Wednesday, November 7, 2012

for Glen Boreham, Chair, SA Board... yet again!

Glen Boreham
Screen Australia Board
level 4, 150 William St
Woolloomooloo 2011
Dear Glen                                                                                8th Nov 2012

Dear Glen

You have not responded to my letter of 29th Oct. The board has not
responded to my letter of 22nd. Oct. Rachel Perkins has not responded
to my letter of 6th Oct or any of my previous letters.  I think it is
fairly safe to work on the presumption that the board, collectively,
has decided to ignore my correspondence of the past six months and the
questions that are both explicit and implicit in it; that the board
has no intention of allowing me to present, in person, a defense of
the charges laid against me regarding my alleged intimidation of
Screen Australia staff and placing them at risk; that through its
silence the Screen Australia board stands by its Star Chamber banning
of me back in May.

Perhaps the question of my banning is not even on the agenda for the
Screen Australia board meeting tomorrow? Perhaps the board has no
intention of either lifting the ban (which would involve acknowledging
that it should never have been placed in the first place) or of
ratifying it - which would be difficult to do with a clear conscience
in the absence of evidence? Perhaps the easiest course of action for
the board is simply to maintain the status quo and it is for this
reason that you do not even bother to acknowledge receipt of my

It may be (and I hope it is the case) that I am being more cynical
here than I should be; that the question of my banning is indeed on
the agenda tomorrow. However, given that you have not, collectively,
sought to address the question of my banning at all this past 6
months, I would prefer to err on the side of caution and operate on
the presumption that the board will keep its head firmly planted in
the sand and pretend that there is no problem here that requires
action on its part.

For reasons that will be obvious, the board’s ratifying of Ruth
Harley’s ban, with such undue haste,  has effectively ended my career
as an Australian filmmaker. Much as this distresses me, I can in fact
live with this. I am a screenwriter and so I will continue to write
screenplays regardless of any ban (official or unofficial) that has
been placed on me. The current regime will not last forever. Ruth
Harley and Fiona Cameron, roosters today (I am speaking
metaphorically, of course) will be feather dusters tomorrow. And the
same applies for the board. If I write a good screenplay its quality
will be recognized by the next administration of Screen Australia
(amongst others who need to be impressed) and it will be business as
usual. The same applies with my documentary work. Yes, it is difficult
and frustrating to have no access to Screen Australia and not to be
able, even, to take advantage of the Producer Offset or the pre-sale
recently offered to me, but I will survive and, when regime change
occurs (as it must, eventually) it will be business as usual. I will
be but one of many filmmakers making development and production
investment applications and having my projects assessed in accordance
with their quality and not in terms of whether or not members of
Screen Australia staff are distressed by my correspondence or because
a vindictive CEO wishes to punish me for being a vocal critic of the
way Screen Australia is run.

What I cannot accept and what I will not accept is that Screen
Australia has, on record, that I have intimidated and placed at risk
members of Screen Australia staff. This goes to the question of my
reputation. The banning doesn’t bother me too much but this slander,
this defamation, bothers me enormously. If Screen Australia has proof
that I am guilty of intimidating and placing at risk members of Screen
Australia staff, make it public. If not, admit that the board banned
me on the basis of incorrect information  and apologize.

In order to help you focus your attention of this question and not
merely put it into the ‘too hard’ basket and relegate it to some spin
doctor, I will come again tomorrow and sit in the Screen Australia
foyer until such time as I receive a document, signed by the board,
that either (a) ratifies the ban placed on me and provides reasons
(evidence-based) for it or (b)  lifts the ban and apologizes for
having placed it in the first place. I will sit quietly in the foyer
reading a book and perhaps doing a little blogging. I will be posing
no risk at all to anyone. If the board believes it to be  necessary or
appropriate to call the police and have me arrested again for
trespassing, so be it. This time around, I trust that the board has
the courage to take responsibility for the decision to do so itself
and does not seek to blame it on Graham Smith, Screen Australia’s
Security Manager.

Yes, for a man of my age to be resorting to a late 60’s tactic to
focus the attention of the Screen Australia board is absurd - though
it did have the desired effect on 15th Oct when my arrival in the
foyer (announced in advance) induced Ruth to produce the marked up
correspondence that five months of asking had failed to achieve.
However, I would much prefer to be foolish and risk a weekend in jail
than to have the board allow the damage to my reputation to remain on
record. If the board has evidence in support of Ruth Harley’s
allegations my being banned is appropriate - as I have stated many
times now. The intimidation of Screen Australia staff is not
acceptable. But nor, I would suggest, is the intimidation of
filmmakers by Screen Australia. It is hard not to read Ruth Harley’s
decision to call the police as a form of intimidation. The same
applies for ‘placing at risk’. I am not sure what this means in legal
terms but the expression conjures up images of behaviour that should
result in apprehended violence orders being taken out against me if it
is based in fact.

Star Chamber prosecutions were considered to be a very bad idea in the
middle of the 17th century and should not be a part of the Screen
Australia board’s modus operandi in 2012. Please resolve this dispute
on the basis of facts and not spin; in public and not behind closed

best wishes

James Ricketson

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