrated by the materials submitted
  • the viability of the project in terms of its ability to be realised within the parameters of the initiative’s budget
  • the extent to which the project will provide training and skills development opportunities for the Indigenous people involved, and build the capacity of the participating community to record its own stories.

The above criteria is weighted evenly.

Stage 2: Production

Applications that are successful at the Stage 1 Development phase will be invited to apply for Stage 2 Production funding through the online application portal. You will need to submit supporting material as set out in the application, which includes:

  • the creative approach to the ‘open story’ for broadcast, including an outline or treatment or to-camera overview
  • a consultation statement, setting out the details of the team’s approach to involving the community in the process
  • a training and development statement, setting out details of the opportunities to be provided for training and screen production skills development
  • an archiving statement, setting out the proposed arrangements for archiving the footage
  • detailed budget and budget summary using standard Screen Australia A-Z Documentary budget form available from Tools and insights. Ensure you include budget lines for post-production and insurances; see Indigenous documentary production for general documentary budget requirements
  • outline of post-production pathway, including chosen facility
  • supporting quotes (camera hire, insurances, picture post, sound post)
  • detailed production schedule
  • evidence of additional sources of finance if funds beyond Screen Australia and the NITV licence fee are to be used

Assessment process

A panel made up of a representative of Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department and the NITV Commissioning Editor, taking into account the following criteria, will assess eligible applications on:

  • the quality and appropriateness of the creative approach demonstrated by the materials submitted
  • the viability of the project in terms of its ability to be realised within the parameters of the initiative’s budget
  • the skills and capacity of the team to undertake the project as evidenced by demonstrated experience in:
    – screen storytelling
    – working collaboratively to enable Indigenous communities to tell their own stories
  • the proposed arrangements for archiving the footage.
  • the quality of the opportunity: the extent to which the project will provide training and skills development opportunities for the Indigenous people involved, and build the capacity of the participating community to record its own stories.

The above criteria is weighted evenly.

Terms of funding

Screen Australia funding will be provided as a grant.

NITV funding will be provided as a licence fee.

The funding agreements will contain detailed terms consistent with Screen Australia Terms of Trade guidelines, the SBS Code of Practice and SBS Editorial Guidelines and NITV’s standard presale terms and conditions.

Funding milestones: The funding agreement will set out key milestones appropriate to the project’s development plan, and progress against these milestones will be monitored at agreed intervals. Ongoing payments will be subject to satisfactory achievement of each milestone.

Archive deposits: As per Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade, copies of the finished broadcast program/s must be deposited with the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA). Arrangements for appropriate archiving of raw footage to ensure ongoing access and control by the songline's custodians will be confirmed case by case.

Screen Australia and NITV will also require applicants to provide an archive plan to store the filming material (not just the finished film) at two separate locations (for example; community centres, state libraries or the NFSA) to be approved by Screen Australia to ensure preservation and ongoing access and control by the songline’s custodians.

Fairness and reasonableness: As set out in its Terms of Trade, Screen Australia requires all successful applicants to act fairly and reasonably towards all third parties participating in their projects.