Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Screen Australia's computer not programmed to reject application from banned filmmaker!

When the Screen Australia computer failed to recognize that I was a ‘banned filmmaker’ I decided to make an application.

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

1st September 2015                                                                            

Dear Graeme

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.

best wishes

James Ricketson

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

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