Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fiona Giles and David Haines talk at the "In the Realm of the Censors" 2004

This is from scrawled barely readable notes from the interesting Censorship talk held this afternoon at the State Archive. ("RChive")

The talk attracted 17 attendees (one of whom works for the Archive "Liz" I believe) plus Curator Susan Charlton plus the speakers Fiona Giles and David Haines. The format was largely by way of Fiona Giles interviewing David Haines, although there was a brief interlude where Fiona Giles spoke about her own work and interests.

David it appears is a fellow Pom having migrated to Australia from somewhere exotic seemingly based on a romantic interlude (well that's what I've written).

Prior to working as Deputy Censor he seems to have been exposed to little or no erotic material. I believe he mentioned some association with Adultshop. From what I can read of my scribbled notes some Attorney General (possibly a State AG) seemingly made some comment that some of this new technology should be banned altogether (possibly in jest?).

May I suggest Jeff Shaw.... ?? (only speculation)

In relation to his work as Deputy Censor he recalled that there were some 30,000+ complaints with regard to a film "Hail Mary" but that decisions are not based on such pressure but on the "merits of the case" (or similar wording). There was some comments made regarding the banning of David Irving entering Australia and complaints from the Jewish Board of Deputies regarding a film that he may have felt was possibly over classified as "R" on account of the number of complaints (it seemingly contained concentration camp type scenes often seen on TV in documentaries).

I've made a note that he became Deputy Censor around 1981/1982 but that nobody is permitted to make a career of censorship on the basis as I understand it that they may become desensitised.

He seemed to err on the side of caution when it came to classifying but preferred not to ban films altogether. In classification his reaction was perhaps a conservative one but he felt being a "liberal" that banning a film completely required considerable deliberation. His own personal views seem to be against violence and I have noted that Australian made (pornographic) films made in Australia would (paraphrasing his words) be regarded as tame in countries of Europe where there is greater demand for material that would be banned here (my words) and that the market both here and overseas for Australian produced material would be minimal - noting that export grants are not permitted with regards to "X" or "R" rated material derived from and/or during the filming of "X" rated material (Senator Harradine was mentioned in this regard).

He noted that most pornographic material he had seen was/is absolute rubbish (or words to that effect). I believe the term he used was "becoming punch drunk from watching absolute rubbish".

He noted that one censor had a psychological test prior to becoming a censor and a second test on relinquishing the position with the outcome being that she had seemingly become "more tolerant" or perhaps "more sensitive to censorship issues" (scribbled notes).

He seemed to indicate that around 0.08% material submitted would have been considered totally offensive (my note: most pornographic material these days doesn't even reach the censors office !) with perhaps 8 items of youthful porn being deliberated upon.

He noted that most material originated from America with some 9,000 titles per year being produced. (My note that most material on sale in Sydney originates in Europe not the United States and has never seen a censor or a classification board)

There was some commentary on "lactation porn" which seemed to be a topic of interest to Fiona Giles who noted (I believe) that many women get off on it and I've noted the term "adult nurse" where "women communicate over the Internet with regards to this type of material" (well that's what I've written).

I have seen "pregnant porn" and "lactating porn" for sale in Sydney but not for many years....

Fiona noted that in respect of her earlier books there was little "editorial control", but in the production of her latest book (about breasts) there was far more control and concern expressed at an editorial level. (The first book was "Dicks for something" and the second "Chicks for something" (bad scrawl - bad eyesight... must look these references up).

David was lured to become a pornographic films producer with his first work (producer not actor) seemingly being "Buffy Down Under" which cost $70,000 to make and sold in "X" and "R" versions some 16,000 copies. He noted there were always two cameras - one for the "X" version of one for the "R" version which require different parts of the anatomy the be photographed (not photographed).

Being a producer means:-

finding "talent"
finding equipment
writing the script
choosing location etc...

David seemed to indicate that male actors were/are terrible at reading / remembering lines which he seemed to regard as a shame given that his scripts were meant to be humorous (at least for the "R" rated versions).

There also seemed to be complications "getting wood" which could slow down production by a couple of hours. I can only speculate what the term "getting wood" means (presumably achieving and maintaining an erection in company and under the supervision of countless people).

A second film involving "Buffy" was never produced. He noted that during production the cameraman's hands tend to wobble, which is regarded as problematic. When viewing or monitoring material he admitted that what was being produced was of no consequence. The "meaning" (or otherwise) of the material being produced wasn't forefront in his mind.

He noted that in his experience only two actors had problems with being identified as being in a pornographic film after production.

His second film was "Revenge Australian Style" in which he made a brief appearance (clothed not as an actor) the "R" version being intended for European audiences and regarded in some way as containing (or meaning to contain) witty dialogue. However as noted it's a belief that Australian sourced material wouldn't be popular in Europe where a greater range of material is available (some of it here in Sydney)

There was some discussion regarding a "Ken Park" and a film called "Irreversible" (note http://www.garbledonline.net/irreversible.html) where he mentioned that he had to look away from the violent rape scene. I haven't heard of or seen this film.

David seems turned off by violence and notes that there are some portrayals that clearly shouldn't be on the agenda (I may disagree with him on aspects of that) noting that child porn was one, but he also noted that he had never seen "an unhappy dog in a porno film" (which is also my [limited] experience. Dogs take great pleasure in sex with humans)

(This cropped in conversation in "The Forum" at one stage...Yoda's odd forum that I've been reading for years)

He noted that no violence or even hint of violence was/is permitted in "X" films. A gun on a table would have the film removed from the "X" rating immediately.

With regards to the revised standards he noted that in some respects these were potentially more liberal than others believe.

That's what I've scrawled down.

There were some questions from the audience. One involved the importation of films from overseas noting a belief that control now rests with "OFLC trained customs officers) (correct) which he seemed unaware of. He also mentioned that if someone attempts to import material of a similar genre twice then they can expect to be prosecuted. I dispute his interpretation of that as when speaking to Australian Customs on the issue I was told it only applied with respect to a tile "condemned to the crown" and presumably each film is dealt with based on Australian standards (and they can differ or be misleading from film to film. I dispute his understanding of this).

I purchased an "X" rated film from "hidden surveillance cameras" on the way to the talk and will possibly watch it and possibly review it tomorrow. This I regard as a privacy issue and I haven't purchased it for pleasure. It will be a struggle watching it as I'm not a great fan of sex or nudity in films although I am tolerant their production and distribution (the method and ethics often under question) as indeed I am to fantasy material of various kinds - some of which may well appeal to me (more so than sex or porno films which do nothing for me).

Any errors due to poor eyesight, handwriting. and/or hearing and attention span :-)

If there are errors in interpretation forgive me !

"In the Realm of the Censors" was held in Sydney in 2004.

posted by Bob Bain

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