Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Making a script development application when banned

Rachel Perkins
Blackfella Films
10 Cecil Street
NSW 2021                                                                                          23rd   Oct. 2012

Dear Rachel

Regardless of Ruth Harley’s ban on me, I have made yet another application to Screen Australia for development funds. I believe that it would be appropriate for my application to remain ‘in the system’ (along with my recent application for script development funds for HONOUR) until 9th Nov when the board decides to either ratify or lift the ban on me.

My 19th Oct cover letter for SHIPS IN THE NGHT speaks for itself.

Dear Script Development

                                         re SHIPS IN THE NIGHT

My 2nd Oct application for script development funds for HONOUR was knocked back by Ruth Harley on the grounds that I have intimidated and placed Screen Australia staff at risk. Ruth has provided no evidence in support of her allegations and I do not accept the knockback of HONOUR as valid, despite its having been ratified by the Screen Australia board.

I am making another application with another project that was developed to first draft stage by Screen NSW. No doubt SHIPS IN THE NIGHT will also be knocked back unread, again as a result of the board’s decision to ban me - the quality of film projects being of less importance than that filmmakers should not cause any distress to members of Screen Australia staff by asking questions or criticizing them for their lack of transparency and accountability, for their inability to abide of Screen Australia guidelines or the Public Service Code of Conduct.

When this project is knocked back I will make an application with another of projects which will also be knocked back unread, unassessed.

The ban on myself, initiated by Ruth Harley and requiring the alteration of Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade to make it legal, is motivated by a toxic combination of spite and vengeance for my having the temerity to be a critic of senior management at SA in the public domain. It is to be hoped, at some point in the not too distant future, that members of the Screen Australia Board will request of Ms Harley that she provide evidence in support of her allegations and, when it is not forthcoming, lift the ban.

best wishes

Do you really believe, Rachel, that in reading and assessing SHIPS IN THE NIGHT and HONOUR (two feature film projects) that members of Screen Australia staff can be placed in any kind of risk? If so, could you and your fellow board members please indicate to me just how this ‘risk’ manifest itself? And, if you can come up with a plausible explanation, can you please indicate to me just how it is that I am supposed to convince the board that my correspondence, in the future, will NOT pose a risk to any Screen Australia employee whose job it may be to read it?

best wishes

James Ricketson


  1. Have been around the world in the past 80 and arrived home to find this is still going on! Yawn. WTF! Ricketson might be a raving fucking lunatic (no offence, James) but maybe one of his script is good. Shit, maybe both are. Or neither. Only one way to find out, SA. Or will SA only read screenplays written by nice people who donpt say nasty things about Ruth Harley! WTF!

  2. Yes, 'Anonymous' (an enormously popular name in cyberspace!) I may well be a raving lunatic who has written one decent first draft and is well on the way to writing another. On the other hand both could be crap, of course. That neither will be read the the reasons given by Ruth Harley is absurd.

    As for SA only wanting to read screenplays by 'nice' people (as opposed to unpleasant people such as myself) there is a real problem here - especially if being 'nice' means, in effect, being a friend of someone in SA in a position to say 'yea' or 'nay' to your project.

    If any kind of independent review were to be conducted I think that some interesting funding patterns would emerge that have little or nothing to do with quality of projects or track records of applicants. Unfortunately, no such independent monitoring occurs within Screen Australia and there is no functioning complaints system to refer to if anyone should raise questions about funding patterns.

    The solution, I think, is to keep senior (and junior) film bureaucrats moving in and out of SA at a rate that makes it difficult for cliques of 'nice' people (on both sides of the funding desk) to form. Or, if they do form (which seems inevitable) that such cliques of 'nice' people are short-lived.