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Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department in partnership with NITV, Screen West, Screen Territory, SAFC, Create NSW, Screen Queensland and Film Victoria are calling on emerging Indigenous filmmakers from across Australia to submit 8-minute scripted story ideas.

The No Ordinary Black short film initiative is designed to bring to the screen thought provoking First Nations stories, authored and crafted by First Nations people. This is a great opportunity for new filmmakers to launch their careers!

The selected projects will be bold, based on strong authentic First Nations characters and ideas, exhibit a high level of creative ambition and demonstrate the possibility of being financed for production. Stories that intent to incorporate some First Nations languages are also encouraged.

Stories should incorporate:

  • A maximum of two main characters with minimal extra/support characters
  • No more than two locations.

No experience in screenwriting or production is required, but a demonstrated interest in pursuing a career in this field is essential.


Applicants can apply for up to $5,000 for project development. Eight to ten projects will be selected for the development phase.

On completion of the development phase, which includes a 4 day intensive workshop, up to six applicants will be selected for production funding. Production funding for the successful projects will be up to $120,000 for each successful team. This includes Screen Australia grant funding, a NITV licence fee and State Agency funds.

At this stage First Nations producers must be attached and applicants will be expected to provide a fully itemised A–Z budget, production ready script and a production schedule. The team may be required to complete a working with actor’s workshop before commencing their shoot.


All applications must meet the criteria below as well as our Terms of Trade, in order to be eligible to apply:

  • Each project must have First Nations Australian in key creative roles of writer, director and producer.
  • Applications from new and emerging Indigenous writers and writer/directors are encouraged, even where a First Nations producer is not attached
  • Where a First Nations producer is attached, it is encouraged they come from the same state, and where there is no producer attached, the Indigenous Department will assist in finding one to team up with.
  • Writers and Directors who have made five or more fully funded short films are not eligible to apply.
  • Applications with a strong story idea, script or scriptment from a writer, but no director or producer in place, will also be accepted.
  • The project is no longer than 8 minutes, including titles and credits.
  • Stories must be conceived by a First Nations Creative
    • Stories that include the use of First Nations languages are encouraged.
  • Stories should incorporate a maximum of two main characters with minimal extra/support characters and no more than two locations.


Applications close 5pm AEST Monday 20 April 2020 and can be made through the application portal with the following submission materials


  • A one-line and one-paragraph synopsis of the idea.
  • A first draft script, or scriptment detailing the major character’s screen journey. (no more the 9 pages)
  • Script development notes maximum 2 pages that provide a detailed critical analysis of the project. They should identify current problems in the script, potential difficulties that may arise in the further development of the project, the project’s creative and conceptual strengths, and its potential to reach an audience.
  • CVs for all key creatives
  • If a director or writer/director is attached, a director’s statement maximum 2 pages describing in detail the directorial approach to the project. Notes on style, tone and other film references are always helpful.
  • If a producer is attached, a producer’s statement maximum 2 pages describing in detail the producer’s approach to the project and how they believe this can be made within budget limitations.
  • Professional development statement(s) maximum 2 pages, outlining how this project would enhance the career aspirations of the principal creatives (writer, director, producer).
  • Examples of applicant’s previous work sent via online link.

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

  • The strength and distinctiveness of the idea and concept; the use of compelling characters; and the project’s ability to advance Australian Indigenous filmmaking and storytelling.
  • The strategic benefit of the initiative to the applicant and demonstrated desire for a career in the film industry as evidenced by the written application and supporting materials.
  • The skills and capacity of the team to undertake the project as evidenced by the written application and supporting materials.
  • The practical viability of the project within the initiative parameters.

Eligible applications will be considered by Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, NITV and Executives and industry specialists as required. 

Screen Australia will advise applicants of the outcome of their application for development by Monday 4 May 2020.

All team members must be available to attend a four-day workshop in mid June 2020. All travel costs relating to attending the workshop* will be covered by Screen Australia.  (*Please note, workshop might need to be held remotely TBD.)

The creative team will then deliver a third draft script.


Applicants can apply for up to $120,000 for production phase. Teams from QLD will only be able to apply for up to $105,000.

At this stage, the successful projects from Stage One (Development), will have attended the Development Workshop. They will then be invited to apply for Stage Two (production) through the Screen Australia Application Portal, with the following materials (note - only applicants who have completed Stage one will be eligible to apply for Stage 2):

  • A one-line and one-paragraph synopsis of the idea.

  • A third draft script
  • A Producer’s statement maximum 2 pages (a producer will need to be attached to the project by this stage)
  • A fully itemized A-Z budget and production schedule.
  • A Director’s statement maximum 2 pages
  • A visual look book
  • All Chain of Title documentation, including a director’s agreement and writer’s agreement    

Screen Australia may request additional documentation when required.

When assessing applications for the production stage, Screen Australia will use the following equally weighted selection critera:

  • The originality and distinctiveness of the story, and strength of the directorial voice in embracing the parameters of the initiative.
  • The skills, experience and track record of each of the key principals and the potential to advance key creative careers.
  • The viability of the budget and schedule in relation to the script, and a production approach that embraces the budget parameters of the initiative.

Up to six projects will be selected for production funding.

Each film must be shot and completed, delivered in a digital format by October 2020.

Terms of funding

All projects selected for production will be subject to Screen Australia funding processes.

Screen Australia funding is provided as a grant. See Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade for more detail.

Decisions on applications are final.

For any enquiries, please contact the Screen Australia Program Operations team on 1800 507 901 or email. For questions relating to writing development notes, please see: