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Indigenous Documentary Production Program



This program seeks to support strong and distinctive documentary projects primarily to assist in the professional development of the key creative team.

What funding is available?

Limited funding is available through this program to support the production and/or post-production of one-off documentaries, documentary series or factual multiplatform projects. Funding is designed to complete the project, not a stage of production.

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.

Producer Equity Program

Note that producers of eligible low-budget documentaries with approved budget/finance plans of $125,000 to $500,000 in total can also apply for a direct payment of funds equal to 20 per cent of the approved budget through the Producer Equity Program.

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:


  • An application must be from a producer on behalf of a team, including a writer and director, or writer/director.
  • The director must be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australian.
  • 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.
  • The producer or the director must have at least one eligible documentary credit.
  • To be an ‘eligible documentary credit’ under this program, a project must be a broadcast half hour or longer and have:
    – been broadcast by a recognised broadcaster or channel; or
    – had a commercial theatrical release; or
    – been invited to screen at IDFA, Hot Docs or equivalent.
    Note that credits must fall within the definition of ‘documentary’ set out on page 4. Corporate, education, training, sports, news programs etc are not acceptable.


  • Both one-off projects and series are eligible.
  • 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.

Marketplace attachment requirements

A local presale for Australian free-to-air or subscription television rights is required, with a minimum licence fee of $150,000 per broadcast hour. This floor price must not include:

  • any equity component for the broadcaster
  • broadcast rights for New Zealand or any other Rest of World territory
  • subscription television or exclusive satellite rights (if the presale is to a free-to-air broadcaster), or free-to-air rights (if the presale is to subscription television).

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

Screen Australia expects the project to be made available on at least one digital media platform other than broadcast television (free-to-air or subscription). At a minimum, this could be a catch-up television service, but producers are also encouraged to consider mobile or other online platforms as part of their release strategy.

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

Post-production funding: Applications for matched post-production funding will be considered up to a maximum of $100,000, provided that the project has a post-production presale to a domestic broadcaster with a licence fee of at least $30,000 per broadcast hour or part thereof.

Budget requirements

Budgets must be presented in the A-Z Budget format, available to download in Tools and insights. Fees should comply with industry standards. 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.
  • Completion guarantor: Screen Australia reserves the right to require a completion guarantor.
  • Delivery to digital platform: Where relevant, an allowance should be identified in the budget for distribution to one other digital platform. This may include a catch-up television service, mobile phone or other online release.
  • Delivery items: Producers must budget for sales company deliverables and other delivery items as required. Allowance must also be made for Screen Australia and NFSA delivery items. See Terms of Trade for details.
  • Study guides: Screen Australia requires the producer to supply an approved study-guide publisher with: three DVDs of the finished project, a press kit and a post-production script. The cost of the study guide must be included in the production finance budget as a line item of $2,500. If the publisher decides not to create a study guide, the $2,500 can be applied to marketing expenses. The producer must seek Screen Australia’s approval of the choice of publisher (ATOM is pre-approved).
  • 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. In particular, budgets should earmark a minimum of $10,000 for the first hour and $5,000 per subsequent hour.

What is the assessment process?

Applications will be considered by a combination of Screen Australia executives and industry specialists/peers as required.

Applicants may be interviewed as part of the process.

Screen Australia will advise applicants in writing of the success or otherwise of their application. Where an application is declined, the applicant will be advised of the reason.

Assessment criteria

Screen Australia will take the following criteria into account when considering projects for production investment or completion funding:

  • Script/treatment: The script, treatment and project materials according to: (i) the strength and distinctiveness of the idea; (ii) the quality of the writing; (iii) readiness of the script or treatment to proceed into production.
  • Creative team: The producer, director, writer according to: (i) evidence of skills, relevant experience and achievements which demonstrate either an established successful track record or exciting new talent; and (ii) their demonstrated creative, technical and managerial capacity to deliver the project.
  • Project: The project’s potential in relation to: (i) the creative team’s demonstrated understanding of the  intended audience; (ii) the creative team’s vision for the project (iii) the proposed participants
  • Viability: Screen Australia will consider (i) the viability of the proposed budget in relation to achieving the creative team’s stated goals and vision for the project; (ii) the viability of the proposed financing structure including the amount requested from Screen Australia as a proportion of the total budget; and (iii) the production schedule.

All of the above criteria are weighted equally.

Other factors, including availability of funds, diversity of slate and the gender diversity of the team may also influence Screen Australia’s funding decisions.

What is the application timing?

Applications can be submitted at any time.

Turnaround time for decisions is approximately eight weeks.

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.