Tuesday, May 6, 2014

An invitation to Graeme Mason - to read a script by a banned filmmaker!

I do feel for Graeme Mason, having inherited the mess created by Ruth Harley and the Screen Australia Board in banning me. However, Graeme is now in the position that Ruth was in when the ban was implemented and could (and I believe should) play some role in resolving what is, when all is said and done, a silly dispute that has wasted a lot of time and energy and achieved no result that benefits Australian film.

Graeme Mason
Chief Executive
Screen Australia
Level 7, 45 Jones St
Ultimo 2007   

5th May 2014                                                                                      

Dear Graeme

The first episode of a short-form TV series for you to read if you dare defy the Screen Australia board’s edict that no screenplay of mine can be read or assessed by Screen Australia staff.

An important part of your job, surely, is to identify high quality screenplays or screenplays that seem to have the potential to be nurtured, through script development, to become first class TV programs or feature films. Does it really matter if these stories have their genesis on the back of an envelope or if they have been written by thoroughly unpleasant men or women doing time in prison for committing unspeakable crimes?

I have committed no unspeakable crime. Indeed, I have committed no crime at all. Yes, I have been accused of intimidating and placing at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff but no-one, after two years of my asking, will present me with any evidence in support of the proposition. Nor will anyone within Screen Australia or the Ministry for the Arts explain to me how the act of reading a screenplay could possibly place the reader at risk.

I  find it hard to believe that in your heart of hearts you do not feel that the banning of any screenwriter is nonsense, especially if s/he has been provided with no evidence in support of the crimes that led to the ban.

Will you defy the board and read this first episode of HONEY? I certainly hope so. I fear for the future of Australian screenwriting (and hence Australian and TV production) if the quality of the screenwriting is seen to be of less importance than whether or not the screenwriter is (or has been) ‘nice’ to members of the Screen Australia board.

The board, indeed yourself and all Screen Australia staff, should thrive on constructive criticism and be able to accept with good grace even those criticisms that seem unfair or unfounded. Just as filmmakers are, quite rightly, judged harshly in the pubic arena when they make second rate boring films, so too should film bureaucrats (a category that includes members of the Screen Australia board) be judged harshly (though preferably constructively) if they develop and finance second rate and boring films.

If you choose not to read episode # 1 or HONEY I would appreciate it if you could return the screenplay to me.

best wishes

James Ricketson

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