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Australian Screen Industry Glossary of Terms

From PIA to MGs and QAPE, here’s a list of screen industry terms, industry jargon and their general meanings, as compiled by staff at Screen Australia.

Please note: this is not a legal document and these are not legal definitions. Legal definitions are set out in various funding agreements with Screen Australia and these may differ to the definitions set out below. These definitions are intended for guidance purposes only, are non-binding and do not take precedence over similar terms that may appear in Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade, funding guidelines, funding agreements or applicable legislation. In the event of inconsistency, the definitions set out in any contract with Screen Australia will prevail. For information about contracting with Screen Australia please refer to Screen Australia’s website here.

For more detailed exploration of Story Development documents including Synopsis, Outline, Treatment, Scriptment, Bible and Scene Breakdown, click here.


Above the line – a reference to the physical line that used to be in budgets. This is a term that now generally means the roles/costs to get the production up and running, including the writer, director, producer and marquee cast, as well as underlying rights (e.g. book or life rights) and development costs.

ANZ – Australia and New Zealand. Often used in the context of an ANZ DG (i.e. an Australia and New Zealand Distribution Guarantee) or to describe the distribution territory that covers Australia and New Zealand.


Below the line - refers to the general industry-accepted definition of anything that falls outside of the ‘above the line’. It encompasses all physical production roles/costs to get the film made and completed, so includes all on-set crew, other cast and post production roles.

Bible – also known as a ‘series bible’ or a ‘pitch bible’, this is generally the term for a master document created by television and episodic screenwriters to help pitch a series. It should include all the key aspects of the show – story, setting, world, key themes, character descriptions, tone, style and episode breakdowns. A more visual version of this document is called a Pitch Deck, which you can read more about in this SBS Scripted guide here.

Budget – a document that outlines the costs to make your project. In the budget, producers and production accountants compile extensive itemised spreadsheets to detail and track how much money is being spent and where. You may have heard about the ‘A to Z’ budget, which is one of the standard formats in Australia. [Listen here for more on budgets].

Broadcaster – the commercial and public FTA television networks, including ABC, Nine, SBS, Seven and Ten, as well as pay-TV service providers, such as Foxtel.


Commissioning Platforms – includes both Broadcasters and streaming services (including SVOD service providers such as Stan, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Paramount+, Binge, Disney+ etc.).

Completion Guarantor – an additional layer of insurance whereby a bond company will, for a fee, bond the project to completion provided the project is fully financed. They will monitor the production and assist when needed to ensure the production meets their deadline and delivery date. Sometimes a requirement for funding.

Contingency – a portion of the budget that is earmarked for unforeseeable costs, such as overtime, weather impacting the shoot schedule, additional cameras, additional editing time. It’s often calculated as 10% of below the line, minus indirect costs.


Development – the work that goes into a project before it goes into production. Development can include everything from a workshop to a writers’ room, a series bible, or a short film. For more information about Screen Australia’s development funding see here. Usually parties that contribute money towards development need to be repaid when the project goes into production.

DG or Distribution Guarantee – also referred to as a minimum guarantee or a minimum advance. Is the amount of money a distributor is willing to put up to secure the rights for a  territory or multiple territories. A distributor may pay an ANZ DG (an Australian and New Zealand distribution guarantee) for the rights to distribute the project in Australia and New Zealand and/or a ROW distribution (a ‘rest of world’ distribution guarantee) for the rights to distribute the project throughout the rest of the world. Distribution Guarantees often form part of the financing of the project and may be cashflowed throughout production of the project.

Distributor -  a company who will acquire certain rights to your project for an agreed fee, and for an agreed term, during which they will monetise those rights across channels such as a theatrical release, broadcast (pay-TV or FTA), SVOD, home entertainment, airlines etc. [Listen here for more on distribution].


Equity – an Equity Investor's financial contribution to a project.

Equity Investors – entities who make a financial contribution to the Budget in exchange for a share in the revenues and/or profit generated from distribution of the project. Think of these people or companies as owning a little slice of the project, so even in 20 years’ time, they could still be earning money from it. In Australia, common Equity Investors include government screen agencies. Importantly, producers themselves are usually Equity Investors. Commissoning Platforms can also be Equity Investors if their financial contribution towards the Budget is split between licence fees or Distribution Guarantees and Equity contribution.

Exhibitor – a cinema owner. [Listen here for more on exhibitors and their relationship with distributors].


Film Rental – the money a Distributor receives or is owed from the gross box office revenues generated from exploitation of the project in the Distributor’s territory/ies.

Finance Plan – a document that outlines the different people and companies who will be providing the funds to finance a project  e.g. you might get funds from Equity Investors,  Marketplace Contributors and other funding sources such as the Producer Offset and State/federal screen agency grants and/or incentives. This is all reflected in a document called the Finance Plan. [Listen here for more on finance plans]. You can consult this sample finance plan to see how it would look. The Finance Plan also shows the percentage of each financier’s contribution to the Budget and their share of Equity.

FTA – Free-to-air – in reference to television networks that are not subscription and are free to view (ABC, Nine, SBS, Seven and Ten).


Gap Finance/Gap Loan – a loan based on the value of unsold territories (so excluding any Presales), which often attracts high interest and fees.

Gross Receipts – refers to gross revenue earned by a project. It includes gross box office receipts, which is the revenue generated from ticket sales for theatrical releases and includes taxes and other levies. Gross receipts also includes sales revenue derived from all other media such television, video, merchandise and ancillary sales.






Lenders – the companies in the marketplace who cashflow funds that are usually not received until delivery of the project or after completion of production. For example, the Producer Offset is not paid to the production company until after completion of the project and a percentage of these funds is usually part of the Finance Plan and cashflowed by a Lender so the money is available when its needed throughout production. Sometimes Lenders will also loan money against delivery payments from Marketplace Contributors and against government incentives or grants payable on delivery or after completion of production.


Marketplace Contributors - the people or companies in the marketplace who are prepared to put money up for your project before it’s been made, as part of the Budget. In return for their money, they get the right to represent, exhibit/exploit or sell your project in different territories. Marketplace Contributors might include Distributors in both Australia and overseas, international sales agents, a Gap Finance lender and/or a Commissioning Platform. Listen to a podcast about Screen Australia’s Marketplace team here.

MG or Minimum Guarantee – interchangeable with DG and Presales.


Net profit – the actual profit achieved once all the following are paid back in full: any Lenders including Gap Finance lenders, the Equity Investors, and the Marketplace Contributors, after costs and expenses have been recouped by the Marketplace Contributors and the producer (e.g. advertising expenses, commissions, distribution fees and residuals/repeat fees) and after the collection or disbursement agent has deducted their commissions or fees. From that point, Equity Investors typically begin earning money at a much higher percentage rate. However a project can still be earning income long before it is deemed to have gone ‘into profit’ and some projects earn income but do not go ‘into profit’ because revenues generated do not cover the project’s advances, fees and expenses. Learn more here.


Overheads – the ongoing expenses of operating a business.


P&A – Prints & Advertising. It’s what the Distributor spends releasing the project and includes print costs, hard drives, shipping, advertising, classification, PR expenses and more.

PGA – Production Grant Agreement or Project Grant Agreement, depending on the relevant Screen Australia funding program. A core contract that governs the terms of Screen Australia’s provision of funding for a project by way of a non-recoupable grant.

PIA – Production and Investment Agreement. A core contract that governs the terms of Screen Australia’s provision of funding for a project by way of a recoupable equity investment.

Pitch Deck – a visually driven version of a Series Bible. Read more about it in this SBS Scripted guide here.

POC or Proof of Concept – a shorter piece of work such as a short film that shows the tone, style and ability of the creators in making a longer-form project.

POCU – Producer Offset and Co-production Unit. The team at Screen Australia that assists in administering the Producer Offset in conjunction with the Australian Tax Office. Learn more about the producer offset here.

Post Contracting Sales – once the finance plan/budget is fully funded, a sales agent or Distributor will aquire the rights of a project and represent the project to sell the various licensed rights in different territories. These sales are known as post contracting sales and certain revenues generated from such sales then form Gross Receipts for investors to share in recoupment.

Presale – a distribution contract which is generally executed and finalised before the commencement of principal photography, pursuant to which the distributor pays an MG or DG which forms part of the Finance Plan. This term is often interchangeable with MG and DG.

Prints - the term ‘prints’ comes from the pre digital era when distributors would physically ship 35mm prints to cinemas. Most Australian cinemas have transitioned to digital projectors, so despite the word ‘print’ still being used, it would now refer to a hard drive and digital file.

Producer Offset - a tax rebate administered by Screen Australia under income tax legislation and paid by the Australian Tax Office (find out more here).

PROPS – Program Operations – a unit at Screen Australia that process funding applications and are available to answer funding application questions during business hours on 1800 213 099.


QAPE – Qualifying Australian Production Expenditure. Find out more about QAPE here.


Recoupment Waterfall (also known as a Recoupment Schedule) – a schedule setting out (i) the order in which the various financing parties on a project are entitled to recoup their funds from project revenues; and (ii) any entitlements to receive Net Profit. The collection and disbursement of revenue in accordance with the Recoupment Waterfall is generally administered by a third party collection agent or disbursement administrator. Find out more in this Finance Plans podcast here

ROW – Rest of World. Often used in the context of a ROW MG (i.e. Rest of World minimum guarantee). E.g. when a sales agent puts up finance in order to represent a project in all the territories outside of Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) - that would be a ROW MG.


Sales Agent - an agent appointed to sell your project to distributors in various territories around the world.

SVOD – Subscription Video On Demand.


TX – means ‘transmission’ and refers to the date a television project goes to air e.g. ‘the TX date is 15 May.’







This Glossary of Terms may be updated from time to time.