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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?

Any amount up to $30,000 for one-off projects and up to $35,000 for series (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:


  • Any application for further development funding after the first tranche will only be considered if the project has at least a letter of interest from a domestic broadcaster or recognised digital subscription platform, and such applications will be considered in the light of the advancement and the overall viability of the project.


  • The director (where attached) and writer must be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australian 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 below.
  • 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 Indigenous 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’ 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 Asia Pacific 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 mini-series or telemovie.

What is the process?

Applications can be lodged via the Application Portal.  Please see website for deadline dates. 

Turnaround time for decisions after deadline is approximately six 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 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.


From time to time, Screen Australia may identify certain TV drama projects which may benefit from additional development support, in the way of workshops or other non-traditional initiatives.

Additionally, the Indigenous Department may also allocate funds in any given year to drama initiatives designed to address specific developmental objectives. This includes short drama initiatives providing opportunities for talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander filmmakers and storytellers in other media to develop their skills and experience as a stepping stone to the longer feature film and TV drama series formats.