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TV drama development

This program seeks to provide practitioners with the opportunity to create appropriate written and/or visual materials to ensure that projects are as strong as possible when competing for production finance.

We are looking for striking and engaging storytelling that will connect with audiences. 

Screen Australia reserves the right to require the attachment of a story consultant where appropriate.

Emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander producers are encouraged to apply.

What funding is available?

  • One-offs: Up to $30,000, or up to $45,000 if a producer is attached
  • Series: Up to $65,000 (other than in exceptional circumstances).

Funding is available for the further development of a treatment and/or script for a telemovie or TV drama series, including, where appropriate, script, series bible and project development, research, securing production financing.

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:


  • Can be a producer, writer or writer/director.
  • The director (where attached), any co-directors and the writer must be Australian Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander practitioner and must have at least two ‘eligible drama credits’ in their respective roles.
  • In the case of co-writing teams, made up of Indigenous and non- Indigenous writers, the original concept must come from the Indigenous writer. This must be shown in the application.
  • An eligible writer or writer/director may receive a maximum of two tranches of funding as a solo applicant without a producer attached as above.
  • The producer (where attached) 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.)

Outstanding applicants or projects that emerge through the First Nations Department’s Special Initiatives may be invited to apply to this program. This provides the opportunity for Indigenous practitioners to access single-project development funds even where minimum credit requirements are not satisfied.


In these guidelines:

An ‘eligible drama credit’ under this program 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 miniseries or telemovie.

What is the process?

Applications are open all year round and available via the Application Portal. Turnaround time for decisions after deadline is approximately six weeks.

Applications are assessed by Screen Australia executives and/or industry specialists as required. Screen Australia will advise applicants in writing of the success or otherwise of their application.

Funding decisions will be made against the following equally weighted criteria:

  • The strength of the concept and underlying premise
  • The quality of the storytelling and its potential to engage its target audience
  • The development notes, and the degree to which they articulate the issues to be faced in the next stage of development and outline the strategies to address them
  • The skills and experience of the writer and, where appropriate, other members of the team, and the likelihood that their experience will advance the project
  • The viability of the project and whether it can be realised for an appropriate budget relative to its audience.

Terms of funding

Funding through this program is provided as a grant.

If a project has received development funding from Screen Australia and proceeds to production investment with Screen Australia finance, the previous funding must be recognised in the production budget (as an above-the-line cost) and will become part of Screen Australia’s total investment in the project.

Where the project goes into production without Screen Australia funding, Screen Australia may require the producer to repay the development funding previously provided by Screen Australia in order to acquire any copyright interest held by Screen Australia. See Terms of Trade for more information.

Rights and Chain of Title: You must list all of your Chain of Title documents in the application form. If you are applying for funding which is $50,000 or under in total Screen Australia funds for this project, you will not be required to submit any Chain of Title documents for any applications submitted. If over the course of the development tranches, you receive over $50,000 combined, you will be required to submit a solicitor’s opinion letter.