The government’s $50 million Temporary Interruption Fund (TIF), designed to help productions should they incur additional expenses due to COVID-related delay, has finally opened for applications.

To be administered by Screen Australia, the contingency fund should assist producers to get their projects up and financed despite the exclusion of coronavirus from insurance cover.

Under the TIF, up to 60 per cent of the total budget of a project, or $4 million (whichever is less), will be available should a COVID-19 event occur in either the last two weeks of pre-production or during principal photography.

Specifically, the cover is triggered in the instance of COVID-19-related death, injury or illness of up to 10 named individuals, limited to key cast, directors, producers and heads of department.

TIF only covers local production, or official co-productions. This includes feature films, drama series, documentary series or single episode programs that pass Screen Australia’s Significant Australian Content; or entertainment or reality series that the agency deems capable of passing the test. It is for live-action projects only; animation projects may only apply if they have a hybrid live-action component.

Only new productions shooting this financial year will be eligible, and production companies will need to pay a fee to receive the cover (calculated at 1 per cent of TIF coverage; so if TIF coverage is $1 million, the fee would be $10,000).

Further, producers must have Film Producers Indemnity (FPI) insurance covering the named individuals from an approved insurer (currently only Sura or Allianz).

TIF is capped, and as per the Screen Australia website: “If the funds are exhausted, no further support can be provided to productions.”

As the agency cannot commit more than the $50 million of coverage at any one time, productions that are not immediately approved will then be waitlisted.

Projects will be assessed and prioritised via: “proximity to the commencement of principal photography; readiness to enter production; demonstrable need to acquire TIF coverage to move into production; impact of the length of principal photography on the ability of TIF to support other productions; and the total current contingent TIF exposure.”

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher said: “If a production is designated by Screen Australia as eligible under TIF this will allow financiers to release funds so production can commence,.

“Importantly, TIF means that local productions can get underway and cast and crew can return to work.”

“TIF will complement the practical COVID-Safe Guidelines, which have been developed and released by industry to support a safe return to work.”

Screen Australia Graeme Mason CEO expects the fund will support around 50 projects and 11,000 jobs.

TIF forms part of the Federal Government’s $250 million arts rescue package, announced in late June. Applications will be open until May 28, 2021 or until funds are exhausted.

The full eligibility criteria is available here.

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