Sunday, September 16, 2012

Yet another letter for Rachel Perkins!

Rachel Perkins
Blackfella Films
10 Cecil Street
NSW 2021                                                                                                           17th Sept. 2012

Dear Rachel

You are now aware, from a recent interchange between myself and Elizabeth Grinston (Senior Legal Counsel to Screen Australia) that one example has been presented to me of my allegedly intimidating correspondence. In Elizabeth’s view the verb ‘to intimidate’ is pretty much identical in meaning to the verb ‘to distress’ - rendering any email or letter from me to a member of Screen Australia staff that has caused them to feel ‘distressed’ evidence of my having intimidated them. An extraordinary proposition!

I have not published this email exchange online to date because I know it will cause distress to one particular member of Screen Australia’s staff whom I do not wish to distress if it can possibly be helped. However, I am more than a little distressed myself that my career as a filmmaker is pretty much at an end (for as long as the current regime is in power, at least) and I am not going to give up without a fight – even if this does cause distress to this person.

My suggestion that this dispute be put in the hands of an independent Conciliator, made months ago, fell on deaf ears. Ruth Harley is not interested in any form of resolution that would involve the facts being looked at dispassionately by an independent arbitrator. And my attempt to achieve a just resolution based on facts and not spin through the office of the Ombudsman has borne no fruit to date.

In the interests of a distress-free resolution here’s an alternative to my publishing online the interchange between myself and Elizabeth Grinston. Whilst my problems with Screen Australia began in mid-2009 when Martha Coleman and Elizabeth Grinston decided that I was not a ‘proven producer’ and so could not work as a ‘mentor-producer’ with young filmmakers, the dispute proper got off the ground, as you know, when (I allege) Claire Jager, in the process of assessing my first application with ‘Chanti’s World’ (also mid 2009) did not view the ‘promo’ that was the centrepiece of my application – a ‘promo’ that encapsulated, in 7 or so minutes, 14 years in the life of the central character of my documentary. Likewise, neither Ross Mathews nor Julia Overton viewed it. Several conversations were had about this and there are four people in a position to either confirm or deny my version of events – Claire Jager, Ross Mathews, Julia Overton and Liz Crosby. For close to two years now all four could have placed on record words along the lines of the following:

I have no recollection of any conversation in which Claire, Ross or Julia said or even implied that they had not viewed the ‘Chanti’s World’ promo.”

Such a declaration would have had the effect of pitting my version of events against the recollections of four others : four against one. Any reasonable person, other than a conspiracy theorist, would arrive at the conclusion that Ricketson must be wrong and that Jager, Overton, Mathews and Crosby must be right.

So here’s my suggestion: Get Claire Jager, Ross Mathews and Liz Crosby to place on record their recollections of conversations had vis a vis the ‘promo’ for ‘Chanti’s World.’ If they all state that they have no recollection of these conversations or if they deny they occurred I will clearly be outnumbered and admit defeat. I will abandon my case in the Supreme Court and publish online whatever statement Screen Australia provides me with and cease my blogging.

If, on the other hand, Ross, Liz and Claire confirm the truth of my recollections, confirm that this dispute began with a cockup on the part of Screen Australia and not as a result of my believing that my ‘Chanti’s World’ application had been ‘greenlit’, then this dispute should be looked at in this context and not in the context that Fiona Cameron has imposed upon it to protect Screen Australia staff from criticism for the ongoing series of cockups that have occurred. I trust that my use of the word ‘cockup’ causes you no distress and is therefore, in the view of Elizabeth Grinston, intimidating!

As I have stated many times, if I have intimidated (as opposed to ‘distressed’) any member of Screen Australia staff it is appropriate that I be banned. If I have not intimidated anyone, if I have not placed anyone at risk, the ban should be lifted. The official ban, that is. Screen Australia can keep up its unofficial ban if it so chooses. There is nothing that I can do about that, but the official ban carries with it the clear message: James is the kind of person who intimidates Screen Australia staff in order to achieve his own selfish goals. This is what I want expunged from the Screen Australia files and the only way that this can occur is for the ban to be lifted and for there to be an acknowledgement that I have intimidated no-one.

best wishes

James Ricketson


  1. James, ya dreamin' mate! Rachel has nothing to gain from helping you and everthing to gain for ignoring your letters as she has. I'm sure she has lots of projects in the pipeline that require the imprimatur of Screen Australia and the Board and she is not going to jeopardize these in order to fight a battle based on principle. Get real, man. You are being fucked over. Best to lie back and find some way of enjoying it than to keep screaming 'rape'. No one is listening. No-one cares. Welcome to the real world!

  2. Regretfully AnonymousSeptember 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Come on Dr. Harley, Mr Ricketson has handed you a gun and invited you to make a liar of him and put him out of his misery. All Claire Jager, Ross Mathews, Liz Crosby and Julia Overton have to do is place on record that they did see Ricketson's promo and he will retire from the battle and you'll be free of his intimidating correspondence. PS I know some of the key players in this melodrama well and regret writing this anonymously but I do not want to suffer the same fate as Ricketson as I am not ready to be forced into retirement yet.

  3. Let me get this straight! A filmmaker makes a submission to Screen Australia. The Project Manager somehow or other manages not to look at the footage backing up his proposal. Nonetheless Screen Australia knocks the project back without insisting that the Project Manager at least look at the promo first? Four members of Screen Australia staff have been involved in conversations with the filmmaker, or so he says, in which they all agree that not one of them saw the promo. Ricketson is either lying about this or telling the truth but the four Screen Australia staff members will, even after close to two years, neither confirm nor deny that what Ricketson says is true. Why? Unless I am missing something there can only be one reason - that Ricketson is telling the truth, that his application was knocked back without anyone seeing his promo (a bit like knocking back a script development application without reading the screenplay!) and that no-one - not the Screen Australia Board, not Simon Crean, not the Ombudsman - is prepared to ask these four people whether or not they viewed the promo? Am I missing something?

    1. This is a pretty accurate description. Yes, Claire, Ross, Liz and Julia (no longer at Screen Australia) have ever either conformed or denied my version of events - as they could so easily have at any time in the past 21 months. If my version is true, the whole context of this dispute changes. Instead of being characterized by Fiona Cameron as a filmmaker embittered by discovering that his project had not been 'greenlit', as he had thought, I must be viewed as a filmmaker with a legitimate complaint that has never been addressed. And, whilst this has ramifications for me that are unfortunately (to say the least) the lack of a functioning complaints system within Screen Australia should be of concern to Simon Crean, to the Screen AUstralia Board and to the Ombudsman. That they are all quite prepared to allow such a system to prevail within our peak film funding body should be of concern to all filmmakers. Or so it seems to me!

  4. Why are you picking on Rachel, Ricketson? Trying to embarrass her in cyberspace?

    1. Simple, Rachel is a member of the Board that voted to ban me on trumped up charges and she is in a position to do all that she can to reverse the ban, based on facts and not the lies that Harley has perpetrated –namely that I have ‘intimidated’ staff. What I have done is ‘distress’ certain members of staff by requesting of them that they act with honesty, integrity, professional courtesy, in accordance with the Public Service Code of Conduct and Screen Australia guidelines and just plain old fashioned good manners. When they have lied to me, I have used expressions such as ‘playing fast and loose with the truth’ and ‘parsimonious with the truth’ for many months before abandoning euphemism and using the words ‘lying’ and ‘liar’. I have always left open the possibility (read my blog) that it may be me who is lying and Screen Australia has had ample opportunity to demonstrate, to prove, that I am a liar. It has taken none of them. At the highest level Screen Australia has decided to ignore me and hope that I just give up. As should be clear by now, I have no intention of doing so and will quite happily meet SA in the Supreme Court to battle this out to its logical conclusion – one which Screen Australia may win with a TKO but not before I have landed a few good punches.

  5. Perkins is a young filmmaker who needs Harley and the Board to further her career. Ricketson is an old has-been who should be put out to pasture anyway. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out where Perkins’ allegiances lie. As anyone who has had intimate dealings with SA knows, the organization is incompetently run by a clique of senior bureaucrats who help out their mates and who know that there is no way the Board or Mr Crean is going to say boo to them. They should all be sacked – the lot of them.

  6. Hang on, Perkins is not that young, but that's not the point. As a mamber of the Board she has a duty to see to it that her decisions, the decisions of the Board, are sound decisions based on good avice given to the Voard by Ruth Harley. Unless Perkins sees her job as just rubber-stamping whatever Harley presents to the Board she needs to be pretty bloody sure that the advice she and the other Board members received from Harley was sound. Was it? I don't know but is mystifying (unless we are being kept totally in the dark) that no evidence has been presented to the Baord in support of the idea that Ricketson is guilty of intimidation and placing SA staff at risk. Please explain, Rachel, for those of use who look on in wonder as the Board of which you are a part votes time after time to give you heaps of money???