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Next Step: Indigenous Screen Business Fellowship

This initiative aims to help build business capacity within the Indigenous screen production sector.

The Next Step Indigenous Screen Business Fellowship targets production companies run by Indigenous practitioners who have some track record in initiating and producing successful projects, and a vision for where they want their business to be in two to three years, but who are not yet at a stage where they can apply for Screen Australia Enterprise funding.

The fellowship will provide base funding to enable company principals to focus on achieving identified business development objectives – consolidating or expanding the scale and ambition of their production activity, increasing turnover and/or diversifying the range of business activities undertaken.

Capacity-building strategies to meet these objectives may include:

  • consolidating business structure and personnel
  • further developing their slate, including advancing ambitious projects to production-ready stage
  • investigating new business opportunities
  • developing new business alliances, and industry and marketplace relationships.

Eligibility for other Screen Australia programs

Next Step funding is not intended to replace project development or production funding, and Next Step recipients will be eligible to apply for most other forms of Screen Australia funding. However, Screen Australia may not prioritise applications for other programs where the funding is for similar activities or initiatives to those supported under this program.

Further, while receiving Next Step funding, companies and their directors would not generally be eligible for:

  • travel grants for markets and conferences through the Indigenous Department or market travel support through the Business and Audience Department
  • internships through the Indigenous Department
  • professional development funding through the Production Department’s Creative Talent Suite
  • Enterprise Industry funding.

What funding is available?

Total funding of up to $400,000 has been allocated over a two-year period to support one or two businesses to enhance their capacity and take the ‘next step’ towards ongoing viability.

Indigenous screen businesses may apply for up to $200,000 in total over two years.

The level of funding sought should relate closely to the applicant’s proposed two-year business development strategy, and applicants will be required to submit a breakdown of proposed expenditure.

Applicants’ current and projected scale of operation will be considered in determining whether the funding sought is appropriate to the proposed use of funds, and Screen Australia reserves the right to amend the amounts approved to successful applicants.

Who can apply?

The funding is targeted at Indigenous screen businesses ready to build on initial success. It is not intended for established screen businesses.

To be eligible, the applicant must be an Indigenous production company that:

  • meets the General Eligibility requirements set out in Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade
  • has been in business for at least 12 months prior to the application deadline (this may include time operating as a sole trader but the business must be set up as a company at time of application)
  • has at least one Indigenous company director with a minimum of five years’ participation in the media and entertainment industry
  • has at least one Indigenous company director who has at least one credit in a key creative role on a feature film, television drama, television series, one-hour documentary or documentary series that has been publicly released (this may be the same person as above but does not have to be)
  • has not received or is not receiving Screen Australia Enterprise funding (except through Enterprise People)
  • has a slate of projects in development.

What can funding be used for?

Funding is intended for business development and building company capacity, and does not necessarily replace other Screen Australia support (see ‘Eligibility for other Screen Australia programs’).

Next Step funding may be used for:

  • slate development activities designed to increase the scale and ambition of projects such as television drama or documentary series
  • a contribution to ongoing salaries, for example to enable
    – principal/s to work full-time for the company
    – the engagement of key creatives (creative producer, writer) or business affairs personnel
  • legal and business development advice; $10,000 must be allocated towards the development of a comprehensive business plan
  • travel, including to markets and conferences
  • any other reasonable business development costs (note that costs associated with infrastructure, office set-up, equipment purchases, etc will be eligible only if, and to the extent that, they directly contribute to capacity-building activities that are integral to the applicant’s Next Step proposal).

Next Step funds may not be used to cover costs of production, post-production, deliverables or re-versioning for foreign territory sales, etc.

Successful applicants to Enterprise Industry will be eligible to apply for other forms of Screen Australia funding. However, Screen Australia may not prioritise applications for other programs where the funding is for similar activities or initiatives to those supported under this program.

What materials do you need to apply?

Applications must be made using the relevant application form, including all required supporting documentation. Materials submitted with applications will not be returned.

Applicants must provide:

  • a Next Step business development proposal that includes:
    – a profile of your company (2–3 pages) – its history, key strengths, a summary of relevant credits or achievements; why the company would benefit from Next Step funding
    – your future vision for the company (2–3 pages) – where you want to be in 2–3 years, and in 10 years
    – an outline (4–5 pages) of at least two capacity-building objectives and strategies for achieving them (these will be developed as part of a business planning process in the first six months after receiving the funding)
  • an itemised budget supporting the amount of funding requested over two years
  • 200-word bios and CVs of company directors and key personnel
  • relevant details of produced credits including box office, sales and ratings performance
  • details of your current and proposed slate of projects, including, for each project:
    – status (proposed/optioned, in development, pre-production, production, post-production, distribution)
    – synopsis
    – amounts and sources of any funding in place, including development funding
    – key creatives attached
    – plans for development, marketing and distribution over the next two to three years
  • a current ASIC company extract (no more than three months old).

What is the assessment process?

Applications will be considered by Screen Australia executives, with industry specialists consulted as required. 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.

Applications will be assessed according to the following equally weighted criteria:

  • Track record of the company and its directors according to (i) their previous creative, financial and managerial success, (ii) their network of business relationships relevant to achieving the proposal, (iii) their expertise, skills, and ability to successfully realise the proposal, and (iv) previous success of projects in terms of domestic and international box office, sales, ratings and awards
  • Slate of projects, taking into account (i) the ambition, innovation and potential for audience engagement demonstrated by the projects, (ii) the range of genres and formats, (iii) the applicant’s overall strategy for development, production, marketing and distribution, and (iv) the ways that Next Step funding will be used to make a difference
  • Strength of the business development proposal, taking into account (i) the ambition of the applicant’s vision for the company, (ii) the likelihood the proposal can be realised, (iii) its potential impact on future business capacity and sustainability, and (iv) evidence of collaboration and creative partnerships.

Terms of funding

Funding will be provided as a grant, subject to the fulfillment of delivery and reporting requirements including:

  • a detailed business plan to be delivered in the first six months
  • a report against the business plan at the end of each year
  • an expenditure report at the end of each year.