Wednesday, January 25, 2017

As I enter the 5th year of the ban placed on me by Screen Australia…

Not only does Screen Australia’s ban prevent me from making applications to SA for development or productions monies, not only does it prevent me from speaking with members of staff (not even on the telephone), the ban also makes it impossible for me to access the Producer Offset – effectively preventing me from pursuing my career as an Australian filmmaker. The reason given for the 3rd ban is that I am ‘unreasonable’!

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

3rd Jan 2017

Dear Graeme


Yet again I have made an application to Screen Australia for funds to further develop my 10 hour thriller TV series, NEST OF VIPERS, of which the first 7 episodes have been written.

The reference number provided to me by the Screen Australia computer, in acceptance of my application is 18747 (see enclosed print-off of Screen Australia’s computer acceptance of my application.)

I am now working on episode # 8 of NEST OF VIPERS. When I have completed episode # 10 I will review the whole series and then start to re-write all 10 episodes starting at Episode # 1.

The rewriting process should, ideally, take place with my script editor (xxxxxxx) at my side to provide me with much needed criticism and feedback. It should also happen, ideally, with a co-producer on board and with the other directors with whom I would like to work on this series. Such collaboration is a luxury that I cannot afford out of my own pocket.

It is not just that Screen Australia has banned me from making applications of any kind, but that the ban extends, in practical terms, to the state funding bodies also. Why would Screen NSW, for instance (given that I live in NSW) wish to provide development funds to a 10 hour series that cannot be made in Australia by a filmmaking team that includes me, as co-producer and as one of the directors?

I need not repeat here in any detail the reasons why it is not possible for NEST OF VIPERS, with myself involved, to qualify for the Producer’s Offset. The reason is clearly outlined in my letter of 16th Dec 2016; a letter the receipt of which remains unacknowledged by you.

Nor did you acknowledge receipt of my letter of 29th Sept regarding the last of my NEST OF VIPERS applications.   Indeed, whilst the Screen Australia computer has, four times now, accepted an application from me for this project you have clearly directed SA staff to ignore them.

(Interestingly, all record of my previous applications with NEST OF VIPERS have been deleted from the Screen Australia computer. Was it you who ordered these deletions? Is it Screen Australia’s intention to pretend that they were never made?)

You may well treat my 3rd Jan 2017 application in the same way as my previous applications with VIPERS – instruct staff to ignore it, wipe all record of it off the computer and return the enclosed 7 episodes to me, unread.

Alternatively, you could bring Screen Australia’s farcical fatwa to an end by acknowledging, as I have been requesting for the past half decade, that I have never intimidated or placed at risk anyone at Screen Australia either in person or in my correspondence; that being ‘unreasonable’ (whatever that may mean!) is not a valid reason to terminate the career of any Australian filmmaker.

With this nonsensical ban out of the way the relevant personnel within Screen Australia could then assess NEST OF VIPERS on its merits and decide whether it has the potential to appeal to Australian and international audiences and is, hence, eligible to be considered for development funding. More importantly, an acknowledgment that I pose no risk at all to Screen Australia staff would leave me free to meet with said staff, along with my filmmaking collaborators, to discuss VIPERS’ eligibility for the Producer Offset.

The online Screen Australia submission form does not really accommodate a 10 hour drama series of which 7 hours have already been written. Consequently,  I have taken a few liberties in filling it out. Similarly, it is not easy to encapsulate the story of a 10 hour series in one page but I have managed, I think, to provide the essence of the multiple mysteries the story revolves around (up to Ep # 7 at least) in 5 pages. See enclosed.


James Ricketson

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