Monday, October 24, 2011

Encore Magazine online censorship

I am new to this blogging business. If this actually appears in cyberspace it will be a miracle. I have no idea what I am doing - just following the prompts.

Only decided to start a blog when Encore magazine censored one of my comments - not just a sentence or two, or a few words, but the whole comment. It was my own contribution to an online debate about the contempt in which screenwriters are held by too many producers and by film funding bodies in particular:

"The problems Australian film (both culture and industry) confront have been well articulated here @ Encore on many occasions, by many contributors – including the responses to this excellent piece. Solutions to our problems, however, have been thin on the ground. There is one that I suspect most in the industry would agree on if we were capable of speaking with one voice. To quote Doug’s politely put question: “Dr Harley could you please quit now?”
The rumour floating around the industry at the time Harley got the job was that Garrett wanted a non-Australian CEO who would get rid of the dead wood within the AFC and bring to an end the nepotistic networks that were rife at the time. The reverse has occurred. These networks now have virtual tenure and its members will retain their powerful positions for as long as she is CEO. Ruth Harley is, to the film industry, what Jonathan Shier was to the ABC – a disaster. The sooner we have a new CEO at Screen Australia the better.
With a new CEO who believes in transparency and accountability in practice and not merely in theory, a new CEO with no interest in perpetuating nepotistic networks, Australian film could get a new lease of life without there being the need to ‘tear it all down and start again’ – to paraphrase Doug.
A new CEO would assess the track records of those in senior management and senior creative decision-making positions within Screen Australia and simply not renew the contracts of those who have demonstrated year in, year out, their inability to either develop screenplays or invest in films that audiences want to see. If need be a new CEO could encourage some of the dead wood (decades old antiques, in some cases!) to leave Screen Australia with golden handshakes.  This would be much more cost effective than allowing the same clique of failed film Mandarins to continue to waste more tax-payer dollars investing in mediocre films produced from underdeveloped screenplays.  
Getting rid of Ruth Harley necessitates that the industry, speaking with one voice, says to Simon Crean, “Please, Minister, look at the mountain of letters of complaint you have about Ruth Harley, take the film industry’s complaints seriously, take Screen Australia spin with a huge grain of salt and provide the organization with a new CEO as soon as possible.” "


  1. Censorhsip rules at Encore!

    Sent this to Encore a week ago:

    Hey Colin

    I live in a house full of filmmakers and we are all wondering how often and for what reason you censor comments!!!

    Yesterday I posted a comment for one of my housemates (email address) who is superparanoid about having it traced back to her computer. Could you please publish it or explain why it is needs to be censored. As you know I've had other stuff censored also and we are now wondering how much encore censors!!! More importantly why it does so given that so many of the comments posted pull no punches when it comes to criticizing the funding bodies.

    No response!

    Here's my censored comment:

    new captain needed

    We all may disagree on a few of the details but we all agree that there is a structural problem that needs to be addressed – namely that the funding bodies are failing, with their various policies, to develop and provide production investment in films that Australian and international audiences want to see. Radical change is required but I don’t agree that the whole system needs to be ripped down and that we need to start again from scratch. And it is not going to happen anyway, so it’s pointless to act as if this is some kind of viable solution. Ruth Harley is the Captain of the Good Ship Screen Australia and if she is incapable of providing it with direction but insists on going around and around in the same old pointless circles she needs to be replaced by someone who can envisage a destination beyond the horizon and who is prepared to insist that many of her crew walk the plank!

  2. On 13th July question sent this to Encore.
    “I am a young filmmaker, still in my 20s. I haven’t seen one Australian film in the last few years that has appealed to me or my generation – though ‘Wasted on the Young’ was a brave attempt and almost worked. I get the impression that the funding bodies behind ‘Griff the Invisible’ thought that this story would appeal to young people but really it was dreadful because the script was lousy. And the script for ‘A Heartbeat Away’ was just an embarrassment. No wonder no-one I know between 20 and 35 wants to see any Australian film. They suck. What are you doing to find out what young people want to see rather than keeping on pumping out crap that old bureaucrats think young people want to see?”

    Encore didnt publish it. I also sent to the Industry Briefing as a question for Ruth Harley and Tania Chambers. Industry Briefing wrote back:
    “Is it okay to amend to the following? Am trying to ensure your views are and the intent of the question remains but individual filmmakers do not feel under attack.”

    This is what Industry Briefing wanted to censor: “I get the impression that the funding bodies behind ‘Griff the Invisible’ thought that this story would appeal to young people but really it was dreadful because the script was lousy. And the script for ‘A Heartbeat Away’ was just an embarrassment.”

    I didnt get to read Industry Briefing’s email until after the event. Sandy George didnt even read out the censored version of my question but her own paraphrased version.

    To the organizers of the Industry Briefing: “When film critics review films they don’t take into account the feelings of the director when they write their review. Why should they. 'A Heartbeat Away' is an embarrassment. The critics hated it. Everyone I know hated it. The audience hated it enough for it to close down in three weeks. Some of the people who thought it was going to be a terrific film were in the room (for the Briefing) but the censoring of my question let them off the hook. I cant help but think that it was the feelings of the bureaucrats onstage that were being protected. If Ruth Harley can say in public that 'Sleeping Beauty' is brilliant why cant I say in public that 'A Heartbeat Away' is an embarrassment?
    Encore eventually explained why it hadn't published my comment:
    “Just to clear things up…Your comment, legally to protect us, needs to be censored and/or sanitized. I’m not completely up to scratch with libel stuff, but held off publishing it until I could speak to my boss, who said it’s a risky one. If you would like me to edit it, I can, but that would be sanitizing obviously. Apologies, we appreciate the debate on Encore but we need to protect ourselves first and foremost. I hope you understand.”

    To Encore: “Which part of what I have written is libellous? Here’s what I wrote to Industry Briefing organizers: "I was pissed that my question was censored. So what if the filmmakers are there! What's the point of having a debate if you can't say what you think? It wasn't a debate at all of course. There was only one point of view presented and my question, at least, watered down so that Sandy could get some laughs out of it. Pathetic.” I don’t think my comment was censored to protect the makers of ‘Heartbeat’ at all but to protect the bureaucrats that developed and invested in such a crap film. I spoke to someone else whose question was edited. What the f***! Three aging bureaucrats and one tame moderator on stage and an audience of terrified filmmakers with no balls is how I read the event. Im just beginning my career and so have no balls either. I dont want my career to end before its begun. If you have to edit my comment for legal reasons please let your readers know why you have done so without of course being libellous in the process.”

    I can see why Encore has to be careful but even though I am not a lawyer I cant see anything defamatory in what I wrote. I hope this can get published on this blog.

  3. it's all about money, you need to pay a moderator to review comments,without anonymous comments you would increase the quality of the opinion and reduce the number of comments to moderate.


    AWESOME to see a photo of you, for starters, James. Wonderful.
    2ndly, awesome to come by you, but not so awesome the circumstances.

    Loved: "If it were so, Australia’s ‘proven producers’ would only
    be taking into production high quality screenplays. This is not the
    case as any viewer of most of the films produced this past four years
    could attest." !

    Ruth Harley & the alleged potential 'risk'; my head spinneth with thee.

    (creative paraphrasing)“If you’re an artist, being a good wo/man is ugly
    much the point when it comes to your actual grant accomplishments.
    Roman Polanski is an artist."

    Would heaps love to stay in touch, James, IF you're not a filmie nomad at present; & if you are, good luck to ya, HONEY.

    I plan to publish my novel this year/I ACTUALLY HAVE A GOAL after being suicidal (me no love me) long time.; see the 'ABOUT' if you care to. Posted today, actually...

    Did you make that Cambodian film? How's the adopted daughter?

    Will follow you, but not if it means joining blogspot, hope you understand: I don't like too many online pies. Not on Facie, Pinterest, Twits, etc.

    Typo/grammos: "when s/heR reads it"; "narrow guidelines doES not acknowledge"; "but lets (') presume not only"... soz, can't help self - addicted to Englais.

  5. And re your above, James, I don't see justifiable why the comment was not included/censored IF "all comments" were allowed in the debate. Possibly they censored/did not include many other comments?

    I wouldn't know, not in touch with the scene, but just wondering. Yet I DO understand your sensitivity to being censored, given your obviously vocal history re Screen Australia. To my view, your comment was simply a support of Doug's printed comment and, it is hard not to infer, an eloquently extended comment at that.


  6. Doh! Just read your 'ABOUT' - see you're working on Chanti's telling - forget my Q :)