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Production
Producer Program

Please note: Effective 1 April 2019, successful Producer Program applicants are not eligible for PEP funding for the same project.

The intention of the Producer program is to provide producers with the flexibility to drive projects both creatively and commercially, with Screen Australia funding as the foundation for growing and securing deals.

The program is designed to support innovative, distinctive and engaging documentaries with a strong creative vision in the context of today’s evolving media and distribution landscape and the commercial realities of increasingly fragmented sources of finance.

It supports one-off documentaries and series intended for broadcast, festival, theatrical, online and XR platforms. Minimum budget is $125,000 per hour.

For Social Media first release content please refer to Screen Australia’s Online Production Guidelines.

While marketplace commitment is not required at application but projects will need to demonstrate a highly developed understanding of how they will reach and engage their target market and audience. (See Pathways to audience).

Please Note: It is a condition of this funding program that successful applications will have all finance in place within four months from the date of confirmation of Screen Australia approval. It is understood that some funding approvals will lapse because they cannot confirm finance within this time frame.

What funding is available?

Any amount up to $750, 000 may be requested. Generally, federal government funds should account for no more than 65% of the budget (including producer offset).

There are no limits on the proportion of the budget Screen Australia can contribute under this program. 

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 the overall budget. Contributions might come from marketplace entities, as well as from state agencies, other government organisations, cultural institutions, international sources, private investors, philanthropy or other partners.

The program is open to applications for post-production as well as production. Screen Australia may decide to provide funding at a different level than that applied for based on the assessment of the project. We may also refer the project to a different funding program but applicants will be required to reapply under the guidelines of that specific program.

A minimum of 20 per cent of program funds will be reserved for projects with international finance. There is no required minimum level of international finance for a project to form part of these funds.

Who can apply?

In order to be competitively assessed for funding through this program, applicants and projects must meet the general eligibility requirements under Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade.

In addition, the project that is the subject of the application must:

  • be a documentary: Please refer to the ACMA guidelines for the definition of a documentary
  • be intended for public release
  • have a total budget of at least $125,000 per hour (or $125,000 in total per project). 
  • not be reality or magazine television, light entertainment, panel or travel shows, infotainment, branded content, current affairs, cooking, ‘how to’, sports, corporate, training, games, extensions to film or TV programs, or community access programs or projects whose primary market is the education sector.

Both one-off documentaries and series are eligible. More than 15 broadcast hours of any one project, which may include multiple series, will not be eligible for funding unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated.

Foreign formats are eligible, although the assessment criteria will take originality of format into account.

For one-off or series documentaries intended for significant audience reach such as a recognised Commissioning Platform or commercial theatrical release:

  • The creative team responsible for the project must include one producer, director or writer who has at least two ‘eligible credits’ in their respective role.

An ‘eligible credit’ is a documentary that is 30 minutes or longer in duration, and has:

  • been broadcast by a recognised Commissioning Platform or channel, or
  • had a commercial theatrical release, or
  • been invited to screen at IDFA, Hot Docs or equivalent.

For online and interactive documentaries, the producer or director should have at least one credit in their respective roles on an equivalent project which has been publicly released.

Note that reality or magazine television, light entertainment, panel or travel shows, infotainment, brand funded content, current affairs, cooking, ‘how to’, sports, corporate, training, games, extensions to film or TV, or community access programs or projects whose primary market is the education sector are not acceptable credits for eligibility purposes.

Less experienced practitioners may be part of the team, as long as at least one key principal is eligible as above. The intention is not to exclude new talent, but encourage them to team up with more experienced practitioners and form a genuine collaboration.

Screen Australia will not finance programs where the project has been developed by a Commissioning Platform 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 including the producer, writer, director, director of photography and editor to be sourced from the freelance market and not from the staff of the Commissioning Platform.

What is the process?

You must apply using the Application Portal, providing the following materials:

  • a five-to-seven page proposal including:
  • an outline or treatment of the proposed documentary project making clear reference to structure, characters, and stylistic and visual approach. See What is a synopsis? An outline? A treatment?, and
  • the key creatives’ vision for the project and how they plan to get it made and seen.
  • a draft finance plan using the Screen Australia template, indicating which sources of financing are confirmed by placing an ‘X’ in the column on the left
  • a draft A-Z budget using the Screen Australia template
  • if available, evidence of any confirmed sources of finance or marketplace commitment /interest
  • if available, letters of interest from organisations that might be key to enabling production of the film
  • 200-word bios and CVs for the creative team – the producer, writer and director, or equivalent key roles relevant to the project, and any other confirmed Heads of Department i.e. DOP, editor, etc
  • sample footage or sizzle reel maximum five minutes. Vimeo link preferred. 
  • optional: a simple talk-to-camera ‘video pitch’ of no more than two minutes, where key creatives present their vision for the project.  The pitch must be downloadable and password protected with the same password as the sample footage or sizzle reel. Vimeo link preferred.
  • where there is First Nations community participation or content involved in the project:
  • a statement setting out how you are approaching the Indigenous content or participation with regard to appropriate protocols, even if the content is not specific to a particular community or individual. You must demonstrate that you have a consultation plan covering the full production process and are following it. The statement should be based on the checklists available in Screen Australia’s guide Pathways & Protocols: a film maker’s guide to working with Indigenous people, culture and concepts 
  • evidence of consultation to date
  • if the project will involve particular Indigenous individuals or communities, signed letters of consent confirming their willingness to participate.

Applications will be considered by Screen Australia executives and/or industry specialists as required. Documentary specialists are listed on the Screen Australia website.

Applications will be considered against the following criteria:

  • Track record and capacity of the creative team
  • Creative strength of the project, including:
  • the concept/idea: its distinctiveness and clarity of objectives,
  • the proposed realisation: level of boldness or innovation,
  • cultural impact: its potential to create an impact beyond the first viewing, i.e. to inspire debate, insight or reflection, and/or create an enduring legacy for future generations with local and where appropriate international audiences.
  • Viability of the project, including:
  • understanding of audience, release plan and demonstrated pathway to viewers
  • viability of the budget
  • strength of the finance plan, including the amount requested from Screen Australia as a proportion of the total budget, and the international component where relevant revenue potential.

Additional factors, including availability of funds and the gender and diversity of the team or individual/s, and the project’s themes may also influence Screen Australia’s decisions.

Applicants will normally be notified in writing approximately 8 weeks after the closing date as to whether their application has been successful.  Decisions are final.  Due to the number of applications we receive we do not have the resources to provide extensive feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

On occasion, usually when funding decision making requires more information, projects may be referred to a further process of assessment.  In each case producers will be advised as to what additional information is required pertinent to the assessment process and a timeframe for this to happen.

Please note materials, including all AV materials, will not be returned, so applicants must ensure they keep copies of everything.

Unless invited to reapply (in the context of managing available funds), projects can only be submitted more than once if substantial changes have been made, and any more than two applications for the same project will not be accepted.

Terms of funding

Screen Australia will email confirmation of approval to successful applicants, to allow producers to complete the project’s finance plan. This letter will set out the amount of Screen Australia’s contribution, which will not be varied other than in exceptional circumstances. The producer needs to secure the total finance plan, or have a revised and achievable finance plan and budget approved by Screen Australia, within four months from the date of confirmation of approval. Where relevant, Provisional Producer Offset certification will also need to be obtained before funds can be released.

Note that Screen Australia will not be able to give unlimited extensions to producers to secure their finance and it’s expected that some funding approvals will lapse.

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 normally be in the form of recoupable equity investment, with copyright and recoupment terms in accordance with the agency’s Terms of Trade.

You must list all of your Chain of Title documents in the application and a Solicitor’s Opinion letter will be required for projects requesting $50,000 or over in Screen Australia funding.