NZ On Air has published its RFP for this year’s webseries funding. Applications are due by early October; decisions will be confirmed out of the final 2016 board meeting in early December.
The webseries fund was created in 2013. Last year NZOA supported eight series (more than the originally-intended six) in response to the 109 applications received.
While the bar to win funding is pretty high, NZOA is tightening the application criteria further this year. That will, hopefully, encourage some of those considering submissions either to up their game or not bother. Beyond reinforcing the idea that there’s considerable amount of interest in making webseries, having 100+ applications for a fund of a few hundred thousand dollars doesn’t really help anyone.
The requirement to provide a sample of the work such as a pilot or episode remains as the major disincentive to just banging together an application.
This year there’s also a requirement for co-investment, and strong encouragement to partner with platforms and/or broadcasters. NZOA’s Head of Digital Brenda Leeuwenberg stressed that having a clear understanding of a project’s potential audience and strategies to reach that audience was key. While free to air audiences are diminishing, they still dwarf audiences for most webseries content. While NZOA has often targeted its digital funding to support content for niche audiences, the agency wants funded work to be viewed as much as possible.
Of the eight series funded late last year, all but one are currently in production although only The Candle Wasters (supported for Bright Summer Night) has announced a premiere date.
The RFP document contains more information. The application deadline is 7 October.
Image: Justin Harwood’s High Road (pictured, top), the third season of which was one of the eight webseries NZ On Air funded for this year. Last year High Road won gongs including the Web Series World Cup and NZ Web Fest Best Web Series Award.