Thursday, June 7, 2012

open letter to Rachel Perkins and Robert Connolly

Dear Rachel and Robert

I have written to you both several times this past 15 months in the hope that you might, as members of the Board (and as practicing filmmakers), take an interest in my long-running dispute with Screen Australia – not on the basis of spin but on the basis of verifiable facts. Neither of you has had the professional courtesy to even acknowledge receipt of my letters or emails.

On 22nd May I wrote yet another letter to Glen Boreham in which I asked the question:

“Did Ruth Harley consult with yourself and the Board before taking the unprecedented step of banning a filmmaker from not only making applications but of speaking with anyone at Screen Australia? If the Screen Australia Board was consulted, did any member of it ask to see the correspondence Ruth Harley refers to in support of her ban? Or was the Screen Australia Board prepared to take Harley at her word?”

Glen has not responded to my letter to date so let me put the question to you both: 

Did Ruth Harley present the Board with the proposition that I should be banned on the basis of my having intimidated, harassed and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff? If so, did either of you request that Ruth provide evidence to back up her accusations or did you simply take her word for it that such correspondence existed?


  1. James, when I first read of your problems with Screen Australia I thought you were just another whingeling wanker filmmaker complaining because your latest attempt to get your nose in the public trough had been thwarted. Now I'm not so sure. I wouldhave though by now that one of two things would have happened - the release of the intimidating correspondence or a letter from Screen Australia's legal department. Neither of these has occurred. I think it fair to work on the presumption now that the correspondence does not exist and that Ruth Harley is a liar. Even more worrying is that the Screen Australia Board (including Rachel Perkins, whom I admire enormously)and Simon Crean apparently have no problem with Harley lying and that the Ombudsman will not,l cannor or does not want to even ask Harley to prove that the correspondence exists. Dishonesty combined with incompetence does not lead me, as an aspiring film producer, to have much faith in Screen Australia and, tobe franki, makes me scared shitless of even asking Film Development to explain how one of its key Readers could make some very basic errors in her reading of my screenplay. To even ask a question seems to be a dangerous and foolhardy thing to do. I publish this anonymously very reluctantly but with an eye to the future - afuture that can so easily be denied to any film director or producer if he or she asks the wrong questions. Shame, Screen Australia.

  2. The problem for both Screen Australia and the Ombudsman now is that if they admit that the correspondence Cameron and Harley refer to does not exist we will all be entitled to ask why it had taken this long for this admission to be made. And another question: If Ricketson had not persevered as he has and pissed Harley off enough for her to ban him and threaten to sue (the threats are not veiled, they are obvious) would the truth ever have seen the light of day? Not if the SA Board and the Ombudsman had anything to do with it obviously. If the Ombudsman can’t ask Harley to release the correspondence WTF is the role of the Ombudsman?

  3. Reluctantly anonymousJune 11, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    I liked ‘Mabo’, I liked ‘Bran Neu Dae’ and I liked ‘The First Australians’ and I think that Rachel Perkins is a talented filmmaker with a great deal to contribute to this industry. I hope it does not come across as racist or sexist or mean-spirited to ask how much money the Screen Australia Board has voted to give to Blackfella Films (Perkins’ company) while she has been a member of the Board? And how much money has been approved by the Board for films in which members of the Board have a vested financial interest? Are we entitled to know the answers to questions like this?