Thursday, December 20, 2012


Claudia Karvan, Rachel Perkins, Richard Keddie
Screen Australia Board
Level 4 150 William St
Woolloomooloo 2011                                                                                     21st Dec 2012

Dear Claudia, Rachel and Richard

I have been found guilty of trespassing in the Screen Australia foyer at 4 pm on 15th Oct. No conviction has been recorded but I have been placed on a six month good behavior bond – to deter me from making any further visits to the Screen Australia foyer. For six months at least!

In part 5 of her ‘Statement of a Witness’ Fiona Cameron says,

“…about I became aware that James Ricketson was holding a silent protest in our reception area regarding his rejected applications for funding,.”

In my cross-examination of Fiona I tried to point out the factual inaccuracy of this statement but the accuracy or lack thereof was not deemed relevant to the question of whether or not I had a right to be in the foyer at that time, having been asked to leave.

As Fiona knew all too well from my correspondence and from my blog (which she admitted in court to reading) I had come to Screen Australia on 15th Oct with only one objective in mind – to be provided with evidence that I had harassed, intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff. My ‘silent protest’ had nothing to do ‘rejected applications for funding.’  I have never, in my entire film career, complained about not receiving funding but this is a great fallback position for senior management when dealing with a complainant who, inevitably, will be a filmmaker. “S/he is complaining because s/her did not receive funding.” An all purpose response to all critics of Screen Australia. It certainly works, in my experience, with the office of Mr Crean!

In section 6 of her statement Fiona says,

“While I was working in my office, the CEO of Screen Australia, Ruth Harley, presented James Ricketson with email correspondence received from James Ricketson. The emails were of a threatening nature, one stating, ‘Fiona Cameron is a liar.’ I felt threatened and defamed by the emails.”

A few points worthy of being placed on record:

(1) Yes, Ruth provided me with copies of my correspondence with those parts highlighted that bore witness to my having harassed, intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff. I was reading through this, searching in vain for evidence of the crimes for which I had been charged and found guilty, when Screen Australia felt it necessary to call the police to have me removed from the premises.

(2) On 15th Oct, during a brief conversation with Fiona in the foyer, I had asked her to point out to me one example, in the highlighted correspondence, in which I had intimidated and placed at risk members of SA’s staff. She declined to do so but did say that she felt threatened by my calling her a liar. Fiona then refused to talk any further about my correspondence.

(3) A liar is someone who tells lies. Fiona qualifies amply. As she well knew, I had not turned up that day to complaint about a rejected application but to be provided with evidence that I had placed staff at risk etc. If my statement regarding Fiona’s propensity to play fast and loose with the truth is incorrect and if Fiona feels that she has been defamed, two options open to her are (a) sue me for defamation or (b) provide evidence in a public forum that makes it apparent that it is me who, in calling Fiona a liar, is in fact the liar. If I call Fiona a liar for stating that I have written X in my correspondence, the simplest and most appropriate response for Fiona is to produce X and reveal me to be the liar. I have issued this invitation countless times. The invitation has been declined countless times. As must be abundantly clear to all three of you, this dispute has nothing to do with facts, evidence, truth. It is driven entirely by spin – the false narrative that I have, with my correspondence, placed members of Screen Australia’s staff at some kind of risk. The question “At risk of what?” is never addressed.

Regardless of the truth or otherwise of my statement, is calling someone a liar inherently threatening anyway? Prime Minister Gillard has every right to feel annoyed, angry even, at being called a liar, but she has never suggested that she has felt threatened by being called one in a public context? No. For her to do so would, quite rightly, result in her being ridiculed in public. And if she started ‘banning’ people who had called her a liar on the grounds that she felt threatened, imagine the outcry! And yet, in the absence of any evidence that I have intimidated or placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff, that seems to be what has happened here.

The logic goes something like this:

(1) James Ricketson calls both Ruth Harley and Fiona Cameron liars on his blog. He does so based on evidence that any independent person could look at and assess for themselves. Hence his suggestion (first made more than two years ago) of mediation.

(2) Ruth Harley and Fiona Cameron do not appreciate being called liars in a public forum but also do not want any independent person to to look at the evidence – ie, the correspondence. So, the offer of mediation is refused.

(3) Harley decides that the best way to stop Ricketson calling her a liar in public, is to have him banned – the hope being that Ricketson will cease and desist and close down his blog, or at least self-censor it radically to remove criticism of herself.

(3) Harley has a problem. She can only ban Ricketson if she can accuse him of a serious offense of some kind. Writing many letters and asking questions repeatedly will not suffice. Accusing Ricketson of intimidation and placing staff at risk is perfect. Harley suspects that the Board will not ask for evidence but if it does, placing staff ‘at risk’ is sufficiently vague to cover almost anything – including Fiona’s feeling ‘threatened’ by being called a liar.

(4) Harley still has a problem. There is nothing in Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade that makes such a ban possible so she asks the Board to vote to alter the terms of trade at the same time as she requests, in her draft letter of 9th May, that the Board ratify her ban.

(5) Within 24 hours the Screen Australia Board, having had no meeting to discuss Harley’s 9th May draft letter, having given Ricketson no opportunity to be appraised of the charges made against him or to present a defense, agrees to his being banned and to an alteration of Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade to make the banning legal.

(6) Ricketson does not respond as hoped and cease his criticisms but, after months of asking, arrives at Screen Australia’s foyer on 15th Oct stating that he will not leave until he is provided with evidence of his crimes in the form of marked up correspondence.

(7) Harley provides Ricketson with copies of correspondence whose marked up parts do not contain any evidence of his having intimidated staff etc. The police are called, Ricketson is arrested.

(8) A few weeks later, in the hope that a member of the Screen Australia Board might meet with him and/or provide him with evidence of the crimes for which he has been banned, Ricketson turns up again at in the foyer as the Board is meeting. The police are called, Ricketson is arrested again and spends the weekend in jail.

(9) The Screen Australia Board’s response to this is silence. Total silence. Three filmmaking members of the Board do not believe that a fellow filmmaker has a right to be provided with evidence of his crimes and given an opportunity to answer the charges before ratifying a Ruth Harley ban.

In conclusion: To ban a filmmaker and effectively end his career it is not necessary in Ruth Harley’s Screen Australia for him to actually threaten, intimidate or place anyone at risk. All that is required is that a member of staff feels threatened. And what kinds of things might make a staff member feel threatened? Being called a liar.

The circularity of the logic here is extraordinary. Facts, evidence, truth…none of these matter.  What maters is how Fiona Cameron feels; how other members of staff feel when asked questions they do not wish to answer because a truthful answer would bolster the argument being presented by the complainant and demolish the argument being presented by the sultans of spin at Screen Australia - that I had written correspondence that made it apparent that I believed my project CHANTI’S WORLD had been ‘greenlit’, for instance. The fact that no such correspondence exists, the fact that there is no correspondence at all in which I have intimidated or placed Screen Australia staff at risk is of no consequence in Ruth Harley Empress’ New Clothes world.  An extraordinary state of affairs!

I can, to an extent, understand why the courtiers whose job security is dependent on Ruth’s patronage might nod their heads and go along with this nonsense but I cannot understand is why it is that the Board, particularly filmmaker members of it, are prepared to accept this state of affairs.

Again, I ask of the three of you, produce the evidence that I have harassed, intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff. Alternatively, please explain why you have no intention of doing so or, to put it another way, why it is that the precepts of transparency and accountability that supposedly inform the Board’s decision-making are being suspended in this instance. Is this going to be your modus operandi, as Board members, when making decisions of far greater import in the grand scheme of things than the one you have made in banning me?

best wishes

James Ricketson

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In court today for trespassing in Screen Australia foyer during business hours!

Claudia Karvan, Rachel Perkins, Richard Keddie
Screen Australia Board
Level 4 150 William St
Woolloomooloo 2011

20th Dec 2012

Dear Claudia, Rachel and Richard

Today Screen Australia will have its day in court.  I wonder if, as in the Supreme Court of NSW, Screen Australia will have a legal team of four in court to try and convince the judge that having me arrested in the Screen Australia foyer at 4 pm on a business day was the only and logical course open to it.

Will Screen Australia try, in court, to build on the narrative that I pose a risk to Screen Australia staff? Or will it try to extricate itself from this embarrassing legal mess of its own creating with as little fuss as possible.  We shall see.

Imagine this: I am a psychopath who, whilst serving a life sentence for multiple axe murders, has managed to write a screenplay. I post it from Long Bay to Screen Australia, all the forms filled out correctly; ticks in all the right boxes. (NOTE There in no prohibition preventing applications from axe murderers in Screen Australia’s guidelines!) Would you, as Board members, support Ruth Harley’s refusal to allow any of her staff to read it on the grounds that I was an axe murderer?  Given that all three of you are, amongst other things, producers and given that all producers are looking for good screenplays all the time, would each of you refuse to read this screenplay on the grounds that I was a deeply unpleasant human being? No, of course not. Given the scarcity of good Australian screenplays you would probably, if it was really good, be competing with each other to acquire the rights to produce it. In short, is a good screenplay, one that has the potential to be a great film, dependent on the character traits inherent in the screenwriter? Being mad, bad or just a pain in the arse is no barrier to writing a good screenplay.

Now imagine a scenario in which a filmmaker has in fact intimidated or placed at risk a member of Screen Australia’s staff with his or her correspondence and Screen Australia can prove this by producing the correspondence. Perhaps s/he is in the midst of a psychosis or some other form of mental breakdown or suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome and swears a lot. However this hypothetical screenwriter has written some decent screenplays in the past and has, from the sanatorium  s/he is incarcerated in, applied to Screen Australia  to have a screenplay read and assessed.  All the relevant boxers have ticks in them and there is no prohibition preventing the mentally ill from making script development applications. However, Ruth Harley insists that she will not allow her staff to read anything written by this screenwriter because s/he has, in his or her correspondence written some fairly unpleasant things to or about staff members. Would you, as Board members, go along with this proposition, allow the script to go unread by anyone at Screen Australia?

As all three of you know I have not intimidated or placed at risk any member of Screen Australia’s staff with my correspondence so none of the above applies to me.  If I had it would have been pointed out to me and the film community by now. Nonetheless I was, in a very real way, banned back in 2009. Screen Australia insisted that because I was not a ‘proven producer’ I could not make an application for 2nd draft funding for a screenplay of mine entitled HONEY. Nor was I, given my lack of status as a ‘proven producer’ able to act as a Mentor/Producer to young filmmakers. (Check the SA files if you don’t want to take my word for it). My experience or skill as a Mentor/Producer was of no relevance to Martha Coleman, Fiona Cameron or Elizabeth Grinston. All that counted to them was whether or not I had a ‘Producer’ credit in a feature film. That I had been the producer of a feature film (BLACKFELLAS) through more than 90% of its development period was of no consequence to Martha, Fiona and Elizabeth. What mattered was what was written in a film’s credits. That a producer might have no experience at all in filmmaking (being an investor only) would be no barrier to his or her being a Mentor/Producer to a young filmmaker! This is the mindset that Ruth Harley has inflicted on an organization that, regardless of its rules, its guidelines, should be able to deal with a brilliant idea written by a lunatic on the back of an envelope. Perhaps all three of you acknowledge privately what nonsense all this is but are unable to do so in public!? The Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome!

I have published Act One of HONEY online:

The first extract of the screenplay is entitled HONEY ‘banned’ in 2009, posted on 16th Dec.

This is the feature screenplay of mine that has, in effect, been banned by Screen Australia for close on four years now as a result of my not being a ‘proven procer’. It joins SHIPS IN THE NIGHT – banned because the very reading of it might place Screen Australia staff at risk. I have half a dozen other screenplays in development that no-one at Screen Australia will ever read for as long as Ruth Harley is CEO and for as long as the Screen Australia Board ratifies her absurd, narrow-minded approach to dealing with filmmakers who have the temerity to criticize or stand up to her bullying tactics.

If facts, evidence, truth and natural justice counted for anything with the Screen Australia Board or the Hon Simon Crean it would not be me being banned but Ruth Harley being asked to resign.

best wishes

James Ricketson

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

HONEY # 3 (to end of Act One)

...following on from HONEY # 2...


DANIEL, running fast, turns into a back street, stops, looks back, waits for a moment. There is no sign of the policeman.   


CONSTABLE DAVID opens the back door to there paddy wagon for HONEY as the Fire Engine drives off. 

HONEY I want to sit up front with you. 


HONEY (grins) That's not a nice thing to call a lady! 



HONEY sits between CONSTABLE DAVID and the SECOND POLICEMAN - her backpack in her lap. 

HONEY No-one in particular. 

CONSTABLE DAVID Everybody's gotta be someone. 

HONEY  Okay, you can call me 'someone'. What about you guys? 

The TWO COPS exchange looks.

CONSTABLE DAVID  Constable Timmins.  

HONEY Your first name's 'Constable?!'


HONEY Davo. And you? 


HONEY Trev and Davo. You both got girlfriends? Boyfriends? 


DANIEL, bathed in red dark room light, immerses a white sheet of photographic paper in a tray of developing solution. A ghost image appears. It is Honey - her arms held out, the expression on her face a plea for help. 


HONEY draws a caricature of the DUTY SERGEANT in her journal. TREVOR and DAVID and OTHER POLICE are in the room. 

HONEY  I'm hungry and I've got my period so I need tampons. 

The POLICE are not sure how to deal with HONEY. 

HONEY and a meat pie or something. I'm starving. And...

DUTY SERGEANT  Now hang on a second, missy 'someone'! You cant just...order us around like you own the place! 

HONEY  Police are public servants, right? 

The DUTY SERGEANT nods warily. 

HONEY   I'm a member of the public, right? 


HONEY Don't suppose any of you guys have a fag do you? 

The DUTY SERGEANT holds a packet of cigarettes out to HONEY. She looks at him, smiles, takes a cigarette


DANIEL stands in front of a rack with a dozen or so 10 x 8 photos hanging from it. We see them from behind, their white backs only. As DANIEL looks at them it becomes clear that there is one, in particular, that excites him.


As he approaches his house DANIEL  switches off the engine of his Harley and cruises the last 50 meters silently. There is just a hint of dawn in the eastern sky.


DANIEL creeps into the bedroom, sees JASPER asleep in his and Helen’s bed. He walks to the window, looks out, sees:

Through window of the Granny Flat at the back of the yard, HELEN sitting on the bed staring into space.


DANIEL appears in the doorway, a photo in his hand. HELEN doesn’t see him. She is looking at a framed family photo resting in her lap; lost in her memories. DANIEL moves towards her. She becomes aware of him and reacts with shock, wiping the tears from her eyes dismissively. DANIEL sits beside her, tries to put his arm around her. She pulls away, stands up, holds up her hands: “No”. DANIEL gestures ”OK”.

HELEN Sorry…

DANIEL gestures “OK” again. HELEN looks at DANIEL coldly, speaks with calculated sarcasm:

HELEN  Did you score?

DANIEL shakes his head, stands, walks towards the door. HELEN covers her face with her hands for a moment – confused, emotionally labile - then rushes to intercept DANIEL at the door. She clings to him, crying. DANIEL strokes her gently. HELEN takes the photo from his hands, looks at it.



HELEN walks from a police station towards her car.

HELEN (voice off) Officially, cops couldn’t tell me anything…protocols, procedures, bla bla…


DANIEL, HELEN and JASPER (all dressed up in their best) make their way towards the Gallery entrance.

HELEN …unofficially…she’s in Juvenile Detention. Spoke to her Welfare Officer – Rebecca – who told me that she won’t tell them who she is…They call her ‘someone’…

DANIEL Thanks.  

HELEN Nervous?

DANIEL nods. HELEN takes his hand.

HELEN Me too. Meeting your ‘photos’!

DANIEL laughs, kisses HELEN on the cheek, turns to JASPER as they walk past the DOORMAN and into the gallery. 


From JASPER’S  point of view, looking up at DANIEL.

DANIEL  You want to meet my photos? 

JASPER nods excitedly, takes in the well dressed PATRONS drinking champagne, eating canapés, looking at black and white photos of street people on the walls.

JASPER Specially Jasmin…oh shit, there she is?

HELEN Jasper! Language.

JASPER  She looks just like her photo. 

JASMIN wearing high heels, short skirt, breasts barely contained in an uplift bra, talks animatedly with a PATRON.

As they move into the crowded gallery JASPER can’t take her eyes off JASMIN as DANIEL is greeted by FRIENDS and PATRONS.

We follow JASPER at the level of her eyes as she moves through the crowd – eyes open, observing, glancing at photos, looking up at PATRONS, stopping in front of a large photo of Jasmin:

Dressed in a micro-mini skirt, tight tank-top, argues with a policeman - hands on hips, exasperated, at the end of his tether. Jasmin challenges him - finger pointed just an inch from the policeman's face.

JASPER stares at the photo, points her finger at it in imitation of Jasmin's gesture. She turns to see, through the crowd, DANIEL and HELEN walking up to JASMIN. Introductions. 

On the other side of the gallery

DANIEL  My wife, Helen.

JASMIN smiles warmly.

JASMIN  Hi Helen.

HELEN smiles nervously.

HELEN Hi Jasmin.

JASMIN  You’re even more beautiful than Danny Boy said.

HELEN looks at DANIEL, smiles, links her arm through his.

JASMIN You do know your husband is mad as a cut snake, don’t you?

HELEN nods, laughs, relaxes.

On the other side of the gallery JASPER watches with interest as HELEN and JASMIN talk with increasing animation. 

Elsewhere in the gallery DANIEL stands in front of a photo (unseen at this point) that is clearly an exhibition favourite. The TEEN MODEL Daniel flirted with at his studio, flirts with DANIEL now. 

TEEN MODEL  She's awesome...her! All the photos...I mean...

HELEN, talking with JASMIN, observes: the TEEN MODEL laughing as she chats with DANIEL – at one point touching him on the chest as she throws her head back to laugh; then a journalist (MIRIAM), note pad in hand, tapping DANIEL on the shoulder. 

Back with DANIEL and the TEEN MODEL as he turns. 

MIRIAM I'm Miriam Coulter. From 'Art Today.' 

DANIEL is pleasantly surprised. 

MIRIAM Have you got a moment? 

Elsewhere in the gallery HELEN and JASMIN continue their talk. DANIEL and MIRIAM can be seen talking in the background.

HELEN …from your photo…I thought you were pretty scary.

JASMIN (laughs) It’s all an act. I’m a closet wimp…

HELEN smiles, sips her champagne.

HELEN  Jasmin, I hope you don’t mind…what… I mean…if you don’t mind my asking…

JASMIN ‘What’s a nice girl like you doing working in a place like this?’

HELEN laughs. MIRIAM writes in her note book. JASMIN and HELEN can be seen talking in the background. JASMIM is doing most of the talking. HELEN nods, listens - intrigued; fascinated.

MIRIAM And you really haven't exhibited before?

DANIEL shakes his head. MIRIAM raises her eyebrows; surprised.

MIRIAM This is good work, Daniel. Very good. You should be proud. The photo of the girl...marvellous. That smile...

MIRIAM gestures to the photo with the crowd in front of it.

Back with HELEN and JASMIN. HELEN’S glass is being re-filled with champagne by a WAITER.

HELEN (laughs) My fantasies!? Don’t get me started…

JASMIN Nothing shocks me anymore… French, Golden showers, B & D. I actually quite like B & D. Whipping men! Yeah! I’m not too keen on Greek, though…

HELEN, fascinated, does not notice JASPER'S approach.

HELEN Greek!

JASMIN Anal. And I won't kiss 'em. Not for any money. That's where I draw my line.

JASPER (voice off) Who won't you kiss for money?

JASMIN Hello sweetheart.

HELEN  is shocked to discover JASPER standing beside her.

JASMIN What's your name? I'm Jasmin.

JASPER I'm Jasper. This is my mother, Helen.

JASMIN Let me guess, Jasper. Nine? Ten?

JASPER Nine and a half.

JASMIN My son is...nine and three quarters. Donald.

JASPER You have a son?

JASMIN (nods) And a daughter, Abigail. Abbie's three now.

JASPER Jasmin, what do prostitutes actually do to men?

JASMIN laughs. HELEN tenses up.

JASMIN (laughs) You should talk with your mum about that.

JASMIN looks up at HELEN but she is blushing and speechless.


HELEN, lost for words, laughs a little nervously.

GALLERY OWNER (voice off) Everyone!

The GALLERY OWNER, microphone in hand, stands in front of a large black and white photo of a bearded hobo (Grant) pushing a shopping trolley filled with his worldly possessions.

GALLERY OWNER Well, Daniel, here we are. How many years has it taken? Eight?


GALLERY OWNER  For nine years Daniel has been stalking the streets of Sydney late at night terrorising his subjects with his camera...No, seriously...


GRANT,  pushing his shopping trolley, approaches the front entrance to the art gallery.

GALLERY OWNER  (voice off) It is through Daniel's photos that we come to know those in our community that are all too often out of sight, out of mind; hidden from view. It is...


HELEN looks proudly at DANIEL; JASPER swells with pride.

GALLERY OWNER...through Daniel's ability to get to know these men and women as individuals and not merely as subjects...


The GALLERY OWNER continues with his speech as GRANT stands smiling at the confused and embarrassed DOORMAN.

GALLERY OWNER  (voice off)...his ability to breach the gap between 'us' and 'them'...

DOORMAN I'm sorry sir but the gallery's not open to the public this evening.

GALLERY OWNER  (voice off) It is through Daniel's ability to get to know his subjects as his friends...


Through the crowd DANIEL can see the DOORMAN trying to block GRANT'S entrance to the gallery. 

GALLERY OWNER (voice off)...and through his skill with a lens that war may meet these unfortunate men and women who have fallen through society's many cracks. 

PATRONS look towards the entrance. 

DOORMAN I'm sorry sir. 


The DOORMAN blocks GRANT'S entrance. 

GALLERY OWNER (voice off)...but who demand our understanding, our compassion. 

GRANT Nonsense. 

GRANT pushes past the DOORMAN with his trolley. 

GALLERY OWNER (voice off) Each of these men and women has a name, a history. They are someone's son, someone's daughter, someone's mother, father...


All eyes turn to GRANT, smiling, pushing his shopping trolley towards DANIEL - delighted to see him. 

DANIEL Everyone, this is my friend, Grant. 

GRANT holds his hand aloft to greet the PATRONS.

GRANT I changed my mind. So where is it? 

DANIEL points to the photo of Grant. GRANT walks up, looks at it for a moment, leans close to DANIEL. 

GRANT (sotto voce) Still prefer m'memories. 

The gallery PATRONS wait patiently and silently as DANIEL and GRANT have their sotto voce conversation. 

GRANT  Remember when old Charlie put his shoes on the wrong feet...

GRANT chuckles. DANIEL feels a little awkward. 

HELEN  Perhaps Grant would likes to say a few words on behalf of and women on the other side of the lens. 

GRANT shakes his head. HELEN takes the microphone from the GALLERY OWNER, hands it to GRANT. He looks at the assembled PATRONS, in no hurry, sees JASPER, smiles. JASPER smiles back. GRANT surveys the photos in the gallery as he speaks. 

GRANT   I'm proud to have Daniel as a friend. He's a good bloke. There's been a lot of nights...GRANT sees the photo that drew so much attention earlier. He walks towards it, stands in front of it, looks at it closely: 

Honey, held firmly by two angry-looking policemen, stares defiantly out at the viewer with a Mona Lisa smile. Her partially unbuttoned short is open and part of one of her breasts can be seen. A powerful photo.

GRANT  What's her name, Daniel? 

All eyes turn to DANIEL - all his defences, pretences, down. 

DANIEL  I don't know. 

A deathly silence envelops the gallery. Tears well in HELEN'S eyes. JASPER takes HELEN'S hand. 

DANIEL  I took it last night. I don't know who she is. 

MIRIAM  I don't mean you donut have her consent? DANIEL shakes his head. be continued...