Development Fund

Durban Film Office Development Fund Fact Sheet

A. Programme Overview- What do we fund/ what funding do we provide?

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.

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

B. Eligibility Criteria-Can I apply?

  • 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 asdefined 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.
  • Applicants may submit only one project per funding cycle.
  • Previous grant awardees must wait two cycles before applying for new development funds.

C. Submission Criteria – What must I submit with my application?

  • Completed application form.
  • A motivation letter (maximum 2 pages), expressing why the project should be supported.
  • A project plan detailing how the funds will be used over the next 12 months with clear objectives and deliverables.
  • Development budget and schedule.
  • 1 page synopsis.
  • Treatment or project outline; (Fiction projects submit a narrative treatment and Documentaries submit a detailed outline).
  • A completed script (at least first draft).
  • Professional profiles of key creative (writer, producer, director).
  • Examples and/ or showreels of previous works if available.
  • Company Registration documents
  • Valid SARS tax clearance certificate.
  • Certified copy of South African identity document.
  • BEE Certificate


  • Applicants are not permitted to direct any questions or comments to evaluation panel members in advance of deadlines or following decisions. All inquiries pertaining to the fund must be directed to Durban Film Office staff only.
  • The Durban Film Office reserves the right to alter program guidelines with general public notice to all potential applicants.
  • The number of awards and amount awarded is contingent on confirmation of the Durban Film Offices annual budget.

D. 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.

E. 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?

F. 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.

G. 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 financing contracts with the Ethwekwini Municipality.
  • The Durban Film Office Fund support is to be acknowledged with a Durban Film Office credit and logo on the production and publicity and promotional materials relating to the production, subject to customary exclusions and exceptions.
  • 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.

H. 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.


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