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Indigenous TV Drama Production Program

Limited funds are available through this program to invest in outstanding television drama projects which are based on strong and original ideas, and can demonstrate the potential to reach an audience.

Production investment is intended primarily to assist in the professional development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander key creatives, as well as to provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander filmmakers who have demonstrated extraordinary talent to extend their vision and their skills.

What funding is available?

Limited funding is available through this program.

There are no limits on the proportion of the budget Screen Australia can contribute under this program. However, other sources of finance are encouraged, and the assessment process will take into account the level of Screen Australia funding requested as a proportion of overall budget. Contributions might come from marketplace entities (eg broadcasters), as well as from state agencies, other government organisations, cultural institutions, international sources, private investors or other partners.

Who can apply?

Applicants and their projects must meet the general eligibility requirements set out in Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade in addition to the following:

Applicants

  • The director must be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australian with at least two ‘eligible drama credits’ as a director.

  • The writer must have at least two ‘eligible drama credits’ as a writer.

  • In the case of co-writing teams, made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers, the original concept must come from Indigenous writer. This must be shown in the application.

  • The producer must be either
    – an ‘experienced producer’, or
    – a producer who has at least two ‘eligible drama credits’, or
    – an emerging producer applying in conjunction with an ‘experienced producer’.

(See Definitions below.)

Projects

  • Drama of any broadcast format is eligible for this program, including telemovies, series (no distinction is drawn between series and mini-series) and drama multiplatform projects.

  • More than 26 broadcast hours of any one project, which may include multiple series, will not be eligible for funding.

  • Projects must have a marketplace attachment as set out below under Marketplace attachment requirements.

Definitions

  • An ‘eligible drama credit’ is a drama film or program of at least 10 mins which has:
    - screened at a recognised film festival (Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Sundance, Clermont-Ferrand or Annecy; Adelaide Film Festival, Brisbane International Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Revelation Perth International Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival; Flickerfest or St Kilda Film Festival); or
    - been nominated for an AACTA Award; or
    - been broadcast by a recognised broadcaster or channel; or
    - had a commercial theatrical release.
  • An ‘experienced producer’ is defined as having at least one credit as producer on:
    - a feature film that has been released on a minimum of five commercial screens in one territory, OR
    - a primetime broadcast drama mini-series or telemovie.

Marketplace attachment requirements

A local presale for Australian free-to-air or subscription television rights is required, with a minimum licence fee of $440,000 per broadcast hour. This floor price must not include:

  • any equity component for the broadcaster
  • broadcast rights for New Zealand or another Rest of World territory
  • subscription television or exclusive satellite rights (if the presale is to a free-to-air broadcaster), or free-to-air rights (if the presale is to subscription television).

In exceptional circumstances, Screen Australia may partner with alternative marketplace entities outside of the above mentioned minimum licence fee floor.

Screen Australia expects that an appropriate holdback period between the first and any subsequent release will be negotiated case by case between the producers and broadcasters involved.

Screen Australia expects the project to be made available on at least one digital media platform other than broadcast television (free-to-air or subscription). At a minimum, this could be a catch-up television service, but producers are also encouraged to consider mobile or other online platforms as part of their release strategy.

No international marketplace attachments are required but producers are encouraged to develop a marketing strategy for international sales.

Broadcaster involvement

Screen Australia will not finance drama where the project has been developed by a broadcaster and sub-contracted at a later stage to a producer, except where chain of title resides with the producer.

In addition, Screen Australia expects key creatives (producer, writer, director, director of photography, editor) to be sourced from the freelance market and not from the staff of a free-to-air or subscription television channel.

Budget requirements

Format: Budgets must be presented in the A-Z Budget format, available to download in Tools and insights. Fees should comply with industry norms. They will be considered in the context of the budget and track record of the personnel.

Budgets must include:  

  • Contingency: Allowance for a contingency of 10 per cent.
  • Completion Guarantor: An allowance should be made for a completion guarantor unless Screen Australia agrees otherwise in writing.
  • Delivery to digital platform: Where relevant, an allowance should be identified in the budget for distribution to one other digital platform. This may include a catch-up television service, mobile phone or other online release.
  • Delivery items: Producers must budget for sales company deliverables and other delivery items as required. Allowance must also be made for Screen Australia and NFSA delivery items. See Terms of Trade for details.
  • Promotions and marketing: Marketing and promotions costs should be incorporated from the outset. Line items for specific promotional materials must include professional stills photography and press kit.

What is the assessment process?

Applications are considered by Screen Australia executives, with industry specialists consulted as required. Screen Australia will advise applicants in writing of the success or otherwise of their application. Where an application is declined, the applicant will be advised of the reason.

Assessment criteria

Investment decisions will be made against the following criteria:

  • Script: The script and project materials according to: (i) the strength and distinctiveness of the idea; (ii) the quality of the writing; (iii) the production-readiness of the project materials.
  • Creative team: The producer, director, writer according to: (i) evidence of skills, relevant experience and achievements which demonstrate either an established successful track record or exciting new talent; and (ii) their demonstrated creative, technical and managerial capacity to deliver the project.
  • Project: The project’s potential in relation to: (i) the creative team’s demonstrated understanding of the intended audience; (ii) the production strategy; (iii) the proposed participants
  • Viability: Screen Australia will consider (i) the viability of the proposed budget in relation to achieving the creative team’s stated goals and vision for the project, (ii) the viability of the proposed financing structure including the amount requested from Screen Australia as a proportion of the total budget and (iii) the production schedule.

All of the above criteria are weighted equally.

Preference will be given to original formats over programs based on foreign formats.

Other factors, including availability of funds, diversity of slate and the gender diversity of the team may also influence Screen Australia’s funding decisions.

What is the application timing?

Applications can be made at any time. The turnaround time for application decisions is approximately eight weeks.

Terms of funding

Where Screen Australia’s total contribution (including any development funds) is $500,000 or under, funding will be in the form of a grant:

  • Screen Australia does not take a share of receipts from projects funded under a grant, which means the funds do not have to be repaid other than in circumstances set out in the Terms of Trade.
  • The amount of the Screen Australia grant will be agreed upfront and not varied, other than in exceptional circumstances.
  • Screen Australia does not require a share of copyright in productions that it funds under a grant.

Where Screen Australia’s total contribution (including any development funds) is more than $500,000, funding will be in the form of recoupable equity investment, with copyright and recoupment terms in accordance with the agency’s Terms of Trade.

MULTIPLATFORM PROJECTS

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners can apply for multiplatform funding through the Indigenous Department’s Documentary Production or TV Drama Production programs.

The Indigenous Department also offers dedicated initiatives in this area from time to time. Check the website for details.