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Special Initiatives
Short Blacks

Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department is calling on emerging Indigenous filmmakers from across Australia to submit 10- minute scripted story ideas.

The Short Blacks film initiative is designed to bring to the screen fresh Indigenous stories, authored and crafted by Indigenous people. This is a great opportunity for new filmmakers to launch their careers!

The selected projects will be bold, based on strong characters and ideas, exhibit a high level of creative ambition and demonstrate the possibility of being financed for production.

Stories should incorporate:

  • A maximum of two main characters with minimal extra/support characters
  • No more than two locations.

No experience in screenwriting or production is required, but a demonstrated interest in pursuing a career in this field is essential.

What funding is available?

Applicants can apply for up to $5,000 for project development. Production funding for the successful projects will be up to $120,000 for each successful team.

Who can apply?

An application must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Each project must have Indigenous Australians in key creative roles (Minimum writer and director).
  • Applications from new and emerging Indigenous writers and writer/directors are encouraged.
  • Writers and Directors who have made five or more fully funded short films are not eligible to apply.
  • Indigenous producers are encouraged to apply. Applications with a strong story idea from an Indigenous producer without a director attached will be accepted.
  • Applications with a strong story idea, but no director or producer in place, will also be accepted.
  • The project is no longer than 10 minutes, including titles and credits.
  • All team members must be available to attend a 4 day workshop in late July 2018.
  • Each film must be shot and completed in a digital format by December 2018.

Initiative parameters

  • Stories must be conceived by an Indigenous Creative
  • Stories should incorporate a maximum of two main characters with minimal extra/support characters and no more than two locations.
  • Eight projects will be selected for development.
  • On completion of the development phase, which includes a workshop, six applicants will be selected for production funding.
  • At this stage producers must be attached and applicants will be expected to provide a fully itemised A–Z budget and production schedule.
  • Team may be required to complete a working with actor’s workshop before commencing their shoot.

What materials do you need to apply?

Stage One - Development

Applications must be completed via the Screen Australia Application Portal which will require:

  • A one-line and one-paragraph synopsis of the idea.
  • A first draft script, detailing the major character’s screen journey.
  • Script development notes maximum 2 pages that provide a detailed critical analysis of the project. They should identify current problems in the script, unresolved story issues, potential difficulties that may arise in the further development of the project, the project’s creative and conceptual strengths, and its potential.
  • CVs for all key creatives
  • If a director or writer/director is attached, a director’s statement maximum 2 pages describing in detail the directorial approach to the project.
  • If a producer is attached, a producer’s statement maximum 2 pages describing in detail the producer’s approach to the project.
  • Professional development statement(s) maximum 2 pages, outlining how this project would enhance the career aspirations of the principal creatives (writer, director, producer).
  • Examples of applicant’s previous work sent via online link.

Please refer to the Story Documents info guide for more information.

And any further documentation or supporting material that might assist in consideration of the application.

When assessing applications for this program, Screen Australia will use the following selection criteria:

  • The strength and distinctiveness of the idea and concept; the use of compelling characters; and the project’s ability to advance Australian Indigenous filmmaking and storytelling. (40%)
  • The strategic benefit of the initiative to the applicant and demonstrated desire for a career in the film industry as evidenced by the written application and supporting materials. (20%)
  • The skills and capacity of the team to undertake the project as evidenced by the written application and supporting materials. (10%)
  • The practical viability of the project within the initiative parameters. (20%)

Stage Two - Production

Applicants can apply for up to $120,000 for production phase

At this stage, the eight successful projects from Stage One (Development), will have attended the Development Workshop. They will then be invited to apply for Stage Two (production) through the Screen Australia Application Portal, with the following materials:

  • A one-line and one-paragraph synopsis of the idea.
  • A third draft script.
  • A Producer’s statement maximum 2 pages (a producer will need to be attached to the project by this stage)
  • A fully itemised A-Z budget and production schedule.
  • A Director’s statement maximum 2 pages
  • A visual look book
  • All Chain of Title documentation, including a director’s agreement and writer’s agreement

Screen Australia may request additional documentation when required.

When assessing applications for this stage, Screen Australia will use the following equally weighted selection criteria:

  • The originality and distinctiveness of the story, and strength of the directorial voice in embracing the parameters of the initiative.
  • The skills, experience and track record of each of the key principals and the potential to advance key creative careers.
  • The viability of the budget and schedule in relation to the script, and a production approach that embraces the budget parameters of the initiative.

What is the process?

Applications will be accepted from anywhere in Australia.

The selection panel will be made up of Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department Executives and industry specialists as required.


This committee will read and assess all eligible Stage One Development applications.

Up to eight applications will be selected to participate in the Development stage. This will include receiving up to $5000 in development funding (normally $2000 Writer/Director, $2000 Producer, $1000 other ie script editor, legal fees, etc).

In addition, teams will be required to attend a Development Workshop: The initial stage of development includes a four day writing and residential visual storytelling workshop for the writer/director and producer, to be held in late July 2018. The creative team will then deliver a third draft script.


Screen Australia will invite 6 creative teams to apply for production funding All applications must be received by the published deadline – Monday 25 June 2018. No extensions will be granted for this initiative.

Terms of funding

All projects selected for production will be subject to Screen Australia funding processes. 

Screen Australia funding is provided as a grant. See Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade for more detail.