Northern Territory Government

Project development

Funding available

Screen Territory will contribute to a development plan appropriate to the stage of the project, up to a maximum of $10,000 per application or, for more experienced applicants, up to $20,000 per application (see ‘Eligibility’ below).

Applications may be for any amount up to the stated maximum, supported by a budget.

Whether the project will be funded, and the amount of Screen Territory funding, will be determined by the assessment process (see ‘Information for applicants’) and the total demand on available funds.

A project may be funded more than once, as long as the previous grant has been successfully acquitted and significant development has taken place, up to a total cap of $30,000 of Screen Territory funds over the life of an individual project unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated.

What's in a development plan?

Depending on your project and where it’s up to, your development plan might cover:

From concept or proposal to advanced treatment or script

Documentary projects:

  • research
  • writing a first or subsequent draft of an outline, treatment or script
  • strategic shooting and/or editing (you should explain why shooting footage at this stage is vital to the realisation of the film)
  • visualisation materials – storyboards, etc that help inform the creative process

Feature films, TV/web drama and narrative comedy:

  • purchase of rights or option on rights
  • story and character research
  • developing a treatment, scene breakdowns and/or beat sheets
  • writing a first or subsequent draft script
  • developing a series bible, series outline, pilot script or first episode script
  • script readings and/or workshops/writers’ rooms
  • visualisation materials – storyboards, etc that help to inform the creative process, or test scenes (filming/production when part of the development process)

Late-stage development

Documentary projects, feature films, TV/web drama and narrative comedy:

  • budgeting and scheduling
  • consultation about digital elements, digital distribution platforms and audience engagement strategies
  • developing pitch materials, teaser trailers, sizzle reels to attract finance.

Note that for TV drama projects, broadcasters generally like to see early-stage documents, not full drafts, before they become involved, so they can influence the project to meet their audience needs.

Useful references

Screen Australia’s


Three funding rounds will be held in the 2017/18 financial year:

  • Round 1: closed
  • Round 2: closed
  • Round 3: closes 19 March 2018


All applications must meet the general eligibility requirements for Screen Territory funding, in addition to the following (see General eligibility for definitions of key terms):

Who can apply

Applications may be from an individual writer or writer/director, or from a production company or producer on behalf of a team including at least a writer and a producer. After one round of funding for a particular project, Screen Territory generally expects a producer to be attached for any subsequent applications for that project.

The applicant must be a Northern Territory resident or a Northern Territory company.

Applications from an NT production company on behalf of a co-productionbetween it and a non-NT production company, will only be accepted where the arrangement is a genuine co-production and the application is for a project that has been generated in the Territory and has a Northern Territory writer or writer/director.

Non-NT resident production companies are not eligible for this program, other than in exceptional circumstances, and would only be considered at all where the project has a Northern Territory writer or writer/director. Non-NT resident companies should contact Screen Territory to discuss their project before submitting any application.

In addition:

  • The applicant must either hold the rights necessary to make the project (as the writer/originator, or through appropriate agreements), or have an option to the rights in any and all works on which the project is based. If you are seeking funds to purchase an option, funding will only be released once the option is obtained.
  • The applicant or at least one member of the applicant team must have the following credits, depending on the amount being sought:
    - applications up to and including $10,000: at least two ‘ eligible screen credits ’ each of which is at least 10 minutes in total duration
    - applications $10,001-20,000: at least two ‘ eligible screen credits ’ each of which is at least one hour (or broadcast hour, 1x60 or 2x30) in total duration.

Less experienced practitioners may be part of the team, as long as at least one key principal is eligible as above. The intention is not to exclude new talent, but encourage them to team up with more experienced practitioners.

Outstanding applicants or projects that emerge through the Seed Funding strand or Screen Territory’s Targeted Initiatives may be invited to apply to the Project Development strand. This provides the opportunity for talented practitioners to access single-project development funds even where minimum credit requirements are not satisfied.

Project requirements

The following formats are eligible for funding through this program:

  • feature films

  • adult and children’s drama and narrative comedy including television series, miniseries, telemovies and web series

  • content-rich factual and documentary theatrical, television or web programs.

Screen Territory expects to see evidence of strategies for audience engagement and/or marketplace interest in applications for projects at later stages of development. In the case of a broadcast documentary or television drama project, a letter of interest from a broadcaster may be required for applications for any rounds of funding beyond the first.

If your project relies on the participation of a particular person or people, you will need to have evidence that they consent to take part.

Funding is competitive; see Story development > What are we looking for? .

If the project has previously been declined for development funding, evidence of substantive changes must be provided.

Funding is competitive; see Story development 'What are we looking for?'


Eligible applications will be assessed taking into account:

The applicant and creative team

  • The track record and demonstrated potential of the individual applicant or creative team in areas relevant to the project submitted.

The project

  • The strength and distinctiveness of the concept or story idea, and its potential to engage an audience.
  • The cultural significance of the project for the Northern Territory.
  • The strength and quality of the submitted story materials (outline/short document, script, treatment etc).
  • The feasibility of the project, and its likelihood of reaching an audience, including the strength of any marketplace interest or commitment already in place.

The development plan

  • The development notes and the degree to which they articulate the issues to be faced in the next stage of development and outline the strategies to address them, and the appropriateness of the proposed delivery materials.
  • The plan for use of Screen Territory funding, and the contributions of any other investors.
  • The level of funding Screen Territory has previously committed to the project (if applicable).

Industry/business impact

  • The percentage of copyright to be held by Territorians.
  • The career benefits to Northern Territory key team members.

Application materials

In order for Screen Territory to assess your application, you must submit the following:

About the team

  • Current one-page CVs for the applicant and any key creatives attached
  • A current production company CV (if applicable).

About the project

  • One-sentence synopsis.
  • One-paragraph (3–4 line) synopsis.
  • A story document appropriate to the project and its stage of development:
    • features: an outline or ’short document’ (up to 8 pages) or treatment (up to 20 pages, 10 pages preferred); or draft script (up to 120 pages, 12 point Courier font)
    • documentaries: an outline/short document (up to 8 pages) or treatment
    • online and TV drama (series, one-off): an outline/short document (up to 8 pages) or treatment or mini-bible and draft episode script.

See ‘Story documents’ box below.

  • Optional: Any other materials that help to evoke the tone, mood and style of the project, including:
    • photographs, artworks, a mood reel, a look book, storyboards, a pilot episode, a sample filmed scene, or music
    • pitch to camera, maximum three minutes (via downloadable and password-protected link).

The plan

  • Development plan (up to four pages) including:
    • your creative vision for the project,
    • progress to date, your assessment of the issues you face in the next stage of development and your strategies for addressing them,
    • what you propose to deliver with the Screen Territory funding.
      See ‘What’s in a development plan’ above.
  • Producer notes (up to three pages) – a statement setting out the business case for the project, why the project is important to the Northern Territory, and the strategy for moving the project towards financing and audience.
    Note: If a producer is not attached at this stage, you should address these points to the best of your ability; you must also explain why you have applied without a producer and outline your strategy and timeframe for securing one.
  • Development budget breakdown for your submitted development plan, reflecting Screen Territory's contribution and that of other investors including the applicant (using Screen Territory’s Development Budget Breakdown).

Supporting materials

  • Where applicable, agreements for key creatives attached to the stage of development applied for (eg writer’s agreement, script editor/developer’s agreement – see ‘Chain of title documents’ below)
  • If a project is based on an underlying work, evidence that you hold an option (option agreement) or intend to purchase an option (e.g. you have included the cost of the option in your application for development funding)  – see ‘Chain of title documents’ below.
  • If the application involves a co-production with a non-NT company, evidence of key deal terms setting out sharing of creative involvement, credits, copyright, recoupment and profit entitlements.
  • Evidence of marketplace interest (if applicable).
  • If the project relies on the participation of a particular person or people, evidence that they consent to take part.
  • If the project is being submitted for a second time after a previous unsuccessful application, a summary of the substantial changes made that make it eligible to be considered again.

Where there is Indigenous community participation or content involved in the project:

  • a statement setting out how you are approaching the Indigenous content or participation with regard to appropriate protocols, even if the content is not specific to a particular community or individual. The statement should be based on the checklists for the relevant stage of production available in Screen Australia’s guide Pathways & Protocols: a filmmaker’s guide to working with Indigenous people, culture and concepts
  • evidence of consultation to date
  • if the project will involve particular Indigenous individuals or communities, signed letters of consent confirming their willingness to participate.

Story documents

A good reference for understanding the different types of story document is the Screen Australia guide What is a synopsis, an outline, a treatment?

For example, the aim of a project ‘outline’ or ‘short document’ is to depict the concept and the main points of the story, evoking the experience of the film, whether drama or documentary. The document should have a clear beginning, middle and end, and a solid structure with clear, identified pivotal story points, and a core conflict that drives the story.

If the project is an adaptation of an existing work, the document should detail the main points of the envisaged screen story and the intended point of view. The outline needs to stand on its own, and evoke the experience of the film, as we will not be reading the underlying work. We are interested in your intended take on the material, and how you are going to turn it into a screen story.

‘Chain of title’ documents

Copyright claims are usually demonstrated through a series of documents known as the ‘chain of title’, which establishes that the applicant owns or controls all necessary underlying rights in order to fully develop, produce and market their project.

At development stage, typical chain of title documents for a producer might be a scriptwriter’s agreement, a script editor/developer’s agreement, and an option agreement if the project is based on an underlying work like a book or play.

For option agreements, note that Screen Territory expects the accumulated periods of an option and its subsequent extensions to be at least three and a half years. We advise producers to have an option to acquire where possible sequel, prequel, remake, TV spin-off rights and all ancillary rights as these rights will be required at financing stage.

All relevant chain of title documents must be provided to Screen Territory at the time of application.

Reporting and acquittal

If you are successful in receiving a Project Development grant, your grant agreement will set out the reports and materials you have agreed to deliver in order to acquit the grant (based on your development plan), and an agreed project end date. You will be required to acquit the grant one month after the agreed project end date.

Reports and deliverables vary from project to project; however, in general you may need to provide the following:

  • Deliverables relevant to your project development plan
  • A report detailing:
    • This stage: The work undertaken during this stage of development, including how you have addressed your project's development goals.
    • Next stage: The proposed next steps for developing the project, including any specific production elements (such as key creative personnel including producer, director, on screen personnel, mentors).
    • (Where applicable) a Marketing and Finance Plan including a proposed budget and finance plan, that explains the strategy for financing the project, including commercial or market interest you have attracted or are hoping to attract.
  • A signed breakdown of income and expenditure for the project including financial support received from the Territory or a third party.

Download funding guidelines

Seed development

Last updated: 16 Feb 2018