'Shaun the Sheep's Circus Show' by Circa. (Photo: Prudence Upton courtesy of Circa.)

Screen Queensland officially launched a new $5 million fund today, designed to back screen projects or screen-related ventures with strong potential return on investment.

Originally conceived in early 2020, the Screen Ventures Fund first investment was in Aardman and Circa’s Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show, which premiered at QPAC in March. Funding was put directly into the animated screen component of the stage show.

Screen Queensland chief creative officer Jo Dillon said the project was a great fit because it had a defined screen component, would create robust employment and skills development opportunities for Queensland-based animation practitioners and the potential to drive a return on investment.

“This project was ideal for the fund because it represented a new investment partnership and model, and an unmissable opportunity to work with two high-profile global brands – Circa and Aardman.

“Through the funding arrangement, Screen Queensland delivered fantastic industry outcomes for Queenslanders working in the animation space, including the chance to work on a hybrid show that fused stage and screen and learn from the best through collaborating with Circa and Aardman’s key creatives.

“As importantly, the investment, evaluated on commercial terms, was made with the prospect of securing returns on investment in order to grow the fund over time.”

Following this initial investment, the funding program was temporarily put on hold due to the pandemic, but is now open for applications.

Screen Queensland is calling for commercially focused, ready-to-launch or production-ready screen projects from across Australia, to be produced in Queensland.

Projects should demonstrate how they further Screen Queensland’s goals to drive employment, deliver Queensland Production Expenditure (QPE) and provide opportunities to explore new partnerships and models of business relevant to screen.

The agency’s investments will range from $10,000 to $750,000 in the context of size of audience, overall budget, benefits to Queensland and other financial commitment secured from partners and investors, with returns expected within five years.

Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich said the call-out was open to all manner of commercially driven screen projects.

“At Screen Queensland we aim to be revolutionary, to support and invest in projects that challenge the status quo or experiment with new platforms, new approaches related to screen storytelling, production or post-production.

“We are also committed to reaching the widest possible audiences through festivals, events and partnerships with organisations aligned to our overarching goal of growing the screen industry in Queensland.

“As the only state screen agency in Australia to offer an investment fund of this kind, we are excited to see what brave, new screen projects or business ideas emerge from around the country,” Munnich said.

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