Want to make content for NITV? Read the Commissioning Guidelines

NITV commissions content that aims to inspire, instil pride and encourage a greater understanding of Indigenous peoples and culture.

Who are we and what do we do?
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This page is for commissioned content only. Read on if you have a well-developed proposal for a television program that you’d like to make for us. If you have a finished program for NITV, contact the Acquisitions Department. If you have an idea for a News and Currents Affairs story please contact nitvnews@sbs.com.au

NITV commissions new content for television and online that reflects the diverse, multicultural and multilingual nature of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The team includes:

Mary-Ellen Mullane, Senior Commissioning Editor: Previously an Investment Development Manager for Screen Australia, Mary-Ellen has led commissioning in documentary, drama and digital, both independently and through Screen Australia’s Documentary Department, including The Tall Man, Croker Island Exodus and Black Panther Woman.

Cieron Cody, Commissioning Editor: Before joining NITV, Cieron worked at Screen Queensland, holding the positions of manager and acting director of development, and VP of development and production. He has a strong track record in development and production across all genres.

What are we looking for?
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At NITV we aim to commission bold, unique stories – mostly unscripted as well as some children’s content – from Indigenous filmmakers and Indigenous production companies. At least two key creative roles (writer, director or producer) must be filled by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.

We are looking for creatively ambitious ideas based on subjects that will:

  • Engage, inform and entertain a broad audience
  • Open audiences to Indigenous voices across Australia
  • Challenge stereotypes
  • Reflect a wide range of stories from Indigenous Australia, from the urban to the remote, contemporary to traditional, across all age groups and interests.

Projects can be online short-form content or longer-form television programs and series. At this stage, we do not commission international formats, scripted television series or feature films.

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Eligibility
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Do I need to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander?

At least two key creative roles (writer, director or producer) must be filled by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.

Do I need to apply through a production company?

Yes. NITV commissions programs from independent production companies, not individuals.

If you're an individual with an idea, you’ll need to make your pitch to a production company before bringing it to NITV. One way to look for appropriate companies is to browse Screen Australia’s online Screen Guide for programs you like or that are similar to your idea and find out who produced them.

Do I need to be an experienced filmmaker?

If you are a new filmmaker without a lot of broadcast experience, we suggest you find a team you can work with who can support you throughout the production and delivery process. NITV also supports first-time Indigenous filmmakers through its Our Stories documentary initiative. See the following section for more information.

Can I submit a proposal for development funds?

Proposals for commissioned content should be well developed, as NITV is rarely able to provide development funding. If we’re interested in your idea but it needs more development, we may issue a letter of support to help you apply to screen funding agencies under their development funding programs.

Do I need a budget?

Yes. Your proposal should be budgeted and you should be clear in your application about how you will raise the money to complete the budget.

Will NITV clear third party music or film rights for my project?

No. If we accept your proposal, we’ll need to see documentation that shows us you have cleared the rights you need to make and screen the program. You don’t have to provide all your clearance documents with your proposal, but NITV will need to see them before we can contract with you and release any funding.

 

How to submit your proposal
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All applications, except submissions for Our Stories, can be submitted using our online form. You will be asked to fill in the form and attach the following documentation;

  • One page pitch document and treatment
  • A – Z budget (available for download from the Screen Australia website)
  • Finance Plan (available for download from the Screen Australia website)
  • CVs of key creatives (writer, director and producer)
  • Production Schedule
  • (Optional) If you have any footage that supports you submission, please include it.

Our Stories

Our Stories is NITV’s short film initiative that invites Indigenous filmmakers around Australia to submit 13-14-minute documentary ideas about our life, our history, our communities and our cultures. The winning applicants will receive funding from NITV and their completed films will be show on prime time TV and available on SBS On Demand.

Check back for updates on how and when you can apply for the next Our Stories. You can also visit here for information about last year’s announcement and watch the winning entries from 2018 here.

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Submission deadlines
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NITV Commissioning invites filmmakers to submit proposals (except for Our Stories) all year round.

Applications for Our Stories are accepted for a limited time mid-year. Check back here for further updates.

The submission process
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NITV commissioning decisions will be subject to the requirements of the SBS Charter, SBS Act and SBS Codes of Practice, and Editorial Guidelines.

Assessment

Due to the high volume of emails we receive, we’ll acknowledge receipt of your application within approximately 5 business days.

However a proper assessment of your proposal will take around 4 to 6 weeks. During that time, we will read your application and make the final decision at our monthly editorial meeting.

If we have questions or need more information about your proposal, we will contact you.

Please note: Applicants should be aware of any outstanding commitments to NITV. Your application will not be considered until they are cleared. If you are unsure of any outstanding commitments, get in touch with the Commissioning team before applying.

What happens next

If we decide to commission your project, NITV will enter into an agreement with you. The agreement will include the following:

  • Finance plan
  • Summary of NITV’s investment
  • Summary of the licence term
  • Drawdown schedule
  • Terms and conditions
  • How to credit NITV
  • What assets you’ll need to deliver so we can broadcast and promote your project.

Financing

The NITV contribution to your program’s budget will usually be in the form of a presale or an upfront licence fee that gives us the right to broadcast the program on NITV. We may also make an equity investment.

The NITV contribution cannot cover the full budget for your program, so your proposal will need to identify additional sources of funding. NITV reserves the right of approval over third party sources of funding to ensure they are consistent with the SBS Charter, SBS Act and SBS Codes of Practice, and Editorial Guidelines.

Your budget and draft finance plan, including the proposed NITV contribution and other sources of funding don’t need to be confirmed but they should be realistic and feasible.

NITV will not release its contribution all at once. We will make set payments based on the drawdown schedule and project milestones. For example, we will release money on milestones such as the execution of agreement, start of shoot, rough cut delivery, picture lock, and final delivery.

Links and Resources
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Screen Australia has range of useful resources for program makers, including those starting out in the industry. Explore them here.

The Greater Perspective Protocol and guidelines for the production of film and television on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

SBS Act

SBS Charter

SBS Codes of Practice set out the policies SBS uses to guide its programming, including programming for NITV.

SBS Editorial Guidelines explain the principles that guide SBS's editorial processes, including editorial responsibility, conflicts of interest, and commercial and external funding relationships. Two of these guidelines are specific to NITV, relating to in-language and children’s programming.

Screen Australia’s documents library

Screen Australia’s Screen Guide

Terms to understand
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Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) refers to dances, songs, landscapes, stories, images and other objects that are part of Indigenous people’s cultural heritage. The right to use these in your film will have to be negotiated with the relevant community.

Clearances are documents that show us you have all the rights you need to make and screen the film. They might include things like licences or rights assignments for music or other original material that is not your own; location filming permissions; and agreements with actors or presenters. For example, you’ll need to clear all music including mechanical and synchronisation rights. We recommend that you engage a person with expertise in music commissioning and licensing to assist with this important clearance process. You are responsible for obtaining all relevant licences. The clearances you’ll need will be listed in your NITV agreement.