Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Screen Australia's idea of an intimidating email

The email below, sent eight days ago, has been presented to me

by Elizabeth Grinston, SA's General Cousel, as an example of the kind

of correspondence from me that has led to my being banned by the Screen

Australia Board.

The email, to Liz Crosby, was copied to all in the Screen Australia

Documentary Section in a position to either confirm or deny my version of

events. Liz did not respond, as has been the case for more than 20 months.

This email to Liz Crosby was also copied to Rachel Perkins in the hope that she

might, as a Board member, ask Liz Crosby and others whether they saw my

'Chanti's World' promo before knocking back my application. It is this

'initiating incident' (were this a screenplay) that kickstarted this
dispute. If

Liz, Ross, Claire and Julia maintain that the conversations I have referred

to never occurred, I am clearly deluded or a liar. If the conversations did

occur, my email to Liz is an appropriate way in which to move towards a

resolution of my dispute with SA based on facts and not spin.

I wish that I did not need to publish this. I do not wish to cause Liz Crosby

distress. However, neither am I going to simply give up my fight to have

justice prevail.

Dear Liz Crosby

Not only is my dispute with Screen Australia going to wind up in the

Supreme Court of NSW but it is highly likely (indeed, almost certain)

that the pre-sale I have been offered for 'Chanti's World' will be

withdrawn when it becomes apparent to the broadcaster that regardless

of the pre-sale, regardless of my having ticks in all the right boxes,

Screen Australia will not invest in the film because I have, Ruth

Harley claims, written intimidating correspondence to you, or Claire

or Ross or to all three of you. I don't know what I wrote or when

because Screen Australia will not provide me with any information at

all regarding what I have supposedly written and when that bears

witness to my propensity for intimidation. You know full well that I

have never sought to intimidate you in any way and it would be really

very handy, Liz, if you were to come out and say so. Or,

alternatively, produce some evidence that I have intimidated you.

As you know, because you have been a witness to much here, this

dispute need never have occurred. If Claire Jager and Ross Mathews had

actually viewed my 'promo' for 'Chanti's World' in mid 2009 we would

have been in a position to discuss it in the teleconference that you

sat in on with Ross, Claire and myself. Instead, the conversation

descended into an argument about other factually incorrect statements

Claire had made in her assessment; about such nonsense as her

suggestion that I had alienated the church that had 'stolen' Chanti's

children and so was not likely to get funding from them!. And, in Oct

2010, you were present when Ross and Julia Overton admitted that they

had not seen the 'Chanti's World' promo. You were present when Ross

declared that my 'Chanti's World' application was 'appropriate' and so

know that Julia's declaration some weeks later that it was not was in

contravention of what Ross had said. And you know, because you were in

the crucial final part of the meeting, that I did not leave it

believing that 'Chanti's World' had been 'greenlit'. You knew, in Nov

2010, that Fiona Cameron's assertion that I had left the meeting

believing 'Chanti's World' had been greenlit was a lie. Did you stand

up for me? Did you support my version of events? Did you dispute it

it? No, you have maintained your silence on many matters now where, if

you were to speak, if you were to have told the truth this dispute

would have been resolved very quickly and both I and 'Chantt's World'

would have been treated fairly.

You have chosen with your silence, Liz, to align yourself with the

Documentary Section of SA, with Fiona Cameron, with Ruth Harley,

regardless of the facts, regardless of the truth and have, in the

process, contributed to placing me in a position in which I am banned

as a filmmaker - my own career sacrificed on the altar of yours. I

have worked now for 17 on 'Chanti's World' with not one cent of

funding from any source and now, having acquired a pre-sale, I will

almost certainly lose it in the next week or two as a result of

Claire's incompetence (not viewing my 'promo'), your silence and

Fiona's dismissal of my legitimate complaints with her shifting of the

blame to myself for believing that 'Chanti's World' had been greenlit.

Whilst you are only one of the players in this drama, Liz, you are a

significant one because you have been in a position since Nov 2010 to

tell the truth as you know it and have chosen not to do so. As a

consequence my pre-sale will almost certainly be withdrawn and my

filmmaking career looks to be at an end.  Thanks Liz! My latest blog


I will, of course, fight to the bitter end to prevent Screen Australia

from terminating my career on the basis of allegations that you, along

with all of your co-workers in the Documentary Section and members of

the Screen Australia Board (along with Ruth Harley and Fiona Cameron,

of course) know to be false.


Elizabeth Grinston's response, on behalf of Liz Crosby, speaks for itself:

Dear Mr Ricketson

You have this morning written to Ms Harlock of the Office of the Information

Commissioner, copying (among others) Screen Australia. In that correspondence

you have once again raised the issue of whether Screen Australia has complied

with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act in its response to your

latest requests under that Act. The purpose of this note is not to debate that issue

with you, or to pre-empt Ms Harlock’s response. This note is prompted by your

further correspondence this morning, in the form of an email to Ms Liz Crosby,

a Screen Australia staff member. For the benefit of Ms Harlock, whom you did

not copy on the email, I have set out the email to Ms Crosby below.

You have repeatedly asked Screen Australia to mark up documents released to you

under the Freedom of Information Act to indicate passages which we consider to

be intimidating, and we have expressed the view to you that this is outside of the

scope of our obligations under the Act. This remains our view. However your email

of today to Ms Crosby provides a further, and clear, example of thecorrespondence

to which we have taken objection.

We regard your email to Ms Crosby as aggressive and intimidating. Ms Crosby is

distressed by your email. I must ask you to cease to write such correspondence to

Ms Crosby or any other of our staff.


Elizabeth Grinston

General Counsel

My response to Elizabeth was copied to Rachel Perkins - again in the hope that

she might ask some questions of that bear on the appropriateness or inappropriateness

the Screen Australia's banning of me.

Dear Elizabeth

Thank you for finally making it somewhat clearer in your email yesterday, after

4 months of my asking, just what Screen Australia considers to be ‘intimidating’

in my correspondence – namely that which causes ‘distress’ to the recipient. In

Screen Australia’s view, the verbs ‘to intimidate’ and ‘to distress’ are synonymous!

I am sorry that Liz, whom I have known for close to 40 years, was distressed by

my email yesterday. As I am sure Liz will appreciate I am more than a little distressed

at being banned by the Screen Australia Board, at the behest of Ruth Harley – for

reasons that go back to mid 2009 when, as Liz knows Ross Mathews and Claire

Jager, in the process of assessing my first ‘Chanti’s World’ application, did not view

the ‘promo’ that was the centrepiece of my application. It was also very distressing

to me when Julia Overton declared that my second application with ‘Chanti’s World’

was ‘inappropriate’ after Ross had said it was appropriate. And, as you can imagine,

the fact that I will not be able to use the broadcaster pre-sale that has been offered to

me for ‘Chanti’s World’, and that this will almost certainly be withdrawn in the next

week given Screen Australia’s ban, is distressing to me – a ban that probably spells

the end of my film career. Indeed, the way in which Screen Australia has dealt with

‘Chanti’s World’ this past three years has been very very distressing to me. However,

being distressed is not the same as being intimidated. Ruth Harley’s re-defining of ‘to

be intimidated’ to mean ‘being distressed by’ is the kind of verbal sleight of hand that

has enabled her to get the Screen Australia Board to ban me – a subject that I will

return to a little further on....

To be continued...


  1. Can't read this, James. Not sure if it's my computer or your blog!I think the latter

    1. If you highlight it, it can be read.

      You don't seem to understand, James, that the 21st C femocrat reserves the right to both play hardball like a man and reach for a box of Kleenex tissues when she feels put upon and distressed.

    2. I am not sure what is causing the problem and have not, as yet, been able to fix it. Nor do I have any idea at present of how to fix it, Luddite that I am! Will keep trying...

    3. Fixed, more or less, though the formatting has changed in the process!

    4. Another thing you don't uderstand, James, is that while Crean will
      almost certainly cut Dr Harley loose he wont touch Fiona Cameron. She
      is a clever aparatchik very well connected to both sides of politics
      and will probably take over from Harley when she leaves.

  2. Ricketson's problems have nothing at all to do with whether or not he
    has intimidated or distressed members of Screen Australia staff and
    everything to do with Harley wanting to stop him from saying what
    everyone in the industry says privately but dares not say publicly –
    that Screen Australia is a incompetently run organization run for the benefit of
    the few and that both the Board and Mr Crean know this but choose to
    turn a blind eye.

  3. It is blindingly obvious, even to a blind person, that Screen
    Australia's eligibity criteria right across the board are flexible.
    This is both good and bad. Good, because flexibility should be applied
    to 'guidelines' and bad because the flexibility in SA only applies to
    friends, (CENSORED) and other close associates of ther power brokers
    within Screeen Australia. For filmmakers who are not members of the
    inside circle the guidelines are inflexible. What has happened to
    Ricketson is an object lesson of what happens to those who question
    the status quo. He caused distress to a member of Screen Australia's
    staff! Really! Poor darling. So lets end his career, cries Dr Harley
    and the Board replies 'Yes, yes, yes, we can't have people like
    Ricketson upsetting our valued staff'! Pathetic. Off with her head, I
    say, to quote the Red Queen. Harley's head, that is.