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Bob would have been proud
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Building games is a tough job. It takes courage, hard work, experience and a lot of work to build a game. It also takes a lot of money. Gone are the times when a couple of college drop-outs could build Doom in the garage. The market is very competetive both on mobile and PC and to really stand out you need the money to hire the talented staff, travel to conferences and buy ads. It’ great to know that there are some organizations that can literally give that money for you with no strings attached. One of these companies is Film Victoria agency from Australia.
Film Victoria is the state government agency that provides strategic leadership and assistance to the film, television, games and digital media sectors of Victoria. The fund invests in projects and people, and promote Victoria as a world-class production destination nationally and internationally.
The fund works closely with industry and government to position Victoria as a leader in the Australian knowledge and ideas economy through the growth and development of the screen industry.
We’ve had a chanse to talk with CEO of Film Victoria Jenni Tosi and she told us all about funding of videogames and movies in Australia.
What do you have to do to get money from Film Victoria for your game?
We actually have a number of programs for games.
Assigned Production Investment – Games
This is the major funding stream, focused on prototype and development funding for games projects. We accept applications from any Victorian-based developers, regardless of size or previous experience. Applications attract a $500 AUD fee and if successful, Film Victoria’s investment is assigned to the producer as their equity in the project.
The application process requires a complete description of the project, including budget and timeline estimates, statements about IP ownership, market and competitor analysis, and other business details. All applicants are asked to indicate what accessibility measures they are taking into account as well.
Finally, they are encouraged to provide some form of demo or prototype, if possible, to clearly demonstrate the potential for their project. Fund from this program are able to be spent on staffing and associated development costs, including mentoring and expert advice, but not including capital expenditure (other than for development kits for target platforms).
Games – Release
This program provides small grants which are intended to be used to assist in the marketing and release of existing game projects. The funds are commonly used to engage specialist companies, cover licensing costs and legal fees, and to enable business development through negotiation with publishers and others. The application process is straightforward, with no application fee.
Additionally we have an International Travel program which games practitioners are able to access to undertake travel to international markets or festivals (like GDC) for the purposes of promotion and business development.
We also have a highly successful Games Placement program which provides salary support to companies who wish to invest in upskilling early career games practitioners.
It’s great to see such organizations as Film Victoria supporting game industry in Australia. They are doing an important job for both sides of games industry: developers and gamers. We thank Jenni Tosi for her time and appreciate her involvement in this problem. You’re really making a difference.
All of these programs are competitively assessed by panels made up of industry experts. Applications are of a high standard and funding is competitive. For the development and release funding, we shortlist the most promising applications, the panel then meets with those shortlisted to determine the projects that will be recommended for support, which are then provided to our Board for final approval.
Control of the funding
Successful applicants enter in to a contract with Film Victoria. Each draw down of funds depends on milestone deliverables, which include game builds and project reports (including both status and cost/budget sections). These milestones are negotiable, but the intention is that projects continue to demonstrate that they are on-track before additional funding is provided. This process helps (especially inexperienced) developers to set targets and ensure they stay focused on completion.
About Australian game market
The Australian games industry is quite healthy at the moment, despite being half a world away from the major markets. Over 40 Australian developers participated at GDC this year, our strongest showing to date. We enjoy a great reputation in the worldwide developer community, and the sector continues to grow annually.
There are more than 100 development teams in Victoria at the moment, representing more than 47% of the developers in the country.
Advice for indies looking for money
- Anyone looking for funding is asking someone else to trust their vision and ability to deliver. It is crucial to ensure that you present yourself as understanding your proposal, its implications and its market potential. You may be a top-notch technician, but you have to make sure that you have fully explored the budget, considered the marketability, and presented a reasonable production timeline, or your potential backers are going to question your ability to complete the project successfully.
- Make sure that you understand the reasons your potential backer is willing to provide funds. Try to work out why they are willing to provide money to projects, and consider how your project fits with those goals. Make sure to highlight your project’s relevant aspects.
- Be patient and realistic – success is not always instantaneous. Be calm and confident, and know your own material. If possible, don’t try to conceal weaker aspects of your project, as it will make it much harder for your backers to understand your vision and trust your abilities. Don’t be discouraged if funds are not provided, and try to learn from any feedback you are given.
- Preparing a project for presentation to prospective backers is an opportunity to take a step back and check that it really is as compelling, and viable, as you initially thought it was. By standing in their shoes and looking over what you have prepared for them, it may be possible to detach yourself enough to make harsh judgements which you would not otherwise be likely to make. It may be that your great idea still needs more work before it is ready to be turned into a commercial project; you are advised to do that work before asking others to put their money on the line.