‘Documentary’ is defined in section 376-25 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA). This definition applies to projects that commenced principal photography on or after 1 July 2012. For projects commencing before this date, we will utilise the test outlined by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) in the Lush House case (EME Productions No 1 Pty Ltd v Screen Australia).
For certification as a documentary, you must be able to satisfy us that the project is a creative treatment of actuality that is not an infotainment or lifestyle program, or a magazine-style program.
In making this decision, we have regard to:
- the extent and purpose of any contrived situation featured in the film
- the extent to which the film explores an idea or a theme
- the extent to which the film has an overall narrative structure, and
- any other relevant matters.
Magazine and infotainment programs
A magazine-style program is not a documentary. It is a film that:
- presents factual information
- has two or more discrete parts, each dealing with a different subject or a different aspect of the same subject, and
- does not contain an over-arching narrative structure or thesis.
An infotainment or lifestyle program is also not a documentary, and is defined in Schedule 6 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 as a program ‘...the sole or dominant purpose of which is to present factual information in an entertaining way, where there is a heavy emphasis on entertainment value’.