Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Screen Australia continues to refuse to communicate with me in any way

I had hoped that Nerida might look at one or more of the three screenplays I have sent to her this past month and suggest to the Screen Australia board that banning an experienced screenwriter was neither a good idea in itself or a precedent that should be set. My optimism was misplaced.  

Nerida Moore
Senior Development Executive
Screen Australia
Level 7, 45 Jones St
Ultimo 2007                                                                                                    

27th Oct. 2015   

Dear Nerida

As with Graeme Mason and Nicholas Moore, you have not had the professional courtesy to respond to my letters of 12th and 20th Oct. It would seem that you too believe that the reading of my ANGKOR and THE DANCER proposals would place you at risk!

The alternative explanation is that you believe I should be punished for being outspoken, exercising my right to freedom of speech and asking questions of the kind that Screen Australia bureaucrats (and members of the SA board) do not believe should be asked.

It is to be hoped that the new Minister for the Arts does actually believe in freedom of speech, unlike the previous Minister whose belief in such a fundamental freedom did not extend to criticism of arts bureaucrats!

Whilst the Screen Australia computer accepted my application for ANGKOR you have clearly decided to override the computer and instruct staff to ignore it. Or perhaps Graeme Mason has instructed you to instruct SA staff to ignore it!

I do not need Screen Australia funding to write this series and so have gone ahead and completed the 2nd draft of episode # 1 of ANGKOR. I have renamed the series NEST OF VIPERS. I enclose it here so that you can place it on file.

VIPERS was conceived with the three central characters as Australians. I have now turned one of these into an English woman and am now left with little choice, given that VIPERS can never be an Australian series, but to render the other two male leads non-Australian. I had originally intended that my co-writers would be Australian but, given that this is impossible (for they too are effectively banned if they associate with a villain such as myself) they will be non-Australian – like the cast and crew.

There is sufficient overseas interest in VIPERS for me not to need Screen Australia’s imprimatur to see it produced. Nonetheless, as an Australian, with a fondness for both this country and for the ‘industry’ of which I have been a part for more than 40 years, I would have much preferred for VIPERS to be produced here. It will not be. It cannot be.

The mindset that sees the banning of a filmmaker as an appropriate response to criticisms and the asking of difficult questions is not one conducive to the development and production of exciting and innovative drama production.

I will shortly start work on a new draft of THURSDAY’S CHILD – a screenplay I co-wrote with Bob Ellis. Given that the film cannot be made in Australia, I will be re-writing it such that its central character, Bea Miles, one of Australia’s most famous eccentrics, becomes a New York ‘bag lady’.  

best wishes

James Ricketson

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