Early Development, funding, images

Early Development

The Early Development Portal is currently OPEN.

Early Development offers support for both pre-draft and early draft costs.

Please see below for funding GUIDELINES. See above for a downloadable PDF.

All applications must be received through the Screen NSW online grants administration system, SmartyGrants.

The application form can be found here.

Potential applicants are advised to read through the following guidelines and if you have further questions contact the Development & Production team at dap@screen.nsw.gov.au 



Click on the items below for the Early Development guidelines.

What project formats are eligible?

We fund the development of:

  • feature films 
  • adult and children’s television drama and narrative comedy including series, miniseries, web series and telemovies
  • factual and documentary television or web programs and series
  • animation series
  • creative interactive screen entertainment


We do not fund the development of:

  • *infotainment, lifestyle, travel, magazine, sports, education, game shows and other magazine-style productions
  • current affairs and news programs
  • community television
  • shorts, short features (under 60 minutes)
  • projects being developed as part of a course of study

*For further guidance on the distinction between infotainment, lifestyle, magazine programs and documentary/factual programs refer to the advice on Screen Australia’s website.

How much can I apply for?
  • You can request any amount up to $50,000
  • We expect most requests to be between $2,000 and $20,000
  • Recently funded projects and the amounts provided can be found under Funding Approvals
What can I use the money for?

We contribute to the following:

  • development of treatments, scene breakdowns and/or beat sheets
  • development of first drafts from short documents
  • development of mini-bibles and/or episode outlines for television or online series
  • creation of sizzle reels or promotional trailers
  • research and development of factual documents


Who is eligible?

Create NSW general eligibility requirements can be found in the Screen NSW Terms of Trade which should be read in conjunction with these guidelines.

Applicants will generally be a NSW based Key Creative, individual or company.  If you are not based in NSW you must:

  • provide evidence of a genuine co-production partnership with a NSW-based company or producer OR
  • have at least one NSW based Key Creative (writer, producer or director) attached OR
  • satisfy Screen NSW that the project offers outstanding benefits to the NSW screen industry

You must intend to produce or post produce your project in NSW.

You must hold the rights in your project.

Teams generally need to include a Key Creative with credits in a relevant genre. If your team does not have these credits, please provide other information demonstrating that you have the relevant market knowledge and relationships.

Screen NSW is committed to supporting increased participation in the industry of people from under-represented groups including women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from CaLD backgrounds, people with disability, LGBTQI people, people from western Sydney and people from regional NSW. Priority will be given to teams including people from under-represented groups.

How and when can I apply?

The Early Development Portal is currently OPEN.

Development is open every year, all year round.  

However we close & refresh these rounds at the end of every financial year (11.59pm June 30th) and open the next day (July 1st). Any unsubmitted applications will need to be re-entered into the new form. 

All applications must be received through the Screen NSW online grants administration system, SmartyGrants. 

The application form can be found here.

What do I need to submit?

You must submit all core materials listed on the form.

For Early Development we assess short documents and draft scripts. We also prefer that you have opened a dialogue with a distributor, broadcaster or online content commissioner.

The creative materials required may vary according to the project type. 



Your short document should demonstrate the following:

  • the key dramatic beats of your story and how they will play out within your chosen genre
  • a clear beginning, middle and end
  • identified pivotal story points
  • the intended genre, tone and mood of the film



We are generally looking for a preliminary pitch document and an indication of intended market.

We generally do not require marketplace attachment up front however we are unlikely to fund more than a mini bible without broadcaster interest. 

If you have secured broadcaster development please indicate this in the 'previous funding' or 'other funding for this stage' section of your application form.



Your pitch document should concisely describe:

  • your subject matter
  • your intended narrative, line of enquiry, or argument
  • your intended stylistic approach
  • your intended audience
  • how you plan to tell your story (observational sequences, archival footage, interviews, recreations, etc)

If your program is reliant on the participation of a particular person or people you will need to have a document verifying that they consent to take part.



Your application materials should provide:

  • a description of the story, journey or experience
  • any visual designs or early prototyping 
  • information on intended audience and distribution strategy
  • any web metrics or sales figures for previous interactive projects
How will my application be assessed?

Your application will be competitively assessed against the following criteria:

  • The strength and distinctiveness of the concept 
  • The strength of the story and the quality of the submitted materials 
  • The plans for use of the funding 
  • The potential of the project to reach its target audience and its viability in terms of likely budget relative to market
  • The track record of the Key Creative(s), including the financial track record and experience of the applicant and any Key Creatives 
  • The potential of the project to contribute to a robust screen industry in NSW

If we commission an indigenous assessment, the project will be assessed with reference to Screen Australia’s guidelines Pathways & Protocols: a filmmaker’s guide to working with Indigenous people, culture and concepts.

If your application is not successful the project may be resubmitted if substantially reworked. A project that is declined for Early Development can be considered for Advanced Development or Market Travel if it has advanced sufficiently.

How long will it take to receive a decision?

Between six to eight weeks from the date that Screen NSW acknowledges receipt of a completed application.

Please note you will recieve a SmartyGrants acknowledgement of submission. We will send a separate acknowlegdement.


If you would like to provide us with feedback, or believe you have cause for complaint, please consult our Feedback, Review and Formal Complaints Procedures.

For further information contact:
Development & Production
Email: dap@screen.nsw.gov.au