Monday, April 9, 2012

Thank you Australian Story

AN OPEN LETTER TO REBECCA LATHAM
Supervising Producer of Australian Story

Dear Rebecca,

When I first came home from the US in late 2008 I had no idea what Australian Story was. Your show had only just started when I left in 1997 but with my Dad’s heritage as a founding cameraman for Four Corners, back when television started, I knew the ABC had potential for a truly special program.

When the story of the Jury verdict win of $388 million USD first hit, the publicity machine the company consulted with in the states said to stick to tightly scripted and controlled statements. Initially this gave me great pause. The seriousness of the situation weighed heavily on me.

Yet I also felt a reasonable pressure to at least recognize and show appreciation for the tremendous display of support and interest that the every day Australian showed in reaction to the win.

Then my dear friend Jim Revitt, who represented Australia as the ABC’s Vietnam War Correspondent, rang me and said that Australian Story had approached him to see if he could get me to consider an episode. They had found our connection in an article on my blog web site.

Jim said “Ric, if you are ever going to do an interview on this thing, then do it with Australian Story”. He explained that the unique format of not having an interviewers questions appear or be heard on screen means that I can have some level of control over what is said. The only person I can blame if the wrong thing comes out is myself, since my own voice is all that is presented.

Jim also said that, in effect, Australian Story is like a mirror held up to the Australian public where, in the majority of stories, everyday Australian qualities are reflected and documented usually in extreme situations or scenarios.

I suppose I qualified as a pretty normal Aussie in a pretty extreme situation. 

Australian Story is like a time capsule. No one is going to be going back to watch Deal or No Deal in 10 years time... I feel very privileged to have warranted being included

Kristine Taylor came and interviewed me in Byron. The stories just flowed. She made me feel comfortable and that I could trust her and the team to follow.

Then I met Kent Gordon, Anthony Sines and Marc Smith on our first day of shooting. The pressure was there not to just capture fluff. But amazingly there also seemed to be no agenda… no pressure to dig for dirt. Just the truth and to capture the moment.

It has been a real privilege to be selected as a subject for your show. And the professionalism and personableness of Kent and the boys made it a real pleasure to work with them. The fact is that Kent was the first person I spoke to from the media when the settlement became public. He is the keeper of the Ric Richardson story and the only person I could trust to be fair and honest about everything that has happened.

After being back a few years now from the States a lot of my old friends from the film industry are connecting and they all feel the pressure to commoditize television... and as supervising producer I know you do too. But Rebecca, you have something really special in your hands. Kent's special people skills, the boys (Anthony and Marcs) ability to capture the story are so valuable as is the format of the program. Please keep fighting to make sure Australian Story keeps its rightful place in Australian television.

Even though we lost Jim Revitt a few months after the first show I know he would have backed me up on this. In fact he would have beat me to it!

Congratulations on a wonderful show and to your team, especially Kent, Anthony and Marc for doing such a great job of capturing and explaining my story.

Thankfully yours,

Ric Richardson
Inventor

Kaz and Lily say thank you too!
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