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Important notice about PEP 2018/19 funds

The Producer Equity Program (PEP) was introduced in 2011 and provides a direct payment of funds to producers of eligible low-budget Australian documentaries, equal to 20 per cent of the approved budget.

Although the program has some similarities to the Producer Offset tax incentive e.g. PEP funding does not currently include a creative assessment, the PEP program is wholly funded by Screen Australia and thus funding is limited, whereas the Producer Offset is funded by the Australian Tax Office.

FUNDING ALLOCATION

Due to rising demand, the $2.5m base funding pool allocated for the PEP will likely be exhausted before the conclusion of the 2018/19 financial year.

This has occurred in the past on occasion, but typically much later in the financial year. In those instances, Screen Australia’s Documentary Department were able to top up the PEP funds from other documentary programs to meet demand.

In 2018/19 the demand has occurred much earlier than usual, with 29 PEP applications already processed by December 2018, representing $1.7m in funding. Six applications worth nearly $400k were received in the month of December alone. If this trend continues it will result in a demand of over $3.5 on the fund, which would represent an all-time high. By comparison, the average since the PEP fund began in 2011/12 has been 41 PEP applications per year representing $2.5m in funding.

With demand on Screen Australia’s other documentary programs also strong in 2018/19, the agency will take the actions outlined below to ensure the stability of funding in the short to long term.

Please note the creatively assessed programs of Documentary Producer and Documentary Commissioned will operate as normal, subject to the 2020 review outlined below.

SHORT TERM (January–March 2019)

PEP applications will continue to be accepted until 29 March 2019 based on the existing guidelines, subject to budget availability.

The internal 2018/19 budget allocation for PEP will be increased to at least a total of $3m to meet demand.  Any further budget extensions are not guaranteed, and will be subject to the availability of unallocated funds in other Screen Australia programs.

MEDIUM TERM (April–December 2019)

From 1 April, the PEP guidelines will be updated to include four interim clarifications to ensure the funds are being used in the spirit of the program and in line with Screen Australia’s overall cultural remit:

  • 1. All applicants must supply evidence of an appropriate and realistic pathway to audience, whether that be a recognised festival, cinematic release, television broadcast or substantial online release. Case by case decisions on pathway strength will be made and Screen Australia’s decision will be final.
  • 2. The producer, director and if applicable, writer/s of the documentary must all be Australian citizens or permanent residents.
  • 3. PEP applicants will no longer be eligible for other Screen Australia documentary production funding (including initiatives) and vice versa.
  • 4. There must be evidence of appropriate cultural consideration on all applications between subject and proposed team, particularly on but not limited to, Indigenous content and/or participation. Applicants will need to supply proof of consultation to date, consultation executed, willingness or consent forms if in post-production. Documentaries which deal with Indigenous content as their central theme, must have an Indigenous producer, director and/or writer.

These interim clarifications will remain in the guidelines for at least the remainder of the 2019 calendar year.

LONG TERM (July 2019–March 2020)

In the second half of 2019, Screen Australia will launch a discussion paper of its documentary production funding programs. The current programs have been in existence since 2015/16, and the media landscape has changed dramatically in the resulting years propelled by streaming and changes in audience viewing behaviour.

Industry input will be sought and interested parties should subscribe to Screen Australia’s newsletter to be kept updated.

The agency will aim to report on the review in late 2019, with any permanent revisions to guidelines or programs to be effective in the first quarter of the 2020 calendar year.

Whilst the review is active, the 2018/19 total budget allocation for documentary within Screen Australia will remain unchanged and in line with the 2016/17 ($15.7m) and 2017/18 ($15.6m) spends.

This documentary review follows the successful review and implementation of the new Story Development guidelines. Enterprise is also currently under review, with new guidelines to be published in February 2019.

Screen Australia will continue to review its programs to ensure the agency is delivering on the expectations outlined in the Screen Australia Act into the future.

For any questions regarding PEP, email [email protected]