Tuesday, July 3, 2012

letter to Rachel Perkins

Rachel Perkins
Blackfella Films
10 Cecil Street
NSW 2021                                                                                                4th July 2012

Dear Rachel

Imagine this: I allege, in writing, that you have sent me correspondence that has threatened and harassed me, placed me at risk. You know that you have not. What is your first impulse? To ask James Ricketson to produce the correspondence he is referring to, perhaps? So, you do that. James Ricketson ignores you. Not surprising, really, since in the same letter that he accused you or harassing and intimidating him he also made it clear that he would enter into no correspondence with you about his allegations.

You can see where I am going with this – trying to get you to see being falsely accused and banned as happening to you as opposed to a fellow filmmaker.  So what would you do if you were in my position, Rachel? You did not get to where you are now as a filmmaker without being a fighter so I imagine you would fight – especially since the allegations that I have made and presented to the Screen Australia Board (in this scenario I am Chief Executive and you are not a member of the Board) seriously impede your ability to work as a filmmaker in an industry in which you are so dependent, in so many ways, on Screen Australia. Imagine having tried to do any of the work you have done as a filmmaker this past few years with a Screen Australia ban on you forbidding you from even speaking with members of Screen Australia staff, let alone provide you with script development funds or production investment? And this ban based on correspondence that you know does not exist!

None of this is, of course, news. I alerted both yourself and Robert Connolly to this propensity on the part of senior management at Screen Australia to make reference to correspondence that does not exist and then refuse to communicate about it further. This does seem to be standard operating procedure at Screen Australia as it tries to rid itself of a troublesome filmmaker. It is a ploy that only works if the Screen Australia Board does not ask to see the correspondence and if Simon Crean and the Ombudsman likewise bury their heads in the sand like Ostriches.

I spent some time yesterday at the Supreme Court on NSW and am well aware of what I need to do in order to make a Statement of Claim in the Common Law Division to sue Ruth Harley for defamation.  Ruth will have 28 days to file a defence if she is not to be in default. Her defence will be, can only be, copies of the correspondence I have supposedly written that contain evidence of my having intimidated, harassed and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff.

I imagine that the Screen Australia legal department (whose understanding of the law is hopefully somewhat better than my own) could, if it chose, play all sorts of lawerly games to either keep this matter out of the court or to redefine ‘intimidation’ and ‘harassment’ such that even this letter to you could be deemed to be intimidating. I more or less expect it! However, my advice is that Ruth will eventually have to produce the correspondence. When she cannot I will have won the case. More importantly, Ruth will look very silly (I am being kind here) for having banned a filmmaker on false pretences. And of course, Rachel Perkins is going to look very silly (again, I am being kind) for having stood by and allowed this miscarriage of justice to occur whilst a member of the Screen Australia Board and in a position to prevent it from occurring.

Bureaucrats, like politicians, are roosters one day, feather dusters the next. Ruth, Fiona, Glen and other members of the Board will all be feather dusters within the next few years. You will still be making films. A new lot of roosters will come along and make a lot of noise and then they too will be gone and you will, I trust, still be making films long after your stint as a Board member is over. I am not suggesting here that your allegiance should be first to a filmmaker and only secondly to the Board. I am suggesting that your first allegiance should be to the truth and not to be a party to actions carried out based on lies. If I have harassed, intimidated or placed anyone at Screen Australia risk I deserve to be pilloried in public. If I have not, Ruth Harley and the Screen Australia Board deserve to be pilloried in public.

best wishes

James Ricketson


  1. Rachel Perkins is a talented filmmaker and fully deserving of being supported but are we entitled to know how much money has been invested by the Screen Australia Board whilst she has been a member of the Board? Isnt there a significant conflict of interest here? As for Perkins voting to ban Ricketson I presume she knows something that hasnt come out yet.

    1. As a member of the board Perkins must be privy to evidence Harley refuses to release regarding the circumstances surrounding Ricketson's banning. She should now share the evidence with the film community.Not for the first time I am somewhat embarrassed to remain anonymous but, with projects being considered by Screen Australia, it is in my best interests to remain so.