Thursday, May 17, 2012

A simple solution

Regardless of who is right and who is wrong in my dispute with Screen Australia one thing is clear: it has gone on for much too long and is wasting the time and energy of too many people. There should be some mechanism whereby a quick and equitable resolution can be reached. It could have happened 15 months ago. It could happen next week. Here’s how it could work. A Conciliator is called in who has no connection with Screen Australia or myself and no vested interest in the outcome – a cross between Judge Judy and a marriage guidance counsellor. S/he would be interested in verifiable facts only. Present at the meeting would be myself, Ross Mathews, Liz Crosby Fiona Cameron and, perhaps, on  skype, Claire Jager in Melbourne.

CONCILIATOR James, you have called Fiona a liar in public. Why?
JAMES Because Fiona claimed in November 2010 that I had placed correspondence on file that I claim does not exist.
CONCILIATOR Fiona, does the correspondence exist?
FIONA Yes, I have it with me.
JAMES Why have you waited 17 months…?
CONCILIATOR James, you’ll have an opportunity to have your say.

CONCILIATOR looks at correspondence.

CONCILIATOR Well, James, it certainly does seem from your letters and emails that you came away from the meeting with Ross and Julia in August 2010 in the belief that your project was to receive development funding and that Fiona was merely stating verifiable facts in her letter of Nov 2010? Do you have anything to say?
JAMES I’d completely forgotten that I wrote that! I’m sorry, Fiona, I’ve really cocked up badly here. I don’t know what else to say! This is very embarrassing!


CONCILIATOR Fiona, do you have copies of the correspondence you claim in your letter of Nov 2010 that James wrote with you?
CONCILIATOR Does the correspondence exist?
FIONA I have not been able to locate it, but it was my understanding…
CONCILIATOR But James has been asking you for 17 months to produce the correspondence! Why, when you realized that you could not, did you not apologize for making an error and correct the files accordingly? Do you have anything to say to James?
FIONA Yes, I should have done so. I’m sorry James.
JAMES Apology accepted, Fiona.

On the question of whether or not Ross, Julia or Claire had seen the ‘promo’ for Chanti’s World

CONCILIATOR Ross, Julia, Claire, Liz, you are aware that James has been claiming for 17 months that you admitted, Ross, that neither you nor Claire had seen his promo before a decision was made to knock back his application. Is James’ recollection accurate? In line with your own?
ROSS No, Claire and I both saw James’ promo.
CONCILIATOR So, Liz, when James says that you overheard Ross admitting he had not seen the promo, is he mistaken?
LIZ I have no recollection of hearing Ross admit to seeing the promo.
JAMES            But, why Ross, Liz, have I had to wait 17 months for you to answer this question? I asked it so many times!
CONCILIATOR That’s a good question, James, but not really relevant to the central question of whether or not Screen Australia is justified in banning you.


CONCILIATOR Did any of you view James’ promo before a decision was made regarding his first Chanti’s World application.
ROSS I don’t recall seeing it.
CLAIRE I can’t be sure.
LIZ Ross did admit to not seeing it whilst I was in the room.

Yes, there are lots of tributaries that could be explored in this dispute (and bureaucratic clouds of obfuscation that could be thrown up) but this is the essence of it. I have fought for my right to have such a conciliation meeting held by an independent arbiter and, yes, I have written many letters insisting that the matter be cleared up on the basis of facts and not merely assertions. The correspondence Fiona and Ruth claim to have on file either exists or it does not.

A meeting along the lines described above could happen next week. I would suggest that such a conciliation meeting occur as soon as possible and that all present agree with whatever findings the Conciliator arrives at and that the matter to be put to rest once and for all. If I am guilty as charged, Screen Australia’s ban is not an unreasonable one. If I am not guilty as charged an apology is in order.

As for the question of whether or not Fiona Cameron investigates complaints about Fiona Cameron (at least in this instance) the Conciliator needs merely to read, in the Screen Australia file, the correspondence between myself, Fiona Cameron, Ruth Harley and Glen Boreham.


  1. Mate, your dialogue sucks, the characters are two dimension and where is the transformational arc!

  2. What is the correspondence that Fiona said you had 'placed on file'? You refer to it alot but I can't find what it is.

    1. The relevant quote: “Unfortunately it appears from your correspondence that you came away from that meeting with an understanding that your application for further development funding for Chanti’s World had been effectively green lit. This is not the case, nor could it be.”

      This statement reframes the context of my complaint in such a way as to make me appear to be (to quote Wade, @ Encore online) a “sanctimonious government funding leech” who believed that just a quick chat with Ross and Julia would do the trick in terms of obtaining development funding for CHANTI’S WORLD. If there is any such correspondence on file I am, at the very least, a fool to have placed it there – knowing full well (after 40 years of experience) that Ross was not in a position to give me any assurances at all. And nor did he. I contend that the correspondence to which Fiona refers does not exist. She has certainly not, this past 17 months, produced it – despite many requests.
      Fiona’s use of the phrase “further funding” is incorrect. I have never received, in the past 16 years of working on CHANTI’S WORLD, one cent of funding from any government funding body. Not have I ever complained to Screen Australia about not receiving funding. My complaint relates to lack of due process – a significant part of which is that in assessing a documentary proposal the ‘promo’ accompanying that proposal should be viewed by the assessor.

  3. So had you not written any correspondence before that? Was she responding to a letter from you? Could that be the correspondence?

    Does Wade work for Encore? Not good journalism practice to write that sort of thing, wow.

    1. Anonymous, yes, I had written correspondence before that. Yes, Fiona Cameron was responding to a complaint by me. I doubt very much that Wade works for Encore, though I suspect she may work for Screen Australia. Hard to know for sure when commentators do not identify themselves.