Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In court today for trespassing in Screen Australia foyer during business hours!

Claudia Karvan, Rachel Perkins, Richard Keddie
Screen Australia Board
Level 4 150 William St
Woolloomooloo 2011

20th Dec 2012

Dear Claudia, Rachel and Richard

Today Screen Australia will have its day in court.  I wonder if, as in the Supreme Court of NSW, Screen Australia will have a legal team of four in court to try and convince the judge that having me arrested in the Screen Australia foyer at 4 pm on a business day was the only and logical course open to it.

Will Screen Australia try, in court, to build on the narrative that I pose a risk to Screen Australia staff? Or will it try to extricate itself from this embarrassing legal mess of its own creating with as little fuss as possible.  We shall see.

Imagine this: I am a psychopath who, whilst serving a life sentence for multiple axe murders, has managed to write a screenplay. I post it from Long Bay to Screen Australia, all the forms filled out correctly; ticks in all the right boxes. (NOTE There in no prohibition preventing applications from axe murderers in Screen Australia’s guidelines!) Would you, as Board members, support Ruth Harley’s refusal to allow any of her staff to read it on the grounds that I was an axe murderer?  Given that all three of you are, amongst other things, producers and given that all producers are looking for good screenplays all the time, would each of you refuse to read this screenplay on the grounds that I was a deeply unpleasant human being? No, of course not. Given the scarcity of good Australian screenplays you would probably, if it was really good, be competing with each other to acquire the rights to produce it. In short, is a good screenplay, one that has the potential to be a great film, dependent on the character traits inherent in the screenwriter? Being mad, bad or just a pain in the arse is no barrier to writing a good screenplay.

Now imagine a scenario in which a filmmaker has in fact intimidated or placed at risk a member of Screen Australia’s staff with his or her correspondence and Screen Australia can prove this by producing the correspondence. Perhaps s/he is in the midst of a psychosis or some other form of mental breakdown or suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome and swears a lot. However this hypothetical screenwriter has written some decent screenplays in the past and has, from the sanatorium  s/he is incarcerated in, applied to Screen Australia  to have a screenplay read and assessed.  All the relevant boxers have ticks in them and there is no prohibition preventing the mentally ill from making script development applications. However, Ruth Harley insists that she will not allow her staff to read anything written by this screenwriter because s/he has, in his or her correspondence written some fairly unpleasant things to or about staff members. Would you, as Board members, go along with this proposition, allow the script to go unread by anyone at Screen Australia?

As all three of you know I have not intimidated or placed at risk any member of Screen Australia’s staff with my correspondence so none of the above applies to me.  If I had it would have been pointed out to me and the film community by now. Nonetheless I was, in a very real way, banned back in 2009. Screen Australia insisted that because I was not a ‘proven producer’ I could not make an application for 2nd draft funding for a screenplay of mine entitled HONEY. Nor was I, given my lack of status as a ‘proven producer’ able to act as a Mentor/Producer to young filmmakers. (Check the SA files if you don’t want to take my word for it). My experience or skill as a Mentor/Producer was of no relevance to Martha Coleman, Fiona Cameron or Elizabeth Grinston. All that counted to them was whether or not I had a ‘Producer’ credit in a feature film. That I had been the producer of a feature film (BLACKFELLAS) through more than 90% of its development period was of no consequence to Martha, Fiona and Elizabeth. What mattered was what was written in a film’s credits. That a producer might have no experience at all in filmmaking (being an investor only) would be no barrier to his or her being a Mentor/Producer to a young filmmaker! This is the mindset that Ruth Harley has inflicted on an organization that, regardless of its rules, its guidelines, should be able to deal with a brilliant idea written by a lunatic on the back of an envelope. Perhaps all three of you acknowledge privately what nonsense all this is but are unable to do so in public!? The Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome!

I have published Act One of HONEY online:

The first extract of the screenplay is entitled HONEY ‘banned’ in 2009, posted on 16th Dec.

This is the feature screenplay of mine that has, in effect, been banned by Screen Australia for close on four years now as a result of my not being a ‘proven procer’. It joins SHIPS IN THE NIGHT – banned because the very reading of it might place Screen Australia staff at risk. I have half a dozen other screenplays in development that no-one at Screen Australia will ever read for as long as Ruth Harley is CEO and for as long as the Screen Australia Board ratifies her absurd, narrow-minded approach to dealing with filmmakers who have the temerity to criticize or stand up to her bullying tactics.

If facts, evidence, truth and natural justice counted for anything with the Screen Australia Board or the Hon Simon Crean it would not be me being banned but Ruth Harley being asked to resign.

best wishes

James Ricketson


  1. Time to tap Dr Harley on the shoulder, Mr Crean, if she is unable to present in court today cogent evidence that Ricketson's arrest was warranted.

    1. A tap for the Chair also, Mr Crean, for not stepping in and stopping this nonsense.