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Development Fund

Durban Film Office Development Fund Fact Sheet

Programme Overview

The Durban Film Office Development Fund Programme aims to support intermediate and experienced producers based in Durban who need to develop feature fiction or documentary projects for the local and / or international market. The programme will provide grant funding for two Durban film projects per annum, to a maximum of R250, 000.00 per project towards the development of the project.

Development Funding Defined

The Durban Film Office defines development support as funds needed to invest in the development of a project to suitably package the project for presenting to investors and ensure the project is capable of attracting production financing. Development funding may be required for various activities to achieve this objective. The Durban Film Office Development Fund will consider funding the following costs:

  • Writer's fees
  • Script editors.
  • Research fees
  • Payments to acquire and option rights to adapt works for the screen
  • Producer's fees and reasonable overhead costs of the producer
  • Reasonable legal costs.
  • Script readings with cast.
  • Developing a presentation package for potential partners.
  • Developing budgets and / or schedules.
  • Training courses to aid project development

Eligibility Criteria

  • The project must be capable of being developed as a feature-length fictional (minimum 90 minutes) or documentary film (minimum 60 minutes).
  • The applicant must be a Durban based production company.
  • A project with a minimum total production budget of R2.5 million.
  • At least 50% of the team falls within the definition of being historically disadvantaged individuals as defined in the constitution of South Africa.
  • CV/company profile which demonstrates proven industry experience as a writer, director or producer.
  • A producer with at least one completed comparative project.

Please submit the following compulsory documents with the Development Application form.

  • A motivation letter (maximum 2 pages), expressing why the project should be selected.
  • A project plan detailing how the funds will be used over the next 12 months with clear objectives and deliverables (financial plan).
  • Development budget and schedule.
  • Target audience/distribution plan.
  • 1 page synopsis.
  • Treatment or project outline; (Fiction projects submit a narrative treatment and Documentaries submit a detailed outline).
  • Professional profiles of key creative (Writer, Producer, and Director).
  • Examples and/ or showreels of previous works if available.
  • Company Registration documents
  • Valid SARS tax clearance certificate.
  • Proof of domicile/residence
  • A certified copy of the applicant’s South African identity document
  • Valid BEE Certificate

Evaluation Process – How does it work?

The evaluation of applications takes place in three phases:

Phase 1: Technical Evaluation Stage

The initial evaluation stage will evaluate whether your submission fulfils all the eligibility criteria and if your application includes all the documents required under ‘submission criteria’ (see above).

The Durban Film Office will contact you via email to request any documentation not submitted and you will have 5 working days to submit these documents. If you are unable to submit requested documents within 5 working days from date of first contact, your submission will not be considered and you will receive a notification that you will need to submit your project during the next project cycle.

Phase 2: Evaluation

A panel of industry professionals will evaluate your project submission on set criteria (below). The panel will provide final scoring, assessments and recommendations for shortlisting for the phase 3 evaluations.

Submissions that are not shortlisted will receive a notification that the project has not been successful.

Phase 3: Interview of shortlisted applications

Project submissions shortlisted in the phase 2 evaluation will receive an invitation to attend an interview. Each shortlisted submission will be interviewed by the panel and provided an opportunity to present their project. The panel will then provide final scoring, assessments and recommendations to Durban Film Office.

Phase 2 Evaluation Criteria- What criteria are used to assess my submission?

Merits of the creative proposal

  • Does the project present strength and distinctiveness of the story or subject matter?
  • Does the writer demonstrate understanding of story/narrative structure?

Feasibility of the business proposal

  • Is there a clearly defined and relevant marketing and / or development plan?
  • Is the proposed budget realisable?
  • Is the proposed finance plan feasible?
  • Is there a clear market / audience for the film?

Track record of the creative team and the production company.

  • Do the level of skills, experience and track record of each of the key principals demonstrate reasonable capacity to advance the project?

The market potential for the film

  • Does the project demonstrate South African distribution potential?
  • Does the project demonstrate international sales potential?

Phase 3 Evaluation Criteria- What criteria are used to assess my interview?

Presentation of the creative proposal

  • Is the vision of the creative team clear?
  • Is the story structure logical / believable?

Feasibility of the business proposal

  • Is the proposed team able to make the necessary commitments to the proposed plan?
  • Does the team demonstrate ability to raise the necessary financing?
  • What level of production value can be achieved?
  • Is there a clear understanding of the market for the project? Is there a market for the project?

Track record of the creative team and the production company.

  • Does the producer have the necessary skills to advance the project?
  • Does the director’s profile and vision align the project objectives?

Overall presentation

  • The evaluation panel will be looking for applications that demonstrate a well-thought out plan to drive the project to final financing and production with realistic projections within a year. Any research or other background supporting the application should be included.

Contractual Arrangements

  • Successful applicants will be required to submit documents to prove the ownership of all the intellectual property rights of the film and to execute funding contracts with the EThekwini Municipality.
  • Subject to customary exclusions and exceptions, the Durban Film Office Fund support is to be acknowledged with a Durban Film Office credit and logo on the production, publicity and promotional materials relating to the production.
  • Successful applicants will be required to register a Special Purpose Corporate Vehicle (SPCV) incorporated in the Republic of South Africa solely for the purpose of the production of the film project. The SPCV and parent company (ies) must have a majority of South African shareholders of whom at least one shareholder must play an active role in the production and be accredited in that role.

Funding Drawdowns and Reporting Requirements for successful applicants

  • Successful applicants will be notified by letter and will be required to enter into a grant fund agreement with the Durban Film Office, Ethekwini Municipality in terms of s67 of the Municipal Finance Management Act No. 56 of 2003.
  • The fund agreement will outline the reporting requirements for the duration of the agreement.
  • The fund agreement will outline the funding drawdowns for the duration of the agreement.


  • Applications that do not adhere to the above criteria will be disqualified.
  • 1 Copy of the entire proposal package must be submitted (including the application).
  • Faxed/emailed applications cannot be accepted.
  • Summaries of CVs of the individual making up the development team (co-writer, writer, researcher, etc.) must be included.
  • Please attach a signed declaration that the applicant is the author and the owner of the copyright in the script / screenplay forming part of the submission, or copies of related agreements with the copy right author and / or owners. All declarations must be endorsed by a commissioner of oaths.
  • Successful application will receive letters of intent. In order to secure the grant, the recipient will be required to sign a contractual agreement with EThekwini Municipality.
  • No applications shall be returned to the applicant.
  • Should the applicant become recipient he/she will be the signatory of the contract and/or on behalf of his/her company


We are currently not accepting Development Fund applications.
Please check back soon!