Monday, November 25, 2013

letter to Georgie McClean at Screen Australia re $50,000 sponsorship of 'The Conversation'

Georgie McClean
Manager, Strategy, Research and Communications
Screen Australia
Level 7, 45 Jones St
Ultimo 2007                                                                                                    13th Nov 2013

Dear Georgie

I have read with interest the piece that Tim Burrows wrote about Screen Australia’s $50,000 sponsorship of ‘The Conversation’ and the comments in response to it.

There are aspects of this sponsorship that concern me and other filmmakers I have spoken with. I have expressed my concerns in an Opinion Piece – a draft of which is to be found enclosed.

In the ‘arts, culture and creative industries section” in which we filmmakers work (producers, directors, screenwriters etc) can there be genuine ‘discussion, debate’ if the only people able to generate discussion and debates are academics who are not practicing filmmakers? Would Screen Australia’s $50,000 be better spent on a website on which the thoughts of practicing filmmakers were also welcome? Surely, the initiation of ‘discussion, debate’ should not be limited to either academics or practicing filmmakers but should be open, in a free market of ideas, to anyone with good, confronting, insightful  and perhaps ‘dangerous’ ideas?

You will have noted at least two things from the comments made in response to Tim Burrows’ piece. One is just how many filmmakers are critical of, suspicious, of Screen Australia’s motives in this sponsorship deal. The other is just how many filmmakers choose to remain anonymous. The reason for this, you must be aware, is that filmmakers are, with some justification, fearful of biting one of the few hands that will feed them. This is an unfortunate state of affairs.

My own belief is that there should be at least one online forum (preferably more) where all involved in Australian film and TV can both contribute as writers (generating ‘discussion, debate’) and take part in the ensuing ‘discussion, debate’, using their own names, without fear of retribution. Such open dialogue is essential in the collaborative medium in which we all work and in an era in which the rules of the digital game change with frightening rapidity.

I will be happy to include any response you may have to the contents of my article, “A conversation with ‘The Conversation’”

best wishes

James Ricketson

Close to two weeks later I have not yet received a response to this letter, or acknowledgement of its receipt.

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