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Digital Originals

Digital Originals is a joint initiative of Screen Australia, SBS and NITV, aimed at developing exciting and innovative online scripted series for SBS and NITV platforms.

Screen Australia, SBS and NITV aim to support practitioners and projects that reflect gender equity and/or the diversity of people and experiences from around Australia, all of which are important culturally, creatively and economically.

The intention of this initiative is to support work from screen creatives who are currently under-represented in the sector. This includes those who identify as First Nations Australians; are from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds; those who are living with a disability; are female or trans/gender diverse; identify as LGBTQIA+; and those who are located in regional and remote areas.

Up to ten teams (which must include at least one writer) will be selected to attend an exclusive workshop run by Screen Australia, SBS and NITV. Teams of either two or three members are eligible. The workshop will focus on short form narrative writing skills, as well as developing the projects to align with the SBS Charter and OnDemand platform, culminating in a pitch to Screen Australia, SBS and NITV.

From these ten teams, up to four will be chosen to take their projects into further development, and from these up to three will be chosen for production funding and commissioning with SBS, NITV and Screen Australia.


The successful applicants will be invited to attend a workshop run by Screen Australia, SBS and NITV. This workshop will be an exclusive opportunity to learn from both organisations, and will also feature a range of guest presenters from the industry.

The workshop will be held in Sydney from 4 – 6 May 2021. All applicants must be available for this workshop in order to be eligible for the initiative.

Projects must be of a scale suitable for online audiences – immediately compelling, creatively outstanding and risk-taking in their nature. They can be of any scripted narrative genre, but cannot be documentary, factual or reality.

Specifically, we are looking for:

  • Scripted narrative projects suitable for the SBS OnDemand platform (6 x 10 minute episodes)
  • An awareness of who the project is for and why that audience will keep returning to watch it
  • Unique stories that add to the cultural landscape of Australian content, for a global audience
  • Projects that traverse new ground in the Digital Originals programme – we encourage applicants to view the past Digital Originals commissioned series, and to be bold and fresh in the stories they present to us.

Teams outside of Sydney will receive flights and accommodation for up to two team members to attend the workshop. The workshop may be held virtually pending travel restrictions in place at the time.

Following the workshop, selected teams will be provided with funding to develop their project, with delivery required by 30 June 2021. Decisions on production funding will be made by 31 July 2021.


Digital Originals is targeted at emerging creators working on lower-budget, exciting and risk-taking projects. Following on from the success of Homecoming Queens and Robbie Hood, this opportunity is aimed at episodic narrative series designed for SBS OnDemand and NITV. 

Applicant teams must consist of at least one writer from an under-represented community, however experience in writing for screen is not necessary.  In recognition of the barriers that have faced under-represented communities finding professional pathways into the screen industry, applicants who do not have screen industry experience but who can evidence the relevant skills and potential in order to take advantage of screen industry career opportunities will also be considered. Applicants must also meet the general eligibility requirements set out in Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade.

Please note that while you can be attached to more than one project that applies for Digital Originals, we strongly recommend you carefully consider which project or projects are best suited to your skill set when applying.

For the teams provided with funding to develop their project post the workshop, the requirement is that two out of the three key creatives (writer, director, producer) are from under-represented communities. For First Nations projects, this means two out of three key creatives must be Indigenous.


Applications close 5pm AEDT Thursday 11 March 2021 and can be made through the Screen Australia application portal.

Applications consist of:

  • An up to 3 page pitch document consisting of:
  • Information on the series format (how many episodes, length of episode)
  • Genre, characters, story arc and brief plot summary
  • Themes and tone of the project
  • The target audience, including demographics and viewing habits
  • The team and their past experience creating content
  • What is unique and exciting about the project
  • An up to 3 minute pitch video outlining the creators personal connection to the project, why this project, why this team and why now.
  • An up-to 10 page script sample of previous work (note: the script sample must not be part of the current project that is being applied with)

SBS First and Last Right:

In applying for the Screen Australia / SBS / NITV ‘Digital Originals’ writing initiative the APPLICANT(S) agree and acknowledge that a condition of being selected for the initiative and the workshops is that Special Broadcasting Service Corporation (SBS) and/or NITV has an Exclusive First and Last Right to acquire on standard SBS terms all Free Communication Rights in Australia in respect of their project continuing for 6 months following the completion of the workshop.

Assessment criteria

Each application will be assessed taking into consideration the below criteria:

  • The creative strength of the project, and its ability to successfully engage an online audience
  • The track record of the key team members and the likelihood that this program will develop their skills in made-for-web content production 
  • The standard of the supplied writing sample, and its demonstration of the abilities and skills of the writer
  • The alignment of the team and project with the diversity and inclusion aims of the initiative and with the SBS Charter, SBS Codes of Practice and Editorial Guidelines

Applications will be assessed by Screen Australia, SBS and NITV, with successful workshop participants notified by 23 April 2021. Shortlisted teams may be interviewed. 


  • Applications Open: 1 February
  • Applications Close: 11 March
  • Applicants Notified: 23 April
  • Workshop: 4 – 6 May (Sydney, or virtually TBD)
  • Successful Development Projects Selected: 14 May
  • Development Materials Due: 30 June
  • Production Projects Selected: 31 July

Screen Australia and SBS acknowledge and appreciate the effort that goes into applications, but given the anticipated volume of applications will not be able to provide individual feedback on each application.

For any enquiries, please contact the Screen Australia Program Operations team on 1800 507 901 or email Online