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Special documentary Initiative
Call to Country

Call to Country is the latest National Indigenous Documentary Fund (NIDF) initiative objective is to produce 5 x half hour documentaries. This program has produced 12 successful series to date.

In association with the ABC, and led by award-winning filmmaker Beck Cole, Call to Country will provide opportunities for passionate, emerging Indigenous documentary filmmakers to dig beneath the surface and uncover a slice of Indigenous life never before represented on our screens.

No previous filmmaking experience is required, but applicants will need to demonstrate a desire to pursue a career in screen storytelling and an ability to engage an audience. Application materials include an original three-minute microdoc on a topic of the applicant’s choice. (We encourage you to be inventive about this microdoc: it doesn’t have to be technically perfect, but it has to show us something about your storytelling potential.)

Successful applicants will first take part in a week-long documentary making workshop. Following the workshop, participants will be funded to research and develop compelling stories from surprise locations around Australia for production as broadcast half-hour documentaries for ABC TV.

The initiative aims to give voice to distinctive Indigenous stories and add to the cultural landscape.

Call to Country is an initiative of the Indigenous Department of Screen Australia, in association with the ABC.

Initiative parameters

  • Up to five teams and/or individuals will be selected to attend a week-long documentary workshop, 1–5 August 2011.
  • Following the workshop each participant will be allocated a surprise Australian location as the basis for a ‘Call to Country’ documentary.
  • Participant teams and/or individuals will then each receive up to $15,000, depending on the project, to research and generate strong stories from these locations, and develop them into half-hour documentaries for ABC TV. This development funding will include writer fees, producer fees, script editor fees and any research costs.
  • After the development period, successful teams and/or individuals will be invited to apply for production finance of up to $140,000 per project, depending on the needs of the production. Each documentary must be no more than 27’ 30” in length (broadcast half-hour), including credits. The censorship rating should be no greater than M.
  • Projects will be based on strong ideas, be well crafted, exhibit a high level of creative ambition, and demonstrate the potential to reach a broad national and international audience.


  • Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria of Screen Australia Program Guidelines – Indigenous Programs.
  • In addition, applicants must be available to attend the workshop 1–5 August 2011, and be available for further development between August and September. It is anticipated that production will occur from October for delivery in February 2012.

Assessment criteria

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

  • The applicant’s ability to engage a broad audience through storytelling, as demonstrated by the strength & distinctiveness of their three-minute microdoc and other application materials.
  • The applicant’s capacity to work within the initiative parameters including the schedule.
  • The applicant’s commitment to and potential for pursuing a career in documentary filmmaking, as demonstrated by their career statement, submitted documentary concepts, and other application materials.

Assessment process

The selection panel will be made up of representatives of Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department and the ABC’s Head of Indigenous Content.

A discussion/conversation with the applicant may be part of the assessment process.

Screen Australia will advise applicants of the success or otherwise of their application. Where an application is unsuccessful, the reasons will be conveyed to the applicant, with a written statement of reasons provided on request.

Terms of funding

Screen Australia funding of $200,000 or under is provided as a grant. Any development funds will be added to the production funds for the purpose of determining whether the $200,000 grant threshold has been reached. See Terms of Trade for more details.

All projects selected for production will be subject to the ABC Commissioning Process.

Subject to commissioning, in accordance with the ABC’s Terms of Trade, the ABC will be entitled to a rights package which includes five runs over five years and streaming and download rights for 14 days. The ABC will issue a license agreement prior to production.

Application materials

Applications should include three copies of the following. Please do not bind or staple.

  • A completed Call to Country application form.
  • A three-minute microdoc on a subject of the applicant’s choice supplied on DVD. We are looking for an inventive approach that is both new and informative and demonstrates the ability to engage an audience through storytelling.
  • A statement outlining the applicant’s documentary career ambitions, including two concepts/proposals for documentaries that the applicant has a desire to make (half a page for each concept).
  • A statement discussing up to three of the applicant’s favourite documentaries and why they appeal to them.
  • CVs of applicant and the key collaborators (if applying as a team).
    Any other documentation or supporting material that might assist consideration of the application.

Applications will be accepted from any Australian state or territory.

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