'Five Bedrooms' crew.

‘Five Bedrooms’ crew on set. (Photo: Sarah Enticknap)

Screen Australia will launch a new fund next week to cover additional costs associated with implementing COVID-Safe plans.

Known as the COVID-19 Budget Support Fund, it will be specifically for projects that are:

  • are green-lit, in late stage development or pre-production and intending and ready to go into production within six months of application; AND
  • would be eligible for one of Screen Australia’s existing factual and scripted funding programs, including episodic scripted drama (including web series), feature films and feature documentaries

Applicants will be able to apply for up to a limit of $300,000 or 10 per cent of the existing production budget, whichever is less.

Screen Australia has not been allocated additional funding by the government to administer this fund; it will instead reallocate some production investment funding. It has declined to disclose the total amount allocated.

Funding will be competitive, and the fund will close either when exhausted or at the end of the 2020 calendar year.

Screen Australia head of content Sally Caplan said: “During the coronavirus pandemic it is essential that each production prepare their own rigorous COVID-Safe plans to mitigate risk for all cast and crew. In most cases this planning leads to additional costs, and so to assist with the backlog of projects currently stalled we have reallocated some of the production investment budget to support with these costs and get more productions back up and running.”

The COVID-19 Budget Support Fund is separate to the $50 million Temporary Interruption Fund announced by Federal Government last month, which will provide coverage if productions incur additional expense due to delays caused by COVID-19. This fund is designed to address concerns relating to the exclusion of COVID-19 from insurance cover, and Screen Australia is still liaising with the government and department to determine procedures for administering the fund.

Screen Australia will open the fund and release guidelines for the COVID-19 Budget Support Fund July 30.

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