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PEP 2018/19 funds exhausted

Effective immediately, Screen Australia will cease processing applications for the Producer Equity Program (PEP) for the remainder of the 2018/19 financial year.

Producers can continue to submit applications for PEP with the understanding that application processing will begin again in July 2019.

Screen Australia flagged earlier this year the demand on PEP was at an all-time high, and the agency committed to top-up the allocation to PEP from its historical $2.5m budget to $3m. Applications for PEP are now in excess of $3.3m and allowing a further 10 weeks of application processing to the end of June 2019 would have drastically impacted the funds available through the Producer, Commissioned and Development documentary programs.

Screen Australia will honour all eligible PEP applications received up to and including 16 April 2019.

Unlike the Producer Offset which is funded by the Australian Tax Office, PEP is fully funded from Screen Australia’s budget. PEP is also unique within Screen Australia in that the program represents a potentially unlimited call on funds.

The pause on PEP application processing will not impact Screen Australia’s total 2018/19 documentary investment, which will remain in line with 2017/18 levels.

In January, Screen Australia announced there will be a full review of its documentary programs later this year. Industry professionals will be notified via Screen Australia’s newsletter when the Discussion Paper is available, and how to make a review submission.

“Screen Australia’s funds are finite, and unfortunately we simply don’t have the budget to meet the continued demand on the Producer Equity Program this financial year,” said Bernadine Lim, Head of Documentary. “We understand this 10-week pause on processing PEP applications is far from ideal, and it’s not something we want to have to repeat in 2019/20. As such in the review process we will be looking to industry to provide feedback in terms of whether PEP should have an annual or monthly cap to ensure continuity of funds, and how to best split the funds available to each documentary funding stream.”

“Low budget documentaries are an essential part of the sector and I encourage creators to take part in the review to help develop a sustainable funding model within Screen Australia’s available resources.”

BUDGETARY CONTEXT

In 2017/18, there was a notable increase in demand for PEP which required funds to be diverted from the Commissioned and Producer programs to accommodate the application volume. As noted in January 2019, the demand on PEP has been even greater in 2018/19. For instance, 15 PEP applications were received in January-June 2018. From 1 January to 15 April 2019, 25 PEP applications were received.

The rise in funds distributed through PEP has had a direct downward pressure on funds available through the Producer and Commissioned programs in the last three financial years. In 2017/18, for the first time PEP investments ($3.3m) nearly eclipsed the Producer program ($3.5m) – refer Appendix 3, Annual Report.

In the context of pressure on Screen Australia’s overall budget, the total funds available for documentary have been stable since 2016/17 at approximately $15.5m a year.

For any questions, email [email protected].

PREPARING FOR THE REVIEW

Screen Australia is currently updating its 2017/18 industry-wide data which will be critical for the documentary review. If your documentary went into production in that period, regardless whether it has been released or received Screen Australia funding, please:

  1. Check if your title appears on The Screen Guide. If any data is incorrect, please request an update. If it does not appear, please submit your project.
  2. If your title does appear on The Screen Guide, in the past months the producer contact/s would have received an email from Screen Australia asking you to verify some information. If you did not receive this email, please contact [email protected].