Sunday, November 6, 2016

Dear Mr Clarke, I like your films. I really do. I reckon you’re a shit hot producer.

Al Clarke
c/o Screen Australia Board
Screen Australia
Level 7, 45 Jones St
Ultimo 2007

1st. Nov. 2016

Dear Mr Clarke

I like your films. I really do. I reckon you’re a shit hot producer. And I reckon you’ll like my story too. It’s called “Nest of Vipers’ – a 10 hour series. A thriller. A bit like “True Detective” but better. Gotta believe in your work, eh! Specially when you do it gratis. You know, no money. On a wing and a prayer!

If you read the first 10 pages I reckon you’ll be hooked and before you know it you’ll get to page 60 and think, “Shit, I wonder what happens next,” and you’ll open up Episode Two, which’ll also keep you on the edge of your seat till you get to page 60. Etc.

Like I said, gotta believe in yourself in this business. The moment you begin to think, “What if this is no good!?” you’re fucked. Doubt sets in and, well, you know the story.

The problem with ‘Vipers’ is not the story, though. It’s…well, this is pretty bloody hard to admit, but I have to…I’ve been banned, see. Banned by Screen Australia. True! Hard to believe, eh!? Not allowed to make any applications. Not even allowed to talk to members of staff. I’m dangerous, they reckon. I place their staff at risk. At risk of what you might ask! Me too. Screen Australia won’t say. I’ve asked. I’ve asked lots. They reckon my asking is harassment, but there you go, this is Australia 2016! I mean how risky is it to read a letter from me (too risky Screen Oz reckons!) and how risky is it to talk with me on the phone? You guessed it. Too fucking risky. I mean, what am I going to do on the phone? Reach down it like Aunty Jack and rip their bloody arms off!

So I’m banned! There was a bloke called Mc Carthy in the US that banned writers too, I read on Google. Commies. Those fucking commies. Need to be careful of them. They write a script for you and, hey, who knows what dreadful thing might happen next!  Too risky!

What this means is even if you reckon these first four eps are shit hot and want to read the other three I’ve written it’s only fair to warn you that there’s no way you and me as a team (shit hot producer, shit hot writer!) could ask Screen Australia for one brass razoo. Too risky J They’d see my name and it would be “Whoa! Can’t read that! What the hell is Al Clarke doing associating with someone who intimidates people and places them at risk.”

So, Mr Clarke, I’ll understand if you don’t want to take the risk (J) of reading ‘Vipers’. I mean, unless you’ve got megabucks to develop the last three episodes and then more megabucks to re-write the whole fucking series a couple of times, why bother, eh? Screen Australia won’t even read a page of it (might upset the staff!) and sure as hell won’t touch it with a barge pole even if it was the best series going. Not with my name on it. This is a weird thing about Australia, eh!? I know you’ll understand this because you’re from another country. A Pom I hear?

Anyhow, if you do happen to read a bit of ‘Vipers’ and then get to the end of Episode Four and wonder whether Angela and Stair…no, I shouldn’t give it away…and if you do have a lot of money stashed away somewhere and don’t need Screen Australia’s development money, give me a bell.

yours sincerely

You can see the problem I have, Al. With this project I have both hands tied behind my back as a result of Screen Australia’s ban. What producer in his or her right mind is going associate themselves with a banned filmmaker whose applications won’t even be read.

If you weren’t on the Screen Australia board, if you were not one of those responsible for continuing the ban on me (on the basis of evidence being kept secret from me), you would be on my short list of producers to approach with “Nest of Vipers.”

The problem is that any producer on my short list is going to wonder, even if s/he loves the project, “How the hell do I get development money from Screen Australia for this with Ricketson’s name attached?”

Anyhow, Al, you know the problem and, to date at least (more than two years now), have shown no signs that you are in any way interested in finding a solution. Nor has the board of which you are a part. So it goes! Small minded, vindictive and petty bureaucracy protecting itself at all costs.

If you are brave enough to take the risk, do set aside 10 minutes to read the first 10 pages. If you keep reading, if you get to the end of Episode Four and are wondering if Stair and Angela do actually…you can report to your fellow board members one of two responses: “Vipers is second rate crap and will never be made so we don’t need to worry about our ban embarrassing us…” or “Shit, Vipers is not bad at all and probably will be made and here we are making it impossible for Ricketson to assemble a team of Australian filmmakers to make it! Are we doing the right thing? Actually, why have we banned him at all? Have any of you encountered any evidence at all that James intimidated, harassed and placed at risk members of SA staff with his correspondence?”

Your choice, Al.



4th November

Dear Members of the Screen Australia board

Your response to my banning is the same as that of all previous members of the board – to bury your heads in the sand, hope that James Ricketson will cease annoying you with his repeated requests for evidence in support of the ban placed on him; hope that he will not have the financial resources to pursue this matter in court.

Given Screen Australia’s refusal to provide evidence of my guilt (along with the Office of the Ombudsman’s refusal to even ask for it!) I will be pursuing this in court. 

A great deal of time, effort and money will be consumed to achieve a result that could have been achieved at any point this past four and a half years by (a) The SA board insisting that evidence of my guilt be provided to me, (b) the Minister for the Arts insisting that evidence be provided, (c) The Commonwealth Ombudsman insisting that evidence be provided and (d) The Australian Director’s Guild asking that it be provided.

Acquisition of evidence of my alleged guilt could also have been provided by Ms Louise Vardanega, Australian Government Solicitor (acting) if Graeme Mason had, as the AGC client, given Ms Vardanega permission to do so.

I wonder if the board has ever asked Graeme why the evidence of my guilt, as presented to the then Australian Government Solicitor, should be a secret?

As my barrister says, the facts of this mater are not complex but the legal issues are difficult, as I am sure Screen Australia’s legal counsel, Jane Supit, will acknowledge.

Even if my action in the Supreme court is not successful Screen Australia will have no choice but to  (a) provide evidence that I intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff prior to May 2012 or (b) mount a credible legal argument as to why SA is under no obligation to provide evidence of the offenses that resulted in my being banned.

In the event that the Screen Australia board might have a last minute desire to be transparent and accountable and to provide me with evidence of my crimes, you might like to glance through the document I have prepared for my barrister by way of introducing him to the issues involved. It is attached. Given that none of you were actually members of the board when I was banned you are, perhaps, relying on second and third hand accounts for the reasons for my ban. Have you been told the truth? Have you actually read, with your own eyes, any email or letter (even just a paragraph, sentence or phrase) in which I have intimidated or placed at risk members of SA staff?

As this document makes clear, Screen Australia has consistently refused to provide evidence and has ignored my every suggested way of resolving this matter without the need to resort to the Supreme Court.

best wishes

James Ricketson

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