Lower-Budget Features and Escalator Review

Share this:
Thursday, July 17, 2014

We’re keen to support the growth of a vibrant domestic production sector, one with feature production at a range of budget levels – from large-budget official co-productions through to innovative lower-budget films with realistic budgets and methodologies.

This is a “heads up” for writers, directors and producers that we plan to introduce a lower-budget feature film funding initiative later this year. So this is a chance ahead of time to start thinking about possible projects.

We recognise that “lower-budget” is a relative term, one that depends on a wide range of factors.  In this instance we’re referring to distinctive feature film projects with budgets of $500,000 or less. We’re keen to see amazing, original and satisfying films of this type produced locally and are currently looking at effective ways to help facilitate this.

Firstly, we want the industry to be aware that we’re always open to producers with lower-budget projects seeking production (or post-production) funding via our standard discretionary Board application process, as outlined on our website.  However in reality we’re currently receiving very few Board applications for lower-budget feature films.

So, alongside this we’re also planning to announce a new, dedicated funding round for lower-budget features later this year. We’re still working on the specifics and will publish more information in due course but some key aspects to bear in mind while thinking ahead:

  • We’d be looking for feature-length films with average budgets of around $350,000, with perhaps a couple of films at $500,000 balancing out some at $250,000.
  • It’s likely that international market attachment will be a significant part of the financing (which we’re currently arranging).
  • Producer/director/writer teams would need to engage with market representatives to ensure their project reflects current market considerations and has the strongest chance possible of connecting with its targeted audience.
  • A crucial aspect is that these films would need to be genuinely lower-budget in scope and methodology to be candidates for funding. This wouldn’t be about making a bigger budget film for less money or cutting corners at the expense of cast, crew and industry partners.  We’d need a compelling proposal that shows how and why the budget is entirely realistic.
  • There’d be no genre restrictions – all feature-length films, whether fiction or documentary, would be eligible. Regardless of the type of film, strong audience appeal will be a crucial factor, as reflected by the market attachment aspect.
  • We’d see this as a production-focused fund, rather than a professional development structure as such. The preference would be for projects with strong scripts and market prospects from exciting teams.  We wouldn’t anticipate running workshops or a lengthy selection process.

Part of developing this new approach involves looking at and learning from our Escalator $250,000 feature films scheme. We recently put out a call for feedback on the scheme, with a view to taking this feedback into account prior to announcing details of the new funding round by early October 2014.