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FIRST NATIONS
TV Drama Production

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

 

Limited funds are available through this program to invest in outstanding television drama 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.

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 broadcasters), 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

  • The writer, director and any co-directors must be Australian Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander practitioner.
  • The application must come from a producer, on behalf of team including a First Nations Australian writer, director, and any co-directors, or an First Nations Australian 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 writer. This must be shown in the application.
  • In the case of co-writing teams, made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers, the original concept must come from Indigenous 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

  • Drama of any broadcast format is eligible for this program, including telemovies, series (no distinction is drawn between series and mini-series) and drama multiplatform projects.

  • More than 26 broadcast hours of any one project, which may include multiple series, will not be eligible for funding.

  • Projects must have a marketplace attachment as set out below.

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
  • 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.

Presale requirements

A domestic presale for Australian Commissioning Platform is required, with a minimum licence fee as follows:

  • $440,000 per broadcast hour for general television, or 
  • $100,000 per broadcast half hour for children’s programs, or
  • $115,000 per broadcast half hour for children’s programs from any combination of commissioning platforms.

A presale at the minimum licence fee must not include:

  • any equity component for the Commissioning Platform;
  • broadcast rights for New Zealand or another Rest of World (ROW) territory;
  • subscription television rights (if the presale is to a free-to-air broadcaster), or free-to-air rights (if the presale is to subscription television);
  • transmission via another platform - for example SVOD, transactional video on demand or other online platforms if they are not the originating Commissioning Platform;
  • distribution rights for Australia or a ROW territory;

It can include a genuine ‘catch up’ service associated with a broadcaster.

If a Commissioning Platform wishes to exploit additional rights such as SVOD, Screen Australia expects the parties to negotiate in good faith for a payment to the producer which is reasonable in all the circumstances.

The Commissioning Platform must not enter into any agreements with the producer (or a related entity) that has the effect of undermining the minimum licence fee requirement.

The producer will also need to be able to demonstrate that they are able to engage cast to match the requirements of the Commissioning Platform.

In exceptional circumstances, Screen Australia may partner with alternative marketplace entities outside of the above mentioned minimum licence fee floor.

No international marketplace attachments are required but producers are encouraged to develop a marketing strategy for international sales.

Example scenarios

The following scenarios illustrate how the above licence fee requirements might work. All exploitation rights are for Australia only.

Example 1: A children's program is to have its premiere window on free-to-air television. A free-to-air broadcaster chooses to commission the program. To be eligible for Screen Australia funding the licence fee must be at least $100,000 per broadcast half hour.

Example 2: A free-to-air broadcaster and a subscription channel want to commission a program together. To be eligible for Screen Australia funding, the total of the licence fees must be $115,000 per broadcast half hour.

Example 3: A free-to-air broadcaster and an SVOD service both want to commission a program. To be eligible for Screen Australia funding, the total of the licence fees must be $115,000 per broadcast half hour.

Example 4: A free-to-air broadcaster, a subscription channel and an SVOD service all want to commission a program. To be eligible for Screen Australia funding, the total of the licence fees must be $115,000 per broadcast half hour.

In examples 2, 3 and 4 the timing of each transmission window and how the licence fee is apportioned between the platforms are up to the relevant parties.

What is the assessment 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.

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 quality of the proposal including its innovative and/or cultural significance
  • The project’s potential to connect with its target audience
  • The track record and capacity of the creative team
  •  The strength of the marketplace and the level of co-finance excluding Screen Australia and the State agencies
  • Diversity of Slate

Preference will be given to original formats over programs based on foreign formats.

Budget requirements

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

Budgets must include:

  • Contingency: Allowance for a contingency of 10 per cent of the below the line costs.
  • Overheads: Production company overheads are capped at 5 per cent of the company’s total expenditure on the project, or $500,000, whichever is the lesser amount.
  • Completion guarantor: An allowance should be made for a completion guarantor unless Screen Australia agrees otherwise in writing. 
  • Promotions and marketing: Marketing and promotions costs should be incorporated from the outset. Line items for specific promotional materials must include professional stills photography and press kit.
  • Delivery to digital platform: Screen Australia now considers it as standard that the budget is sufficient to allow for all necessary online delivery requirements. Delivery items: Producers must budget for all relevant deliverables including for Screen Australia, the NFSA, sales company deliverables and other delivery items as required. See Terms of Trade for details.

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.

ONLINE PROJECTS

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners can apply for online funding through the First Nations Department’s Documentary Production or TV Drama Production programs. The Indigenous Department also offers dedicated initiatives in this area from time to time.