Screen Australia has bowed to industry pressure and agreed to retain the Producer Equity program for funding documentaries.
The agency has also ditched the proposal to scrap the fixed percentages of funding for projects supported by the ABC and SBS, to the chagrin of the Australian Directors Guild.
A second draft of guidelines was released today after consulting with guilds and the wider industry over the past six months. CEO Graeme Mason said, “We have refined the guidelines to respond to industry feedback while sharpening our focus in the context of reduced funds. We are pleased that our biggest partners in this area, the ABC and SBS, have expressed indicative support for these guidelines, and we look forward to receiving final comments over the next three weeks from the sector.”
There will be two new programs, the Producer program and the Broadcast program.
The ADG was quick to condemn the new guidelines. "We are very disappointed that Screen Australia has backed away from freeing up the funds rather than going back to a percentage for the ABC, SBS and others," executive director Kingston Anderson tells IF.
"We were very happy with the first set of draft guidelines and commented so in our submission. Clearly the broadcasters have been able to change Screen Australia’s mind and had the allocations reinstated. There now seems to be little change from the system that existed before this review process started except all the programs have been morphed into two and there is less money.
"We will be doing a submission on this and try to convince Screen Australia that their first draft was a much better proposal for industry change than this recent draft."
The Producer program ($5 million–$6 million) will support single projects and series for distribution across broadcast, festival, theatrical, digital, i-doc and transmedia platforms. Minimum budget of $120,000 per hour, with a maximum SA contribution of $750,000.
This will be a competitive fund open to projects supported by broadcasters as well as projects seeking festival, theatrical or online distribution. It will assist 25 to 35 hours of content per year,
The Broadcast program ($9 million–$10 million) reintroduces the notional funding allocation for domestic broadcasters, with 45% for projects to be broadcast on the ABC, 40% for SBS projects and 15% for other platforms. Minimum budget of $250,000 per hour with a maximum SA contribution of $1 million. This aims to fund 30–40 hours of content annually.
The Producer Equity program will continue to be available in conjunction with other Screen Australia funding and there will be funding for documentary development, despite the $1.1 million cut in overall funding for docs.
The industry is invited to provide final comment by October 10. Final guidelines are expected to be released in November and the first funding round for all programs under the new guidelines will have a closing date of January 30 2015.
SA will offer a final round for the GDP and the NDP this year under existing guidelines, open only to applicants with all finance in place including state agency funding. The deadline is October 24.