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DOCUMENTARy Information for applicants

What is a documentary?

For the purposes of these guidelines, Screen Australia will have regard to the guidelines compiled by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). These guidelines are available on the ACMA website.

Screen Australia does not invest in programs such as reality or magazine television, light entertainment, panel shows, infotainment, current affairs, cooking, ‘how to’, sports programs, or projects whose primary market is the education sector.

Applying for funding

Applicants and projects must meet the general eligibility and delivery requirements set out in Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade, as well as the specific requirements of these guidelines.

Applications must be made on the relevant application form, and include all supporting material listed on that form.

Incomplete applications will not be accepted. This includes those without finalised finance plans in place with associated letters of offer.

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 more than two applications for the same project will not be accepted.


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

Production budgets must include:

  • Contingency: Contingency is set at 10 per cent.
  • Completion Guarantor: Screen Australia reserves the right to require a completion guarantor.
  • Delivery items: Allowance must be made for delivery items specified for Screen Australia, the broadcaster and NFSA, as well as for sales company deliverables and other delivery items as required. See Terms of Trade for details.
  • Study guides: The cost of a study guide must be included in the budget as a line item of $2,750 per hour. If the publisher decides not to create a study guide, the $2,750 can be applied to marketing expenses. The producer must seek Screen Australia’s approval of the choice of publisher (ATOM is pre- approved).
  • Promotions and marketing: Budgets should allocate an appropriate marketing spend fit for purpose.

Indigenous community participation or content

Where there is Indigenous community participation or content involved in the project applicants should provide:

  • 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 filmmaker’s guide to working with Indigenous people, culture and concepts
  • evidence of consultation to date
  • signed letters of consent confirming their willingness to participate if the project will involve particular Indigenous individuals or communities.

Official co-productions

  • Projects approved as official co-productions are eligible for, but not automatically guaranteed, Screen Australia support.
  • As co-productions have access to more than one domestic market, they must bring a higher level of genuine market attachment to the budget.
IMPORTANT:  The Australian co-producer must lodge an application for provisional approval as a co-production with Screen Australia before applying for production funding. Provisional approval is required before the decision meeting at which the project will be considered for funding, although some flexibility is allowed if approval is delayed due to circumstances outside the control of the producer or Screen Australia.

See Co-production program.