Thursday, February 6, 2014
letter to Fiona Cameron, Chief Operating Officer at Screen Australia
Regardless of whether or not Screen Australia ever lifts its ban on me, Fiona Cameron has declared that I may never again apply to Screen Australia for development funds for CHANTI’S WORLD – a documentary that I have been self-funding for 18 years. Fiona justifies this particular ban on her own creative interpretation of Screen Australia guidelines. It is the creative interpretation of SA’s guidelines to favour friends and disfavor perceived enemies (critics, for instance!) that should be of concern to the film and TV community. Yes, Ruth Harley is gone but Fiona Cameron remains!
Could it be that the mind-set (shared by the Screen Australia Board and Fiona Cameron alike) that even considers banning filmmaker-critics has a negative impact on the quality of the films developed and green lit for production monies by Screen Australia?
Chief Operating Officer
Level 7, 45 Jones St
26th Nov 2013
Now that Ruth Harley and Ross Mathews are no longer players in the sequence of events that lead to my being banned, only you remain in a position to answer the questions I have been asking this past couple years. I trust, in the interests of transparency and accountability, that Graeme Mason will ask them of you – given that it is now he who must either lift the ban and keep it in place. Or, perhaps, even extend it by yet another year!
Could you please explain to Graeme just how it was that you decided, (along with Martha Coleman and Elizabeth Grinston), in the early days of Screen Australia, that I was not a ‘proven producer’ and so unable to act as a mentor-producer to young filmmakers? As you knew well, and as I pointed out to you many times in my correspondence, I had been producing films for close to 40 years and been called upon more than once by the Australian Film Commission to act as a mentor to young filmmakers.
Could you please explain to Graeme how you (along with Elizabeth Grinston) arrived at the conclusion that I was not a producer of BLACKFELLAS – despite my presenting you with legal documents (contracts) that left not a shadow of doubt that I had been the sole producer of the project for its entire development process (more than three years, including the bulk of the financing) up until a few weeks before the commencement of Principal Photography?
Could you please point out to Graeme where, in my correspondence, I had indicated that I believe CHANTI’S WORLD had been ‘greenlit’? And why it was that you put so much effort, over a period of close to two years, into not providing me with copies of this correspondence? Why it was that I had to make two applications through FOI?
Could you please explain to Graeme why it was, on 15th Oct, during business hours, that you saw fit to call the police and have me arrested in the Screen Australia foyer when all I was doing was sitting there, harming no-one, waiting for you to provide me with evidence that I had intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff. Yes, you had told me in the foyer that you felt intimidated but your feeling intimidated is something quite different from my intimidating you. To refresh your memory: http://jamesricketson.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/as-i-sip-my-soy-latte-in-screen.html
Could you please explain to Graeme why you felt it necessary, a second time, to call the police and have me arrested again – again for doing nothing other than sit in the foyer of Screen Australia’s offices waiting for answers to my many questions. On this occasion I had to spend the weekend in jail – a somewhat harsh punishment for having the temerity to expect you, as Chief Operating Officer, to be transparent and accountable in your dealings with me.
Could you please explain to Graeme why, when Ruth Harley handed to you my complaint about yourself, you did not decline to investigate on the grounds of a severe case of conflict of interest. Yes, Ruth’s decision to ask you to investigate a complaint about yourself was stupid, but so was your decision to conduct the investigation yourself – as was your response: “I refuse to correspond with you any further on this matter.”
I imagine that you will find my reference to yourself as ‘stupid’ to be intimidating and, perhaps, reason to ask Graeme to ask the Board to extend my ban by another year. You are not stupid. You are very bright, but then so was Machiavelli and so are many bullying bureaucrats – our most recent former Prime Minister being a prime example.
If the words ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’ meant anything to the Screen Australia board, you would (and should) be sacked for the incompetence and dishonesty you have brought to your handling of what was, at the outset, a minor and easy to resolve problem – namely that Claire Jager failed to view my CHANTI’S WORLD ‘promo’ and that Julie Overton decided to render an application from myself for the same project as ‘inappropriate’ when both she and Ross Mathews had deemed it, some weeks earlier, to be ‘appropriate’.
As I have stated many times, these were minor cockups that could have been easily rectified had you not seen your job as supporting Screen Australia staff in the face of any criticism – even if this meant placing on file whatever nonsense you liked to justify your lack of the impartiality requited of you in dealing with a complaint.
If you cannot provide Graeme with satisfactory answers you should offer your apology to me for your multiple cockups; as should the Screen Australia Board for having given its imprimatur to a ban based no in facts or evidence but in Ruth Harley’s spiteful attempt at silencing a critic who asked to many questions and was not prepared to put up with spin answers.