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FIRST NATIONS
Feature Production

MESSAGE FROM SCREEN AUSTRALIA'S CEO REGARDING COVID-19: CLICK HERE.

 

Limited funds are available through this program to invest in outstanding low-budget feature film 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 First Nations Australian 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.

Post-production investment is also available to fund project-specific post-production costs associated with taking a project from the end of principal photography through to delivery.

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 distributors), 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

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

  • The application must come from a producer, on behalf of team including a First Nations Australian writer, director, and any co-directors, or an Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander writer/director
  • The writer and director must be First Nations Australian and must have at least three ‘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 First Nations Australian writer. This must be shown in the application
  • The producer must be either:
    – an ‘experienced producer’, or
    – a producer who has at least three ‘eligible drama credits’, or
    – an emerging producer applying in conjunction with an ‘experienced producer’.

(See Definitions below.)

Projects

  • Projects must have an acceptable offer to theatrically distribute the project in Australia (with sufficiently detailed core commercial terms) from an appropriate domestic distributor.

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.

DEFINITIONS

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 Academy Award; or
  • been broadcast by a recognised commissioning platform, ie 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 by invitation only.  Contact a First Nations Investment Manager to discuss your project or the Program Operations team if you are unsure who to speak with: 1 800 507 901 or [email protected].  If you are invited to apply you will be asked to submit your application using the Application Portal  

Turnaround time from complete applications is approximately eight weeks.

Refer to the website for a downloadable materials checklist.

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 criteria:

  • Script or rough cut: In relation to: (i) the quality of the writing or filmmaking and cinematic storytelling; (ii) the strength and distinctiveness of the idea or film within its own genre; (iii) the reader’s or viewer’s emotional engagement with the story and characters; (iv) [unless the application is for completion/post-production funding], the readiness of the script to move into production.
  • Creative team: The producer and director according to: (i) skills, relevant experience and achievements which demonstrate either a successful track record or an exciting new talent; and (ii) their demonstrated creative, technical and managerial capacity to deliver the completed film; (iii) the director’s vision for the film or final cut.
  • Market strength: The project’s market value according to: (i) the strength of the domestic distributor's strategy for the film; (ii) the track record of the distributor and its suitability to the project.
  • Project: The project’s potential in relation to: (i) the team’s demonstrated understanding of the film’s intended audience; (ii) the quality of any proposed or attached cast, or the calibre of the performances in the cut; (iii) the quality of any proposed heads of department or the strength of the production values as evidenced by the work by the heads of the department; (iv) the potential for the film to be selected for an A-list festival; (v) the potential for the film to appeal to a significant audience in Australia.
  • Viability: The likelihood that the project can be realised with reference to (i) its budget size relative to its intentions; (ii) its budget size relative to its potential audience; (iii) the strength and quality of the deals proposed in the finance plan; (iv) the proposed recoupment position for equity investors.

Budget requirements

Screen Australia, in consultation with the completion guarantor (where applicable), will examine a producer’s schedule and budget to ensure that the production values in the script can be realised. Screen Australia will require access to the quotes and other underlying documentation that support the line item amounts in the budget.

  • Budgets must be presented in the A-Z Budget format.
  • The cost of production, both above and below the line, should reflect the level of recoupment that the project can reasonably expect to earn.
  • Fees should comply with industry standards. They will be considered in the context of the budget and track record of the personnel. Screen Australia reserves the right to look at the whole package, including budget and target audience, in determining whether individual above-the-line fees, including cast fees, are appropriate.
  • Screen Australia will have approval over any variation in budget items that are exclusions under the completion guarantee (eg music, cast breakage) and all above-the-line items. 

The budget must include:

  • Production overheads are capped at 5 per cent of the total of the company's total film expenditure on the project, or A$500,000, whichever is the lesser amount.
  • Allowance for a contingency of 10 per cent of the total below the line costs.
  • Development costs breakdown including: any development funds; producer fellowships from state agencies, Screen Australia or its predecessor agencies; and state agency administration fees (if applicable).
  • Publicity spend during production.
  • Marketing and promotional materials comprising the ‘dedicated marketing budget’ (DMB). 
  • Foreign currency hedging mechanism to allow for currency fluctuations where applicable
  • The cost of captioning and audio description for theatrical release and DVD, as per Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade.
  • Allowance for Screen Australia and NFSA delivery items including delivery to digital platform.
  • Sales company deliverables and other delivery items as required.

If producers have any questions when preparing a budget, they should contact the First Nations department via their Investment Manager or email to [email protected]

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.