Monday, June 24, 2013

Cover letter for Script Development application to Screen Australia by banned filmmaker!

Members of the Screen Australia Board
Level 4, 150 William St
Woollomooloo 2011                                                                                      

24th June 2013

Dear Board Members

A month ago I made a development application to SA for a low budget feature of mine entitled SHIPS IN THE NIGHT. I did so in the hope that my application might be accepted – given that Screen Australia clearly cannot, a year on, justify my being banned for the reasons given. I hoped in vain. I  received no acknowledgement that my SHIPS application had been received. Nor were my application materials returned to me. What happened to them? Tossed into the recycle bin at Screen Australia? To become persona non grata with Screen Australia on the basis of phony charges that even the Screen Australia Board believes should be kept secret is an extraordinary state of affairs!

I’ll try again. And keep on trying – in the hope that it will eventually be explained to me just how the reading of a screenplay of mine in development places a Screen Australia reader at risk! My latest project, a work in progress, is a broad comedy that tilts often into pure farce; a screenplay for which I have not received one cent in development money.

Farce is a genre I love, if done well. I pretend to no expertize (or even experience) in the execution of this genre. If BILL CLINTON’S LOVE CHILD has legs I need to work with (a) a scriptwriter with a predilection for (and competence in writing) broad comedy and/or (b) a good script editor who does not look down his/her nose at broad comedy intended for a wide Australian and international audience. Hence this application.

It would seem to me that a film funding body such as Screen Australia should be able to put a producer/writer/director such as myself in touch with screenwriters who may have the requisite skills and be interested in collaborating with me on a project such as this. Alas, Screen Australia considers it to be a higher priority to thwart the development of a film project (regardless of its merit) because the filmmaker (myself) poses a risk to any Screen Australia project manager, reader or bureaucrat who might have to actually read what I have written. The poor dears!  

The Screen Australia Board can either pretend that this application has not been made (directly to yourselves since Screen Australia development staff refuse to even acknowledge my existence) or acknowledge receipt of it and explain just why it is that my application cannot be accepted and assessed on its own merits. This would, of course, necessitate providing me with evidence that I have, in fact, intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff with my correspondence. This you cannot do since no such correspondence exists – leaving you with only one option: to ignore my BILL CLINTON’S LOVE CHILD application, just as you ignore my repeated requests that you make public evidence of my having intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff with my correspondence.

Whilst farce is a genre I love (we all need a good laugh) the fantasy world of film it is not quite as much fun to be a protagonist in a farce taking place in the real world.

best wishes

James Ricketson


  1. Ricketson, like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail you've lost both arms but continue to fight on! Not sure if you are to be applauded for doing so or if you are just plain nuts. Entertaining, at least. Good luck, though I think you've got a snowflake's...

  2. James

    My ban still has a year to run so what choice do I have but to fight on? Especially since it is not merely Screen Australia that is closed to me but others dependent in one way or another on either Screen Australia money or good will.

    In the absence of evidence that I have intimidated anyone, with no lifting of the ban by the Screen Australia Board (which would be a tacit admission that I was innocent of the crimes for which I have been charged) and with a Minister for the Arts who does not believe that the accused is entitled to be provided with evidence of the crimes he has allegedly committed, it is not surprising that many (perhaps most) within the industry believe that I must be guilty.

    Given the pivotal role that Screen Australia plays within our industry and the damage that Screen Australia can inflict on a filmmaker’s reputation and his or her ability to work in the industry, it is hardly surprising (though disappointing) that my fellow filmmakers do not come to my defense – if only in insisting that Screen Australia release whatever evidence it has that I have, in my correspondence, intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff. That no filmmaker (or film body such as the Director’s Guild of Australia) has seen fit to even ask this question indicates either that (a) the question of my guilt has already been decided, despite the lack of evidence or (b) individual filmmakers and organizations such as The Australian Director’s Guild do not want to suffer any of the consequences I have suffered as a result of asking questions that Screen Australia does not want asked.

  3. James, you wanker, you are not even a member of the ADG so don't complain if the organization of which you are not a member fails to support you!!!

  4. Patience, Ricketson, Harley will be gone in a few months and all this will be but a bad memory

  5. Not sure what the plural of 'anonymous' is but, to you both, (if you are indeed two and not one!), my response:

    I never asked the ADG to help me. I asked merely that it report my dilemma (particularly when Iwas arrested) in its newsleteer. The ADG declined to do so. Indeed, the ADG and its Board of Directorsd refuse to respind in any way to my emails. From this I conclude that (a) They must believe me to be guilty of intimidation etc or (b) that the ADG doe snot want to do anything to upset the powers-that-be at Screen Australia. I suppose there is an option (c) - which is that because I am not a member the ADG does not think that the banning of a non-member filmmaker is of any consequence to those who have paid their dues.

    As for this all being over when Harley goes, far from it Anonymous 2. In some respects it will be worse because, if the present circumstances prevail, all the new Chief Executive will know is that I was banned for intimidating and placing at risk members of Screen Australia staff and draw, quite logically, the conclusion tha tI must be guilty as charged. And so my reputation is damaged - perhaps irreperably. The ban itself no longer bothers me too much but the damage to my repuation does. So, I will keep fighting. And, in the process, keep writing my screenplays. They only get better witgh each re-write and if one ofthem eventually gets made (most likely SHIPS IN THE NIGHT) regardless of the Screen Australia ban, perhaps I'll have a finished film that will bear witness to the stupidity that has been on display here this past year. We shall see.