Thursday, September 24, 2015
I am now in the somewhat unusual situation of being a ‘banned’ filmmaker whose applications are nonetheless accepted by the Screen Australia computer!
Will I hear back from Graeme Mason? It seems not.
Level 7, 45 Jones St
4th September 2015
For as long as the Screen Australia computer accepts my applications, I will work on the presumption that SA management (and the board) have decided, with no fanfare, to drop the ban on me and assess my film projects on the basis of their merits.
When I first conceived the broad outlines of ANGKOR I intended, wearing my producer’s hat, to find another writer or two to help me develop the series. I also intended to find another director (possibly two) to help produce the series. And a co-producer to fulfill those producing roles I am not well equipped to perform.
It did not take long to dawn on me that such plans were unrealistic. My name associated with ANGKOR would make it impossible to get to square one (applying for script development monies), let alone squares two, three and four. Regardless of how good the project was, those with whom I might work on it would be denied the opportunity to do so on the basis of the ban on me. I realized I would have to do everything myself and hope, once the screenplays were completed, that broadcaster and distributor interest would be sufficient to raise money for the series regardless of the Screen Australia ban on me. This I have done for the past year, in amongst other projects I have been working on. It is still my hope, however, to assemble a team to develop this series.
ANGKOR is, if you like, Australia’s answer to the first (but not the second) series of TRUE DETECTIVE. It is intended to be shot on the streets of Phnom Penh, in the Cambodian countryside and in an Australian based studio. Or, if it turns out not to be an Australian based series, I will rewrite the Australian leads as citizens of another country – the one whose studio and or/broadcaster has picked up the series. There is, of course, no guarantee that anyone will pick up ANGKOR but the response I have had to date from various sources makes me cautiously optimistic that ANGKOR will find a home somewhere in the world if Australia is not an option.
If the fatwa against me remains in place, regardless of Screen Australia’s computer acceptance of yet another project of mine, so be it. I will keep submitting applications until such time as the computer rejects me.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
When the Screen Australia computer failed to recognize that I was a ‘banned filmmaker’ I decided to make an application.
Level 7, 45 Jones St
1st September 2015
re “The Dancer” 12595
The Screen Australia computer does not realize that I am a ‘banned filmmaker’.
“Your Application Reference Number is 12595. Please cite this number in all communications with Screen Australia about this application.”
Screen Australia can now either accept my application or send me a letter of rejection without anyone reading it to assess its quality as a proposal for a low budget ($200,000) feature film.
Screen Australia’s ban has, as you know (indeed this was its intention) made it close to impossible for me to make most of the films I have been developing over the years in Australia. Indeed, Screen Australia’s ban killed a pre-sale deal I had in place for CHANTI’S WORLD – a feature documentary ‘starring’ Chanti, who will now play the lead in “The Dancer.” A substantial part of the film, the documentary elements, has been filmed over the past 20 years.
My solution to Screen Australia’s absurdly petty and vindictive fatwa is similar to that of the Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, banned by the Iranian authorities from making films: namely to produce and direct films made for the smallest possible budgets with the smallest possible casts in the smallest possible number of locations. Panahi’s “Taxi” won the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 2015.
An award-winning film does not necessarily require more than a smell-on-an-oily rag budget. I can (and will) produce, direct and photograph “The Dancer” for close to zero budget if Screen Australia’s ban remains in place and raising only for the project in this country is not possible.
Producing a film for close-to-zero budget is far from ideal but far preferable to allowing Screen Australia to end my career as an Australian filmmaker.
Senator George Brandis, Minister for the Arts
Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman
Alas, 3 weeks later, I have yet to receive a response from Graeme Mason