Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Really, Al!? You go along with this nonsense? You terminate a filmmaker’s career for being ‘unreasonable’?

Al Clarke
Board Member
Screen Australia

20th Feb 2017

Dear Al

I am an ‘unreasonable’ person!

So ‘unreasonable’ that you, your fellow Screen Australia board members and Chief Executive Graeme Mason saw fit, in May 2016, to ban me for a third time.

As for for evidence of my ‘unreasonableness’, Graeme Mason informs me that it is not in the ‘pubic interest’, through FOI, that I be provided with it!

As you know, this ban, 57 months in duration now, prohibits me from making any form of application to Screen Australia; prohibits me from meeting with, even talking on the phone  with members of SA staff. Since such communication is essential when applying for the Producer Offset, it is impossible for me to do so.

And, as you also know, a filmmaker’s  inability to take advantage of the Producer Offset makes it virtually impossible for him/her to work as an Australian filmmaker - as I have been since 1972.

To the best of my knowledge no other filmmaker in the Western world has been banned by a government film body since the days of Joe Mc Carthy – more than half a century ago. This observation, my use of the word ‘MsCarthysim’ in relation to Screen Australia’s ban, is now presented to me by SA as one of the reasons why I need to be banned! (Other reasons include my reference to Screen Australia’s ban as “childish, stupid and counter-productive”.)

Really, Al!? You go along with this nonsense? You terminate a filmmaker’s career for being ‘unreasonable’? For using words such as ‘childish’, ‘stupid’ and ‘counter-productive’?

The ostensible reason for the original ban, of course, was that I intimidated, harassed and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff in my correspondence prior to May 2012. (What does ‘at risk’  mean?) And, whilst  ‘intimidated’ and  ‘placed at risk’ are no longer used, Screen Australia clings desperately to the notion that for SA staff to meet with me in person would place them at some kind of risk!  Of what? Physical violence? Verbal aggression?

No evidence that I pose a risk of any kind has ever been presented to me, but my repeated requests that I be provided with evidence is viewed by Screen Australia as harassment and cited as another reason to ban me! This is Monty Pythonesque; more Kafkaesque than Kafka!

Screen Australia can only justify its close to five year ban on me now by perpetuating the lie that I am an intimidating filmmaker who makes Screen Australia staff quake in their shoes at the very thought of having to sit in the same room with me to discuss a film or TV project – be it script development, project development or an application by  myself and my creative collaborators to access the Producer Offset.

Have you ever, Al, been presented with any evidence that SA staff meeting with me would place them at risk? No, you have not. In the four or so decades that we have both been making films in Australia have you ever heard on the grapevine that I have behaved in a way that would make staff in any film funding body feel that they were at risk?

Why do you and your fellow board members go along with this nonsense?

How do you keep a straight face in board meetings when Graeme Mason tells you that the ban on me must be extended as a result of my ‘unreasonableness’; of the threat I pose to SA staff?

You have failed in your duty of care, as a board member, to protect your fellow filmmakers from the kind of bureaucratic bullying and practiced by Ruth Harley, Fiona Cameron and Graeme Mason. The purpose of the Screen Australia ban was not only to inflict as much damage as possible to my career but also to send a message to other filmmakers:

“Do not criticize Screen Australia in public, do not ask questions we do not wish to answer, or you’ll suffer the same fate as James Ricketson. We will crush you.”

Screen Australia has been successful on both counts. My career as an Australian filmmaker is finished and my fellow filmmakers have been intimidated into silence. And neither IF Magazine nor the Australian Director’s Guild (reliant on SA funding for its survival) dare even report, as news, on my ban. If Magazine even refuses to publish a paid-for ‘open letter’ from me. This can be found at:

What has happened to me is, of course, very annoying, frustrating and distressing. What is more significant for Australian film and TV, however, is that Australia’s peak film funding body is run by men and women who think that the most appropriate way to deal with criticism is to shoot the messenger.

I have never had any reason, Al, to doubt your personal or professional integrity. However, your lack of any response to my previous letters (over a two year period), your refusal (along with your fellow board members) to provide me with evidence of my alleged offenses, makes me wonder!

 If you are in possession of any evidence that I pose a risk to Screen Australia staff please make it public and reveal me to be both a cad and a liar.

Alternatively, if you believe that the banning of a filmmaker on the basis of false allegations is wrong, and if you cannot talk your fellow board members into seeing how unfair, unjust, this is, you should resign from the Screen Australia board.



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