• Search Keywords

  • Year

  • Production Status

  • Genre

  • Co-production

  • SA Supported

  • Indigenous creative

  • Length

  • Technique


Special documentary initiatives
feature documentary Initiative

Screen Australia and the Adelaide Film Festival, in collaboration with KOJO and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA), intend to provide Indigenous documentary filmmakers with a funding opportunity through the Indigenous Feature Documentary Initiative.

The initiative is designed to support one producer and Indigenous director team only. The fund will support this team to make a cinematic, big-screen, feature-length documentary that will premiere at the 2017 Adelaide Film Festival (see ‘AFF Special Conditions’ below). The proposed documentary should also be intended for other festival, theatrical, digital and transmedia audiences.

The fund is designed to support one innovative observational and/or social justice documentary with a strong creative vision in the context of today’s evolving media and distribution landscape. The types of observational documentary ideas should be in line with titles such as Black HarvestHoop DreamsThe Oasis and the more recent Sundance winner Rich Hill. For proposals around Indigenous social justice themes we want groundbreaking concepts like The Thin Blue LineWho Killed Malcolm Smith? and The Tall Man.

Marketplace commitment is not required but projects will need to demonstrate a highly developed understanding of how they will reach and engage their target market and audience. See Pathways to audience.


Any amount up to $500,000 may be requested from Screen Australia.

The $500,000 cash fund from Screen Australia will be provided in the form of a grant. Additional investment will be provided by the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund.

In kind support from KOJO will cover costs of up to $78,000 relating to the film’s colour grade and, where archives are required for the film, the NFSA will supply up to $60,000 worth of support bringing the total funding package to $738,000.

Other sources of finance including the Producer Offset 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, as well as from state agencies, other government organisations, cultural institutions, international sources, private investors or other partners.


In order to be competitively assessed for funding through this program, applicants and projects must meet the general eligibility requirements under Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade.

In addition, the project that is the subject of the application must:

  • be an innovative observational or social justice feature-length documentary
  • be intended for public release
  • not be
  • primarily a game
  • an extension to a film or TV program, or
  • content made primarily for education or training purposes.
  • The creative team responsible for the project must:
  • include an Indigenous writer
  • include an Indigenous director
  • include one key principal who has at least two ‘eligible credits’ in their respective role (this may be the producer or director, or equivalent role relevant to the type of project).


An eligible credit is a credit on:

  • A linear documentary which is not more than 10 years, is half hour or longer in duration, and has been broadcast by a recognised broadcaster or channel, or had a commercial theatrical release or been invited screen at IDFA, Hot Docs, or equivalent OR
  • A feature film that has been released on a minimum of five commercial screens (excluding festival screens) in one major territory OR
  • A primetime broadcast fiction miniseries or telemovie or high-end television series shown on a major network OR
  • A feature that has been selected for Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Sundance or Toronto, or has received an Academy Award® nomination.

Note that corporate, education, training or community access programs are not acceptable credits for eligibility purposes.

Less experienced practitioners may be part of the team, as long as at least one key principal is eligible as above. The intention is not to exclude new talent, but encourage them to team up with more experienced practitioners.

Broadcaster involvement: Screen Australia will not finance a production where the project has been developed by a broadcaster and sub-contracted at a later stage to a producer, except where chain of title resides with the producer. In addition, Screen Australia expects that key creatives (producer, writer, director, director of photography, editor) are not sourced from the staff of a free-to-air or pay television broadcaster or channel.


Applications will be considered by Screen Australia executives and Adelaide Film Festival executives in conjunction with the other initiative partners and industry specialists as required. The closing date for Expression of Interests is Friday 26 June 2015.

The assessment process is in two stages.


Application materials:

You must apply using the expression of interest application form, providing the following materials:

  • a five to six page proposal including:
  • synopsis, outline or treatment of the proposed documentary project making clear reference to structure, characters, and stylistic and visual approach (a good reference guide for what is a synopsis/outline can be found on the Screen Australia website)
  • Producer’s Statement including broad plans for production and distribution (up to two pages only)
  • CVs for the creative team – the producer, writer and director, or equivalent key roles relevant to the project, and any other confirmed key personnel (DOP, editor, etc)
  • sample footage or sizzle reel (five minutes maximum) if available.
  • (optional) a simple talk-to-camera ‘video pitch’ of no more than two minutes, where key principals present their vision for the project.


Eligible expression of interest applications will be considered for shortlisting against the following criteria:

  • Track record and capacity of the creative team
  • Creative strength of the project, including:
  • the concept/idea: its distinctiveness, clarity of objectives
  • the proposed realisation: level of boldness or innovation
  • cultural impact: its potential to create an impact beyond the first viewing, i.e. to inspire debate, insight or reflection, and/or create an enduring legacy for future generations.


Application materials:

If your project is shortlisted, you will be invited to submit further materials, which you must provide within four weeks. (Note that the project must be fully budgeted and production-ready, with a plan for how finance can be raised if the total budget is more than $600,000, but finance does not all have to be in place.)

  • a treatment (10–20 pages only)
  • a marketing and release plan (at least one page), including, as relevant, broadcast, film festival pathway, theatrical release and/or innovative distribution strategy (refer to Pathways to Audiences in the guidelines)
  • a production schedule and methodology, including appropriate milestones
  • a detailed budget and budget summary using the standard A-Z Budget format. Fees should comply with industry standards. They will be considered in the context of the budget and track record of the personnel.
  • a draft finance plan in the standard format available from the Screen Australia website, indicating which sources are confirmed.
  • a one-page narrative that explains how you intend to secure the finance
  • evidence of any confirmed sources of finance or marketplace commitment
  • visual material, such as rushes or a rough cut of the film, where available
  • Post-production schedule
  • where there is Indigenous community participation or content involved in the project:
  • evidence of consultation to date
  • if the project will involve particular Indigenous individuals or communities, signed letters of consent confirming their willingness to participate.

Please note materials, including all AV materials, will not be returned, so applicants must ensure they keep copies of everything.

Funding decisions:

Shortlisted applications will be considered against the following criteria, taking into account the additional Stage 2 supporting materials:

  • Creative strength of the project, including:
  • the concept/idea: its distinctiveness, originality of format, clarity of objectives,
  • the proposed realisation: depth of research, boldness of approach or level of innovation
  • quality of submitted production materials (script, treatment, footage, etc as relevant)
  • The project’s relevance and resonance to audiences, including such factors as:
  • cultural significance for Australians
  • potential to create an impact  beyond its first viewing – ie to inspire debate, insight or reflection and/or create an enduring legacy for future generations
  • ability to engage, challenge, entertain, inform and/or enlighten
  • Viability of the project, including:
  • understanding of audience, release plan and demonstrated pathway to viewers
  • viability of the budget
  • strength of the finance plan, including the amount requested from Screen Australia as a proportion of the total budget, and the international component where relevant
  • revenue potential
  • Track record and capacity of the creative team.

Other factors, including availability of funds and diversity of slate, will also influence Screen Australia’s funding decisions.

Decisions on applications are final. Screen Australia will advise applicants in writing of the outcome of their application. Where an application is declined, the applicant will be advised of the reason.

Pathways to audience

Projects must be able to demonstrate a clear pathway to audience as part of their Stage 2 application. There should always be a credible pathway to Australian audiences, even for international projects. For content with traditional marketplace attachments such as broadcast presales, festival investment or distributor guarantees, relevant agreements or letters of interest should be provided. For non-traditional attachments, a described pathway to audience could involve:

  • demonstrated community of interest in topic
  • marketing plans
  • existing database and promotional channels
  • existing and potential partnerships with organisations tied to significant communities of interest
  • analytics of audience engagement in existing program related content and platforms (eg websites, social media channels and trailers).

For example, a VOD release on an obscure website would not be sufficient by itself. You would need to support this with proof of an established community of interest or audience being driven to the website by a marketing campaign. Applicants proposing alternative pathways should submit copies of any marketing plans as well as provide detail on relevant mailing lists, audience analytics and/or existing partnerships with organisations.


If the total budget is over $600,000, Screen Australia will provide a letter of approval to successful applicants, to allow producers to complete the project’s finance plan. This letter will set out the amount of Screen Australia’s contribution, which will not be varied other than in exceptional circumstances. The producer needs to secure the total finance plan or have a revised finance plan and budget approved by Screen Australia within an agreed period, generally four months from date of issue of the letter of approval. Where relevant, Provisional Producer Offset certification will also need to be obtained before funds can be released.

Screen Australia’s total contribution of $500,000 or under, 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.


The AFF’s funding will be provided by means of equity investment and will be subject to the execution of a Production Investment Agreement (PIA), which will include standard terms of trade in relation to the Adelaide Film Festival, which is scheduled to run in October 2017:

  • the Film must be completed by August 2017 and delivered to the AFF by no later than September 2017 on a format to be mutually agreed;
  • AFF requires a full theatrical trailer and any promotional and/or marketing materials that the AFF may reasonably require by no later than July 2017;
  • AFF will have the right to host the world premiere of the Film at AFF 2017 (World Premiere) and the AFF will have the right to host a second and third screening of the Film at AFF 2017;
  • the key cast, crew, producer and director(s) of the Film must be available to attend the World Premiere and Festival Screenings; and
  • all other theatrical, home video/DVD, television and pay television windows will only commence after the last of the Festival Screenings.

Where appropriate the Film must be produced in South Australia to the maximum extent possible employing South Australian resident crews (subject to their availability).

The applicant must not make any public or media announcement in regard to any aspect of the AFF’s funding for the Film until a date and form of the announcement has been mutually agreed.


KOJO’s in kind support will include up to $78,000 worth of data conform and 10 days of colour grading.

  • Files must be delivered in a digital format at KOJO’s direction.
  • This is a non-transferable offer which cannot be used for other services or divisions of KOJO.
  • Bookings will be made at the discretion of KOJO’s schedule.
  • This offer is valid for two years.
  • Data preparation and supply is the responsibility of the producer.


As a steward of one of Australia’s important national Indigenous cultural collections, the NFSA aims to recognise, respect and celebrate Indigenous cultural and creative expression through Australia’s audio visual heritage. The foundation of this work is centred around ensuring the cultural directions and aspirations of Indigenous peoples are appropriately addressed.

As part of fulfilling these aspirations the NFSA has entered into a partnership for the Indigenous Feature Documentary Initiative and is offering in kind support valuing up to $60,000 that includes the following:

  • access to archival/stock footage and audio (particularly Indigenous)
  • waive fees for a up to 10 minutes of archival/stock footage or sound of NFSA-owned and public domain material from the NFSA Collection
  • grant a non-exclusive All Rights, All Media / World / In Perpetuity Licence for use of the NFSA material in The Project subject to a Usage licence agreement
  • research and handling fees, transfers, legal costs, administration and freight
  • a residency at the NFSA in Acton for an Indigenous attachment to the project.

In return for this contribution and subject to agreement by the producer and any other investors, the NFSA will negotiate a non-exclusive perpetual licence to use the film in full or part in the following:

  • NFSA controlled and branded Black Screen, screenings, exhibitions and Black Chat events including filmmaker talks; in any format subject to Adelaide Festival screening dates and any broadcast hold backs.
  • NFSA website or at a State access centre, or Mediatheque.
  • By the NFSA and its clients for preview and research purposes at the NFSA and Access Offices and centres.
  • Option to negotiate non-theatrical distribution and loans.
  • In NFSA education and outreach programs.
  • In NFSA publications and promotions including still images and clips.


Back to Special Documentary Intiatives